Norris Point — Megan Laing will start university next week and, like many first-year students, is feeling a little stressed.
That’s not unusual, but in Laing’s case it’s kind of a good feeling because getting to this point is something that almost didn’t happen.
The 18-year-old Norris Point teen struggled in school for many years. She said her trouble started at the elementary school level.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I didn’t learn as fast as others.”
In Grade 2, her parents, Daphne and George Laing, asked she be kept behind to do the grade again, but the school advanced her.
As she moved through the grades at Gros Morne Academy in Rocky Harbour, she had very little interest in her education.
“I didn’t really care about school back then. I guess that’s why I really didn’t get into it,” she said.
All along she would say to her mother, “Mom, I’m stupid. I can’t do it.”
Her mother’s response was always the same: “You’ve got to put your mind to it.”
By junior high, Laing was close to getting put in a special needs class. Then she started to notice that her friends were doing better.
“I just wanted to be able to do something with my life when I got older. I wanted to be smart like everybody else,” she said.
She started putting more effort into her schoolwork.
“I used to go in my room and just read my notes over and over. And after I started getting good grades, I guess I started to feel good, so I just kept working at it,” she said.
“My grades just got better every year. They increased every year. They haven’t dropped at all.”
She also got involved with extracurricular activities, including becoming a tutor, volunteering with the breakfast program, playing basketball and badminton, joining the student council and the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group.
In June, Laing graduated with a 92.2 per cent average and feels great about her accomplishment.
“I went from almost going in special needs to being a tutor and graduating with honours,” she said.
Besides giving her parents credit for encouraging her to do better, she said she had help and support from three teachers, in particular: Norm Parsons, Denise Reid and Jennifer Ryan.
Laing’s hard work has paid off, as it has earned her two scholarships, a $1,000 Memorial University of Newfoundland Endowment Fund Scholarship and $100 from the school for being the hardest-working student. It’s the latter prize that means the most to her.
“What it was for, it just felt amazing,” she said.
Knowing that she can succeed in school, Laing has set her sights on studying pharmacy with a specialization in infectious diseases.
“I know that if I study for it, I can get good grades.”
She’ll complete her first year of pre-pharmacy courses at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook before moving on to the campus in St. John’s. Her interest in pharmacy grew out of a love of chemistry that she discovered in Level 1.
“I remember getting my chemistry test back and getting an 80. It was my first chemistry test and I was like, ‘oh my God!’”
Her parents suggested pharmacy as a potential career and, after doing some research, Laing knew it was what she wanted to do.
This summer she’s been getting an introduction to the field by working as a pharmacy technician at the Bonne Bay PharmaChoice in Norris Point.
While retail pharmacy is not her area of choice, she’s enjoyed working there.
“It is a really cool experience,” she said. “It definitely put my foot in the door.”
The Western Star