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Everest College students hope for a chance to finish their programs

02/26/2015 02:30 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT
Sara Finch was supposed to finish her training to become a medical office administrator this week.

"I was done tomorrow," she said. 

Instead, last week, Finch, 23, was pulled out of her practicum to hear her college was being shut down. She had six days left until she was due to graduate a program through Everest College. 

Finch and her 3-year-old son Hunter attended a rally Thursday outside Hamilton city hall to raise support for the students to finish out their programs. Many of the two dozen students at the rally have children. Some have worked in food and tourism service before they enrolled at Everest, dreaming of a new life.

A few instructors came, too, to stand in support of the students. One had tears in her eyes.

The private career college was shut down last week after Ontario's superintendent of private career colleges suspended its license to operate, citing financial concerns. That shuttered the school's 14 Ontario campuses, including one in downtown Hamilton and one on the Mountain. Across the province, the shut-down affected some 2,400 students. Everest's U.S. parent company has filed for Canadian bankruptcy protection.

Kelly Detlor, 28, was a few months from finishing the medical office administrator program. She worked at Tim Hortons for a few years, but wanted to be more secure in her career. Detlor has a 6-year-old son, and she said many of her classmates were parents who were drawn to Everest's flexible schedule.

"A lot of them have children," she said. "We all want to do something for ourselves and for our family."

Detlor is carrying $30,000 in student loans for tuition and living expenses for the year of training, and she said she and her classmates were in the middle of applying for grant relief when the plug was pulled. The students are asking for a "teach-out" -- a chance to finish their programs.

"We understand the school has to close but let us finish," Detlor said.

Reza Moridi, Ontario minister of Training, Colleges and Universities told CBC Sudbury that “students are being helped to transition” — either by transferring to another college or getting a refund from the province’s $3 million liability fund.

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