My SWAF Story
Phil shares his experience of the UGDSB's School within a Factory program, and describes his journey to earning his high school diploma
I was just like a lot of guys my age. I was really into sports, friends and having fun. Somewhere in the mix of all of those things, I did not see the value in finishing high school. I knew it was important, but there was no motivation to go any further. I started skipping class and missing more and more days of school. I would tell my mother and family I was heading to school but I would instead head downtown to hangout. School seemed to be something that I didn’t need. Before I knew it, I was dropping out.
When I was 17, my mother told me I should get a job. She had no idea that I had dropped out of high school and thought I was a graduate. She worked for Camtac and thought it would be the perfect place for me. I was excited to have a little money in my pockets and be a grown-up. Plus, since dropping out of high school I needed somewhere to go and what better place than work? One year into working at Camtac my supervisor brought me along on his rounds and inspections. He showed me how the machines worked, what the different lines did, he taught me a lot. He became my role model, a big brother and someone that I really looked up to. He showed me that Linamar wasn’t just for now, but a company that I could really grow with. He helped me build confidence and take pride in the work I was doing. Working with him I realized that being a supervisor would be something I would love to do and something that I could take a lot of pride in. For the first time in years I started seeing where my life could go.
There was, however, always something in the back of my mind; my high school diploma. It was the one thing that had eluded me for almost eight years. I knew that if I wanted to move up and grow within Linamar I needed to get this monkey off my back. I was at work when I saw a poster in the break room advertising the SWAF program. It was a way that I could earn my last few missing credits and work at the same time. This program was a godsend! I thought for the longest time that I would never finish high school, now there was more than a chance; there was hope. I enrolled in SWAF and began the journey to become a high school graduate. The class times and teachers were so accommodating. The co-op program allowed me to earn credits as I worked and before I knew it I was done. My mother was so surprised – not only learning that I did not get my high school all those years ago, but to learn that I had been doing it for the past year.
My diploma has given me so much more than I thought. I now have room to grow at work, knowing my skills and abilities are there as well as the confidence to know I can achieve more. I recommend the SWAF program to anyone who asks.
Learn more about SWAF at www.ugdsb.on.ca/swaf.