Of Moms and Daughters - All in the Family at Keyano

Posted On Friday April 08, 2022

When Bernadette and Allysa Escaran decided to attend Keyano together, they knew it’d be an amazing experience. It’s been exactly that. Both hail from the Philippines and joined the College in the fall of 2021.

“Being on campus with my daughter has been great. I’ve always loved spending time with her. She’s an adult so I barely have control over her time, which means being able to see her in school is a comfort and a joy to me,” shares Bernadette.

Alyssa agrees.

“It's comforting to know I have family with me. It also helps a lot whenever I need a free meal,” she shares with a smile.

Both are international students and say their experience at Keyano and in Fort McMurray has been amazing.

“I came to Keyano to further my education and be a better educator for my future students,” shares Bernadette, 47, who is an elementary school teacher in her home country. 

“I think being an international student makes you stronger in general. I had to achieve a lot to get to where I am right now, but it’s all paid off. Being able to travel and study in such a beautiful country is certainly a good advantage. However, there have been many challenges too, as I’m studying in a very different culture. Being homesick is definitely hard. Keyano has helped in alleviating stress. The staff is so warm and helpful. I felt at home even if I am actually thousands of miles away,” continues Bernadette, who has a 3.37 GPA, and says Zoila Green in the Early Learning and Childcare department is her favourite instructor.

“Ms. Zoila has a gift for teaching and continues to influence me even today. She created engaging lessons that helped me access complex concepts and make connections in our course. Her words of affirmation showed she believed in us. Ms. Zoila saw me as an individual rather than as a number. She cared and it showed. I knew that I wanted to be like her and one day make a difference in students' lives.”

Allysa, 23, notes “being an international student creates character.”

“There are various challenges such as being far from home, opening to different cultures and adjusting to climate and time that is very different from what I grew up with. On the flip side, I got to know myself better. I have a clearer understanding of my strengths and capabilities. I was able to address weak spots and make myself grow even more as an individual and as a student. Keyano's staff has been so warm and welcoming, and it has helped tremendously in putting my anxiety to ease.”

Nevertheless, she was aware of being a student of colour as she began her new life in the region, and that meant working extra hard to be seen “just as capable.”                   

“I had anxiety about how I would be perceived. I see so many incidents of racism everywhere in the world. Lately, Asians have been treated badly in places such as America. For me, I have never seen people by their skin, nationality, or ethnicity. The Philippines is home to several different skin colours, and all of them are beautiful. I highlight my diversity by making sure that I put my best foot forward in showing others that I am just as able and strong as any other student. I also like talking about the beauty of my culture and making sure that I treat everyone else with the same respect I want them to treat me with,” adds Alyssa, who completed last semester with a 4.0 GPA.

Her favourite Keyano instructor is Gregory Krabes, who teaches Business.

“Sir Gregory Krabes has so many different activities related to our topics, and it made our virtual classes so interactive. He also values diversity and enjoys knowing about all the students' cultures.”

She says the road to self-discovery was an unexpected turn as she began her Keyano journey.

“Keyano has helped me learn more about myself, especially the kind of person I aspire to be. The challenges that my international education has brought upon have been hard but each one brought me closer to being a stronger, smarter, and well-rounded person. The community in Keyano has also comforted me a lot. All the staff is happy to help, and I felt very welcome to ask anything and everything. The women in the library might be my favourite. They always manage to brighten up my day whenever I drop by to borrow some books for the weekends.”

Bernadette has opposite feelings regarding the identity matter.

“I don’t really feel the difference in being a student of colour. Everyone has been so welcoming. There are also a lot of Filipinos in Keyano, so I feel very safe. I think my diversity is highlighted whenever I apply knowledge or practices that are unique to my culture. It is also very surprising that some Canadians know a few Tagalog (native language of Philippines) words.”

“Keyano has helped make me a stronger and wiser individual. Although I’ve completed my studies in the Philippines, I discovered that I still have so much to learn. Studying at Keyano has been an adventure and a challenge that is shaping me to be a better individual, educator and mother to my children,” enthuses Bernadette.

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