Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Key to success: Never giving up

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.07.05
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Special Section
PAGE: E4
BYLINE: Martin Cleary
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen / Mary Traill holdsher daughter and source of inspiration, Alexia, 4. After leaving school as a teenager, Traill returned to the Ottawa Tech Learning Centre, where she earned nine academic awards and scholarships, played seven sports, and was her graduating class' valedictorian. She will now become the school's first grad to attend college when she starts at Algonquin.; Photo: (Erin Levy); Photo: (Stephen McArthur); Photo: (Emily Watt); Photo: (Greg White); Photo: (Nancy Kay); Photo: (Peter Narbaitz); Photo: (Melina Wishart); Photo: (Sam Golder); Photo: (Brigitte Adm); Photo: (Sael Nemorin); Photo: (Kelly Weir); Photo: (Stuart Thomas); Photo: (Emily Brady); Photo: (James Verreault); Photo: (Laurel Carlton); Photo: (Ben Cutfield); Photo: (Priscilla Kuffour); Photo: (Vinh Nguyen); Photo: (Lisa Sunstrum); Photo: (Jordan Vizena)
NOTE: Athletes of the Year

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Key to success: Never giving up: Mary Traill, Ottawa Tech Learning Centre

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Alexia Traill is like most four-year-old girls. She loves to play in the park, has unlimited energy and adores her grandparents. But little does she know, she's the main source of motivation for Mary Traill, her affectionate mother.

Traill, 21, graduated last month from the Ottawa Tech Learning Centre and went out with a sonic boom, collecting an armful of academic and athletic awards and serving as valedictorian.

It took her seven years to complete the task, but seven was a lucky number for her. When she reflects on her 2004-05 school year, she explains that there was one main reason for her success. "It's because of my daughter," says Traill, who traveled an hour on three buses twice a day to go to attend classes and play sports.

"I got pregnant at age 15. I didn't want to drop out of school. I didn't want her to know I gave up."

After Alexia was born, Traill took time off school to raise her daughter and be there to experience all the significant firsts. When she returned to school, she worked hard in the classroom and played hard at sports, while her retired father, William, 70, took care of Alexia and her mother, Kathleen, worked.

"It's a different way. But I have help from my family. It's not that tough," says Traill, who took care of Alexia after school. "She's a great girl, big and tall, red hair and blue eyes."

At her graduation last month, Traill was the centre of attention. Not only did she win the Principal's Award as well as nine other academic honours and scholarships, but also she was selected the school's senior female athlete of the year and female intramural athlete of the year for her leadership, dedication and team work.

"It (sports) kept me active. It took my mind off things," Traill says about her school's lunch-hour games against Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School, the city's other vocational high school. "Sometimes we'd win, but mostly we'd lose. But I was there to have fun." Traill played seven sports -- soccer, touch football, volleyball, badminton, ball hockey, ultimate Frisbee and softball. She was named the most sportsmanlike player in touch football, badminton and ball hockey.

In September, she'll attend Algonquin College and become the first Ottawa Tech Learning Centre grad in its four-year history to attend college. The learning centre is designed to allow students to enter the work force directly after school.

Traill plans to take a two-year law clerk diploma course, the first step of her three-part, 10-year post-secondary school plan. In 2007, she anticipates returning to Algonquin for the three-year paralegal course. Finally, she wants to attend university to become a lawyer.

"I'm scared because I don't want to fail," she says.

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