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Matt MacRae, Extended Education graduate

Matt MacRae, Extended Education graduate

Believe in yourself and you’ll find a way

Do it, go back to school

October 22, 2019 — 

When other people say you can’t do something, be strong and prove them wrong.

That’s wise advice from Matt MacRae who has overcome his share of challenges in life to graduate from Applied Counselling.

“I was told I would never be able to graduate, never be able to have a family or anything like that and I proved them all wrong,” MacRae says. “There is something to be said for the human spirit and believing in yourself, you know, even when everybody else is telling you no, you’ll find a way because you are strong.”

In 1996, MacRae was in a serious motor vehicle accident, a head-on collision with a semi. As a result, he suffered a head injury and was paralyzed on his left side. Doctors told him he may never walk again.

“I was doing rehabilitation. When the doctor checked me, he asked if I could walk and I said heck, I can moonwalk for you. And I did.”

Celebrating graduation
For MacRae, being a graduate at the 2019 Extended Education Fall Graduation is cause for celebration.

“I’m overjoyed. To go from having your legs (and your life) almost taken away from you to graduating. My mom and dad, they remember me in the hospital when I was fighting to live, let alone graduate from a program so they’re absolutely overjoyed to be here in the stands cheering me on so it’s a great day for everybody.”

He also recognized the support of his wife, and his daughter, Grace.

The life-threatening accident was one of two serious motor vehicle accidents he survived in his life, and other challenges too.

He’s lived with schizophrenia since he was 17 and heard voices until his young daughter was born. “Who says recovery is not possible and mental illness will stop you from enjoying a happy, productive life?” he says.

In 2006, MacRae had a brain aneurism. Seventeen days later, he was proud to be living at home again, independently.

He also recently lost 60 lbs.

You can do it
“If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it is looking out for you and will see you through whatever you are going through. And you can do it. Even if they say you never will. I am living proof.”

MacRae registered for Applied Counselling because he was already volunteering for the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, and he wanted to get some training “to make myself legit”.

Now he is working at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society as a peer support worker, using what he learned in the program every day.

“It’s so wonderful to be graduating. It wasn’t enough for me to do well in class. I wanted to excel, just because I was told I couldn’t.” And, he did.

The program had excellent instructors, he says. “They were phenomenal. Class A, top-notch, and with their life experience, they brought so much to the program. This is a great community of teachers and students and I’ve made some friendships here that I will cherish my entire life.”

Be positive
With counselling, it’s important to be unconditionally positive and to realize that so many barriers can be broken when the counsellor is not looking down on the client but rather treating them as an equal human being, he says.

Likewise, he appreciated an instructor speaking to him as a fellow professional, calling on his experience and insight. “I had a prof actually call me and ask my opinion. It’s kind of neat to be looked at as an equal, to be asked for my opinion on a subject. It felt pretty good.”

MacRae recommends everyone go back to school and extend their education.

“If I had one choice in my life, and I had unlimited money, I would just spend my entire life as a student, just learning,” he says.

“Do it. It’s one of the greatest things you’ll ever do in your life.”

Learn more about Extended Education program and courses including several online options.

UM Extended Education

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6 comments on “Believe in yourself and you’ll find a way

  1. Bernie

    I personally know this amazing person and am proud to be a member of his family. He inspires me every day to be a Better Human. Cheers Matt we are super proud of you.

  2. Larry Wood

    We done Matt you are someone that is an inspiration to me and I have none of the difficulties that you have overcome. I have known your situation a long time as I am friends with Val.

  3. Travis

    Way to go Matt! A great guy who is always willing to help you out and never ask for anything in return. Congrats to you my friend.

  4. Matt MacRae

    You were a friend to me when I was at my lowest point after my second semi trailer accident I will never forget your friendship and that you were always in my corner you are a large part of what made me into the man I am today I love you!!!!

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