Mature student gives perspective on volunteering and returning to school after 18 years

Jason Crawley photoMeet Jason Crawley, a husband, father, volunteer and fourth-year Business student majoring in Accounting.

Originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Jason spent many years as a steel worker in the oil fields of Alberta. After moving to Nova Scotia to be closer to his wife, he made the decision to leave his first line of work and pursue a post-secondary education. “It was the support and encouragement of my wife and sister that led me to pursue my dream.”

As a mature student, Jason felt a natural fear of returning to studies after being away for nearly 18 years. “My hands were shaking when I walked into my first accounting class, but I told myself I would do it. I wanted a better future for myself and my family and this is what I had to do.”

Once at the Mount, Jason’s fears were short lived. “The people at the Mount are the most open, friendly people I’ve ever met. You can be yourself and people will accept you whether you’re 50, 70, 30 or 18. I’ve been treated like I’m part of the university by both students and teachers.”

As Jason prepares to continue his education to become a chartered accountant, he feels his experience at the Mount has prepared him well. “While doing my studies at the Mount, two particular people at the university have made me strive to do my best – Dr. James Sawler and Dr. Elsie Henderson. They have been instrumental in encouraging me to do well at my studies and get more involved in the community.”

Jason introduced a free tax preparation clinic at the Mount last year, alongside faculty member Elizabeth Hicks. The program supported members of the Mount community in completing their tax returns at no cost. Jason’s been offering similar volunteer support for the past five years through his involvement with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). As a senior tax filer, he assists people with modest incomes and simple tax situations who, in some cases, wouldn’t know where to go for help or have the funds to pay someone to assist them with their taxes. “By not filing their returns each year, these people could miss out on the various benefits they’re entitled to,” explains Natasha Brewer, CVITP Coordinator and Outreach Officer at CRA. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jason in person and his enthusiasm in regards to the program is contagious. He really does love assisting people and we appreciate volunteers like him.”

Jason says that volunteering with the CVITP has become a passion, because the reason he chose accounting as career was to help others. “I want to help students, seniors and anyone unsure of how to file taxes because it can be complicated and I know how to make sure they get the best return possible.”
When asked to provide advice to others considering returning to post-secondary education, Jason didn’t hesitate: “It is a scary step coming back to school, but take the leap and get into a career you enjoy. If I can do it, anyone can.”