Ernest Niyomugabo is a third-year student pursuing a Specialization in Global Health and a minor in Philosophy.
In 2017, as he approached the end of his high-school career, Ernest was one of thousands of young people who wanted to continue to learn in a supportive environment – yet lived in a place where post-secondary education was not easily accessible. In the spirit of furthering his learning and building a career, Ernest emigrated from Malawi to Canada in 2018 through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) after being selected for the Student Refugee Program in 2017.
If I wasn’t part of the WUSC Student Refugee Program, I wouldn’t have been able to attend university. Now, I want to make the best of it
Arriving in Canada meant starting over for Ernest. Due to linguistic barriers, at the beginning he struggled to make meaningful connections with other students and find spaces he felt comfortable in. Over the course of his undergraduate career, other challenges have arisen – with the culture and language shocks being the most difficult to grapple with. Even though Ernest speaks seven languages, he has realized people fixate on his accent, creating a barrier in the communication process.
My transition into Canadian university life was really hard at the beginning. It’s very frustrating when you are talking to someone and they don’t understand you.
Slowly, Ernest started making friends and discovering more and more environments that encouraged his growth. One of Ernest’s favourite things about Huron is the hospitality and understanding that people embrace within our diverse community. He talks about staff members and professors who were always looking to help make him feel part of the institution and its campus life. It was this support, which was manifested in different ways by different people, that made Ernest’s transition to Canada a lot smoother.
During his time in London, Ernest has had the chance to partake in different academic and professional projects that have made his curriculum stronger. Looking to support other international students in their transition to life in Canada, he became an SEO in his second year. He then interned within Huron’s Advancement Department and became a research assistant for the “Decolonizing the Liberal Arts” toolkit. Looking to further his research skills, Ernest joined the Mzuzu Activities Food Project (MAUF) with Dr. Liam Riley from Laurier University. As part of this initiative, he studied food security, secondary urbanization and local governance in Africa. Ernest wants to keep exploring other research interests this year such as refugees, migration and humanitarian aid. He is also considering looking into the various interplays that affect identity politics.
When asked about the future, Ernest seems excited to see what comes next. He wants to become a lawyer, so he will be taking the LSATs next year. He is also interested in completing an independent study module, so he is proposing to do an independent study right now.
For Ernest, Huron is more than small classes and the opportunity to meet your professors. It means a community of support, not just in terms of your academic success, but for every other aspect of one’s life. The level of interest and personalized support poured into each student at Huron is what Leadership with Heart means to Ernest: The concept is so much more than an education; it’s an environment that sends students on their way to achieve their dreams.
Huron is everything to me. I feel so proud to be part of this community
More about WUSC
World University Service of Canada is a non-profit organization looking to create a network for young people around the world who promote global cooperation, along with an increased understanding of global development and issues. Through youth-centred projects, WUSC looks to contribute to education, equality, and empowerment initiatives in over 15 countries. Huron University has been one of WUSC’s partners for the past 22 years. Every year, with the help of students and faculty sponsors, Huron makes it possible for one refugee student to start a new life in Canada and have a post-secondary education. Per capita, Huron is the largest contributor to WUSC’s university programming in Canada.