Originally from La Paz, Bolivia, Maria Jose Paravicini came to Cape Breton University in May of 2022 to pursue a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Business Analytics. Now, as she prepares for her final semester, she looks back on her time with great appreciation for both CBU and the beautiful Island of Cape Breton.
“I first discovered CBU when I was researching different universities where I could study abroad,” says Maria. “CBU stood out to me because the post-bacc program was exactly what I was looking for, a comprehensive option that complemented my background in industrial engineering.”
Maria says the affordability of CBU’s program and the sense of community that became evident in her interactions with recruitment staff made her decision final. She looked forward to experiencing a new part of the world while pursuing her education.
“Upon my arrival I was immediately enthralled by the beauty of the Island,” says Maria. “Its charm was unmistakable and I could feel the promise of new and unforgettable experiences.” Coming from one of the highest altitude cities in the world, Maria took some time to adjust to the landscape and culture of Cape Breton, and says its stark difference from home only deepened her appreciation for the new experience.
“What struck me most during this transition time was the warmth and kindness of the local people,” says Maria. “They were always ready to lend a helping hand and their welcoming nature created an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance, making me feel at home on the Island.”
It was Maria’s love for her new community that encouraged her to apply for CBU’s Student Research Connections Program, an initiative that pairs CBU students with local organizations to work on research projects that benefit the community. Along with her classmate and friend, Abbegail Galvan, Maria was paired with Sydney and Cape Breton Taxi Tours, and says the experience allowed her to delve into the fascinating history of Cape Breton while exploring more of the Island’s beauty.
“Our project focused on researching and documenting historical landmarks and natural wonders across Cape Breton,” explains Maria. “We aimed to create an informative guide showcasing the hidden gems of the region through our site visits and research into local culture, heritage and stories.”
Maria says the experience allowed her to learn a lot while deepening her appreciation of the communities around her. She adds that working in a real-world setting on such a project taught her valuable skills in project management, research and teamwork, along with the sense of accomplishment stemming from watching their work have a positive impact on the local community through tourism promotion.
With graduation nearing, Maria says her next goal is to work with innovative organizations that share her vision for a technologically advanced and socially responsible world. “I would love the opportunity to contribute to the development and growth of the province, making a positive impact on both the industry and the community,” she says.
To other international students considering a degree at CBU, Maria’s advice is to take the leap. “While studying abroad can come with its challenges, fear not!” She says. “With patience and perseverance, you can embrace this amazing opportunity in an environment that supports your growth and success. CBU is a place where aspirations thrive and destinies are crafted.”