Despite more than a decade of experience in the business industry and a second career in psychological counseling, Gurmit Kaur always knew she wanted to study abroad. Though her first venture took her to Oxford University in the United Kingdom, it was Canada and CBU that eventually captured her heart. Gurmit has now happily been living in Sydney for more than six years.
After graduating in May 2020 with her Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development, Gurmit went on to become a member of the CBU faculty and serves on various boards within, and outside of, the University. Gurmit says she knew CBU was the place for her from the time she arrived. “As a CBU student, there was a deep sense of belonging right from the moment I laid foot in the University,” she says.
Of course, no sense of belonging is ever truly complete without a good group of friends and a sense of community. “Time spent with my peers when making business plans, debating strategies, fighting over coffee takeaways, spending late nights in the library solving case studies, attending conferences and sharing crazy laughter have been the most memorable times for me at CBU,” Gurmit says. “The best part of living in Cape Breton is the community life, the kind and compassionate people around and, of course, nature.”
At first, adapting to her new life in Cape Breton didn’t come easily to Gurmit, as she had to navigate a new set of norms and make many lifestyle adjustments. It was getting the opportunity to work at CBU as a proctor and research assistant that allowed her to gain confidence and start adjusting to her new environment. “Then one day, while walking on the boardwalk, a lawyer offered me a job helping her with administration needs,” says Gurmit. “ It was at that very moment I realized the importance of networking differently in a community-based environment. The focus had to be on making connections, which was a learning experience for me.”
Following graduation from CBU, Gurmit wasn’t quite sure what would come next for her. However, with the guidance and support of her mentor, Dr. Jasmine Alam, Associate Professor, she proceeded to take the necessary steps to begin pursuing a career in higher education. The other key factor in Gurmit’s decision to follow this new path was the faculty and staff at the Shannon School of Business (SSOB), who she feels have always been in her corner. “If you have ever experienced a school that is always cheering for you, that’s SSOB,” says Gurmit. “I always had a soft spot for SSOB, and by now, having accumulated five years of work and study experience in Canada, a decade of continuing education attending summer school courses abroad and 14 years of work experience in my country of origin, I was confident enough to teach.”
Most importantly though, Gurmit feels valued in her work. “It’s one thing to work in an organization as an employee,” she says. “But it is extremely gratifying to know you are wanted, and as an immigrant, that made all the difference to me.”
Since Gurmit has now seen both sides of CBU as both a student and employee, she is able to reflect on the differences she’s noticed between the two roles. “The striking difference I find is that, as a student, I was curious to learn and have fun,” says Gurmit. “As an employee, I am finding ways to contribute to the CBU community while also making learning fun and interactive.”
Gurmit has found many ways to relate to her students, particularly those who have made the jump to Canada from other countries. “I can validate their experience as a newcomer to Canada, it helps them realize they are not alone and that we are all in this together. This helps in strengthening the connection in the classroom environment,” says Gurmit. “I have been here for a long time and have worked with various community organizations, so I provide them with useful information when needed, which helps in enhancing their overall well-being.”
In the long term, Gurmit hopes to pursue a PhD, conduct research in the community and continue to play a role in enhancing CBU’s vision in her role as an instructor.