A Camosun College student is sharing her story of overcoming a past in youth care, dealing with a debilitating neurological and mental health illness, in order to inspire others.
Savannah Barratt is studying geography, English and environmental technologies at Camosun thanks to the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, which supports former youths in care who are attending post-secondary institutions.
When Barratt was 13, her health struggles “just kind of erupted,” and within a year she went from living at home and being in school to “being institutionalized, in a wheelchair.” Until the age of 20, Barratt either lived in hospitals or group homes.
A couple of years ago, she decided to enrol in school, eventually working with the Camosun Innovates department and Technology Access Centre to help pitch in on engineering, design and manufacturing programs.
Barratt credits her insights on policy as it relates to youth in care, her understanding of how institutions work and her observations of resilience and adaptability for some of her notable accomplishments. Barratt served as Camosun Innovates ambassador, which involved planning activities for a high-level delegation from the Philippines, showcasing the school’s advanced technological capabilities.
“These principles of adaptability apply to human beings, but they also apply to innovation in different fields like the strength of bridges and engineering projects when you’re seeking solutions to problems,” she says. “It’s a process of how you apply thought, just like everything we do or become.”
For now, Barratt is working part time in retail and web administration outside of school, along with helping organize several climate strikes. Eventually, she hopes to work as a geographer or as a sustainability consultant aiming to develop a better future for the planet.
The Provincial Tuition Waiver Program has opened doors for 1,190 former youths in care since it was introduced in the fall of 2019, with Camosun boasting the second-highest number of students benefiting from the program, totaling 98 as of October 2019.
For more information on the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, visit bit.ly/2vfiPbS.