President’s reception for graduating international students
For the past 12 years, the President’s Reception for Graduating International Students has celebrated the successes and contributions of international students at the U of M.
Created by the previous president of the University of Manitoba, Dr. Emöke Szathmáry the tradition has been graciously continued by the current president Dr. David Barnard, who has made the event even more special by opening his home to host the graduating international students every year.
The event, held this year on April 24, provides a wonderful opportunity for graduating international students to be recognized for their accomplishments, as well celebrate their peers and be welcomed into the University of Manitoba’s alumni family.
UM Today caught up with one such student and asked her what her plans are, and how she enjoyed her time here. Meet Ekaterina Balburova.
Where are you from?
I am from Ulan-Ude (republic of Buryatia, Russia).
What did you study?
I have completed Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) majoring in Marketing and International Business.
What are your plans now?
My plans are settling and starting a career in Marketing in Canada.
How would you describe your time here at the U of M and in Winnipeg?
It was an amazing experience of living, studying, growing up and learning independence in an open, diverse and friendly Canadian environment, represented by the university. I started my Canadian journey at the ICM, which was an important step, because a lot of opportunities opened to me there. Apart from having a safe start, I got a lot of opportunities to develop leadership skills and to be noticed by the university community, too. I got a chance to be the speaker at my graduation ceremony from ICM and new orientation.
Later on, once I got accepted by I.H. Asper School of Business, I discovered my passion for marketing and made a decision to pursue a career in the field. Apart from the opportunity to learn theory, I also got a chance to get practical experience. I got enrolled into Co-op Program. I have had placements at the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba, the Great West Life, and the Manitoba Hydro International.
A year ago I was one of the few lucky students who attended the IDEA Award Gala honoring Chip Wilson, the CEO and the founder of Lululemon.
International Centre for Students also played a huge role in my experience here. I was invited to be the speaker, representing undergraduate students at the first Welcoming International Students Dinner at the U of M. I have met Nahlah Ayed, who was the keynote speaker at the dinner. It was very unbelievable to get invited at the dinner to go to We Day and watch it from the U of M corporate suite at MTS Centre. It was the first time I was personally introduced to David Barnard. However, surprises didn’t end at that point. The university president invited me to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, who was also one of the special guests at the event. I had a photo and shared it with my friends and family.
How did you feel when you were invited to the president’s house? Not many people get that invite. What was it like?
It was definitely a great feeling to be one of the few who got a chance to attend the president’s reception. We received warm congratulations and wishes of success for our future careers. I heard about the reception from earlier graduated students, and I was looking forward to it. However, attending it left me with a bittersweet feeling. Even though I was looking forward to completing my degree and start a career in the field I’m so passionate about, graduating signified finishing my five-year-long journey at the university, and also closing one of the most exciting chapters in my life so far.
Why did you choose U of M out of all the schools in the world?
Selecting U of M was influenced by a combination of various factors. First, we chose Canada due to its political and economical stability, and its climate similarity to Russia. Apart from that Canada has great image among other countries for its openness, friendliness and culture diversity, of which I can testify that it is absolutely true. Additionally, Canadian education is acknowledged world-wide, and it meets standards of quality and recognition.
Later, we focused on the schools of business ratings. I.H. Asper School of Business has a good reputation among schools in Canada, plus I was attracted by the Co-op Program.
Finally, I established great contact with the ICM recruiting agent – Ilona Niemczyk. She was extremely helpful and friendly, as other ICM staff. It played huge role in me getting used to living here, exploring opportunities, as well as growing as an individual.