It is a typical bustling mid-semester afternoon at the Seton Cafe. Students fill the space as they grab food or coffee before jetting off to their next commitment on a floor above. There’s a group gathered around a centre of laughter and calm at a regularly packed set of tables. A familiar daily sight in Seton, in the middle of this group sits the always smiling Kerry Bowness.
Being a mature student has not been a barrier to immersion in Mount student life for Kerry (at right in the photo above). Although she has just come from a quiz and is battling a cold, Kerry has a bright smile as she greets everyone around her like an old friend. Asking Kerry her secret to her endless positivity makes her pause in reflection. “My heart is full because I get to go to university,” she says. “I didn’t know if the opportunity would come, so it means everything to me.”
Kerry attended Miss Murphy’s Business College before working in Communications at the Victoria General Hospital. Cut backs forced a change of career and she took on a job at a Hershey’s factory in Dartmouth. Kerry’s career advanced at Hershey’s and in the end she was managing a team of forty-two. However, she soon grew frustrated that her lack of post-secondary credentials prevented her from further advancement in the company. “I didn’t know if I could back go to school,” Kerry explains. “I was afraid because I had been away for so long.”
She shelved thoughts of further post-secondary studies as her family circumstances changed. Kerry paused her professional dreams to devote herself to providing for her two children, Eric and Tatiana. In the end, it was her two children who encouraged her to pursue studies at the Mount after becoming students themselves.
Tatiana was the first to set foot on the Mount campus as a Bachelor of Science (Psychology
student). She graduated with her BSc in 2016 and is now completing her final year of her Bachelor of Education
degree. Eric followed closely after, enrolling in the Mount’s Bachelor of Business Administration
while also serving as a Reserve Military Police Officer. As Eric and Tatiana quickly settled into student life, they both knew that their mother was meant to be there with them.
In the end, Tatiana says that it did not take much convincing to get her mom to join them and enroll at the Mount alongside Eric in the Business program. “She is way too smart not to be here,” Tatiana states proudly. With the support of many friends and family, Kerry eagerly joined the Mount community.
“If you believe it in your heart, then you will accomplish it, no matter the factors you face. Keep a desperate desire to accomplish it alive.”
— Kerry Bowness
Now, the mother-daughter-son trio describes their table in Seton Café as a second-home as they pursue their studies together. Kerry and Eric take courses together, transforming family breakfast into pop-quiz time and grocery shopping into an analysis of product marketing. “We will go from yelling quiz questions back and forth to asking someone to pass the milk,” Eric jokes. And supporting each other towards a common goal has brought the three together in new ways. “I am so lucky to have two brilliant children who have my back,” Kerry beams. “They are not just my children, they’re my friends.”
Kerry does not take for granted the opportunity to finally fulfill her dreams, and it shows in the classroom. Kerry’s enthusiasm is evident to professors and fellow students alike. She regularly challenges classmates to take part in discussion and is not afraid to ask tough questions. “There is so much to know,” she says. “I love the diversity of courses; my program includes opportunity to try a bit of everything. I have learned so much.”
She notes that support from faculty has helped her stay confident as she progresses through her program. Shortly after finishing the Introduction to Writing course, she recalls receiving a letter from the English department complimenting her outstanding marks and encouraging her to continue pursuing her studies. Lesley Newhook, who taught Kerry that semester, recalls her fearless spirit in the classroom. “She’s inspiring, the type of student you like to see in your classroom. She normalizes discussion with no inhibitions and can transform the tone of the room.”
Kerry’s Mount accomplishments are only the beginning of her adventure. She is already studying to take the LSAT and pursue law school, and is hoping to specialize in criminal or family law. In her spare time, she gives back to her community at the Ardoise Community Centre, where she has been a passionate volunteer for more than ten years. She knows now that nothing will stop her from achieving her dreams. “If you believe it in your heart, then you will accomplish it, no matter the factors you face. Keep a desperate desire to accomplish it alive.”