By Shannon Boklaschuk
Pearl V. Gardiner will become a University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate for the second time when she receives her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree during 2021 Fall Convocation.
Gardiner previously earned a Bachelor of Education degree at USask in 2016 through the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP). Now she’s adding a three-year BA in Indigenous studies (with distinction) to her list of credentials, which she earned through USask’s College of Arts and Science.
“It feels great,” Gardiner said of her upcoming graduation. “I have been working towards this for what seems like an eternity, and I am happy I can finally say I made it. It is definitely something to be proud of, and I am proud.”
USask’s Fall Convocation events will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual graduation celebrations will be livestreamed on Nov. 10, 2021.
Originally from the northern village of Green Lake, Sask., Gardiner grew up in Prince Albert and graduated from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School before starting her Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree in USask’s College of Education. After completing her BEd, she returned to northern Saskatchewan. She is currently employed as the university coordinator at Northlands College in La Ronge.
“When I moved back to northern Saskatchewan and entered the university setting, I was introduced to the Indigenous studies field. The more I learned, the more I became an advocate for change. I wanted to learn as much as I could to bring the information back into my own classroom,” said Gardiner, who achieved high grades throughout her studies.
“While in the College of Education, I was also working towards an arts degree. After I completed my education degree, I had always planned to return. I continued to take courses here and there, until finally I had the opportunity to complete the senior-level (Indigenous studies) requirements,” she said.
Gardiner was able to complete her BA through Northlands College, a regional college associated with USask and the College of Arts and Science. USask partners with regional colleges and educational institutions in Saskatchewan to provide opportunities for students to study and learn close to home.
Gardiner said she “enjoyed every minute” of her Indigenous studies degree.
“I am happy to have had the opportunity to continue my education while working and living in the North. I do plan to return for my master’s, but for now I am going to enjoy learning and reading on my own,” she said.
For Gardiner, the best parts of being a USask student included the opportunity to connect with people from around the world and exchanging ideas and worldviews.
Now that Gardiner has completed her Indigenous studies degree, she plans to continue to work with post-secondary students and use the knowledge she has gained to support them in their university careers.
She also has some advice for USask students who are just beginning their academic journeys: “Ask questions, take the time to listen and be open to change.”