Human Connection – the deciding factor, Saint Mary’s University
When the Vice-President of your university jokes that he might have to think about not graduating you just to keep you around on campus, you know you have contributed to your university. In the short two years that Akshey Kalra, an international student from India, joined Saint Mary’s University, he has made his presence felt from the catering department to the office of the Vice-President.
Akshey had applied to several universities in Canada. The decision to study at Saint Mary’s University was one made on the basis of human connectedness. “I got a constantly better response from Saint Mary’s University admission staff, they answered all of my questions and were constantly in touch with me” explained Akshey.
Deciding on where to study abroad is a huge financial investment for an international student. So when a student forms a sense of connectedness with the institution he will call home for the next several years before even leaving his country that decision is made with more certainty and comfort.
According to Akshey, what made the decision easier to make was meeting Ms. Kristen Sutherland, a representative from Saint Mary’s University, and forging an immediate personal connection.
“When Kristen came to India she was so helpful and welcoming. She offered to drive a group of us international students around when we arrived in Halifax so we know where to go shopping and how to get settled,” recounted Akshey.
Akshey immersed himself with getting to know Canada and the Canadian culture. He lived on-campus in his first year and made many friends that made him feel at home.
Academically, Akshey was faring well and it was a pleasant surprise when one of his professors in his first semester was from India. The professor Sastry, took Akshey under his wing and gave him tips on living in Canada, how to survive university life, and even where to buy Indian groceries.
“I still refer to Dr. Sastry for advice,” said Akshey.
As soon as Akshey became familiar with his surroundings he became involved in campus activities. He joined the Indian Society of Halifax where he helped organize social events and sporting activities such as cricket matches.
Akshey also joined, AIESEC a global student-run organization that helps students gain work experiences in other countries. Akshey worked with the organization for a year supporting their IT and website. He also helped about 30 students from around the world secure jobs in Canada and other countries.
Akshey is now completing his final semester of a Computer Science degree and thanks to all his volunteer and work experience; he received a job offer to work for a Canadian company operating in India after graduation.