In 2001 Yasamin Alai and her husband took a leap of faith and decided to move to Canada from Iran. After the trip to Canada she set her heart on getting a post-secondary education that would enable her to fulfill her dreams as a graphic designer. It was a career that was off limits for her at home in Iran due to political circumstances.
One month after her arrival in Canada, she came across the Adult Ed program at Roberts Education Center. Little did she know how much Adult Ed would transform her life and give her the confidence she needed to realize her dreams.
"Roberts was not just a school for me, it was my first window to Canadian life," says Alai. "Back in Iran, I had finished my secondary education but it was incredibly difficult for everyone to get accepted into a university."
Alai first approached BCIT, but because she needed to work on her English proficiency first, she was directed to Adult Ed.
It turned out to be a great fit for her. Robert's academic adviser arranged tutoring sessions for her and soon after starting, Alai and her husband were immersed in their English studies at the Education Centre. Her innate thirst for learning coupled with the continual support from Adult Ed staff, led her to also take on art, math and computing courses.
She excelled at computing and soon became an instructor's computer assistant volunteer by helping other students catch up on their computing courses.
She recalls the unconditional support from staff and instructors, who acted like "a second family" to her. They empathized with her challenges and provided the support she needed to build her professional self-esteem.
"There were times when I wasn't sure if I was going to succeed," says Alai. "I felt incredibly stressed because I was living in an entirely new culture and my family was so far away. I didn't know if I could go on."
She recalls one difficult time was when she came across Shakespeare in her English studies. The old English was particularly difficult to comprehend. Her teacher at the time came up with a creative solution- students would dress up in costumes and act out Shakespeare scenes complete with actions. The play seemed to come alive and what at first was a significant challenge, became a fun and memorable learning experience.
"Roberts gave me more than a school," says Alai. "It gave me a family and friends for life."
In 2003, Alai graduated from Roberts and continued on to the Media and Advertising program at Langara University.
Today, she is the owner and founder of her own graphic design company. She is also a happy mother of two. Apart from attending Robert's Ed center Christmas parties even after graduation, Alai has also taken her six year old daughter to visit the people that believed in her talent and capabilities.
To learn more about Adult Ed or to register, click here.