33-year-old high school grad has a message for other young mothers: 'You guys can do this!'
A mother of two has a message for students in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.: you can achieve any goal you set your mind to.
It's a lesson Kristen Lucas has learned herself. At 33, Lucas has just completed Grade 12 and is looking forward to officially claiming her high school diploma.
"Young mothers, you guys can do this!" Lucas said.
"I'm super proud of myself ... I want to say thank you to all the teachers who supported me and pushed me to finish. And I want to say to all the younger students: you can do this."
Lucas's five-year-old daughter is in junior Kindergarten. Every day, Lucas would drop her son off at preschool and bring her daughter to Tuk's Mangilaluk School, before heading to her own classroom down the hall.
"I did it for my children. Now, my daughter loves coming to school and she wants to graduate when she's older," Lucas said.
"She said she's going to graduate when she's 16, and I know she can do it."
Lucas said she struggled in high school when she was younger. This time around, with the help of her mom and her daughter in particular, she pushed herself to get through classes and do her homework.
"The support I got, it was amazing," she said. "My daughter ... sees me coming to school with her and it makes her happy. She's proud of me, that I'm coming, so she comes now. Even on weekends, she says, 'Mom, is there school today?'"
She also credits her teachers for helping her make it all the way through to her diploma.
Charmaine Teddy, a student support assistant at the school, said she's watched Lucas work hard and overcome challenges to get her diploma.
"She inspired me. Seeing a student try that hard — I'm so proud of her," Teddy said. "She pushed herself and she was always positive when she came in ... We never knew if she was having a bad day or not, because she just came in, gave it all she [had] and finished her work."
Teddy said Lucas's success sends a positive message to other students at the school. She remembers her own school experience, where she struggled with reading and math. It was thanks to the help of her parents and her sister that she graduated, she said.
Now, Lucas plans to apply for an early childhood diploma program in Yellowknife.
"I'm super excited," she said. "[It's a] new journey for me and my little family."