University degree within reach for mature student

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

Marcedes MoosewaypayoMarcedes Moosewaypayo continues to work towards her university degree.

If all goes as planned, Moosewaypayo, a 29-year-old member from Kinistin Saulteaux Nation in Saskatchewan, will graduate from Calgary’s Mount Royal University with a business administration degree in the spring of 2024.

Moosewaypayo is surprising even herself with just how close she is to becoming a university graduate. That’s because she never went to high school, originally leaving the education system after her Grade 9 studies.

Moosewaypayo said it would be a tremendous accomplishment to earn a post-secondary degree.

“I think it would be really powerful and inspiring for my kids,” she said.

Moosewaypayo, a single mother, has two sons, aged 10 and six.

“It’s hard but I manage,” she said of her juggling of her family and educational commitments. “It takes a lot of discipline and patience.”

Moosewaypayo also finds the time to hold down a part-time job, working as an administrative assistant at her university’s Indigenous resource centre.

Moosewaypayo also recently discovered that she would receive a bit of a financial boost towards her educational career.

That’s because it was announced that she is one of the eight Indigenous Scholarship Program recipients this year.

The program, delivered by Indspire, is a partnership between the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF), Cando’s charitable organization which provides scholarships, training and research funding to students involved in Indigenous community economic development.

The eight recipients split the $44,000 available in scholarship money this year. Moosewaypayo received $5,000.

“I think it’s important, especially for a single mom, to help cover the costs of daycare and the cost of living,” said of the scholarship funding she received.

Moosewaypayo said this marked the third time in her university career that she has received a scholarship worth $5,000. And no doubt every little bit of financial assistance helps and is appreciated.

“I’m able to be with my kids more and focus on my studies,” Moosewaypayo added.

Since she didn’t attend high school, Moosewaypayo had to upgrade her education before she could be considered as a mature student university applicant.

For starters, she took a six-month Indigenous life skills program. She then enrolled in a Mount Royal University program, which has since been renamed and is now called the Indigenous University Bridging Program.

Moosewaypayo focused on Math and English courses required in order to apply for a university program.

As it turned out, she applied to Mount Royal’s business administration and sociology programs. She was accepted into both and opted to enroll in business administration classes, starting in 2018.

 “I don’t think there’s enough Indigenous people in business and I want to create opportunities for other Indigenous people, especially males,” she said.

Like countless other students, Moosewaypayo encountered her share of challenges during the pandemic when she was forced to take her classes online.

“Online learning was hard for me,” she said adding she was unable to successfully complete some of her remote courses. “I prefer being in-person for classes as you have more dialogue and you’re able to ask more questions.”

One question that Moosewaypayo, however, is unable to answer at this point is what she hopes to do after earning her degree.

“I’m not even sure yet,” she said. “I’m just going with whatever opportunities come up.”