Seven students, six countries: Why Mohawk?

Meet some international students who are building a new future with Mohawk College.

Here we profile seven international students who have chosen to start or continue their post-secondary studies at Mohawk College. They are among the 30 per cent of the student population who have come from abroad, bringing their diverse views, knowledge and experiences to the campus.

“They provide an incredible example of resiliency and human spirit and courage. These students are making a significant investment in their future. They are giving up all that they know to come study with us. They have chosen Mohawk College for a reason, and we take that very seriously,” says Thea Laidman, Associate Vice President, International.

The College employs seven market specialists, three Regional Managers and four in-country representatives, who advise and support students on their journey to choosing Mohawk College. The College has career advisors, language supports, intercultural councillors, student advisors and coaches to provide access and support to the students. Mohawk College has a Language and Culture Centre (LCC) where international students can find a home away from home. At the LCC, students can meet new friends, get involved through volunteer experiences, and participate in social and cultural events throughout the year, as well as take advantage of short-term ESL programming.

NAME: Peter Gonzales

COUNTRY: Philippines

PROGRAM: Canadian Health Care for Foreign Trained Professionals, two-year post-grad certificate

BACKGROUND: Holds a science degree and medical degree and practised medicine in an emergency department and a dialysis clinic.

WHY CANADA: “My country is about to bring in universal health care and I wanted to come to Canada to experience the health care system here. I am looking at getting my permanent residency and then working in Canada.”

WHY MOHAWK: “I think this program is a good pathway for international medical professionals to get inside the medical system. It includes an introduction to Canadian health care, communications, research skills, ethics and values, physiology and anatomy, career preparation. It also includes 70 hours of placement.”

HIS EXPERIENCE: “As an international student, you wake up with doubts about whether you made the right choice. I’ve experienced homesickness and missed the routine of work. But I go to the LCC and helped with the Mooncake Festival and Chinese Lunar New Year. I also show people how to do Chinese calligraphy. The support services for international students at Mohawk are very accessible. There is a lot of support when you’re feeling lonely or struggling with something and I got a lot of help when I first arrived. It’s really nice to be of help and to be part of the solution now.”

seven tessy peterNAME: Tessy Monica Stephen


PROGRAM: Early Childhood Education

BACKGROUND: Tessy was a teacher in India. She holds a masters and two bachelor degrees. She came to Canada on her own, leaving her husband in India.

WHY CANADA: “I really wanted to come to Canada and when I read about Hamilton, I found it’s a really nice place to live. Canada is a very immigration-friendly country. Life is easier for immigrants. UK and New Zealand were options, but we decided on Canada. The education system is more impressive here.”

WHY MOHAWK: “We have friends in Toronto and elsewhere and they had a good opinion about Mohawk College. Leaving my comfort zone was difficult, so I did a lot of research to feel good about my choice.”

HER EXPERIENCE: “We were made to feel comfortable here. There are great opportunities at Mohawk College. There are so many students from all around the world and it’s a nice, peaceful campus. This is a very good place for me.”

Her first semester was hard because it was all online and she couldn’t make connections with classmates. “When it opened up, my instructors and classmates made me feel welcome. I miss home but there are lots of opportunities here to get involved.”

She spends time at the Language and Culture Centre (LCC), where she’s met friends from around the world and learned about their cultures. She is part of a Mohawk Global Learning Opportunity (GLO) trip to the Dominican Republic, with 13 other ECE students who will continue to develop their intercultural competence and awareness of global barriers to education. “Being chosen is the greatest thing to happen to me except choosing Mohawk College. It is an incredible chance for me.”

seven ebuzerNAME: Ebuzer Ulu


PROGRAM: Broadcasting - Television & Communications Media

BACKGROUND: He worked as a mechanical engineer for 10 years. He explored an interest in photography and then videography and decided he needed a career change.

WHY CANADA: “It is one of the greatest countries to study in. I lived in Australia for four and a half years and that’s my first love. My second love is Canada. Australia and Canada are similar. The people are kind, human rights are strong and it’s very safe and peaceful.”

WHY MOHAWK: “My brother-in-law studied at Mohawk College in this program and that’s how I know about it. I asked him many questions. The program is one of the best in Ontario.”

HIS EXPERIENCE: “It’s not easy to change careers but I’m enjoying it. Our professors are really encouraging to us to try different things. They all are from the industry and some are still working in it. They are very knowledgeable. Mohawk is also very supportive of international students. I always get answers or help when I need it.”

Ulu is part of a team broadcasting Mountaineer home games for the Athletics department and also volunteers at Cable 14. He plans to stay in Canada and hopes to get into the film industry.

seven felipeNAME: Felipe Restrepo

COUNTRY: Colombia

PROGRAM: Photography Still & Motion

BACKGROUND: He earned a bachelor’s degree in audiovisual media in 2016.

WHY CANADA: “I wanted to improve my English and Canada was a great option because I also have family here.”

WHY MOHAWK: “I wanted to specialize in photography to complement my previous knowledge in audiovisual media. The hybrid between still and motion was exactly what I was looking for and the length of the program suited my needs.”

HIS EXPERIENCE: “I really enjoyed the journey at Mohawk. It was challenging because we were the first group to attend fully online classes. However, the professors put a lot of effort into delivering the program that way. The first year is mainly about gear, software, and technical aspects. The second year is about creativity and pushing ourselves and our work to the next level. I appreciate that the program emphasized preparing the students to be professionals upon graduation. We created business plans, personal branding, portfolio and more to ensure students were competitive. Managing to complete my studies while working and adapting to a new life was difficult but it helped me to develop great time management skills.”

He graduated with honours in May 2022 and was immediately hired. Restrepo now produces multimedia content for a local real estate company.

seven mariaNAME: Maria Grisales Mora

COUNTRY: Colombia

PROGRAM: Health, Wellness & Fitness

BACKGROUND: She was working as a medical doctor in Colombia and studying to be a surgeon. When the pandemic came, she worked so much that she suffered from physical and mental burnout. Her husband suggested they use their savings to emigrate and his employer sponsored him to come to Canada.

WHY CANADA: “We were thinking about our future and our quality of life. The best way to move to Canada is through education. Canada is a safe place to be.”

WHY MOHAWK: “When I found Mohawk College, I fell in love with the program. I want to work in disease prevention. Medicine is all about treatment, but I would rather help people avoid getting sick.”

HER EXPERIENCE: “It’s a blessing to be here. It’s exceeded all of my expectations. We practise in labs what we’ve learned in lectures. Everything is related to real life and our knowledge is applied.”

“There are many supports for international students. I go to coffee club to work on my English. People are so patient and show respect when you’re speaking English here. There is no judgement.”

NAME: Ogba Olori

COUNTRY: Nigeria

PROGRAM: Computer System Technician - Software Support - Mohawk College’s Mississauga Campus in partnership with triOS College

BACKGROUND: He holds an engineering diploma and worked as a software support officer for a consulting company to provide application support services to the company’s clients which are mostly banks and financial institutions. His boss and colleagues suggested he should get formal training in IT.

WHY CANADA: “I decided to choose Canada because of the supports given to international students, high-quality learning and work opportunities.”

WHY MOHAWK: “I met someone who was a graduate of Mohawk College. I asked him lots of questions and his answers were fascinating. Also, based on personal internet searches, I believe Mohawk College offers a good knowledge base and experience with up-to-date resources to improve my knowledge and skill. Moreover, I will have opportunity for co-op to apply my knowledge and skill and gain more practical experience during my course, which might lead to job offers and help me stand out. I am studying at the triOS campus at Square One in Mississauga and I have enjoyed it so far. I am meeting students with different experiences and backgrounds and I’m experiencing education at a new level. Since I arrived, I felt I was at home.”

HIS EXPERIENCE: “My experience has been awesome. I love it in Canada and my program has been great. My professors are so supportive. They make us know that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. I have taken part in a volunteer program called Airport Welcome Program between McMaster University, Mohawk, and Columbia International College, in which students travel to Toronto Pearson International Airport to welcome new students who are arriving. I’ve been able to meet other international students from other schools and share experiences, which gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

Seven salomonNAME: Salomon Briceno

COUNTRY: Venezuela

PROGRAM: Mechanical Engineering Technology

BACKGROUND: He moved to Canada in 2019 with his sister to complete two years of high school. He completed a Specialist High Skills Major in manufacturing and also developed an interest in robotics.

WHY CANADA: “We were looking for a better life. There are a lot of political and economic problems in Venezuela. I am trying to perform as best I can for my family so I can get a good job.”

WHY MOHAWK: “I thought about university but the tuition is too high. One of my instructors in high school said Mohawk has good technology programs and a lot of his students had gone here.”

HIS EXPERIENCE: “The first part of my program was online and that made it difficult to meet people. It’s been great to be back in person and meeting people without a screen. It’s great to be in the classes and labs. It’s really exciting to be working with the robotics technology and now I’ve got a job in the Internet of Things (IoT) applied research lab. I’m very excited about that. I would tell other international students to get involved with all the activities at Mohawk right away. Explore the campus and all the opportunities you have.” Mohawk College logo