Dyra Pridham went to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) to take her career to another level.
Now on the cusp of graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree, the Vernon resident is well on her way to achieving that goal, having been chosen to give the valedictory address at her May 27 graduation ceremony at the Prince George campus.
It’s been a long and winding journey to get to where she is now, and the path she’s forged is proof that there need not be a straight line from high school to career.
“Being selected as a Valedictorian means I can give a voice to individuals who, like me, never imagined they could complete a rigorous post-secondary degree after starting a family and establishing a career path,” she said. “I am honoured to be acknowledged as an example of how success does not follow a straight line from high school to university — there is a lot in between, and it is the in between that matters.”
Pridam started out earning a diploma in journalism from Langara College in 2007, and started her career in administrative roles for BC Hydro and the City of Prince George.
Working alongside the Prince George mayor and council as senior executive assistant and watching them tackle challenges during council meetings, Pridam was inspired her to further her education.
“I wanted to return to school so that I could play a larger role in the vital work that was being addressed in those meetings,” she said. “I made every effort to develop my skills and sought ways to continually improve myself. I began taking courses through the Local Government Management Association and to my surprise, I discovered that learning as an adult was incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable.”
Early success in her coursework soon had Pridam thinking bigger. After earning a second diploma, in public administration, from the University of Victoria in 2020, she found a perfect fit for her educational needs at UNBC’s Master of Business program, which allows applicants without undergraduate degrees to be considered on their professional merits.
Pridham says her experience in the NBA program helped her secure a promotion to a management-level job with BC Timber Sales in Vernon.
“The MBA program pushed me to think beyond just finding a solution to a problem and encouraged me to examine organizational issues through the lens of the numerous discipline areas embedded within the MBA degree, including strategy, finance, and operations management,” she said.
Though the pandemic pushed many of her classes online, she says some of the strongest friendships with classmates were formed in those challenging times.
She’s looking forward to seeing all of those classmates in person on May 27, when they will cross the stage together after her valedictorian speech.
Pridam has many people to thank, but her husband Dustin tops the list.
“His profound conviction in my abilities and steadfast support allowed me to explore ways to connect my passion for lifelong learning and my affinity to take the road less travelled.”