Colleen Smereka - The Ripple Effect

Colleen Smereka - The Ripple Effect

April 26, 2019

My name is Colleen Smereka. I’m excited to share my story as part of CanLearn’s Celebration of 40 years of changing lives. 22 years ago I participated in the Partners for Learning program at CanLearn. This program had an extraordinary impact on my personal life journey.

When I started the Partners for Learning program my goal was to learn how to read and write better, but I learned so much more. I learned that I am intelligent, and with the right approach I can learn anything; the seed that all future decisions about my life grew out of. CanLearn allowed me to carve out a new life path.

Before CanLearn I wouldn’t try at learning because I didn’t want to look stupid. My inability to trust in my own ways of learning was holding me back in all areas of my life. Because I don’t learn like other people, I struggled to gain the confidence to embrace how I learn. In the program I was surrounded by people who were able to clearly explain how my brain worked. They helped me believe in my ability to learn. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could trust the people who were supporting my learning process. Everything I am today started because of the trust that was built between me and the people I met and the hope they gave me. In the program I found my voice and my confidence.

When I first started at the Partners for Learning program I had a dream to graduate from university, but I never thought it would be possible. After attending the program I had new found hope. I completed two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Bachelor of Education degree from St. Mary’s University. Over time I learned to use my voice to express what I needed to achieve personal success. I also used this voice to help advocate for others with similar learning challenges and I have been working in this area ever since.

Last year I helped to set up a new college in the United States. It was amazing to bring the voice of disability to a college from the outset. My journey has led me to understand that there is something unique and valuable within me that only I can share with the world and I have the confidence and the voice to share it. The insight that I provide can change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people like CanLearn changed mine.

My life is proof that you can change a life through learning. Thank you will never be enough for what you have given me; the gift of learning is the greatest gift of all.

Categories: Blog