On June 21, dreams came true for international student Fernando Gama de Oliveira.
Oliveira’s journey to the convocation stage was anything but easy, but with the help of Niagara College’s International Department and his family support, he was finally able to complete his schooling with special recognition from his program.
Two years ago, Oliveira was not only in a completely different country but in an entirely different career. At the time, he and his wife were unhappy with where they were living; political strains in Brazil had inspired protests, which made life harder for them. Oliveira’s wife, Juliana B. V. Gama de Oliveira, found that the conditions of their hometown were affecting her work as a chef.
Although he was working as a lawyer in Brazil, Oliveira and his wife were not happy — they wanted to live in a community where they could grow as individuals and make an impact on others’ lives. After seeing a presentation on Niagara College, they fell in love with the school. After a bit more research into the programs offered and the Niagara region, they decided that Niagara was that place for them.
Oliveira and his wife sold everything they owned to get to Canada and pay for Oliveira’s first semester of as he enrolled in the Business – Sales and Marketing program. After that semester, Oliveira and his wife were worked to raise money for his school fees, with the NC student working three jobs while attending classes.
“What drove me wasn’t awards, or recognition— it was knowing that I was giving my best to my program and the school,” Oliveira said. “I love everything that the College and Canada stands for. I had every reason to fail, but the support I was given helped me to succeed.”
Oliveira may not have been looking for recognition, but his hard work was noticed. On June 9, the graduate was awarded the Tyler Santing Spirit award from Sales and Marketing program. The award is meant to recognize a student from the Sales and Marketing program that has contributed positively to the program’s culture and environment.
Even now, the graduate continues to improve the college community the school community. Oliveira was hired as international student recruitment manager of the Americas in early June. In this position, the grad hopes to persuade more students to apply to Niagara College and get a Canadian education.
“When I came to Niagara, I felt immediately welcome,” Oliveira said. “Everyone here has treated me with equal footing … I love Niagara College and everything it stands for.”