Bringing the world to Camosun: Sukhdeep Kaur’s journey from India

Since arriving in Victoria last year, the Camosun student has embraced her new culture and is grateful for the warm welcome she received

With top-notch grades coming out of high school in India

With top-notch grades coming out of high school in India, Sukhdeep Kaur could have gone anywhere in the world to further her education, but Canada was always her first choice. “With my test scores, everybody was telling me that I should go to Canada,” she says. “Canada is known as a safe country and what I really like about it here is the respect for talent. There is no partiality.“

No one in her family had ever visited Canada, but the country’s positive reputation was a key selling point. After attending an education fair in her home city of Kurukshetra in Haryana, Northern India, she came away convinced that Camosun College would be the best choice to advance her studies and her career. “I was really impressed with what they said and I knew right away that I wanted to come here,” she says. “There were lots of colleges at the fair, but the Camosun representatives really encouraged students to come to Canada and have a positive international experience. They helped me overcome all the challenges with immigration and things like that.”

Since arriving in Victoria in August 2015, she has embraced her new culture and is grateful for the warm welcome she received. “When I first arrived here I was so excited, and everything was so neat and clean,” she recalls. “My host mum came to pick me up at the airport and she took me home. It was a really nice feeling.”

It took some time to get used to her new city as she learned to navigate the bus schedule, explore new neighbourhoods and orient herself to campus life. “I’ve missed my bus many times because in India we drive on the left side and here we drive on the right side,” she says laughing. ”Sometimes, I’m standing on the wrong side of the road, but the bus is coming from the other side.”

At Camosun, she was particularly impressed with the organization of orientation activities for international students which take place over five days. She believes the longer structure allows for the perfect mix between formal learning and social activities. “It was a good experience because we were given useful information,” she says. ”After, we’d have fun and get to make new friends, and then get to go out and experience Victoria. I really like how Camosun’s orientation gave us the opportunity to experience each and everything about being a student.”

For the past year, Sukhdeep has studied electronics and computer engineering technology at Camosun’s Interurban campus. During her first term, she achieved a remarkable perfect GPA in all of her classes. Believing that it is important to fully immerse herself in campus life, last year she ran for and was elected Interurban Education Council representative where she has worked as part of a team to review and draft policies. This year, she is running for election to Student Council. She credits her achievements to supportive parents and caring instructors who go the extra mile to ensure student success. For example, she has found the flexible learning environment and willingness of her teachers to take the time to answer questions to be especially helpful as she had to learn different methods from those taught back home. “In India, our math textbooks showed a completely different method than what we are studying in Canada, even though we’d get the exact same answers. I found my teacher really helpful, because we sat together and worked out both methods. Now I understand both ways and how to use them.”

Growing up in a family that values education, Sukhdeep’s parents always supported her and her brother’s success equally. “My father is a tutor—he teaches many students and that’s the environment I lived at my home,” she says. “My parents are very broad-minded so that’s why they decided to send me here to Canada to get international exposure.”

In her spare time, she enjoys painting and listening to music. During high school, she was a national Taekwondo champion. In addition to her studies, she holds down a busy part-time job in retail.

Smart, motivated and passionate students like Sukhdeep are key to Camosun’s success and registrations from India have soared in recent years says Camosun Vice President Partnerships Geoff Wilmshurst. “India has very quickly become our second largest country for recruitment,” he notes. “A lot of that growth has happened because we made good investments in India in terms of staff leadership.“

Each year, Camosun welcomes over 1,600 international students from 80 different countries and India only ranks behind China in the number of international student registrants. Camosun’s growing reputable for academic excellence and a student experience second to none is driving that growth.

“Sukhdeep chose to come here because she knew that she would get a good quality education,” says Wilmshurst. ”I think that international students of her calibre bring incredible benefits to our local students in the classroom because they share different perspectives. There’s been a tremendous change at Camosun in terms of the diversity of the student population over the past few years. We want our young people to be exposed to different cultures, different ways of thinking and different languages. It enriches everybody.”

Looking ahead, Sukhdeep is enthusiastic about her future career. “After completing my courses, I want to work in electronics or computer engineering and I want to create something that will be new for the world that will help the environment,” she says. “I would love to stay and work in Canada. It’s my dream because Canada has supported me so much and I want to give back.”

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