Paul Gray admits going back to school as a mature student was somewhat intimidating. But the 55-year-old former accountant took the leap after noticing a youth movement in his profession.
“Every interview I went on for every particular project they kept hiring younger, probably at a less hourly rate,” Gray recalled.
The writing was on the wall. So Gray enrolled in Mount Royal University’s Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) program in Calgary.
“As an older student, you know there’s an intimidation factor, for sure.
“But on the other hand, you have to look at your skills and what you can bring to the table in a classroom and be open to the idea of re-educating yourself, re-inventing yourself.”
Jessica Power Cyr was one of Gray’s instructors. She knows going back to school as a mature student can be daunting.
“Anytime you’re going back for any type of education, be it Mount Royal University, perhaps it’s a another program somewhere else, there’s still that fear,” Power Cyr said.
“Do you have that belief within yourself that you can actually accomplish this?”
Despite a diagnosis of cancer just before the start of school, Gray was determined to make it through the program. Now he’s working as a part-time youth fitness leader.
Gray isn’t the only mature student to go back to work recently.
Mount Royal University says enrollment has spiked in its full-time occupational programs.
“We can’t draw a line and say it’s definitely related to the economy, but we can say we’re seeing a lot of boosts,” said Jonathan Love, media and communications specialist at Mount Royal University.
“In fact, in personal fitness training we have a 40 per cent increase over the past calendar year,” Love added.
As for Gray, his cancer and former career are now behind him. And going forward his goal in life is to use his new career to pursue his passion – to help people exercise more.