by Gloria Welton, The Employment Journey on PEI, November 2016 issue
In honour of the late Phyllis Pitre, former Chair of the Career Development Association of PEI Inc., a bursary has been established.
At the age of 48, on November 21, 2011, Phyllis passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. She lived in Charlottetown and was formerly of Tignish Shore.
The 2016 bursary was divided into three prizes of $500 each and distributed in September 2016. The award is for adult learners on PEI who are 30 years old or older who are working towards completing a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree. Applicants must demonstrate Phyllis Pitre’s values of leadership, public speaking, volunteering, and life-long learning.
The following is Zahra Jahanmiri's story. Check out fellow winners Heather Watterson and Shawnna Gaudet in separate posts.
Working to build a career on PEI includes post-secondary education
Zahra Jahanmiri arrived on PEI from Iran in 2009 with her husband and two children, who are now 14 and 9. “We would like to stay here and build our careers,” says Zahra. “Our children are happy here.”
In Iran, her job was with the municipality of Tehran, the capital city. For 13 years, she worked in establishing and maintaining green space, which is related to her background in botany.
Before looking for work on PEI, Zahra improved her English skills by attending Study Aboard Canada PEI Language Institute. “I made a lot of friends there, and gained great information for my new life,” says Zahra.
“After one and a half years, I started to look for work. I realized my background only fitted into limited opportunities, and I needed to refresh and expand my knowledge. I considered going to UPEI but realized I needed a more hands-on education to improve my chances of getting work. Attending college was my choice to find a good job to help support myself and my family.”
She completed the Environmental Applied Science Technology program at Holland College. “I enjoyed my two years at school, but when looking for work I realized that companies were hiring people with bioscience training and education. It was not easy to think about going back to college again, but I could only find part-time work. I decided to enroll in the Bioscience Technology program, and I will graduate in 2017. I am looking for a job that will be using many of my skills and education.
“My husband really helps me to find my way and encourages me. He is an engineer now working in Ontario after short-term employment on PEI.”
For Zahra to be able to continue to pay for her studies, he commutes from PEI to his job in Ontario. “He would love to work here. We are tired of bigger cities. When we came to PEI we were amazed at its beauty. We want a simple, safe, and healthy life here. We believe when you make a decision you have a commitment to it, and that helps with the transition right now.
“His role as a dad and a husband is very important for our family. We know it would be better if he came back to PEI to work, and he continues to look for a job here.”
She tried working part-time while in the college program, but couldn’t continue because the program is so intense.
“PEI Newcomers to Canada Association staff told me about the bursary. The money will help me and my family, and I appreciate it so much. The meaning is very precious to me and we are very thankful.
“We know there are good jobs on PEI, but it is a journey to connect to the right employers. We are trying so hard to do all that we can.”
Phyllis loved to help people as they worked through their career plans, and she offered hope to many people in her years as a career counsellor.