Published on May 02, 2018
Karen Velasco knew no one at NAIT when she arrived from the Philippines in 2016, now she's a peer mentor and Students' Association VP, graduating Friday
EDMONTON – Karen Velasco left most of her family, her friends and a job in the Philippines to study Marketing at NAIT two years ago.
“It was like restarting my whole life again,” says the 28-year-old, who already had a management degree and had been working for seven years in her home country. She came to Edmonton for new opportunities, because her sister and aunt were already established here.
A peer mentor at NAIT’s International Students Centre approached her when she first arrived on campus, and the two became friends. “Since she made me feel so welcome, I thought, ‘why don’t I do the same and give back to other students?’”
Velasco became a campus ambassador, introducing new students to NAIT, and an outreach and well-being leader. She’s also a peer mentor for fellow international students and is on the executive of the NAIT chapter of jack.org, a student mental health awareness group. She also took a full course load and worked part-time at an off-campus coffee shop. Most recently, Velasco was elected VP External for NAIT’s Students’ Association, starting in June.
How does she do it all? “It’s time management. I don’t do anything at the last minute – as often as possible, I do a project as soon as I get it,’ she says.
Velasco, who graduates with a Marketing diploma, has applied for a post-graduate work permit and will apply to be a permanent resident as soon as she is eligible. “I feel like I’m established now, and the opportunity for me is here,” she adds.
“I wanted to share my story because I feel a lot of international students face the same situation I did. I want them to be inspired, and to feel they have a future here.”
NAIT's 2018 Convocation will be held on Thursday, May 3 (3 p.m.), Friday, May 4 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 6 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 87 Ave. More than 8,000 students will graduate this year.
Karen is available for media interviews prior to convocation. She will also cross the stage at the Friday afternoon ceremony.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.