Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Karen MacDonald

MacDonald proving it’s never too late to further one’s education 

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Karen MacDonaldKaren MacDonald is fulfilling a long-standing desire.

The 56-year-old is in her second and final year of studies working towards her Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Calgary.

MacDonald believes it’s better late than never to return to school in order to further one’s education.

“I missed the opportunity to do it earlier in my career,” said MacDonald, a member of Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. “A lot of people encouraged me but I had this self-doubt.”

Karen MacDonald is a member of Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan.

MacDonald, who is married and has two children of her own who are also attending the University of Calgary now, decided there was no point in waiting any longer and returned to school herself.

“What I want to do is assist other Indigenous students achieve their business goals,” she said.

Besides being a student again, MacDonald is also a member of the university’s staff. She’s the manager of the Writing Symbols Lodge, the school’s Indigenous student centre.

MacDonald was also recently announced as one of eight recipients of the Indigenous Scholarship Program, delivered by Indspire, the national organization that raises money and delivers various programming for Indigenous people across the country.

Applicants for the Indigenous Scholarship Program were applying for a total of $44,000 in funding this year.

MacDonald was one of four scholarship winners that received $5,000.

She was understandably pleased with this news as it helped cover some of her university expenses.

“The tuition is just sky high,” she said. “Every dollar helps.”

Funding for the Indigenous Scholarship Program was made available thanks to a partnership between Cando’s charitable organization, the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund, and the CIBC.

“Any scholarship helps,” MacDonald added. “A scholarship always helps you towards your educational goals.”

MacDonald had earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan in the late 1980s.

But now she said juggling her work and family life as well as her academics is rather challenging.

“It’s very tough,” she said.

MacDonald puts in a full work day for her job. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she has been working remotely from home.

Though her workday is done on weekdays during the afternoon, MacDonald is not able to simply relax.

That’s because she estimates that she’s doing her own schoolwork from about 7 p.m. until midnight, six nights each week.

“The workload is heavy,” she said.

MacDonald began working towards her Master’s degree in January of 2020. She is expected to complete the program requirements this December and then have her graduation ceremony in April of 2022.

MacDonald is hoping to put her Master’s degree to good use after she earns it.

“Maybe I will teach some classes,” she said.

And also provide some inspiration for others.
“I want to be a role model for Indigenous students,” she said.