As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.”
And it’s certainly true for three graduates from the University of Northern British Columbia Northwest campus in Terrace.
For some, they moved from elsewhere to find their home in Terrace while earning their degrees.
For another, it took moving away from her hometown for a brief period of time to discover what she was missing was right in front of her all along.
Jessica Gaus, Alyssa Scott and Reilly Kluss were among 44 graduates who received their university degrees Tuesday at UNBC’s Northwest Regional Celebration.
Gaus, one of eight Bachelor of Social Work graduates, moved to Terrace from Vancouver in 2014 and was looking for a lifestyle change. Her family is in the military, so she’s used to moving a lot.
But she found her home in Terrace.
“I moved here and I wanted to further my passion for working in geriatrics so I looked into the (Social Work) program here and never turned back since then,” she says. “I fell in love with the north, there’s endless opportunities and we graduated with eight students so that intimacy is priceless.”
With only eight students in her cohort, it was the convenience and intimacy that kept Gaus in the northwest.
“I feel very rooted in Terrace. There are as many opportunities as you want to pursue. I will stay here and it’s a really unique program because it’s not just social work but it’s social work working in rural and northern communities.”
After the social work program wrapped up in November, Gaus found her dream job as a primary personal social worker with the Terrace Health Unit.
Scott was one of eight Bachelor of Education graduates who crossed the stage on Tuesday. She had previously quit her fourth year at UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna to move to Terrace with her husband.
Even though education is important to her, Scott set aside her pursuit of a degree to start and raise a family.
While at home raising her sons, ages one and three at the time, she turned her attention back to earning her degree.
“I decided in Grade 3 I wanted to become a teacher, and when I learned I was eligible to complete the program in Terrace it was an easy decision,” she says. “It was the hardest but most rewarding two years.”
Kluss, one of 20 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates, was born and raised in Terrace.
She immediately moved east after high school to attend university, but quickly realized she wanted more out of a school for her degree.
“Sitting in a lecture hall with 650 people where my prof was the size of an ant just wasn’t for me,” Kluss says. “I made the choice to move back home. UNBC has smaller class sizes and more personalized teaching which made my last four years all the better.”
As for Nursing, she knew she wanted a career where she could focus on health promotion and primary care.
“Nursing turned out to be a perfect fit; it’s both a science and an art, and I absolutely love the relationships I get to build with my patients,” she says.
She’ll remember her amazing classmates the most about her time at UNBC and she’s confident they too will become intelligent, caring and compassionate nurses.
Kluss realizes Terrace is home and always will be.
As soon as she completed her degree in April, she immediately got a job with the Kitsumkalum Nation as their home and community care nurse.
“So far I love it!”