Nursing student gets a look at his future with the help of George Brown College
When Noel Panganiban arrived in Canada 15 years ago, he went to work immediately – as a house cleaner. It helped him improve his English, but he was looking for a different kind of challenge. When a work agency placed him at the LCBO for one day, he drew on some previous computer experience, and the one-day position quickly became a two-week contract, then a one-month contract, then, finally, a permanent position.
“I was working as an administrative assistant at the LCBO and discovered that, unless I took a lot of managerial courses, I would reach a ceiling,” the 40-year-old says. “I wanted to do something here in my new home to work toward a career, and, since I finished nursing in the Philippines, I decided to go for that.”
Noel began to take classes toward the Academic Pathway for Nurses Graduate Certificate at George Brown College in January 2006. It was a perfect match.
“George Brown’s Continuing Education classes fit me perfectly,” Noel says. “The campus was within walking distance of work, the school offered the courses I needed and the evening schedule was perfect for me since I was working full-time.”
And he felt comfortable as soon as he set foot in the classroom – despite being out of school for so long.
“Going back to school at 35, I was concerned initially but was relieved immediately when I saw the diversity of our class. It reflected the diversity of the city – and, as I would discover, of the workplace.”
He thrived in the classes – earning high marks throughout his three years in the program and making friends he stays in contact with to this day. In fact, he and his former classmates are now planning a class reunion, but Noel is quick to point out that it was not all fun and games.
“You have to study and do work, but the teachers are very fair and very helpful,” he says. “All the staff I worked with while I was at George Brown – from top to bottom – were incredibly helpful.”
The classes themselves were also very beneficial to Noel by helping him become, in his own words, more confident and more professional. Perhaps most important to Noel, however, was the lasting effect the experience had on him.
“George Brown gave me more and helped light the fire,” he says. “It showed me what I can do and what I can have in the future – and for that I am very, very thankful.”
After passing his board exam in February 2009, Noel is now, officially, a registered nurse and is currently working at Toronto Western Hospital as an operating room nurse. He also plans to go back to school and complete his master’s degree in order to become a nursing instructor at the college where it all started.
“Now I have a career – and a long term goal,” Noel says. “After 15 years in Canada, it’s the thing I’m most proud of.”