Our Students

Discussion meets introduction – Andre Reid, Learner, Spanning the Gaps

Andre ReidFor a long time, Andre Reid thought he had missed his chance. He struggled to finish high school and was unable to move into post-secondary education. As a child, he’d dreamed of becoming at teacher. But as the years passed, it seemed like it would never happen.

“The idea of a university education always was elusive and exclusive to me,” he says. “I was working full-time so my mind didn’t revolve around post-secondary schooling.”

“They made me feel very comfortable in class and for those reasons I was able to reach out to fellow classmates; I could talk about school related or personal matters with comfort.”

Andre Reid
Learner, Spanning the Gaps

He was in his late twenties when he heard about the Spanning the Gaps program at The Chang School, designed to increase post-secondary participation by those who might not otherwise do so. He was intrigued, but also uncertain.

“I thought, this is who goes to Ryerson: the creme de la creme,” he says. “It was a lot to take, considering I had never taken university classes before. (But) I thought, maybe this is my chance.”

However, he found the professors to be approachable and clear, and they made themselves available for questions.

“They made me feel very comfortable in class and for those reasons I was able to reach out to fellow classmates; I could talk about school related or personal matters with comfort,” he says. ”My confidence grew from these classes.” So did success.

Following the course, Andre enrolled in undergraduate courses, and he’s now in a college certificate program focusing on strategies for teaching students with learning disabilities.

“It’s a program that helps to level the playing field for all students in the classroom,” he says.

His dream of being a teacher now within reach, Andre is in no hurry to end his own education.

Asked what his goal is five years down the line, he says: “I’m hoping to be doing my master’s, maybe finishing my master’s, and I hope to work towards my PhD someday.”

Story by Cameron French, Learner, Writing Workshops / Photo by Yiqing Wang, Graduate, Certificate in Photography Studies

Our Students

We did it! So can you!

Ryan Besito

“After the birth of my second son, I knew getting a higher education would go a long way towards modelling successful behavior for my children. The Spanning the Gaps program offered me the opportunity to explore my long sought aspiration to be the first member of my family to achieve post-secondary success. Spanning the Gaps connected me with the student services that spoke to me as an Aboriginal student, and the staff always had time to address my concerns on an individual basis. I would not be completing my fourth and final year of undergraduate studies without Spanning the Gaps and their genuine desire to support and encourage me to reach my goals.”

Ryan Besito
Graduate, Bridges to Ryerson
Undergraduate, Early Childhood Education, 4th year


“I needed a challenge and my jobs were not able to tap or channel into my potential. I believed I had potential, and if I could find a way to capitalize on it, I would. I have held great jobs that paid well, but I realized that without a degree, nothing is guaranteed in this society. Companies always want to hire the most competent employees, and I realized that a university education would make me a more attractive candidate. The individuals in Spanning the Gaps were able to recognize my potential and help me to not only create career goals but to see that they can be achieved. Despite my experiences in the revenue, federal customs, and transport sectors, studying Law, History and other amazing courses at Ryerson resulted in changes in my life that I simply didn’t know were possible. My professional and social skills have developed and my confidence is at an all-time high. When I return to the workforce, I’ll be better equipped for the challenges that lay ahead; this time, thanks to Spanning the Gaps, my tapped potential will be put to good use, in any career path I choose.”

Graduate, Bridges to Ryerson
Undergraduate, Arts and Contemporary Studies, 3rd year


“Spanning The Gaps was the gateway that provided me with the opportunity for a university education. The courses prepare students with first-hand experience of what university life entails. The program makes the transition into university life easier as the staff not only provides educational advice but options and support for other aspect of the students’ lives. Spanning The Gaps is more than a program – it is like a family.“

Graduate, Bridges to Ryerson
Undergraduate, Arts and Contemporary Studies, 2nd year



“As a proud graduate of the Bridging Program, I am immensely thankful for the unprecedented opportunities that Spanning the Gaps has enabled me to pursue. With a renewed passion for education, I am currently completing my undergrad in Politics and Governance, with a determination to succeed and proceed on to my Masters. The Spanning the Gaps team supports me tremendously; they believe in me, the possibility for me to make a difference in this world, and my dream to have my voice heard. I am blessed to have now joined this incredible team as the Community Liaison work-study student, and extremely privileged to be giving back to a program that challenges students’ potential by transforming their lives and the community through higher education.”

Graduate, Bridges to Ryerson
Undergraduate, Politics and Governance, 2nd year


“Spanning the Gaps changed my life. Before entering the program, I had been laid-off. What became increasingly apparent was that without an education, life would continue to be much of the same. At a job search seminar, the program director gave a talk that challenged me to change and said he might be able to help. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to get any advice or assistance that would expedite my return to full-time studies.

Having been out of school for several years I had many doubts, fears, and worries about my academic abilities and skills, and questioned whether I would be successful in school this time around. Even though I had many apprehensions, I decided to give it my all. It wasn’t easy, but it was truly worth the effort. For the first time in my life I found my academic experiences enjoyable.

Now that I have finished the program, I feel that it has been an invaluable experience. The process has more than prepared me with the requisite skills, knowledge, and – most importantly – the confidence to succeed in my studies. Thank God for the program, and most importantly, all the staff members. Without them, the success that I and others have enjoyed would not be possible.”

Shane Decamp
Graduate, Bridges to Ryerson
Undergraduate, International Economics and Finance, 1st year


Check out a video featuring Bridges to Ryerson graduates Irene Torres and Michael Mederos.