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October 24, 2012

Dayle Eshelby B&WThis native of Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, has triumphed to find her place as a community-minded change activist. Dayle Eshelby is also a cherished daughter, friend, mother and now university graduate who radiates understated pride and determination, and her story is one that would captivate any audience.

"Since the day I woke up, I've had to work hard to find ways to remember."

 

Although Dayle was raised in the community of Port Clyde, she has very few memories of her childhood. On the day after her 16th birthday, Dayle was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident that left her in a coma for seven weeks. “Since the day I woke up, I’ve have to work hard to find ways to remember,” she notes. “The accident caused catastrophic brain-stem trauma, and I now have a permanent learning disability.”

But for Dayle, this was but a challenge to be overcome. Following high school, Dayle started a fine arts degree in Halifax. “During my first semester, I found a part-time job washing biochemistry lab glassware,” she says. “Apparently I was good at it – I soon found myself attending all pre-term deliveries at the Grace Maternity Hospital and processing blood samples from the umbilical cords I collected.” Dayle notes the irony of having been surrounded by life sciences and technology, when she in fact had struggled post-accident with math and sciences.

Like many, Dayle’s story had a change in venue after falling in love. Her relocation to Montreal resulted in 17 years at McGill University, where she worked in surgical research, transplantation and parasitology laboratories, ultimately advancing to the position of senior research technician. But for Dayle, an inner voice for change was growing stronger.

“I was working in a field full of people who were formally trained scientists,” she notes. “I felt like I wasn’t legitimate – with no formal training, I sometimes wondered how I’d gotten to where I was.”

But regardless of where Dayle’s journey had led her, she always managed to find her way back home to Lockeport Nova Scotia, where she spent every summer with her young son, Emiliano. And in 2001, Dayle and her son made their summer home a permanent one.

"The Mount just sounded like a campus where people really cared."

Dayle settled into her community as a trained Continuing Care Assistant, while increasingly getting involved in local political and community groups such as the Shelburne County Women’s FishNet organization, a group that supports women of all financial and educational means in networking and professional development activities. She recalls working with a Mount graduate in the FishNet office. “I had been considering going back to school, and the Mount just sounded like a campus where people really cared,” says Dayle. “Now as a graduate, I can say the Mount certainly lived up to my expectations.”

Womens Leadership - 2011 - Colonnade-lineDayle’s community work [while studying at the Mount] is a testament to her underlying desire to make a difference in the world around her. Dayle was member of a national UNESCO commission and she played a key role in Lockeport schools becoming the first in Nova Scotia to be accepted in the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network. Dayle was also part of two prestigious programs of the Coady International Institute (shown above), including a five-month Diploma in Community Development Leadership with individuals from countries across the globe. Dayle has also forged a connection between her community and the Mount, taking part in a research initiative with FoodARC to examine food security, a research project led by Dr. Patty Williams.

Today, Dayle will complete her eight-year journey at the Mount, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Study. “Every course provided me with something I could use practically,” she says. “And I have gotten so much help at every step of the way – my experience has been so personal,” referring to the mentorship and support from the Mount’s Disabilities Services team, technical support at the helpdesk and faculty support throughout her journey.

"I saw how my determination helped my son. I wouldn't let myself give up."

 And although her journey was a little longer than most, Dayle never lost sight of the goal. She remained a resident of Lockeport, often making the commute to classes and working part time in multiple jobs. When asked what kept her going, Dayle follows a pause with, “I think I saw how my determination helped my son. He saw me work so hard to go after what I wanted – and because I wanted it, I wouldn’t let myself give up.” Emiliano, now 23 years old, is in the United States studying in the field of pure and applied science – something of which Dayle is visibly proud.

But perhaps most touching is Dayle’s account of her classmates’ effect on her Mount experience. “I see so much brilliance in each student – everyone has something amazing to share,” she says. “And whether it’s a perspective of youth, of experience, of culture or geographic upbringing, each person has given me a gem of wisdom I’ll take with me.” This, of course, is literal – given Dayle’s note-taking has been paramount in remembering class concepts and lessons.

Dayle on dirt rd"I need to make a difference, however I can."

When looking to the future, Dayle has a clear vision of her path ahead. “I need to make a difference, however I can,” she notes. “And my program has given me the tools and training to do just that.” Dayle is working to develop a business plan that will assist organizations to reinvest in their people, providing the skills and tools to work effectively and maximize success in the areas that matter to them.

The name of her business, Resolve! Management, is fitting - not only for its service offerings, but also as a perfect descriptor of Dayle. Resolve is, afterall, a synonym for determine. And determination is something Dayle Eshelby has in spades.