It’s not every graduation that a couple graduates from the same course on the same day, but that was the case at College of the North Atlantic’s Bay St. George Campus recognition ceremony.
Mary Jesso, who grew up in Stephenville, and her partner Derek Tucker, who is originally from Meadows, both graduated from the college’s School of Industrial Trades in the mobile crane operator course on Thursday.
Jesso said that course, or the heavy equipment operator course, is something she wanted to do for a long time.
“When I found out she (Mary) was applying for the mobile crane operator course, I applied for it as well, thinking it would be good to do it together,” Tucker said.
To do the course, he first had to upgrade his education and applied to Keyin College in Stephenville, successfully landing his Grade 12 equivalency diploma in six months. Jesso had previously upgraded her education at Western College to get her Grade 12 equivalency.
Tucker, who is 46 years of age, said he worked for 20 years with Traction: Heavy Duty Parts selling heavy equipment parts, so doing this course wasn’t a big stretch, as he’s been around heavy equipment a long time.
Jesso, who is 42 years old, was busy being a mom to her daughters Christine and Stephanie Jesso, who both graduated from secondary school several years ago.
The two had originally met while camping in Black Duck Siding with friends some years ago, and met again camping in the same community several years ago, starting a relationship. The two love the outdoors and the activities that go along with it, especially hiking.
They lived together in Corner Brook for five months before moving to Black Duck Siding, where they have been living while taking their course. Tucker said permanent housing is on hold until they get work.
Both found the academic part of the course a little hard, but Jesso said with teachers eager to help and their own determination to complete the course, they managed to get through it together.
“We studied seven days a week and would get up at 6 a.m. and would be at the school before our instructors arrived,” she said.
Derek said it was a really good learning experience, but you take from it what you put into it — and they both put an awful lot in.
In the end it worked out well as both Jesso and Tucker passed with a 4.0 GPA and the two were named to the Honours Society at the college.
They said the instructors and fellow students were more like family and friends and made learning enjoyable. Instructors were there to help, from academic problems to other challenges they had in their personal lives.
Both are willing to move away for work and have already been applying for crane operator jobs in Alberta. After getting through college together, they’re also hoping to work together.