Student Success Story: Kay Deranger

Posted On Friday December 08, 2023

Kay Deranger is a wife, mother, and proud grandmother from Fort McMurray and a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation; she recently completed her GED through the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC) Indigenous Education Program at Keyano College and has been accepted into the Health Care Aide program for the Winter of 2024, after devoting the last two decades of her life to raising her children and grandchildren. 

Kay decided to pursue her GED to set an example for her children, an aspiration she had contemplated for many years, and she accumulated many books to dedicate herself to studying during her free time. But despite the difficulties of balancing familial responsibilities, she finally decided that the time had come to accomplish something for herself, to put herself first – and now was the perfect time to do so.

“Kay’s completion of the ATC Indigenous Education Program, in collaboration with Keyano College, Indigenous Relations GoA, and Service Canada, marks a significant milestone. The Athabasca Tribal Council is delighted to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Kay. As she moves forward, we express our sincerest wishes for continued success and prosperity in all her future endeavors,” said Employment & Training Coordinator Melanie Fost on behalf of ATC. 

Reflecting on her experience throughout the program, Kay expressed gratitude for the compassionate instructors at Keyano College who significantly impacted her success, specifically Geetu Ralen, life skills instructor, and Karl Odland, GED course instructor. “It is my passion to help others, and I am ready to continue making myself proud by enrolling in the Health Care Aide program at Keyano,” she explained. “I aim to set the example to our younger generation that hard work pays off, and if you want something, it’s yours to achieve! The more positives we do for ourselves, the more we manifest positivity around us.”

Karl Odland remarked that Kay’s eagerness to complete the course reminded him of the age-old British proverb on persistency, stating, “Kay’s confidence in her ability to learn the required skills grew by leaps and bounds.  At first, she was hesitant but soon learned to “try, try, try again” as the saying goes, understanding there is just as much value in determining why something is incorrect as there is in getting it right.”

Not only did her self-efficacy contribute to her willingness to succeed, but what really motivated her was the sense of community formed in the class. The peer support, stemming from a diverse mix of ages, personalities, and histories, transformed the course from mere strangers to a closely-knit family.

Manager of Continuing Education & Extended Studies at Keyano College, Miyuki Schulz, added, “Kay’s resilience throughout the program has unlocked new doors for her next academic chapter in the Health Care Aide program. I know that many more opportunities will soon follow.”

Also, part of the programming was the implementation of Indigenous cultural activities. Students had the opportunity to participate in beaded poppy, dream catcher, and moccasin-making workshops, which provided moments of relaxation and mental breaks during their lessons and a chance to connect with their Indigenous cultural heritage and reflect on their artistic creations.

Kay says her future goal is to work with Indigenous elders after completing her studies and give back to her community.  She also thanks Samantha Shibley-Hornby, Indigenous Coordinator at Keyano College, for her guidance in continuing her post-secondary studies and reminding her that anything is possible with perseverance and a sense of community.

To read more, visit the ATC Indigenous Education Program. 


The General Education Development Program is funded by Service Canada and the Government of Alberta – Alberta Labour & Immigration and administered by the Athabasca Tribal Council in partnership with Keyano College.