An ISET Success Story: Luanne Kuzma

Aug 04, 2023
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I had applied for funding through the Rupertsland Institute, and unfortunately, had missed the deadline for funding approval. The Northern Regional Manager made me aware of the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) program through NWAC. I had previously obtained my Business Administration Certificate and wanted to continue my education and obtain my Business Management Diploma with the goal of opening my own ladies’ clothing store.

As an adult learner, I need to continue working during my studies to provide financially for my family and take care of our various financial obligations. Obtaining a student loan did not make sense financially, as I did not want to add to those financial obligations. Without finding a way to obtain funding to continue my education and pursue my career goals, I knew I would not go back to school.

I applied for the Business Management Diploma program through Portage College, which allowed me to take my courses online and around my work schedule. The ISET program paid for my school fees as well as the cost of books; it was such a relief to be able to focus on my education and not have the added stress of the extra financial responsibilities of school. During my studies I began work as a ladies’ retail manager, and made a career change to a post-secondary advisor with the Rupertsland Institute while opening my online clothing store.

When I started my diploma program, I was a full-time student with five courses each semester and working full-time as a retail manager. With such a large course load and work schedule, the first year was challenging. My ISET advisor was extremely supportive and understanding, and when I made the extremely difficult decision to withdraw from two courses in each semester, I was met with nothing but support. I was able to obtain funding through the ISET program to continue my Business Management Diploma program into a new school year and complete the additional four courses I needed to obtain my diploma. I was able to obtain funding for all of my school fees and cost of books in my second year of the program.

I have learned that it is not a failure to realize that sometimes you cannot do everything all at once, and it is extremely important to reach out for help when you are feeling overwhelmed. There are other programs that offer funding that would not have funded my second year after withdrawing from classes during the first program year. I feel extremely grateful that NWAC, the ISET program, and my advisor believed in me and continued to support me and help me achieve my goals.

By taking a step back and reducing my course load in each semester, I was able to focus better on the other courses. Although it took a year longer than expected, I am very proud to say that I am graduating and receiving my Business Management Diploma with Honours and a 3.5 GPA.

I have realized my dream and have opened my online clothing store, but I believe I have also found a new one. I have decided to continue with my education and obtain my Business Management degree with the goal of progressing within the Ruperstland Institute. I have received so much support from my advisor and the ISET program that working as a post-secondary advisor has become so rewarding, knowing that I am also helping others achieve their goals and dreams.