Rozy Karim with her grandchildren, Arya (L) and Liyam (R), says attending SFU was her childhood fairy tale dream come true.

Degree not a path to a career, but to fulfillment, for International Studies graduate


At one point during her studies in the International Studies program, Rozy Karim found herself in her student advisor’s office with tears in her eyes. Having begun her undergraduate education at the age of 59, she reflected on her past and wondered if she would be able to complete her studies.

To anyone who knew Karim’s story, the answer would be a resounding “Yes, you can!”

Karim grew up in East Africa and describes her childhood as “impoverished”. She had a great love of books and learning, though her aspiration to attend a “big school” seemed like a fairy tale. At the age of 19, Karim was sent to Central Africa to be married. She found herself in Burundi, then Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands were massacred in the Hutu-Tutsi conflict. Terrified and pregnant, Karim escaped with her husband in the middle of the night through the mountains, to a neighbouring town where the Canadian consulate processed her as a refugee. In late 1974, she and her husband arrived in Toronto.

While safe from the threat of war, Karim’s life in Canada still presented many obstacles. She became a single mother to three sons and was determined to provide them with a better life. Through perseverance and a few career changes, Karim established herself as a businesswoman, purchasing a franchise of an insurance agency, as well as a bowling alley.

Read more on the International Studies web site ...

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