Livingston finds success with FNTP support

Growing up in Slave Lake, Alta., some 200km north of Edmonton, you might think the University of Lethbridge would seem like a distant place. But for Maria Livingston, the campus embedded in the coulees was always close to mind.

Several of Livingston's friends and family had already attended and highly recommended studying at the U of L. Still, when the thought of attending university crossed her mind, it often provoked feelings of anxiety and intimidation. Livingston wasn't sure if she could succeed at university, or if she would even fit in to the university culture. That was until she entered the First Nations Transition Program (FNTP).

"It was intimidating at first, attending university, but everything they did for us in FNTP really helped," says Livingston, who credits program services such as academic workshops and the First Nations speaker series with helping her to excel in the classroom and express her cultural identity.

Maria Livingston
A traditional hoop dancer, Livingston participated in the 2011 Native Awareness Week celebrations.

Now a second-year art and Native American Studies double major, Livingston is an active member of the U of L's vibrant First Nations student community. In addition to her art, she practices traditional hoop dancing and was involved in the 2011 Native Awareness Week celebrations.

In the future, Livingston would like to work with First Nations' youth and encourage them to pursue post-secondary education.

"University has opened a lot of doors for me," she says. "I have met so many new people and been given so many opportunities. I want others to have a chance to do the same."

Livingston says she's glad she never succumbed to her feelings of anxiety about attending university and is grateful for all the academic and social experiences she has had at the University of Lethbridge.

Looking at a print she created that was later showcased at the 2011 Career Fair, she remarks, "I just couldn't see myself doing this before I came here."

When asked about the meaning of the artwork, Livingston says the hoops speak to the circle of life, renewal and regeneration.

"They represent struggles. The more hoops you pick up, the harder it is, but you just keep going."

This story first appeared in the January edition of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.