Student Stories

Judy Wong has worked in higher education for the last decade. After editing several academic works, including a doctoral thesis, she became interested in developing her editing skills further.

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Judy plans to apply her learning to her current work as well as toward a future freelance career. Thanks to the StrongerBC future skills grant, Judy will be able to complete the Editing Certificate sooner than planned. 

“As a working professional, and mother of a young child, I’m certain that without the grant, I will have to put off enrolling for courses as my family’s expenses are at the forefront of my priorities,” she says. 

“The future skills grant has allowed me to further my professional development without having to worry about the financial burden. With rising mortgage rates and inflation, affordability is a huge concern in my household and it is comforting to know that I can continue to learn and develop more skills.”

As a recent university graduate who has worked in post-secondary institutions, Harla Sidhu knows the importance of education. She decided to pursue the Project Management Certificate as a strategic investment in her career that will enhance her skills for a competitive job market. 

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The StrongerBC future skills grant played a key role in motivating her to join the program, says Harla:

“Financial barriers are significant for many young Canadians, especially given the current economic climate. However, this grant has helped me get closer to my education and career goals without encountering excessive financial constraints.” 

Without the grant, Harla admits, she might have put off pursuing the certificate program altogether. “Which makes me sad to even think about,” she adds. 

Michelle Gaudet

Climate Action Certificate

Currently working in municipal communication, Michelle Gaudet joined the Climate Action program to prepare for the day when climate and environmental communication will form a major part of her work. “I believe every job can be a climate job, and my goal is to use the skills I already have in communication and retool myself for the future we’re facing,” she says.

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The StrongerBC future skills grant has allowed her to commit to the full program instead of taking one course at a time. “The future skills grant was the only reason I was able to take this program at this time in my life,” says Michelle. “This grant is allowing me to upskill while working full time without having to add to my student debt. I am so grateful that this grant existed when I needed it. 

“I hope this grant continues to be offered and that the list of available programs grows, because accessible and affordable education is life-changing.” 

Jane Reside

Editing Certificate

A retired naturopath who ran her own business for 22 years, Jane Reside was ready to pivot to a new career. She turned to the Editing Certificate program to build on the editing work she’d been doing on the side for several years. “I truly believe this certificate will open doors for me,” she explains.

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Before learning about the StrongerBC future skills grant, Jane says she could only afford a single course at a time. After two years, she had completed five courses.

The grant made it possible to complete another five courses, in less than four months. “I’m only three courses away from completion,” she says. “This has been an amazing shot in the arm for me.”  

Without the grant, says Jane, she might have abandoned the certificate altogether. “I’m not sure I’d get anywhere in the competitive world of editing without that certificate on my resume. But the grant got me a lot closer, a lot faster. I’m so grateful.”

After moving to Vancouver to complete her master’s degree, Shuwei Xie has spent the past 13 years raising her three children. Now ready to start a career, she settled on the Medical Translation and Interpretation program as a first step.

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“My in-laws do not speak any English,” she explains, so she always acts as an interpreter at healthcare visits. When Shuwei met a Cantonese interpreter during a hospital appointment, she realized it was a job that would suit her.

The StrongerBC future skills grant has impacted her life in a significant way, says Shuwei: “It is very challenging for people like me to get back to work, with no relevant training in Canada and no work experience for so long. The grant encouraged me to take my first step back into society by being involved in this SFU program.

“I’ll be able to find a career that is meaningful and could be helpful for many people. Without the grant, I might not have considered taking courses and choosing this path to be an interpreter, because of financial considerations.”

Laura Harrison is a Licensed Practical Nurse with Island Health Authority who’s worked in a project position for the past two years supporting nursing workflow through implementation and change. She was drawn to the Project Management program to build her knowledge and skills and apply them to the work she’s doing.

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For Laura, the StrongerBC future skills grant gave her the push she needed to “just do it.”

“Without the grant,” she says, “I would still be contemplating how to move forward with project management education. I have looked at these courses for years and never felt like I could justify spending the money to take the courses when life has so many other expenses.”

Her goal now is to complete the program within the next eight months. “The grant drove the cost down, making it affordable for me to take advantage of additional education.”

Ann Honcharova moved to Canada from Ukraine three years ago with a dream to one day open her own bakery. Thanks to the Business Management Certificate program, she’s now building the skills and knowledge she needs to become a successful business owner. 

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When she was hired for her current role as a manager at a B.C. specialty foods store, she quickly realized that she lacked experience and confidence in managing people and was unfamiliar with certain aspects of running a business in Canada.

The Business Management Certificate program is now filling those gaps. Without the StrongerBC future skills grant, she says, she likely would never have enrolled in the program.

“Since moving to Canada, I always wished to have an opportunity to continue my studies here,” she says. “The grant took away my concerns regarding the cost of education… All the courses are happening online and I don't have to take any time off from my job.

“Finding this kind of opportunity motivated me to improve my knowledge and skills in the field that I like and where I want to grow as a professional.”

Jennifer Vanderlei

Project Management Certificate

Getting the training you need to further your career can be a challenge when you’re raising a young family and have limited resources, says Jennifer Vanderlei, a part-time research assistant in the healthcare field.

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With her children now in school, she’s begun pursuing the Project Management Certificate, thanks to the StrongerBC future skills grant.

“The grant allowed me to start this program without having to sacrifice the needs of my family in terms of financial resources,” says Jennifer. “It allowed me to get started on this career goal much sooner than expected.”

Without the grant, she says, she would still be slowly saving up the tuition needed to join the program.

“My hope is that the Project Management program will provide me with solid foundational knowledge and help me with getting certified, so I can more easily transition into a project coordinator and then manager roles later on,” she says.