Celebrating the Student Refugee Program Class of 2023!
Congratulations to the newest cohort of graduates from the Student Refugee Program! Many of our new grads are now preparing to begin a new stage in their lives, from pursuing further studies in their fields of interest to moving to a different city or country to embarking on a new career path.
Access to post-secondary education is a dream for many young refugees. The Student Refugee Program helps refugee youth achieve it by providing them with the opportunity to continue their studies in Canada and start a new life, ultimately improving the lives of their families and communities.
Read on to learn more about their journeys, their studies, their most memorable experiences in Canada and what they have in store for the future.
Meet some of this year’s graduates!
Samuel Thiak came to Canada in 2019 to pursue a degree in civil engineering at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus. He shares that one of his fondest memories was the welcome he received when he first arrived to the country by members of his institution’s Local Committee. In Canada, Local Committees are led by students, faculty, and staff at post-secondary institutions and focus on helping young refugees who are resettled through the Student Refugee Program.
“The 20th of August 2019 felt like yesterday, when I was welcomed by a small, amazing group of WUSC students at Vancouver Airport, and by the President of the WUSC Local Committee for the Okanagan campus at Kelowna airport,” he explains.
Samuel has been an active member of the university community ever since. In addition to joining the WUSC Local Committee and becoming its co-president, he also joined the Engineering Society, eventually becoming the third year Civil Engineering Representative. In this capacity, he has continued to act as a mentor to prospective engineering students.
In reflecting back on his experience, he specifically talks about how his friends played an important part in making his experience memorable. “I have friends who have pushed me to work hard toward my dreams,” he explains. Getting internships at the end of his third year with two close friends after months of struggling remains a highlight of his time at university.
His advice for incoming students in the Student Refugee Program is to reach out to former students, specifically those in their industry, and get involved across campus. “If you want to succeed, compete with yourself,” he says, emphasizing that “education changes lives. It has allowed me to support my family.”
Samuel has recently begun a full-time job as a field engineer with the Kiewit Corporation in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
Aluong Agok graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from York University. While studying at York University, Aluong took part in various extracurricular and leadership activities, working as an events and advocacy coordinator for her institution’s WUSC Local Committee and volunteering for the student-led UNICEF@York.
One of the biggest pieces of advice she has for incoming and future students in the Student Refugee Program is to be determined to enjoy all of the opportunities available to them in Canada.
Aluong also advises students to get experience by applying and participating in co-op or internships programs, offered both inside and outside of their academic institution. “For incoming students, I recommend that they do programs that will help them get jobs in the future,” she explains. Aluong shares that co-ops and internships are great ways to learn knowledge and gain practical skills that will meet the needs of employers, and that students should be open to doing internships in different sectors.
Aluong recently started a new job working for the Canadian federal government, which is where she would like to advance her career.
Ali Abdi moved to Canada in 2018 through the Student Refugee Program and recently completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Dalhousie University, where he also completed a certificate in Biomedical Engineering.
Ali decided to pursue engineering because of his experience growing up. “Infrastructure issues in my community growing up are what got me interested in community sustainability and engineering,” he explains.
At Dalhousie, Ali engaged in various roles across the university. He was an active member of his WUSC Local Committee, where he mentored and supported new incoming students in the Student Refugee Program, and became co-president of the committee in his final year. Elsewhere, he became a representative of the Dalhousie Muslim Students Association, acted as third year representative for the Mechanical Engineering Society, and worked for two and a half years as an international student advisor at Dalhousie’s international student center.
“You will have obstacles and hurdles to overcome, but resilience and keeping an end goal in mind are key,” he shares. Like Samuel, Ali encourages new students in the Student Refugee Program to join the Local Committee, meet alumni, and volunteer across departments and societies on campus.
“Education means hope. Education took me out of my problems back home, and tomorrow I will be working for a very big organization because of the Student Refugee Program, WUSC, my family, and my local committee,” Ali says.
He is looking forward to moving to Sault Ste Marie with his wife and son in August as he begins his new role as a mechanical engineer-in-training for Algoma Steel.
Congratulations to Samuel Thiak, Aluong Agok and Ali Abdi, and to the entire graduating class of 2023! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.
This fall, we will be welcoming over 145 new students at post-secondary campuses across Canada through the Student Refugee Program! To incoming students: we wish you safe travels and hope that you feel encouraged and motivated by the words and advice of our recent graduates.
WUSC works to create a better world for all young people. To learn more, start here or subscribe to get highlights straight to your inbox. Interested in volunteering internationally? View our current opportunities. Looking for a new career opportunity? Check out our current job openings. Or show your support for our cause by making a donation.