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Charlene Yousefi

Perseverance pays off for co-op veteran

June 1, 2007

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By Diane Luckow

The lure of high educational standards drew international student Shaghayegh (Charlene) Yousefi to Canada from her homeland, Iran. Discovering SFU’s extensive co-op education program was an unexpected bonus.

Yousefi (right) was keen to enter the co-op program because, at the time, it was the only off-campus work option for international students. Her initial application was rejected, but Yousefi persevered. She took a series of workshops to learn more about how to write a résumé and do a job interview in Canada, then applied again, promising co-op program manager Paulette Johnston that if she was accepted, she would do everything asked of her.

She did, completing four co-op work terms with two different employers and eventually volunteering with the co-op program as a peer career counsellor helping other students with résumé-writing and job interviewing skills.

Her co-op work terms included three consecutive semesters at Canada’s Best Mortgages where she learned about the mortgage brokerage business and completed the mortgage brokerage licensing course.

"The work was very challenging," says Yousefi. "I loved it in the sense that there were so many things to learn about real estate law and lending laws." The company offered Yousefi a full-time job when she completed her degree, but she turned them down in favour of applying to SFU’s master of public policy (MPP) program.

"I enjoy going to school," she says. "And although I did my undergraduate studies in economics, I was hoping to do something more practical in graduate school—that’s why I applied to the MPP." If she’s accepted, she hopes to become a policy analyst in either business or government. "I’m very interested in politics and in the development of society," she says.

Arriving in Canada in 2003 at age 18, Yousefi found herself hard-pressed to adjust to living on her own in a completely different language and culture, but it was a dream that her parents had instilled in her since childhood. She’s disappointed they will not be able to see her convocate with a bachelor of arts degree. The Canadian embassy refused to issue them with a visa.

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