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Pearson College UWC Year 43 students have officially sailed away from Pedder Bay to harbours near and far!

While some students are still formulating their plans for the upcoming year (and plans are sometimes in flux or subject to change), Universities Counsellor Becky Halvorson reports that, as of late May, 56 of this year’s graduating students – nearly 80 per cent — have firmed up their plans to attend post-secondary institutions this coming academic year or are deferring attendance until the following year.

Of these, a full two-thirds were awarded scholarships and/or financial aid and, as Halvorson advises, this percentage will increase as more information is confirmed and becomes available.

Nearly one-third of students plan on attending Canadian universities and equivalent post-secondary institutions – slightly above last year’s total. Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, one of the country’s top institutions, is a destination for both Canadian and new Pearson alumni from jurisdictions such as China, India, Japan, Oman, Palestine, and Rwanda.

The University of Toronto and Montreal’s McGill University are also popular Canadian destinations, as are other institutions stretching across the country from Nova Scotia to “Up-Island” at Vancouver Island University in nearby (at least in Canadian geographic terms) Nanaimo.

The availability of scholarships is often an important, real-world factor in determining where Pearson’s international cohort of students – selected on merit, not on ability to pay – choose to continue their journey. Canadian institutions that open their doors and offer financial assistance to both Canadian and international UWC students are enriched by the variety of perspectives they invite and, in turn, young leaders from around the world gain the opportunity to appreciate Canadians’ multicultural and tolerant attitudes.

Eight per cent of graduating students plan on attending European (including UK) schools while 26 of Year 43 students currently have plans to attend universities in the United States. Halvorson observes that this figure is highly influenced by the Davis UWC Scholars Program which creates an incentive for American colleges to admit UWC graduates and meet their full financial need. That said, not all American institutions that Pearson students are attending are Davis partners.

Like Canada, universities from to coast-to-coast in the U.S will benefit from the diverse perspectives and commitment to being positive changemakers that Pearson and all UWC students bring to their institutions.

Twenty-four students are planning a bridge year before moving on, in most cases, to post-secondary education. The bridge year option can reflect a number of considerations. For example, two graduating Pearson students will be fulfilling mandatory military service in their home countries while others are participating in innovative programs such as Semester at Sea and the Global Citizenship Year as well as volunteering with various NGOs, accepting internships, working or traveling.

Before the students left campus, we had the chance to talk to a random sample of Year 43s about their summer and future plans.

Matias Vanhanen (Finland)

“I’ll be carrying out my (mandatory) military service in Finland. I don’t know if it will be a half-year or a year posting yet but I know I will be in the municipality of Kouvala. Right now, based on what I’m signed up for, I will be in pioneers or some sort of guerilla-related activity and that will be pretty cool. If I only do half a year, volunteering and work, if I do a whole year it’ll be straight off to university after that.

“Where, I do not know yet. Right now, it depends on my grades. My top choice would be Cambridge, second choice would be McGill, third choice would be Edinburgh — we’ll see what happens.”

Federico Cedolini (Argentina)

“This summer, I’m going back home to visit my family, see some friends and see if I can do a bit of work or do any project that’s available in the city (Salta) or get involved with an organization. I may be able to help with the (UWC) National Committee in Argentina.

“After the summer, I’m going to travel to Germany where I’m going to start a Semester at Sea. I’m going to be doing that for 3 months/100 days visiting different countries: Germany, Spain, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, Myanmar, India, Vietnam, China, Hawaii and the US. After that, in January, I’m going to start college at Trinity College in Connecticut in computer science.”

Rocio Fernández Gutiérrez (Guatemala)

“I’m going back to Guatemala for the summer – it’s home! So, I’m just going to stay there for the three months before I go to university in Hartford, Conn. – Trinity College. I’m really good friends (with Federico) so it’s always nice to know that you have someone who is there with you.”


Floriane Kammel (Germany)

“I’ll be travelling through Alberta and B.C. to see family and get to know Canada a little bit more. Then I’ll be travelling in Europe to see some of my co-years –my second years and my first years. After that, I am going to a conference in Greece which is about the education of refugees. Next year I’m taking a gap year while working with an German non-profit organization called Jugend & Kultur Project e.V. (Youth & Culture Project) They invited me to join them at the conference this summer, even before I will officially start with them. It’s a great opportunity.”

Yuki Takahashi (Japan)

“For this summer I think I’m just going to work, I know I’m going to university next year. I’m receiving a scholarship, but I think I should know what it means to pay for my education and know what that is like. I’m going to stay in Canada for a week then I’m going back to Tokyo. I still have some waitlists so I’m not sure exactly where I’m going but at this point I’m planning on going to a liberal arts college in the States – in Iowa.

“When I first came to Pearson, I was pretty sure I was going to study medicine, so I took chemistry, bio, higher math but being here I got interested in philosophy and sociology. The thing is, I’m going to a liberal arts college, so I can try it out and see what happens!”

Siddharthan (Sid) Chinnaiyan Lakshmanan (India)

“For the summer, I’m going to do a summer camp in China called Illumino. It was started by (PCUWC student) Beiyi (Zhou) last year. It’s intended to educate Chinese children about the diversity that exists outside of China.

“For university, I got into the University of Toronto through the Lester B. Pearson scholarship – it’s honestly a dream come true because for me, I really needed that scholarship to go to such a university! I hope to be studying towards a Bachelor of Biology and eventually probably medicine.”

Millie (Amelia) Brown (UK/Scotland)

“I’m going home to work over the summer – I’m trying to find something with a marine twist to build up my experience in marine sciences however, it’s probable that I’ll be working at the Edinburgh Festival and serving up Scottish culture to visitors!

“I’m going to Minerva in San Francisco – that’s the university where you travel to seven different countries over four years. It’s very much a continuation of my UWC experience which is good! First year we spend in San Francisco, (then Berlin?), Seoul, Hyderabad, Buenos Aires, London and Taipei and we end up back in SF for a month at the end of our four years. It’s mainly liberal arts-based however you specialize as you go through.

“I’m very interested in looking at AI development and marine science – they have a very good computer science program and marine sciences program so that means I can take those two interests of mine into the future. Marine science is where I want to be and that’s Pearson that did that for me!”

Erik Houge (Norway)

“For the summer, I’ll be working at a marina, driving a boat into work every morning – I’ll get to be outside and help people doing marina stuff. My plans are still very much up in the air. I might go into the military – try to join a diving unit or some other unit which you can choose (mandatory service). I’ve also applied to several Norwegian universities — but no decisions yet.”


Samad Twemlow-Carter (Canada- BC)

“Minerva – yes, definitely! I’ll be off to San Francisco for my first year of Minerva. It’s like a global immersion program — the curriculum itself is actually through online classes so you still have a professor, it’s just mediated through technology rather than through classrooms. I’m super excited.

“The summer I have to work! My friend is starting a painting business so him and I will be painting pretty much all summer. I’m very excited, because after anintense two years I particularly like going outside. Minerva also gives you academic courses to work on over the summer.

“Before Pearson I was super-set on going to law school at UVIC – I even wrote that in my goals for when you graduate — but after experiencing the global perspective at Pearson I really wanted that again – (Minerva) is a totally international body and you get to travel around – so, (Pearson) definitely impacted my decision.”

Yucheng Hua (China)

“For the summer I’m heading back to China where I will do some internship work for a biochemical company. Next year, I’m going to Bowdoin College in Maine. It’s a small liberal arts college and I’m most likely going to major in mathematics., For now, l I hope to be involved in biomathematics in the future – my basic intention is to get my undergraduate degrees in both biology and maths and probably go for a PhD.”

Anta Ndour (Senegal)

“This summer, I’ll mostly spend time with my family, then I will prepare for university, spend time with my friends and maybe travel – I don’t know yet.

“After the summer, I’m going to Johns Hopkins University in the United States. I want to go to med school and even if it is just my undergrad I think I’ll get a good experience there. It is among the first universities in the US for research so that is exciting for me.

“I think (Pearson) solidified what I wanted to do. At home, girls are not usually encouraged to go into sciences – for example, at school we didn’t even have a proper lab. It was kind of scary because I wanted to go to university and do bio or chemistry, but I would not have the resources, but here I found everything I needed. The teachers here are so amazing – they would stay with us in the lab until 10 o’clock at night just, you know, trying to get us through the IB. I got so much support and knowledge that I think is going to help me in university. I’m just grateful for all the opportunities I got here.”

Dina Shehata (Canada-NL)

“I think for the next two or three months, I’m going back to Egypt to see some of my family and I’m also going to be working to pay off some (upcoming) university loans. I’m currently deciding between three Canadian universities – I’m awaiting scholarship information where I’ll either be taking engineering or pharmacology.

“I think (my time at Pearson) reaffirmed my thinking in a lot of ways because it opened up a lot of possibilities and by that I was able to see what I really wanted to do. While I was at home I felt like there were only one or two set tracks but being here really reaffirmed what I wanted to do.”

Emma Biskup (Croatia)

“This summer I’m going back home to Croatia – half of my summer I’ll spend on the coast working at a hotel – I’ll be a guide and the next part of the summer I’ll be working at a bookshop in my hometown.

“Beyond the summer, I’m heading to the University of Oklahoma and I’m planning to get into engineering. I’m aiming for chemical engineering.”

Since coming to Pearson College, my goals have changed slightly. I was planning on studying medicine, but coming here I took biology and physics– I don’t know why, but I did! And my first bio exam – I prepared but it didn’t really feel like, ‘that’s it!’ On the day of the exam, I wrote the exam and I felt, ‘no, I’m switching to chemistry.’ I switched to chemistry and I think that was the first (big) decision that I ever made. That’s how I got into engineering!”

Phoebe Parsons (Australia)

“I’m taking a gap year. I have an internship lined up with my Member of Parliament so I’ll be working in Canberra for a few months. After that I’ll just be working,  traveling and applying to university. I’ll be visiting Lara my first-year in Broome, Western Australia so I might be working over there.

“At the moment, I’m thinking of applying for international relations or something along those lines, see how policies are formed and gain more insight into  the logistics surrounding those policies. It’ll be a good experience for me to learn if that is something I want to get into. Part of my gap year is to decide what it is I really want to study. I think I need this little breathing space, because it has been an intense couple of years.”

Tamar Michaels (Israel)

“For the summer, I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling in Israel but also work a little bit. I’m also planning a European trip with a good friend of mine around Europe which is super-nice because we have so many friends to stay with – it makes everything so much more exciting. UWC is a great networking experience but also for finding places to stay!

“For me, I’m going to serve in the military for two years – it’s mandatory service. My parents met in the military. There are quite a few aspects to it that I’m really looking forward to experience. I think getting to know the system from within – even if I want to be able to criticize it or to question it is even better. It is a crucial part of being an Israeli citizen and getting to know my country better.

“My thoughts about university – I think it’s going to be Israel or Europe – I also have the German citizenship. For now, my main direction is more towards humanities or philosophy, political sciences but I’m just happy that I have time to explore more and check out some other areas.”

Tomma Bambara (Burkina Faso)

“I’m really looking forward to this summer because for two years I haven’t been home. I’m looking forward to be able to go home and spend time with family before going to university.

“Before heading off  to university, I’m going to a social change factory (in Senegal) – it’s kind of like a big movement that is trying to empower young Africans to take leadership in making political decisions in their own countries. I think this will help me pursue one of my dreams of making a change in my home country.

“I’m going to the University of Oklahoma. Right now, my passion is in behavioural economics – combining psychology and economics to understand what drives us to buy things and to make economic decisions. At the same time, I’m also passionate about how the development of a country works, what poverty, what is the meaning of it, how can we understand it in the language of economics, psychology, sociology – how do we define poverty in these third-world countries?”

Veli Shabangu (Swaziland)

“This summer, I’m going back to Swaziland spending time with family. At the same time, I’ll be preparing my visa because I’ll be going to Methodist University in North Carolina. Hopefully, I’ll find a job so that I’ll be able to earn some pocket money. Methodist recently opened an engineering course – that’s the career I want to pursue in the future. I want to be a mining engineer – I like the sciences.

“Pearson challenged me a lot. It made me see the world differently. Coming here taught me that there was more to life – you can be successful by being the person you want to be. Pursuing the UWC values taught me a lot of things in life – that successful is living your life for the people, living your life for the betterment of the world. Being true to yourself is success.”

Cindy Ngompe Massado (Cameroon)

“Well, my plans for the summer are pretty flexible right now. My mother is organizing a leadership program for women in Cameroon and I’ll definitely be helping her with that and I’ll be doing some volunteering with the same orphanage where I did my summer home service. Personally, I’m looking forward to practicing my mother tongue because I’ve been here for more than two years and I haven’t spoken in my mother tongue daily for a long time.

“I’m going to Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. I will be studying most probably chemistry – I really like chemistry – but right now I’ve been thinking about minoring in biomechanical engineering or mathematics, maybe doing a double major – I’m not a hundred percent sure yet. Coming to Pearson, I became aware of how much more chemistry could be –how it can be applied in different ways. I think that’s thanks to Garth (Irwin) who gave me the opportunity to really test the waters and that helped a lot.”