“You were not created to live an average life. You were created to be a history maker.” – Unknown author

Sitting in the airplane coming to Canada, I meditated on this spiritual quote. I was 19 years old, a sponsored immigrant from Rwanda, and I didn’t speak English.

As a young African woman, I have a great desire to share my life experience with many people and use all my abilities to make a positive impact. As a Tutsi genocide survivor in Rwanda who is overcoming the tragedy of my past, I have a lot to share.

When I first came to Canada in April 2013, the customs officer asked me questions regarding my travel papers. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about because I didn’t speak English. A Rwandese woman who was there had to translate for me.

Edmonton offers many opportunities for education. I first went to Centre High Campus to upgrade, where I met other students who didn’t speak English. They were from countries like Brazil, India, Somalia, and Ethiopia. We were all learning English to make our dreams come true.

After one year, I continued upgrading at MacEwan University. My goal was to be admitted at Concordia University of Edmonton. I was starting to build my life from scratch and it wasn’t easy. I had to face reality because I knew nobody else was going to do it for me.

I applied to Concordia, was accepted, and started school in the fall of 2016. After only one year as a university student, I’m now able to write articles and share my story to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I have no doubt of my future academic success because of the help I’m getting at school.  

I always joke with my friends saying, “The future is too bright; I need to put on some shades for me to face it.”  

I’ve learned that it’s not my circumstances that define my future, it’s my attitude toward them. Remembering the teenaged girl I was before starting university and looking at who I am today, I see a big difference.

Education has opened my eyes to all the opportunities possible and is shaping me to accomplish my dreams in coming years. I have more confidence.

I used to think my purpose at Concordia was just to get a degree. Now I see how wrong I was. What I’m getting is more than a degree. As a girl who was an orphan at three months old, I missed having positive role models. There were many good things I needed to learn. Pursuing my education was an important decision. Through education, I met a friendly and challenging community that I learn from every day.

Many immigrant students like myself will be studying hard this year. Together we will be the new history makers of Canada. I challenge other youth to never give up on education.

Featured Image: When Nadine Uwimana first arrived in Canada in 2013, she didn’t speak English. Now she attends Concordia University of Edmonton. | Constance Brissenden