Thursday, March 24, 2011

Madame Parent

I experienced something nobody should have to experience in their life: listening to a sixty year old woman's voice crack as she tries to recount what happened to her in her faculty. Seeing her eyes swell with tears at the injustice that was committed against her. Madame Parent, this is for you!

Madame Parent has been studying sice 1995, after divorcing her husband. Having no education and no means to support herself, she decided to go back to school, at 45 years old. She studied psychology since she was always fascinated with mental health. She worked alongside the community, especially The Glebe, and slowly got acquainted with several ministers and became a prominent fixture in social debates surrounding mental health issues.

She last studied in the summer of 2010. Madame Parent, which I affectionately call her, was slated to continue her doctorate's memoire in the Fall of 2010 right through Spring 2011. She had proposed a pilot project involving community housings, mental health facilities, and of course, a slew of volunteers. This dear tender woman even had the respect and blessings from former PM Jean Chrétien, a proud advocate of human rights. Everything was going good until she noticed her name had been dropped from the website and her prof had decided he didn't want to contiue with this project.

Without the backing of her prof, she couldn't continue her studies and didn't register for the Fall 2010 semester. When you are not a full time student, you must repay your loans immediately. Madame Parent has money, she doesn't mind paying back the loan. She does't WANT to. Her situation is still being overseen at the Student Appeal Board, as she feels she was dropped because of her advanced age, and she came to me to ask if I could waver her loan repayment. I can't.

Telling someone that studied at the University for over 15 years - got dropped and led on by an asshole prof, then being forced to abandon a project she holds close to her heart - that I can't help her because she isn't a student here nearly broke my heart. Hearing her voice falter as she describes the situation she has been living the past year is disheartening. Nobody at that age should feel overwhelmed, abused, uncared for. It made me mad inside that someone took advantage of her.

I gathered all the information I could, told her contact her lending institution and gave her my personal number and name and informed her that if she required anymore information, that she could contact me directly. I hope the people from the Financial Aid in Québec won't give her a hard time. They better not!

Madame Parent assured me that this would not stop her in accomplishing her project to help mentally ill citizens find housing and education. And this woman is over sixty years old. God bless your heart Madame Parent.

My real reward is when she turned around before leaving the office and told me "keep that nice smile of yours" and then smiled herself. I will toast to you Madame Parent! Best of luck to you, and...again...why do elderly people always tug at my heart?!

Candles are out,
Eleven's Ink

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