Leah Bates headshot

Leah Bates

Support from Contact North | Contact Nord has played a vital role in helping Leah Bates find a study path forward.

“I knew I wanted to go back to school but I didn’t want to go back to a classroom.”

Timmins East

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Contact North | Contact Nord increases the number of underserved Ontario residents who take online programs and courses from Ontario’s colleges, universities, Indigenous institutes, and other providers while remaining in their community. We recruit and provide free support services to students in 1,500+ communities, in person at locations across the province, or by phone, email, live chat or virtually.

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“I’m super excited to take on the carpentry journey”

Uncertainty about where to begin and a lack of appropriate technology had long kept Leah Bates from setting out on a learning path that would propel her forward.

Mental health struggles posed significant barriers, too — and although at one point she had set her sights on a career in healthcare, Leah quickly realized that wasn’t for her.

“At 20 years old I had a midlife crisis,” Leah recalls. “I was like, ‘This is not for me.’ I’m 20 and I knew I didn’t want to wake up and do this all the time.

“Four months ago, at 21, I got diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been untreated for it my whole life, and am just taking the steps now to deal with it. I’m finally realizing how it has impacted my education, my whole life.”

Once Leah looked to Contact North | Contact Nord for help to navigate the possibilities, she found a real champion in the South Porcupine online learning centre.

Together they explored all the apprenticeship programs that were available in northern Ontario, and deemed carpentry to be the best fit.

Leah is now in the process of applying to a 23-week government-funded carpentry pre-apprentice for women at Canadore College, which starts in April 2023.

She plans to follow that up with a full carpentry apprenticeship program.

“I’m super excited to take on the carpentry journey,” Leah says, adding that the encouragement and support she got from her local online learning centre has helped give her the daily purpose she needed.

“I knew I wanted to go back to school but I didn’t want to go back to a classroom”.

“[Contact North] made me want to learn again. Before, I was just like, ‘Nope, I can’t learn. What’s the point?’ Now it’s like, ‘There is a point.’ No knowledge is wasted. No knowledge is bad knowledge. It’s getting me back into a positive mindset, the willingness to go out and do things in life.”

Leah is also grateful to be able to take advantage of Contact North | Contact Nord’s student technology service, which offers free use of laptops and Internet for students to complete their coursework at home.

“I got a laptop through Contact North. If it wouldn’t have been for that I would’ve struggled. I’m so thankful for that.”