Brock support system helps international grad overcome pandemic challenges

Between the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emotional turmoil that followed, Gurbinder Kaur spent much of 2020 struggling with different aspects of her life.

Always ambitious and dedicated to achieving her goals, the student in Brock’s Master of Education program in the International Student Pathway (MEd ISP) found herself unable to focus on her studies, work or well-being.

Originally from India, Kaur came to Canada in June 2019 and enrolled in the Brock program with the vision of undertaking the research pathway. However, that dream presented its own set of challenges.

“There was a time when I almost gave up,” said Kaur, who once considered quitting her Major Research Paper.

With the encouragement of her supervisor and support of family and friends, Kaur was recently able to complete the program and better manage her mental health. She was among 15 MEd ISP students who graduated during Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation on Friday, June 18.

“When you are someone who has always been there for people, to ask for help when you’re on the other side is extremely difficult,” she said. “That was something that I learned through this process. It’s OK to ask for help when you are feeling helpless.”

Kaur’s is thankful she had a robust social support system at Brock to rely on during such a challenging time. Those allies came as the result of her participation in the community and tendency to take on leadership roles.

Kaur represented her program on the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Board of Directors and served on two GSA committees. Throughout her program, she has always been a strong advocate for international students and supported her peers through difficult times.

“I think the best part about the entire journey has been the people. I am so grateful for them,” she said. “The friends that I’ve met along the way were my support system. Even when I wanted to give up, they did not allow me to and I can’t thank them enough.”

Kaur found it difficult to be away from her family in India during the pandemic while struggling with her personal well-being.

Before coming to Canada, she completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Finance and a Master of Commerce with a specialization in Marketing. After completing her master’s, Kaur was invited to be a lecturer at the same college where she discovered her passion for education.

Her parents didn’t have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education, so Kaur appreciates their unconditional support to live her dreams.

Following graduation, she plans to build a career as an educator in Canada at the post-secondary level.

Brock’s MEd ISP program provided her with an insight into the Canadian education system and built her expertise as an educator.

“This program has given me the confidence to pursue my doctoral studies in the future and, at the same time, it’s given me the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people that I can think of,” she said.

Her Major Research Paper (MRP) looked at coaching centres or private institutions offering tutoring for a competitive national exam in India, and its impact on students in a specific city. Kaur hopes to continue researching on the commercialization of education in the future, bringing together her business background and passion for education.

The Brock community is reminded that mental health and wellness supports remain available to students year-round. A full list of services is available here.

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