Self-discovery and being silly is what makes the Child and Youth Care program special for Valedictorian Brittany Parsons
Brittany Parsons’ favourite thing about the Child and Youth Care program is that she gets to be silly while learning.
“I’ve had many spectacular moments in the program over the three years. Our program is a lot of games and activities,” said Brittany, who opted for a silly pose for her Fleming College graduation photo. “I decided to pick a silly one to embrace how silly Child and Youth Care practitioners can be when working with young people. Can’t be serious all of the time.”
Brittany has known she wanted to spend her career working with young people since 2011, when she began working at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul overnight summer camp.
“It was there I discovered my love for working with young people. Not only did I love working with young people, I loved being in the present moment with them,” she explained. “Also, I reflect back to my years as a young person and I remember how amazing my CYC practitioner was in my school; she was always there and with a positive attitude—things I aspired to be. The CYC program was a natural fit for me.”
Brittany moved from Toronto to Peterborough to take the Child and Youth Care program at Fleming College, which prepares individuals to provide care and treatment for children or adolescents experiencing a range of social, emotional, behavioural, or learning challenges.
“Coming from Toronto, it was an adjustment to live in a smaller town. The Fleming College community welcomed me with open arms from the moment I went to the Open House as a prospective student. I felt such amazing vibes and truly felt like I belonged,” she said. “One of my favourite things was hanging out within the College because of the powerful energy amongst the halls from staff and students. I also say as I drive up to Fleming, it’s like another world surrounded by trees.”
Through the Child and Youth Care program, Brittany said she developed counselling skills and professionalism, learned how to share space, advocate for herself and others, and more. She completed her program placement at the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care, and was the first placement student they ever had.
“This experience allowed me to focus on my passion for legislation and writing,” said Brittany about her placement. “In my final semester, I published two articles and that moment was an emotional one because it was a dream come true, but also the beginning of something wonderful.”
Brittany “100%” recommends this program to others because it offers faculty who are currently in the field, networking opportunities, great course content, and the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves as individuals.
“My experience was one of self-discovery, which I never imagined happening. I uncovered my purpose, values and beliefs,” she said. “There were moments where I felt like I couldn’t do it, especially when I lost my grandmother in my final year, but my peers and I became so close (like a family) that they became my support system early on and really encouraged me. My faculty were more than professors, they were mentors. Having such a small group of students, we were able to make real connections; that was something I knew I couldn’t get in the city, I wanted to be more than a student number.”
On Wednesday, June 6, Brittany will join her peers and faculty at the School of Justice & Community Development convocation ceremony, and will serve as Valedictorian. “My desire is that my fellow graduates, even supporters in the room, leave wanting to find ways to learn more; to never forget the connection and roots they have at Fleming; finally, to go with the motion of life as this is the first step to the most rewarding careers.”
After graduation, Brittany will work as a Child and Youth Care practitioner for York Region District School Board. She is also part of a conference committee through the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care to create the Provincial Conference being held at Fleming College’s Sutherland Campus next year. Her future goal is to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care through professional development opportunities to continue growing as a professional.
“My designation is not a title to me, it is who I am,” she said.