When Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the 2018 Ontario budget on Wednesday, it was clear a student’s pathway to post-secondary education is not defined by a specific timeline or age.
Ronisha Cruickshank, 34, is a single parent of two children who started her first year in post-secondary education at Humber this fall. Cruickshank’s story was woven through the Minister’s budget speech showing how government policies such as OHIP+, free tuition, child care support and further changes to OSAP are creating new opportunities for all students.
“It was a great experience to see how politicians come together to support important issues. They are very much humans and they care about so many people,” says the Community and Justice Services student.
She says visiting Queen's Park was a momentous experience and it gives her more reasons to be grateful for the opportunity to attend college.
“Being a mom is the greatest job, but I wanted to do something more,” she says. “I chose this program at Humber because I want to serve the community and eventually I will fulfill my career after receiving a degree in social services or child youth care with Guelph-Humber.”
Cruickshank says, seeing how others look at her 15-year-old son, shows there is a lot of work to be done in Canada and across the world about racism.
“I tell him all the time, his opportunities are only limited by him,” says Cruickshank. “When I was a young girl I had this whole idea of who I wanted to be when I grew up and as I grew older and learned about racism and society, things became a little bit clearer.”
Thanks to English professor, Ben Labovitch, Cruickshank’s story came to the attention of the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, after he sent her a letter about Cruickshank’s story and her journey to Humber.
“The only reason I am studying at Humber is because of OSAP. The changes of this budget have helped me incredibly and those similar to my story,” she says. “After Premier Wynne received my letter, the Finance Minister contacted me and I realized how much my life has changed since I initially completed my OSAP application.”
Sitting in the legislature during the 2018 Ontario budget, Cruickshank watched on as Sousa spoke of her ambition and dedication to her studies and her work ethic.
“After the budget, everyone knows I am here to get things done. They also know I’ve realized that I’m actually a nerd, which made the whole room laugh (when Sousa shared that I had told him that),” she says. Cruickshank says her grades, her relationship with her professors and classmates is a fundamental part of her college experience.
Cruickshank says her time at Humber will continue to change her life for the better and hopes to inspire those with a similar story. At 34-years-old, Cruickshank is proving to both her children, if their mother can go to college, they can fulfill their own ambitions.