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2015 Lilian To Bursary Winners Announced

By: Janice Bandick

Published On: February 15, 2016

At Ashton College, we understand the importance of building a rewarding career and how difficult this can be for new immigrants to accomplish. With experience and credentials that are not always recognized in their adopted country, and the high cost of continuing education for international students, many immigrants' expertise, knowledge and skills remain underutilized.

To address these difficulties, Ashton College partnered with Canadian Immigrant Magazine to offer full time tuition bursaries to newly landed immigrants in memory of Lilian To.

Lilian To was a crusader for immigrants and the longtime executive director and CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S – a multi-service community organization that provides assistance to new immigrants. After Mrs. To’s sudden death in 2005, the bursaries were created to ensure that her work with immigrants continues by addressing the challenges they face when trying to secure a stable career in Canada.

Since 2005, the bursaries have been awarded to over thirty deserving individuals, who have gone on to establish successful careers in human resources, law, finance, international trade and home inspection. Ashton College is thrilled to announce the two 2016 Lilian To Bursary award winners who will join this elite group.

This year’s recipients are Amir Moradian Arjmand and Cecilia Miwa Ide Ferreira.

Amir Moradian Arjmand

Amir, a mechanical engineer from Tehran came to Vancouver in 2014 with his family, only to discover that he would need to undergo a lengthy re-certification process in order to continue to work in engineering. A former small business owner, Amir immigrated to Canada under the Skilled Worker program, and was discouraged to learn that many foreign qualifications are often invalid in Canada. “I have many friends who hold advanced degrees from their home countries and are working low-skilled ‘survival’ jobs here in Canada. It is a waste of resources because there is so much knowledge they have to contribute that is wasted because they cannot afford to requalify or complete additional education.”

After evaluating his options and deciding to put his entrepreneurial experience and strong global network to good use by establishing an import/export company, Amir began researching international trade programs that could help him increase his knowledge of Canadian international trade customs.

“I had learned of Ashton through FITT [Forum for International Trade Training] and was interested in the Diploma in International Trade Management (DITM) program. However, I knew that because of my personal obligations and financial responsibilities I would be unable to afford the tuition fees.” After learning of the Lilian To Bursary from Ashton's Marketing Coordinator David Lee, Amir applied immediately.

Amir learned he was one of two 2015 winners, and is planning to enrol in an upcoming intake of the DITM program.

“I want to use my education to help improve the lives of other immigrants. I think it is so brave of them to leave everything they know, to change their lives and location in search of a better life, and it’s very important for me to contribute to Canadian society in a meaningful way.”

Cecilia Miwa Ide Ferreira

Cecilia 2

Cecilia Miwa Ide Ferreira, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil is a former Accounting Clerk who is now looking to establish a career in the field of Human Resources. “In Brazil I was working in finance, but the company I was employed by was quite small so I was also managing their HR operations. I had experience with recruitment, interviewing candidates, processing payroll, and administration of benefits, in addition to performing all of my accounting duties.”

After visiting Vancouver in 2008, Cecilia and her husband were smitten with the city and began planning for their eventual relocation to Canada. “There are many differences between Canada and Brazil but the thing that stood out the most for me was the lower level of wealth disparity here. Although Vancouver is obviously an extremely expensive city and there are also many homeless people, the gap between the haves and the have nots seems smaller here than in Brazil. In Vancouver, the city is safe, the government is stable, and the setting is beautiful.”

Although thrilled to be in Vancouver, Cecilia had trouble securing permanent employment that matched her background and interests, noting “when I arrived in Canada I realized that most Canadian companies require an HR degree, and my previous education is in Finance. I knew that I would need to complete a Canadian HR program in order to obtain a position in HR.”

After applying for the bursary just before the application deadline, Cecilia was excited to learn she had been selected.

“The bursary will allow me to return to school and secure a position in the Canadian job market. I am so thankful to have been chosen for this opportunity.”


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