Demand for Recognition by Conestoga College for the PSW Fast Honour Roll Earning Students

Demand for Recognition by Conestoga College for the PSW Fast Honour Roll Earning Students

March 5, 2022
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Signatures: 263Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Kelli O'Ceallaigh

Personal Support Workers (PSW) are essential health care providers that assist nurses with the routine care of our most vulnerable citizens. In 2021 the Government of Ontario recognized the importance of PSWs and the burden of the shortages we face in our healthcare system. They asked colleges around the province to offer an accelerated version of the PSW certification program, for which the Ontario Government would cover tuition costs on behalf of enrolled students. Many people had faced job losses due to Covid-19 restrictions and were seeking out new career paths. The government hoped that paying tuition and offering a paid placement could attract many of these people to the healthcare field as PSWs. 

Conestoga College was one of the colleges that decided to offer this program and take advantage of the guaranteed tuition amounts. They had many Cohorts set up beginning in April 2021 and continuing monthly into August/September 2021. Many students signed up for each cohort and worked extremely hard to obtain their certifications. They completed a year's worth of training in 6 months, in addition to having to find their own work locations to gain work experience hours. Students of the Conestoga Colleges PSW Fast program overcame many unnecessary obstacles to complete their program. Many of these students finished the program making the honours list.

Unlike many of the other colleges, Conestoga College only offers one type of honours recognition level for Ontario certificate graduates. All other honours recognition levels are restricted to only those completing diplomas and degrees. Despite all the obstacles and challenges that PSW Fast students faced, many met and even exceeded the requirements to be named on the honours list. 

The June 2021 cohort for the Conestoga PSW Fast Program should have had commencement in February of 2022; however, our commencement was rescheduled for March 10th, 2022. Due to Covid-19, graduates, many first-time college students, are already being robbed of the opportunity to have an in-person celebration. Our commencement will be marked only by a pre-recorded video made available on March 10th, 2022. We have also had to wait to receive our certificates. Some of us have finally begun receiving them this past week.  

As I'm sure many can imagine, graduates were beyond excited to open their long-awaited certificates, begin framing them, and show them off with pride. Sadly, this joy would be quickly stolen from those who had achieved honours list. The first thing honours-earning graduates noticed when they opened their long-awaited certificates was that unlike other colleges, including private institutions like triOS College, Conestoga College decided not to recognize the many graduates who worked hard to achieve honours. Our certificates make zero mention for those who earned honours that they graduated with honours or any distinction. Conestoga College's choice to not include 'with honours' or any acknowledgment toward honours graduates on our certificates is beyond disappointing and quite frankly disrespectful. 

In addition to our certificates not including mentions for our honours achievements, commencement programs omit our names. Only those who took the non-government-funded program receive recognition in the commencement booklet for their accomplishments. Tuition amounts were paid for all students, and it shouldn't matter who paid the tuition. Graduates worked incredibly hard, and those who achieved the honours list deserve to be recognized on their certificates and in the program for commencement.

Certificates, in particular, are shown to employers, and having our honours list achievement listed on it is a fundamental reason people work so hard to earn honours. It gives us an edge with gaining employment. Honours students received a very lacklustre unofficial looking letter via email that they made the honours list, and it appears on our transcript that we earned the honours list. Still, those items are not frameable like our certificates; and employers expect that if you earn honours, it will be mentioned on your certificate and not on a letter that anyone could essentially create. 

Programs from one's college commencement are major keepsake items, and they are often cherished for years and become a part of recording our histories. We have a right to have our names and achievements in these programs; we earned it. 

This petition is asking Conestoga College to re-issue the Ontario College Certificates for ALL Honours list graduates of the PSW FAST program with the mention of graduating with honours. We also want our names and achievements mentioned in the program for commencement. In addition to this, we would like an apology from Conestoga College for this situation having to be addressed. 

Please sign this petition and support us in gaining the recognition we deserve.

I want to note that all PSW Fast Program Graduates, regardless of the cohort, should have their Ontario College Certificates re-issued if they achieved honours list and it was not recognized on their certificates. Graduates should also receive re-issued programs from their commencements if their names and achievements were omitted. 

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Signatures: 263Next Goal: 500
Support now