Vanessa Tronson's life consists of early mornings, late nights and very busy days in which her attention is pulled in all sorts of directions. As a mother of two young girls, a spouse, a student at UBC Okanagan, a volunteer, an employee and an advocate for Aboriginal Peoples, she's a young woman with many responsibilities.
After she graduates in June with her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous studies, Tronson plans to continue with school by pursuing her master’s degree in social work. She says her post-secondary journey has brought her many rewards, despite the challenges that come with raising a family and obtaining an education.
“As a mother and student some of the biggest challenges I face are limited funding and, of course, all the difficulties that come with raising young children and supporting a family,” says Tronson. “I am challenged with time and deadlines, and I don't have the freedom to leave and go as I please, as I have duties and responsibilities that must be attended to. I spend many late nights and early mornings studying, reading and writing papers.”
On top of juggling motherhood and school, Tronson also works full-time hours at the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society to help contribute financially to her family. She also volunteers in her Aboriginal community as a board member on a few different committees.
“It’s difficult, but I manage and continue on with my journey because of my daughters --Illeana, who is 2½ years old, and Torrence, 1½," Tronson says. "They provide me with the strength, dedication, love and warmth to work through all my difficulties.”
Torrence is actually Tronson’s biological niece, but after Torrence’s parents lost their lives in a car accident, Tronson and her spouse, a PhD student at UBC Okanagan, made the decision to adopt the little girl to ensure she always had a family connection and a sense of belonging.
“I refused to allow anyone else to take her and I did not want her to leave our family,” says Tronson. “I want to set an example for my children. I want to teach them to never be afraid of challenges and to face them because they are learning experiences that make us stronger and more balanced.
“I also want them to each explore their own potential and natural abilities and be the person they want to become, despite being faced with many forms of racism, discrimination, sexism, and all the other 'isms' that we still face as Aboriginal women.”
Tronson hopes to guide and empower not only her own daughters. She is aiming for a career in clinical social work with a specialization in mental health in Indigenous communities. Tronson will be the first in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and is already looking forward to the challenges and opportunities a master’s program at UBC Okanagan will bring.
“If I could share any advice to people entering university it would be to never give up on your goals,” she says. “Struggle through with perseverance. For me, it’s been a battle – but a battle won.”