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As a new immigrant to Canada from Cuba, Carlos Suarez’ first goal was to learn English. Like many newcomers eager to start their Canadian lives, he was a quick study. After only two years in Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) English as an Additional Language programs, he had brought his language skills to a university level and was ready to choose a career path.
Originally, Carlos considered nursing—he had always enjoyed health sciences and his sister had studied in VCC’s Health Care Assistant program—but when a friend shared her plan to become a pharmacist, Carlos developed an interest in the field as well.
Before starting a pharmacology degree, however, Carlos needed to earn prerequisites in math and science, which he was able to do through VCC’s Adult Upgrading and University Transfer programs. By this time, Carlos had been away from these subjects for almost a decade, and picking them up again wasn’t easy.
Carlos says the high school math courses in his home country focused on skills needed for everyday life, while Canada’s curriculum is more academically focused. He found calculus particularly challenging at times and would struggle to finish his homework. That’s when he learned he could access free tutoring at the VCC Learning Centre (VCCLC), and began visiting regularly.
“I wanted to know, what’s the math that I’m learning good for?” he says.
In the end, Carlos says the VCCLC tutors offered different perspectives that let him understand the material better. The math he was doing, for example, could be applied to everything from computer programming to quality assurance.
Carlos completed his final VCC course in the summer of 2017. Soon after, he was accepted into a health sciences program at Langara College.
Carlos says he found VCC’s University Transfer process to be quite easy, and he’s especially excited to continue studying microbiology and biochemistry as he pursues his dream of becoming a pharmacist.
“I’m now the mathematician of my family,” he says. “I’ve learned that it’s always possible to get back into learning.”
Need a hand? Visit the VCC Learning Centre at either the Downtown or Broadway campus for free academic tutoring and career support.