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The road to one UofGH alumna's success

Safa Khan

The work placement experience opened a lot of doors for me."

Safa Khan, the recipient of the University of Guelph-Humber's 2018 Alumni Award of Achievement, said small class sizes at the University created a sense of community, nurtured her confidence and in turn led her to get a taste of success.

The Alumni Award of Achievement—established in 2016—honours a UofGH graduate who has made a notable contribution to her or his community through professional or volunteer leadership.

"The mix of academic and practical work experience at the University of Guelph-Humber really worked for me," Khan said. "The professors are very supportive. My one-on-one conversations with them helped build my confidence and led me to broaden my horizons. They pointed me towards various options I could pursue in terms of the placements."

Khan, who graduated from the Justice Studies program in 2014, said the faculty members and her peers’ words of encouragement helped her overcome several obstacles, she said.

The UofGH alumna said her current work as a program coordinator/outreach associate at the non-profit Community Innovation Lab in Oshawa is a dream come true. As part of her job, Khan interacts with budding entrepreneurs and educates them about the grants and training resources available to them.

UofGH work placements: Valuable experience

Initially, Khan had set her heart on completing her 100 hours of mandatory work placement at a law firm. She was disappointed and dispirited when that did not work out.

A timely chat with a faculty member resulted in Khan joining her local MP's office as a student volunteer. In her job, Khan answered the phone, connected people to free programs and resources, helped constituents and more.

Khan loved the job so much that she ended up showing up at work even on the days she was not scheduled.

Later that year, the MP hired Khan as a summer student.

Employer heaps praise

"Ms. Safa Khan exhibited a rare combination of speed and accuracy that enabled her to produce a very high volume of work while maintaining very high standards for quality," wrote Corneliu Chisu, MP, Pickering-Scarborough East, in his reference letter. "Ms. Safa Khan was able to follow complex directions in a thorough and detailed manner. She also worked independently without close supervision when it was appropriate."

The hard work paid off. A few weeks before she graduated, the University of Guelph-Humber student landed a full-time job at the MP's office.

Khan's work with the Community Innovation Lab has her applying the skills she learned in the classroom as well as through her work placements.

"The work placement experience opened a lot of doors for me," said Khan, who has mentored two UofGH students. "My whole journey started during my second year when we had to do 100 hours of community service and from there on I have been building my career through the contacts I made."