Tucked into one of the buildings at the University of New Brunswick is the Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute. The institute is home to the Bridging Year program that is designed for Aboriginal students who wish to begin university studies, but do not have the one or two required subjects they need.
Students taking this program will get an idea of what university life is all about while upgrading their education.
Admission to the course varies from recent high school graduates to mature students. After completing this program students can enter degree programs in arts, business administration, nursing, rorestry, physical education, sciences, engineering and computer sciences. More than 100 students graduated from the Bridging Year program since its inception in 1991.
?The real purpose of the program is to prepare students for their first year undergraduate programs. This program will give the students an idea of what university life is all about,? said Robert Leavitt, professor, director Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute. ?The bridging year has been quite successful. Everybody succeeds. We?ve had a lot of students go on to university courses and we keep in touch with our grads,? he said.
The Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute was established in 1981. A student lounge, five classrooms and a library that offers students reading and reference materials make up the institute at the university campus.
One of the graduates from the Bridging Year program is Raymond Milliea. Milliea, 20, is Mi'kmaq. He?s a member of the Big Cove First Nation in New Brunswick.
?When I first thought of starting university I was scared. I did not know how it was going to be. The Bridging Year program lets you get used to university life. The program helps you out a lot,? said Milliea. ?I?ve always wanted to attend university. I had a lot of confidence in myself after I finished the Bridging Year program.?
Milliea plans to be a doctor. He is a full-time student at the university enrolled in the science program. Milliea plans to major in biology, which will prepare him for entrance into medical school.
?Now that I?ve completed the course, I feel like I can do the science program better. It is really good here at the university. Everyone is friendly.
?I want to be a family physician, to be able to help people here in my community. My family is very supportive of me. They encourage me. When I have a hard time at school, they talk to me and encourage me. They put me back on the right track again. I hope that they will always have this program.?