We often hear statistics remarking how every year universities and colleges in Toronto welcome thousands of students from different parts of the world. More particularly, Centennial College is considered to be one of Canada’s most culturally diverse post-secondary institutions, with a student body representing almost one hundred cultural groups.
International students arrive to our college eager to integrate themselves into the country’s culture. Such is the case of Anastasia Gal, a first-semester student from Ukraine in the Communications-Professional Writing graduate program at the Story Arts Centre.
According to Anastasia, her campus has played a key role in making her feel at home. “My first words of gratitude”, she says, “go to Barry Waite, the Chair of the School of Communications, Media and Design.” Anastasia, who is also an alumna of the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program at the Story Arts Centre, says Waite was the one to make her feel accepted and welcome in her first year at Centennial College. There were points where Anastasia felt anxious about her English not being good enough to be in a communications program, but Waite was always ready to point out to her that she was succeeding.
Jennifer McIlroy, an instructor in the CCPR program, was also an important figure in Anastasia’s first year at Centennial College. McIlroy, who Anastasia describes as “one of a kind”, helped her start building a network in Toronto: “She introduced me to people I’m still friends with.”
In her current program, Anastasia continues to feel welcomed. She only has positive things to say about Kelly McConvey, the coordinator of the Communications- Professional Writing graduate program. “I love Kelly, she’s great. Her personalized approach to teaching tailors to the individual learning needs of every student and that brings the best possible professional opportunities for each of her students”.
Anastasia hasn’t gone back to Ukraine since she left more than two years ago. Although she misses her parents every day, she never ceases to be grateful for the transformative effects the SAC has had on her, both professionally and personally. Professionally, her college has helped her get closer to her dream of becoming a marketing and communications coordinator. And personally, the experience of meeting so many people from different cultures in her classes has helped her become more empathetic: “I’ve learnt to step into the shoes of other people and try to see the world through their eyes,” she concludes.