A Second Home
Even though Marek Pawlowicz Giroux is only in his first year in the Early Childhood Education DCS program at Vanier, he’s actually been coming to Vanier since he was 5 years old. As a child, Marek attended Vanier’s Supercamp in the summers. When he got old enough, he completed the Leadership program, and then he got a job as a counsellor. So you might say that coming to Vanier is a tradition for Marek!
Because Vanier feels like a “second home” to him, Marek always intended to pursue his Cegep studies at Vanier. But he wasn’t quite sure which program he wanted to apply to. When his mom pointed out that Vanier has a DCS program in Early Childhood Education, Marek says that “sealed the deal.” He has always enjoyed working with children as a babysitter and at Supercamp, so ECE became the perfect choice. Marek attended the Open House in the fall, and came to a Student For A Day event in the ECE Department. He says that the teachers and other students treated him like one of the gang, and helped him feel like he was “part of the action” even before he got accepted in to the program.
And now that he’s almost fi nished his first year in the program, Marek confirms that he made the right decision. He particularly likes the observing sessions from behind the 2-way glass in the ECE Lab Nursery. During these sessions, ECE students get to watch a trained educator put the theory they are learning in their classes into practice as she works with a group of pre-schoolers; Marek likes to compare what she does with the techniques he uses himself in his interactions with the children in his care. Often, Marek discovers that even without knowing it, he’s been “doing something good.”
A Guy In ECE
It’s true that Marek is that rare thing – a male student in a female-dominated program and profession. And sometimes being the only guy can be challenging: Marek reports that often the girls chat away about topics he doesn’t quite relate to, and he can’t talk about hockey (another of his passions) as much as he would like. But there are advantages too. Because he stands out, Marek says, everyone in the program
knows him, and he sometimes feels like he’s famous!
The other day, Marek was walking down the hallway at Vanier. He saw another student wearing a T-shirt that he liked, so Marek complimented him on it. Right away, this sparked a whole conversation about music, and favourite bands – between two people who had been complete strangers 20 seconds before. This open, friendly atmosphere is one of the things Marek likes best about Vanier; as he says, a simple comment
about a T-shirt could turn into a new friendship!
Adjusting To Cegep
Even though he’s been coming to Vanier for most of his life, starting here as an actual Cegep student has meant an adjustment for Marek. “There’s more freedom,” he says, “and there’s these big breaks between classes.” And so Marek is learning to be more independent and to take responsibility for scheduling reading, studying and homework. And it’s not just Marek who’s had to adjust; his parents have had to make some changes too: His mom spent the first few months that he was at Vanier exclaiming that she couldn’t believe her “baby” was so grown up!
Students And Teachers
When asked for his impressions of his fellow Vanier and ECE students, Marek responds in typical Montreal – and Vanier – style. In a mixture of French and English, Marek says that the students here are “really warm and accueillant.” And his experiences with the teachers have been positive as well; he reports that he has found his teachers to be supportive and interested. Whenever he’s had a concern or a problem, his teachers have worked hard to help him as much as possible.