The road to retention image

Nadine Ezzeddine (second from left) and her daughters with mentor Anna Marenick (right).

Nova Scotia may be small, but it’s gaining ground as a leader in supporting international students’ aspirations to make Nova Scotia home after graduation.

There is no shortage of ways in which organizations, institutions, businesses and individuals in Nova Scotia are working together to attract and retain the talent of international students.

Leading the way is EduNova’s Atlantic Canada Study and Stay™ Nova Scotia and Study and Stay™ initiatives, which demonstrate how a tightly-knit international education community works collaboratively with government and private sector partners to support international students to stay in the province.

EduNova’s Atlantic Canada Study and Stay™ program provides international students with the essential connections, resources and support needed as they transition from “student” to “professional” in their final year of study.

With the program now in its third year, the successes of Nova Scotia’s first two cohorts are tangible and include 82 students who remain in Nova Scotia post-graduation — 63 of which have found full-time work.

This success in Nova Scotia has led to a recent expansion of the program model into P.E.I., New Brunswick and Newfoundland. To date, the programs have supported more than 200 students from across Nova Scotia, with an additional 150 in the other Atlantic provinces — helping students to live, work and build meaningful professional connections in our region.

Participants represent more than 30 countries and nationalities, demonstrating strength in the growing diversity of the province’s educational institutions, local workplaces and communities.

The program has both met and surpassed its goal to retain 80 per cent of participating graduates one year after graduation. Many of these graduates have gone on to launch successful careers in the province and are working for esteemed organizations, businesses and start-ups — as well as creating new businesses.

Mentorship, building connections and

making it happen

A key driver in the successful retention of international students is the opportunity to build peer and professional networks within the province. The Atlantic Canada Study and Stay™ program includes a mentorship component, where each student is matched with a private sector, government or community leader.

Mentorship has had a positive impact on both mentors and mentees. Nadine Ezzeddine is a former international student and participant in EduNova’s first cohort of Stay in Nova Scotia. Nadine is now employed full-time as a Registered Nurse at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and also lectures at Dalhousie School of Nursing. She attributes much of her success to her participation in the program and her mentor, Anna Marenick.

Nadine believes her success was “attributed to the support and guidance from Canadians who believed in and supported” her.

“The list is long, but the journey started when EduNova selected me into the program, opportunity and experience of ‘Stay in Nova Scotia,’” says Nadine. “It is also through the vision of EduNova and their appropriate and effective networks that I was able to have my daughters, after eight years of separation, settle with me in Halifax.”

Committed to staying in Nova Scotia, Nadine worked closely with her mentor, Anna Marenick, former Manager of Human Capital at Deloitte — now Director of People and Strategy at Develop Nova Scotia.

“Nadine was steadfast in her pursuit of full-time employment and to bring her daughters here to Canada,” says Anna. “Now she has achieved these goals, and I think the sky is the limit for her.”

The two women remain close friends to this day, and Anna encourages other Nova Scotians to get involved in mentorship and building human capital.

“If we’re from here, we must use our connection to this place to build a network,” says Anna. “I’ve been lucky to always have people to help me. How could I not be there for those who choose Nova Scotia as their home, and try, in my small way, to help them too?

This article first appeared in the May edition of Business Voice magazine, produced on behalf of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

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