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06 Oct 2015

Clint Broten - Lions’ Learner Achievement Award winner 2015

Clint Broten - Lions’ Learner Achievement Award winner 2015

I am very grateful for the honour of being chosen as the Lions’ Learner Achievement Award Winner for this year. I would like to thank the Saskatoon Lions Clubs, READ Saskatoon, and - last but not least - my amazing tutor Rhea who nominated me for this award.  

At 16 years old I was diagnosed with Manic Depressive illness, now termed Bi-Polar disorder. It put my life at a standstill for many years. Shortly after, I developed a drug and alcohol problem, as is common with people suffering from mental illness. This is what is known as dual diagnoses or concurrent disorder.  I went from a borderline honour roll student to barely getting through school with a grade 12 diploma.

Being chosen for this award tops off a great year for me. It is another achievement in my journey back to school after over 25 years. When I was considering taking on this endeavor, I had a lot of mixed emotions and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it alone. Then, I came across a wonderful organization in READ Saskatoon. The first time I entered the office and met with Shelagh, I saw how kind and caring the staff are. They were ready to offer me full support and I knew then that I had a good thing going here. Shortly after that, I met Rhea: one of the most intelligent, patient, and giving women I know. She became more than a tutor; she became my friend. 

During our first meeting, Rhea asked me about my academic goals for the year. Semi-jokingly, I answered, “to pass”. Little did I know, I would end up with nearly an 83 percent average. I couldn’t have done it without Rhea. Shelagh once asked me, “what was the defining – or aha! – moment?” I said it was when I wrote one of my first difficult midterms. I ended up with the highest mark in the class with a 92 percent average. That is when I knew I could pass! One thing that had escaped me was to get a Post-Secondary education. Rhea’s support allowed me to realize that this was the next logical step in my journey. So, I embarked on a quest to achieve this goal.

Working with Rhea has been a joy and will continue to be a joy in the coming year, as I plan to go back to upgrade my Community Service Addiction certificate into a diploma. Who knows, with her help - if she is willing - I may go get a Psychology or Social Work Degree. What Rhea taught me more than anything is that learning continues all the time. She will even tell you that she learned from me, both through our work together and from my personal journey. With her as my tutor, I feel I can get through another year. Currently, I am employed in the addiction field. I would like to thank my teachers, Janice and Al, as well as my classmates who stood by my side through many ups and downs this past school year.

So what lies ahead? After completing this coming year of schooling, I may proceed to get more education and to work more with concurrent disorders. I am now in a slow process of writing a book. One day, I want to get back to doing presentations, running workshops, and giving key-note speeches at conferences. I want to spread the message that: just because you are given a battle in life to overcome, with the right supports and perseverance, anything is possible. My Dad told me a motivational saying once that has stuck in my head for years: “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins”. Thank you again for this special award; it means the world to me.

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