Saint Lucia to Lethbridge proving to be a well-worn path
The Caribbean is a common destination spot for Canadians looking to escape the trials of winter and enjoy life in the tropics. For three cousins to come the other way however, leaving the resort island of Saint Lucia to live in Lethbridge, is hardly an ordinary occurrence.
In May, two of those cousins walked across the stage at the 1st Choice Savings Centre, earning undergraduate degrees from the University of Lethbridge as family members cheered them on.
“I could have studied in the Caribbean but it would have been very limited,” says Kaisie Anius (BSc ’09), the invocation reader for Spring Convocation, Ceremony II. “Caribbean culture is similar throughout the islands, so coming to a different country with a different culture, was good for opening my mind and scope. I feel like I’ve grown a lot.”
Anius followed in the footsteps of her cousin Jeanelle James (BSc ’09), who first chose the U of L by researching Canadian universities online. She came to Lethbridge in fall, 2003, while Anius made the trip the following spring.
“I was searching for schools online. I wanted to do a degree in biological sciences and the University of Lethbridge was one of the most affordable in Canada,” James says.
“All my other family members went to school in the U.S. and England but I didn’t want to go there and Canada was the choice.”
Once here, it didn’t take long for James to fit into the University community and determine that this was a place she was willing to recommend to other family members. After Anius came, a third cousin enrolled and is still studying at the U of L.
“The small class size was the main thing,” James says. “The University’s not too big, I liked that, and Lethbridge is a good size as well.”
The entire island of Saint Lucia boasts a population of just over 160,000, so it was important the family found a place that was welcoming, thereby minimizing culture shock.
“The school is smaller, and it was easy to make friends, so that was really important. I also got to know my professors really well. I had no issues at all as far as my profs being helpful and always available. I was always able to e-mail and they would get right back to me.” Anius says. “But it was still tough, the wind and the winter, it was very different for us.”
What aided in the transition immensely was the International Centre for Students (ICS).
“Charlene Janes (international liaison officer and winner of the 2009 President’s Award for APO/exempt staff) is wonderful, she works so hard at helping us out,” Anius says.
Having benefited from the ICS, Anius got involved as a volunteer to help other students. She worked as a coordinator for the open exchange program and also became active in the International Students’ Association.
Already employed, Anius is now working in Calgary in a recruitment position. It, however, is just a start.
“I’m not going to stop asking questions. I want to go to graduate school but it’s very expensive so I’ll have to work for a while,” she says. “I need time to decide where I want to go, I want to make sure that whatever degree I take after, it is exactly what I want to do because it’s a big investment.”
Much like the investment her family first made when they chose the U of L to begin their post-secondary studies – one that obviously paid off.