June 17, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

King's student Lisa Pierce with Eastern Canada's Soroptimist President Dr. Gertrud Hocke.

By Nicole Bullock

King’s student Lisa Pierce accepted the 2015 Soroptimist Live Your Dream Education Award at LUNAFEST hosted at King’s on May 27th, 2015.

The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Education Award is awarded each year to women whom are the primary source of financial support for their families. As well, the majority of the women who receive these awards have overcome obstacles including poverty, domestic violence and/or drug and alcohol abuse. The award gives the recipients some of the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.

“The award means a lot. It validates a lot of what I am doing in my community and the journey I have been through to get where I am today. I am a more mature woman who has experienced trauma; but life can go on, and life is achievable after trauma. I had previously made every excuse in the world because it is easier sometimes to stay where you are than to experience more failure and let downs” says Pierce.

Pierce says that she still cries every time she sees pictures of herself during the years of hardships. However, she recognizes that she is now in a great place in her life.

In 2003, Pierce experienced an accident that left her with a permanent disability. She was a single mom and had limited education; however, she still had a lot of gumption – she didn’t believe in the societal barriers that inhibited disabled women from reaching their goals. But, when she experienced a change in her life course, Pierce’s support system diminished and homelessness, drug abuse, and crime became a way of life.

After a long period of suffering, Pierce was enrolled in Althouse College’s Bridges Project in 2007. The purpose of the project, designed by Western Associate Professor Dr. Susan Rodger, was to facilitate growth and provide experiences for women to work towards the completion of secondary school education. Pierce completed her Ontario Secondary School Diploma over the course of the three-year program.

Following the Bridges Program, Pierce spent five years at Fanshawe College and completed the Social Service diploma, and Addictions certificate program. “I needed to understand how I got to my lowest point in order to heal and go forward,” says Pierce.

She has been a full-time King’s student since the summer of 2014. Utilizing the college transfer program at King’s, Pierce is now into her third year of studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her ambition is to be admitted into the Bachelor of Social Work program then into the Master of Social Work program at King’s. “I am happy to be here at King’s. I love it here, it’s peaceful here. But, I also now know that I can be successful wherever I go.”

Pierce is a true fighter and a strong advocate in the fight against human trafficking especially around forced illegal activities in London. “In [that] world the rules are different and I’ve learned this from lived experience. London needs to understand – the struggles that I have been through are going on right now in this city,” says Pierce. Pierce is an active volunteer at My Sister’s Place, and The Salvation Army - Correctional and Justice Services. In addition, she is active on multiple boards and committees. Her hope is to bring rights assistance to victims of both genders. Her advice to those individuals who are in the position she once was is “call the help lines at any hour of the day – you are immediately connected to someone who can best assist you with the problems you are facing.”

“I love the title for the award, Live Your Dream – yeah, I am living the dream…”

The Soroptimist organization is an international volunteer group that works to improve the lives of girls and women in their local communities. The Soroptimists presented Lunafest at King’s as part of a national travelling festival of short films by, for and about women.

Congratulations Lisa!