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Sometimes it is the failures we experience, rather than the successes, that lead us to where we were meant to be.

Natalie Panattoni learned that lesson first-hand when her initial educational goal of entering the College’s East Kootenay Teacher Education program was derailed when she was unsuccessful in one of the prerequisite courses.

“I found high school easy so I didn’t have a great study ethic,” she said. “After crying about not passing, I re-enrolled in the course as well as into an accounting class. That accounting course was a game changer - I switched my focus from education to business immediately.”

Though she initially chose the College because it was close to home, and therefore, more economical, she soon found the real advantage was the availability of online courses in the Bachelor of Business Administration: Sustainable Business Practices program.

“As I progressed through my degree, I took more of my classes online since I was also working,” she said. “It was also optimal to prepare me for the CPA program, as it is all online as well.”

Natalie has been employed at BDO Canada in Cranbrook since she graduated from the BBA program in 2017. After experiencing another setback when she was unsuccessful on a portion of the CPA Common Final Exam (which has a less than 55% pass rate for first-time writers), she went on to successfully re-write and earned her CPA designation in December 2020.

Though it was her own drive and determination that ultimately led her to succeed, Natalie is grateful for the leg up the College provided.

“The College is a great place to start, for so many reasons,” she said. “Maybe you want to stay living at home and take advantage of the less expensive tuition and cost of living. Maybe you and your friends want to rent a house together, or maybe you’re a parent that is upgrading courses. The College is so flexible. You can stay for a degree, you can transfer to other institutions if you want to move, or if you want to extend your post-secondary education.”

And through the ups and downs of her educational experience, Natalie is grateful for the lessons her setbacks provided.

“I cannot tell you how much failing at things has taught me to both be humble and to persevere,” she said.