Sydat Saka-Bellow made a sacrifice at the beginning of the academic year.
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Sydat was just browsing the internet one day, looking at how to start her education as a care aide. Lucky for her, one institution popped up — and it happened to be one nearly 11,000 kilometres away from her home.
"Fortunately, the first college that came up was Cumberland College — as they were called then. I put in my application, I started talking to Kristy, she was so nice. That just filled it for me, I didn't look elsewhere. I just said, 'I'm coming here,'" Sydat said.
And that, she did.
But, her next step in her educational journey would have to begin without those who are closest to Sydat.
"I came here first because this is a new place. I wanted to settle down very well before I brought (my family) to (Canada)," she said.
Sydat's three children, along with her husband, are still back in Lagos, a sacrifice she was willing to make when looking to her future in Melfort.
"I'm just counting down the days until they come (here) ... it's something I'm looking forward to," she said.
Sydat said the move included leaving all of her loved ones, moving to Melfort alone.
"It was very, very hard (to come here). There are times that I even cry myself to sleep. And I just look at it as, 'I know that in the future, we're working to get them here,' so that's what's been getting me by, day by day. I know that they're coming to join me.
Everything is for my family, for my kids, to have a better life here and a better future," she described.
"(Knowing my children will grow up in Canada) is a long-time dream. In terms of education, and in terms of work and their future, they're going to get far more than what they're able to get in their country. I wanted them to have the Canadian education experience. So even if they, down the line, decide to go back to Nigeria, they'll be able to apply that knowledge. You cannot get the kind of education you get here in Canada — You can't get that in Nigeria."
Through the sacrifices, through the late nights full of tears, it didn't take long before the campus community took Sydat in at Suncrest College, to make sure she felt welcomed.
"I am enjoying Suncrest because I love the atmosphere and the small classrooms. The instructors are able to get us one-on-one if we don't understand, it's really, really interesting," she said, before sharing a message for prospective international students looking for higher education.
"Please come over, it may seem like a daunting task at first. Maybe, because it's somewhere you've never been before. I came here, I met other Nigerian students, and I met other International students. They gave me the courage and they gave me the advice, and it's really really simple, or easy when you come in — there's nothing too difficult about it. The people here, they're all ready to help. You get a lot of help. Even from the instructors, which is really different from where I'm coming from, it's like, everybody wants you to succeed — that's just it. And I'm loving it!"
Now, the results of Sydat's sacrifices are coming through.
She had exciting news to share, that will definitely make her time at Suncrest even more worth it when looking to her and her family's future.
"By Friday, next week, my husband and my kids will be coming to join me," Sydat said with a smile.
On top of that, in May, Sydat is set to graduate from the Continuing Care Assistant program at Suncrest College. She said she has sent out applications already, adding that she's ready to continue her life in Canada, with all the opportunities in the world for her family right at their front doorstep.
For a full list of programs at Suncrest College, click here. The College’s international program options are in business, health care, and technical trades. Small class sizes and friendly staff will help you learn and succeed. All our students are treated as equals, and you will have access to individual student attention and support, experienced instructors, and a safe and supportive environment. For more information on the International campus community at Suncrest College, click here.