Graduation is a time of hope. I was reminded of this as Lakehead's first group of English Language Program students wrapped up their exams in December with an exuberant commencement ceremony in the PACI auditorium.
In the fall, these students from Brazil, China, and Saudi Arabia converged on the Thunder Bay campus to become fluent in English. Many of them had conditional offers of admission and the English Language Program (ELP) was the first step towards full-time degree studies.
Some were recent high school graduates while others were transfer students from Humber College's International Business course and third-year overseas university students participating in the Science Without Borders initiative. Whatever their background, they were committed to putting in the hard work necessary to earn a university degree.
But the rigours of learning are balanced by a sense of camaraderie shared by both the students and the teachers. "It's a lot of fun," says instructor Lorraine Smith. "It's not the same as a regular job. These students want to be here and they're interested in a lot of different things."
English Language Program students enjoy graduation festivities
The English Language Program is a key component of the University's wider internationalization strategy focussed on recruiting more students from abroad and encouraging faculty and domestic students to take part in exchanges and partnerships.
The growth of the English Language Program illustrates the success of this renewed global perspective. Although it has only been in existence a few months, the number of students skyrocketed from nearly 40 in September to nearly a 100 in January which is having a huge economic impact on Thunder Bay.
And the program's supportive and close-knit community is helping students settle quickly into their new home. Even the cold Canadian winter has it attractions. "My dream back home was to have a very big air conditioner," Brazilian student Eduardo de Jesus Coelho Reis jokes, "but here we have a natural one."
Congratulations to Kate Mac Intyre (HBSc'99)!
Kate won an iPad for letting us know whether she prefers to read the Lakehead Alumni Magazine online or in print. For those of you who haven't yet had a chance to register your choice, please go to www.lakeheadualumni.ca, click on the Update Your Address button, and go to the Class News section at the bottom of the page to indicate your preference.