Applying Life Lessons: Meet Amber McLaine

Mar 30, 2021

Amber McLaine’s higher education journey began after high school, when she enrolled in a two-year program at NSCC. She transferred to the University College of Cape Breton in the early 2000s to complete a diploma in Instrumentation and Controls before starting the Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) program. 

When a summer job turned into a long-term career opportunity for Amber, she decided to put her education on hold. After working 15 years and taking time off to start a family, Amber joined the team at Cape Breton University as an Enrolment Services Professional. It was then she became inspired to finish her BET degree as a mature student.

“While working in Enrolment Services not only did I find out that my credits from 17 years ago were still valid,” she explains. “But I was able to get a degree audit and see exactly what courses I needed to finish, which turned out to be less than I expected.” A few months later, Amber was officially registered as a CBU student. 

Raising a family while going to school and working full-time wasn’t easy, but Amber says she pushed through by focusing on one semester at a time. “I would come home from a full day at work to parent my toddler until bedtime and fit in time for my studies after that,” says Amber. “It was challenging, but it was definitely worth it in the end.” In May 2020, Amber graduated from CBU and celebrated virtually with her classmates and friends. 

Throughout her journey as a mature student, Amber says she was lucky to be able to rely on her support system. “My family, friends and coworkers were very supportive and cheered on every successful assignment and completed course,” she says. “My mother, Dianne, was especially helpful with childcare, and Carl Mercer, one of my instructors, was always available to answer questions about my program.” 

Amber’s advice to mature students who may be considering coming to CBU is to not talk yourself out of it. “Coming to university as a mature student is an advantage because you can apply your life experiences to your lessons. I wasn’t just doing things because I was told that’s how they’re done,” she explains. “I actually had a better grasp on the concepts and understood the reasoning behind things.” 

Amber says the skills she learned during her time at CBU are things she can apply to any employment opportunity, and she is glad she took the leap and finished her degree.