After a lengthy career in the Canadian Army, 27 year old Leland MacLeod was no stranger to overcoming challenges and pushing himself to his limits when he entered Carleton University as a Special Student. Prior to jumping into academia, Leland felt intimidated by school mostly as a result of what he describes as poor grades in high school. Little did he know that by facing his own fears, he would soon achieve an ‘A’ in Economics, a feat that even the most seasoned of university students would find difficult to achieve. As a result of his academic success as a Special Student, Leland was accepted into Carleton as a regular student and since then, has not looked back.
Having grown up with limited knowledge of his Mi’kmaq heritage, Leland credits his exposure to Indigenous issues, students, professors and outreach at Carleton to sparking his interest in exploring his roots. Leland asserts that “this is the perfect time [for Aboriginal students] to go” to Carleton as the Aboriginal community is becoming stronger, paving the way for up-and-coming Indigenous scholars. He also acknowledges that if not for Carleton, and in particular his Aboriginal colleagues and the Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education, he might not have learned about his own identity until much later. Now, he knows “how much [identity] matters” and is thankful that the Aboriginal community at Carleton has helped him to develop and foster his identity as a person of mixed Mi’kmaq and European backgrounds.
Leland’s journey does not end here. He intends to use his degree from Carleton as an opportunity to empower himself, his family and other Indigenous youth with similar backgrounds and identities. Leland took a chance on himself and is thankful to Carleton for giving him the opportunity to prove himself as an outstanding student. According to Leland, “the payoff happens immediately…it makes [all previous struggles] worth it.” We thank Leland for believing in himself, but also for choosing Carleton as the university that ultimately gets to see him shine.
Find out how to become a Special Student at Carleton University.