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Wednesday, 13 November 2013 16:04

Never say never to seizing new opportunities

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Brent Mason was 47 years old when he went to university.


The former blackjack dealer and occasional bartender who has also worked on the rigs and for CP Rail didn’t follow the usual path to post-secondary education.
“I never, ever thought I’d go to university and get a degree, furthest thing from my mind, especially when I was in my 20s.”
The courage and determination he showed along with his openness to test himself against a new challenge is inspiring.
Born on a farm in Maple Creek in 1962, Mason graduated high school and spent the ’80s working seasonal jobs and that got old after a while.
In the mid-90s, he considered teaching and was accepted to university. He started with five classes, a full course load, but soon thought to himself, ‘Holy crap! This is way too much for an old student.’
He switched to three classes per semester for two years, but some academic problems from high school resurfaced.
“My old habits from school followed me. The bad study habits.”
He stopped. University wasn’t for him. Mason had the equivalent of one year of full-time study.
For the next six years, his job was to travel to schools and give presentations about preserving burrowing owl habitat. He crossed Saskatchewan three times and shared a van with a live owl who perched on the passenger seat, “An owl doesn’t say much back to you,” quipped Mason with a chuckle. The long drives gave him time to think. He decided to teach. The teachers where he presented all said he was a natural.
Mason returned to the University of Regina full-time, he was 47.
“I think so many people are so scared to go on to a higher level of education. It’s intimidating. It intimidates them. But hell, if I can do it they can,” says Mason.
He doesn’t feel there were any academic disadvantages due to his age, but he says older students might have prior debt, car payments or mortgages, which make university less affordable. Even with a student loan, he had to work two and sometimes three jobs.
What is Mason’s advice for anyone considering university or a career change?
“Do it. It’s almost like me trying to go work out. If I think too much, I’ll find some excuse not to do it. I have to just shut my brain off and go and do it. Take those first steps and you’re away. And don’t get frustrated when there’s set-backs. Everyone gets set-backs. That’s how we learn. Don’t be afraid to grab the bull by the horns and go with it.”
Mason completed his education degree in Dec. 2012 at the age of 50. He’s currently teaching in Consul, Sask. and coaches football with the Maple Creek Redmen.
(Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, please call 306-661-8975 or visit his website www.canoetoneworleans.com.)

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.