Going to university was a childhood dream of Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) student, Graham Marshall. Growing up as one of ten children, Graham watched many of his siblings choose different paths and achieve success in their careers, but university was not a part of their journeys. He set himself a personal goal of bringing home a degree, not just for himself, but for his parents, who he knew would be proud.
In Graham’s words, he did things backwards. As he grew older and life went on, Graham got his GED and worked a number of jobs before the idea of going to university crossed his mind again. Now, just one year away from graduating, Graham is reflecting on the journey that brought him here and the special memories that he will take away from his time at CBU.
What Graham has enjoyed most about university life is the camaraderie that develops between students. “Being a mature student means I have life experience, but not necessarily academic experience,” says Graham. “So these first and second year students are able to help me with assignments and essays and I am able to provide them with guidance and life lessons.”
As a Councillor in Membertou, Graham is no stranger to helping those around him. Looking out for others is a tradition that has been passed down throughout his family for generations. So as Graham’s community of friends at CBU grew, it was no surprise that he was always there to lend a helping hand. Graham says watching his classmates grow and succeed in life has been one of the most rewarding parts of his experience.
Graham says the biggest lesson he tries to impart upon others, especially students, is the importance of asking for help. “Human beings are scared to say the word help,” says Graham. “But there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, it’s one of the strongest things we can do.” When it comes to CBU, Graham says there is always someone there to provide assistance, whether it’s directions to class, study tips or general advice, the CBU community is always ready to lend a helping hand.
“My biggest piece of advice for new students is to learn that lesson in first year. Break out of that shell and say, I need help or guidance. That’s how friendships are created,” says Graham.
Graham is thankful to attend a university so close to home, as he believes anyone with the opportunity to make a life in Cape Breton should proudly do so. “This is where I come from, this is where my roots are, so this is where I’ll stay,” says Graham. Following graduation next year, Graham hopes to continue working in a role which allows him to support growth in his community and says his BACS degree at CBU has provided him with the skillset to do so.