Focusing on academics pays off for Truro teen

‘It was a whole new world for me, indulging into something more difficult'

Raissa Tetanish
Published on June 26, 2014

Brent LeBlanc is one of more than 400 graduating from Cobequid Educational Centre tonight, and is doing so after going from an average in the 60's in Grade 10 to one in the 90's. 

Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

TRURO - Brent LeBlanc went from an average of 69 to one in the 90's in just two years.

He was taking foundation courses in Grade 10, but by the time he graduates Friday night, his courses were academic ones.

"I was looking at careers and one that interested me was engineering," said LeBlanc, who will cross the stage to get his diploma from Cobequid Educational Centre. "What I noticed was that pre-requisites were courses such as chemistry, physics, math and whatnot, and I realized I would have to take academic level math to get there.

"I was always fascinated with putting things together and messing them up. Instead of playing with my toys, I would stare at them and analyze them. Engineering suits my problem-solving nature."

It was halfway through his Grade 11 year when LeBlanc, who lives in Truro, realized he wanted to take engineering after graduation, so he did what he needed to make that happen.

"I was a little worried I might not be able to fit some of the pre-requisites into my time slots, and that I would have to take them in university or college," he said, adding the only course he hoped to take that he couldn't was biology. "It was a whole new world for me, indulging into something more difficult."

With the help of his guidance counselor, math foundations teacher and his parents, LeBlanc was able to pull through, and he did so with flying colours.

"I'm very satisfied with how I did, I believe I even made the honour roll," he said.

Before the ceremony was set to begin at 7:30 p.m., LeBlanc, who has extensive volunteering experience, was already aware he was awarded with four scholarships, including an entrance scholarship to the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus where he intends to attend in the fall.

"He was determined to succeed," said his mother, Sharon. "He was very focused on his career path when a lot of young people many not have been as dedicated."

But LeBlanc's schooling wasn't always smooth sailing.

Born with hearing problems, LeBlanc said it hindered his full potential. He was also a bit of a loner, he admits, but that played to his advantage.

"It was hard for me to relate to others, but it occurred to me to focus on my academics instead. It was all about personal development to me, and helping others," he said.

"I felt the need to give back. It feels good to help others. Sometimes I would find myself bored sitting at home not knowing what to do, so I started to give back."

And that's just what LeBlanc has done in the past few years.

While he's been pulling his marks up significantly, LeBlanc gave a hand to the SPCA winter carnival, the local Lions Club and its breakfast fundraiser for the Colchester Food Bank, Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child program, cleaning debris in and around Stanfield's ballpark and the Salmon River bridge, canvassing for the Children's Wish Foundation and Canadian Diabetes Association, and fundraising for the MS Society. He also distributed treats during a community Halloween party, packed for the United Way of Colchester's Back to School program, was a teacher's assistant in the nursery and children's departments at a local church, helped with the Salvation Army's Kettle Campaign, and worked at Scotia Pool day camps, the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus's multicultural camp, and leadership training camps.

Also in the summer, he's been making money to help pay for school by mowing lawns in the community.

"I'll continue to volunteer whenever I can find the time," he said.

While he hasn't yet decided which discipline to study, that will soon come.

"I focus more on the present," he said.

"I fully expect him to do quite well," said Sharon. "He's been excelling in everything. He was told in junior high that he would be best in math foundations, so for him to go from an average of 69 to scores like 92 in academics, it's just amazing."

As LeBlanc was growing up, Sharon was willing to allow her son to take his own path.

"I didn't push it," she said. "He decided to switch it up and he invested more time, even outside of the classroom. He self-educated himself, I would say."

Sharon does, however, give kudos to the public school system for helping her son.

"I found they were always willing to listen and to give him that extra help if he needed it," she added.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa