Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies
Degree: Social Service Worker - Immigration and Refugee
Year of graduation: 2013
The old adage “a blessing in disguise” certainly rings true for Shenaz Mawani. A financial analyst for over 20 years at Canada Bread, Shenaz was laid off in 2011. “My morale was really down,” she recalls. It’s not as though Shenaz was entirely satisfied with her career, but the news still came as a big shock. “I knew I wanted a change but it’s difficult to step out of your comfort zone after many years,” she says.
With the help of employment counsellors, Shenaz soon honed in on her passion for empowering others in crisis. She moved in with her former sister-in-law in Brampton and enrolled in to Sheridan’s Social Service Worker – Immigration and Refugee program.
Today, Shenaz is enjoying a rewarding career helping newcomers find meaningful work. She took on her current role as Skills and Employment Program Counsellor at The Economic Planning Board for Ontario immediately after graduation.
Shenaz’s story was just one of many in her class of 17 students, she soon realized. “Regardless of our background, age or circumstance, we were treated with the same respect and support. Sheridan gave me so much confidence.”
That confidence helps her advocate for her clients, many of whom are referred from 18 mosques in Ontario. “People are so thankful for assistance accessing the training and employment options out there,” she explains. “I have been in Canada over 30 years and I didn’t know some of these services existed. Imagine being a newcomer and trying to navigate the system,” adds Shenaz, who was born in East Africa and came to Canada from England in 1975.
Although she works in the non-profit sector, Shenaz sees growing opportunities in the corporate world for graduates of her program as companies focus increasingly on cultural awareness and diversity issues.
Whatever route they take, Shenaz advises students and new graduates to volunteer and attend outreach events to connect with as many people events as possible.
Now living in Toronto, she is grateful to those who helped pave the way for her. “I was lucky that I met the right people along the way. I guess it was meant to be.”
More about Sheridan’s Social Service Worker – Immigration and Refugee program.