Doreen Thunder

Doreen Thunder

NorQuest College Administrative Professional program graduate Doreen Thunder is playing a big role with her Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada colleagues, and credits the program’s delivery for allowing her to quickly join the workforce.

Determined and successful: one grad’s account of finding her calling

The truth about individuals who are looking for a career that fits their lifestyle, passion, and economic needs is that they don’t always find it early in life.

For some, like NorQuest College Administrative Professional program (ADP) graduate, Doreen Thunder, it was a process of analysis, experimentation, and being true to her Indigenous culture.

“I wanted something stable in life but I also wanted to be part of something that could make a difference in people’s lives,” says the Dene and Cree woman, who graduated in 2015. “When I started the program I was in transition – a hard place in my life. Deciding to enter the ADP program was so I could do it quickly and get on to my new career.”

Her fresh goal after years working as a photographer? To be part of a system that would directly aid Canada’s Indigenous population. And she knew exactly where she could get that satisfaction.

“When I started at NorQuest I knew I wanted to be at INAC [Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada]. I was very adamant about that so a member of the college’s Indigenous Student Services’ team made that first contact for me.”

Part of the ADP’s curriculum is a four-week practicum where students learn first-hand what it is like to be on the job in their future career choice. NorQuest career advisors work closely with students to find them the right fit and then to make the initial contact with potential employers.

Following her practicum, Thunder was offered employment with the agency. Now she works in the most rewarding job she has ever had as an administrative assistant for INAC’s Community Infrastructure & First Nations Relations, Treaty 7. Her portfolio has her working with engineers, helping to develop community infrastructure for First Nations communities.

She is on the front lines of projects that result in the construction of schools, fire halls, community centres, and more.

“If you think about it, I have come full circle,” she says. “I went to school so I could help provide schools so our next generation will be better off. It is a great opportunity and it is very rewarding.”

Recently, Thunder was back at her alma mater to talk to students during National Aboriginal Day activities. She spoke passionately about her career and how NorQuest pushed her to realize things about herself she previously had trouble believing.

She recalled an assignment where an instructor asked for a written paper on a simple question: look in the mirror and write about the first three things that come to mind when thinking about how you view yourself?

“I didn’t want to do it at first. It seemed like such a silly assignment. But by the time I finally got around to it I had been pushed and challenged so much that when I did look in the mirror the first three words that came to mind were: determined, willing, and capable. I was determined to succeed, willing to work hard, and capable of any task. NorQuest gave me those qualities. Now, every day I am determined to succeed because I see myself this way.”