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Lianne Boyd graduated at the top of her grade twelve class from Laurier Secondary School. Lianne is well spoken and enthusiastic. She's one of 2007's E.C. McTavish Award winners sponsored by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.
Lianne's story reads like a classic of the average young adult. But there's nothing average about her.
Judy Johnson, Lianne's guidance counselor at Laurier says, "In grade nine Lianne came to us with serious emotional issues that prevented her from completing her year. She had trouble in grade ten and then missed a lot of credits in grade 11. But she never gave up. She went to summer school, made up the credits and now she's on the honor roll! She's determined, personable, outgoing, and she has a good sense of justice." Lianne was chosen by teachers at Laurier to receive the E.C. McTavish Award because she "exemplifies a student who has done her best while overcoming some significant difficulties."
Many can't even begin to imagine the hardships she confronted at such a young age. Growing up, Lianne's home life was chaotic and characterized by violence, physical and sexual abuse. There is a history of mental health challenges within the family and by the time she was in grade seven, Lianne had lost all self-esteem.
"I always thought I was useless," says Lianne. Her circumstances were dictating her future. She spent time in Children's Hospital because she started cutting herself in a desperate attempt to relieve her own stress.
She was in and out of London Psychiatric Hospital (LPH) and was suspected to suffer Bi-Polar Disorder. To stabilize her moods she was given medication. More than once she has tried to overdose with pills. But after her last suicide attempt she had a revelation.
While recovering in hospital, Lianne shared a room with a thirteen-year-old girl battling cancer. "That gave me a reality check. Here she was with no choice at all about her life, and I had put myself in the hospital. I decided right then something had to change."
Lianne credits her teachers at LPH as well as counsellors at Vanier with helping put her life back on track. At LPH she received one on one teaching. It allowed her to gain confidence and realize she was neither stupid nor useless.
She took advantage of counselling at Vanier for a year. Talking to others gave her the courage and tools she needed to confront the challenges in her life and move forward with optimism and hope.
The most significant person in Liannes' life has been Lianne herself. She is exceptional in her capacity for self-awareness and self-direction. It is clear she will pursue her ambitions and succeed. With determination like she has shown, anything is possible.