When Emilie Gray, BEd’ 17, crossed the stage at Summer Convocation it marked the end of a challenging, but fulfilling journey.

The Minto, NB, resident completed her Bachelor of Education degree despite having welcomed her son Avery into the world just six months ago.

“He was born December 22 and that was two days before the end of my practicum,” Gray said. “Having a baby during the program was definitely a challenge, but it was also a really exciting time in my life.”

Gray missed those last two days before Christmas break, but returned to classes two weeks later. Although it was difficult, the new mother said the support she received from classmates, professors, and the university made a big difference.

“We all created these amazing bonds and it was a huge support system for me,” Gray said. “Everyone looks out for you and wants you to succeed. That’s the great thing about STU, they don’t want you to fail so they support you any way they can.”

Grant Williams, Director of the School of Education, said Gray returning to the program so soon after Avery’s arrival was a demonstration of her commitment to becoming a teacher.

“It really was remarkable to see Emilie back in classes in January after having had the baby just weeks earlier” he said. “It’s a real testament to her sense of focus, determination, and commitment to becoming an excellent teacher.”

Gray, who hopes to teach at the High School or Middle School level, is looking forward to making connections with her students and using her own experiences to offer support to those who may be struggling.

“I want to connect with students and let them know that whatever difficulties they’re facing, they can overcome them,” she said. “I want them to know there’s a better path they can find and that they will get there someday.”

For Gray, the “better path” included earning her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees.

“It feels really good to have earned this degree, especially considering how things could have turned out,” she said. “I decided to pursue Education mostly to continue my own learning. It’s a passion I hope to extend to others.”

The learning isn’t over for Gray yet—she’s applied to the Maliseet Immersion course, a two-year program that focuses on reading, writing, and speaking Maliseet. After that, her hope is to work in the public school system.

For more information about the St. Thomas School of Education, click here.