Majoring in English and Indian Studies, while taking care of three small children, Shelley Fayant had a make or break situation that heavily influenced her academic career and life.
In the beginning of Shelley’s studies at the university in 1989, she truly discovered who she was as First Nations person.
The family atmosphere at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC) helped her to persevere through her struggles. Being surrounded by educated First Nations people, Shelley was able to focus on her studies all while raising three small children.
“I became incredibly aware and proud of who I was. It empowered me to raise my kids in that same atmosphere,” Shelley says. Today, she is also the proud mother of two children that have also graduated from the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv).
One particular moment that is forever etched in Shelley’s memory is the support her academic advisor offered her when she was really struggling to balance her studies and family.
In the middle of Shelley’s very last semester, she had a heavy course load of work and was also dealing with post-partum depression. Shelley felt very overwhelmed and disheartened, so she consulted Arlene Konrad who was her academic advisor at the time.
“Arlene was, and still is, an incredibly supportive and just a very encouraging, lovely lady. Arlene at times would babysit my son if I had a class at the university,” remembers Shelley.
While Shelley was taking a little time off, Conrad got a greeting card and got Shelley’s professors, friends, and elders to sign it with encouraging words. Conrad then personally delivered the card to Shelley’s home.
“It wasn’t in her job description. I’m pretty sure if I’d been a University of Regina student that probably wouldn’t have happened,” says Shelley. “That’s what it took for me to get motivated to go back to school. She helped me integrate back into the swing of things.”
Shelley is currently a communications consultant at SaskCulture. Her responsibilities include social media, website maintenance, and coordinating Culture Days in Saskatchewan.