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Giovanni Mata arrived in Canada in 2012 from the Philippines, where he practised law for 10 years. “When I arrived here, I realized that getting my Certificate of Qualification as a lawyer would be quite tough,” he says. “So I set a short-term goal of completing the Immigration Consultant program.”
After completing Ashton College’s Immigration Consultant Diploma program, he wrote the ICCRC exam and received his licence to practice as an immigration consultant. In November 2012, Giovanni started his own practice.
In 2013, Giovanni had his law credentials assessed by the Law Society of British Columbia, the professional organization that regulates the practise of law in the province, and he learned that he would need to write eight exams to be certified as a lawyer in BC.
“I started writing the exams last year and I’ve already written five,” he explains. “Once I finish the exams I will have my Certificate of Qualification, which means that I have the equivalent to a law degree obtained in Canada. I’ll then have to article for nine months, and after that, I can write the bar admission exam.”
Giovanni’s determination and motivation to advance his career is reflected in his ultimate goal: once he receives his qualification to practise law in Canada, he plans to specialize in immigration law. He’s also continuing with his education at Ashton College, enrolling in a program that will further broaden his knowledge and the services he can offer clients.
As a 2014 Lilian To Bursary winner, Giovanni enrolled in Ashton College’s International Trade program in October. Although he had originally considered using the bursary to study Human Resources Management, he ultimately chose the International Trade program as he believes it will complement the services he offers through his business.
Giovanni says that immigration and international trade are inseparable. “Every time the immigrant population grows, the trading relationships between the immigrant’s home country and Canada increase.” He also cites the interconnections of trade and immigration under NAFTA, which allows citizens from the U.S. or Mexico to work here in Canada.
He believes that deepening his knowledge of international trade issues will benefit his career. “In the Philippines, my practice was only limited to Filipino legal issues, but now that I have gained knowledge about Canadian immigration law, if I go back to the Philippines, I can bring these skills with me. And when I finish the International Trade program, I will be able to cover this area within my business as another area of specialty.”
As an Ashton College graduate, Giovanni appreciates the personalized learning environment and diverse networking opportunities offered at the College. “I prefer learning within a classroom setting because it allows me to connect with others. Just like here, in my International Trade program, I am getting to know people from China, Japan and Brazil.”
When asked if he has any advice for newcomers, Giovanni responds: “Pursue your dreams. Don’t lose hope. Decide what you want to be. Set a goal, set a plan and take a step.”
Giovanni also strongly believes that a positive attitude can go a long way, “If I didn’t have a positive attitude, I would have given up a long time ago. But you know, my kids and my wife are my motivation. I want to be an inspiration, not only for them, but for all of the Filipinos here. Because really, we know that being an immigrant is so hard. You cannot get the job you really want unless you upgrade.”
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