When Luciana Yamada left her government banking job in Sao Paulo, Brazil for a two-year business course at Mohawk College, the 44-year-old didn’t know what to expect.
“In the beginning, it was overwhelming because you see a lot of younger students and at my age it’s hard to come back to school,” said Yamada who is living in downtown Hamilton with her husband and eight-year-old daughter.
Yamada said she chose Mohawk after getting a presentation in her home country from a Mohawk representative and then checking out the college online.
“They have a lot of experience with international students,” said Yamada, who is enjoying the start of her second semester this month after finishing up her first term in August.
She hopes to return to a better banking job in Sao Paulo in a couple of years.
Yamada said she also considered attending college in Vancouver but was put off by all the rain that city gets, only when she arrived in Hamilton last April it seemed to rain all the time.
Yamada is among more than 8,700 international students that are expected to attend Mohawk’s three campuses through 2019-20.
Overall, the college is forecasting another record enrolment with more than 32,000 full-time students.
“It looks like we’re going to be up about 1,500 students from last year,” said Mohawk spokesman Bill Steinburg. “This is another year of growth for Mohawk.”
Most of the increase are international students.
Steinburg said Mohawk, like other colleges across Canada, are seeing fewer numbers of domestic first year students due to a demographic decline in the number of young people.
Mohawk has a department dedicated to attracting international students who pay more in tuition.
On average, international students pay more than $15,000 for a two-semester course, while Canadian students pay anywhere from $2,700 to $3,300 for two semesters depending on the program.
Steinburg said Mohawk’s boost in enrolment also reflects the college’s endeavour to offer programs that are demanded by employers, particularly in the area of skilled trades.
Of the college’s three locations, Mohawk’s Fennell campus continues to be the busiest with nearly 27,000 full-time students compared to more than 2,600 at the Stoney Creek campus and more than 2,500 at the Institute for Applied Health Sciences at McMaster University.
“I think there’s lots of great things here on campus for students to be attracted to,” said Mohawk Students’ Association president Sheldon Coombs. “We have a very engaging community and a very inclusive community.”
Coombs, who was elected president by the MSA board last month after former president Andrew Pidsadny left for Lakehead University, encourages any first-year student who is feeling overwhelmed by all the college schedules and bustling hallways to drop by the MSA office and they will be happy to assist them.
“It’s a great idea to ask questions,” he said. “At the MSA we’re happy to point you in the right direction.”
Coombs also encourages students new to Mohawk to join a campus club and get involved in the community.