York University celebrates graduates of the Internationally Educated Professionals Bridging Program

IEP grad Debora Costa De Azevedo

York University hosted a virtual celebration in honour of the 2021 graduates of the Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP) Bridging Program recently, the program is part of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). It is designed to help new immigrants transition with confidence into a job in their professional field in Canada.

The event, which took place on March 25 on Zoom and attended by York staff, and partners, friends and family of the nearly 80 graduates, opened with pre-recorded video greetings of support and encouragement from Monte McNaughton, Ontario minister of labour, training and skills development; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton; LA&PS Dean J.J. McMurtry; and Art Noordeh, director of the IEP Bridging Program.

“You are graduating at an opportune time,” said McNaughton to the eager graduates. “Ontario’s economy is opening up again. Employers need people with your skills. Our economic recovery depends on people like you.”

The virtual celebration went on to include a singing of the national anthem, a land acknowledgement, the announcement of graduates and special recognitions, and reflections from two grads. The evening wrapped up with a lively networking session that gave attendees an opportunity to connect more intimately about their experiences and the professional futures that await them.

IEP Bridging Program 2021 graduates
IEP Bridging Program 2021 graduates

Over the past decade, more than 800 newcomers to Canada from 65 nations have participated in York’s IEP Bridging Program. Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development, the program provides IEP newcomers with an understanding of Canadian work culture and education in the context of their respective professions.

“The IEP Bridging Program is uniquely designed to prepare newcomers for employment in the Canadian workforce,” explained McMurtry during his opening remarks. “Our Faculty recognizes the value of these experienced and skilled students, and we take great pride in providing all the support we can to them through our excellent IEP team.”

Throughout the program, students have access to career coaching and networking to help them develop a plan that is tailored to their individual skills development and career path. The program works with employers, career services, not-for-profits, professional associations and accreditation bodies to help IEPs secure a position that matches their education, credentials and experience. And the proof of the program’s impact is in the graduate praise.

“Immigrating is equal parts exciting and scary – a change full of hope and frustration,” said Debora Costa De Azevedo, a grad who received her Professional Certificate for Internationally Educated Professionals in Canadian Business. “The IEP program was our bridge to the ‘Canadian experience.’ It allowed us to interact with hundreds of people, to network, to make friends. It is the immersion in the University’s environment and the Canadian culture that I cherish the most. Today, I feel confident to say: We did it! We reinvented, rebranded, repositioned ourselves.”

For more information about York University’s IEP Bridging Program, visit makemore.laps.yorku.ca.