Providing a home away from home
Compassionate. Welcoming. Nurturing. Kind. These are just some of the words that are spoken when employees at Sheridan’s International Centre talk about their co-worker, International Student Coordinator Melanie Jablonski. It’s not long before they run out of superlatives to describe her.
“Melanie always goes out of her way to ensure that our international students are taken care of,” says Sheridan’s Elena Shik, Associate Director, International Services and Study Abroad. “One of the most outstanding qualities that Melanie possesses is empathy, which she has brought to her work at Sheridan every day for the past nine years.”
But if you ask Jablonski, she’ll tell you that she’s simply doing the job she loves – a job that brings her purpose and enables her to live out her passion.
“From day one, I knew this was the field for me,” says Jablonski. “I’ve always been passionate about helping other people. I found such joy in helping newcomers find their way in Canada.”
“From day one, I knew this was the field for me. I’ve always been passionate about helping other people. I found such joy in helping newcomers find their way in Canada.” – Melanie Jablonski
Jablonski graduated from Sheridan’s Social Service Worker program in 2006 before going on to work at a non-profit organization that helps immigrants find jobs in Canada, where she quickly discovered her calling. But nearing the end of her maternity leave in 2009 and looking for a new role, Jablonski serendipitously noticed a job posting at Sheridan.
“Everything came full circle,” says Jablonski. “I had just started looking for work, and I saw this job at Sheridan – the school I loved and graduated from – and the role was exactly in the field that I adored. Everything happened so quickly and came together seamlessly, as if it were meant to be.”
Roughly 6,800 international students from more than 80 countries around the world are currently studying at Sheridan, aligning with the college’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where all students can excel.
“I can only imagine how intimidating it must be for international students to make the decision to study abroad,” says Jablonski. “I am determined to help make their transition as smooth as possible, and to make them feel welcome and comfortable within the Sheridan community.”
Jablonski works on the front-line, often as the first point of contact for prospective students, ensuring that their questions are answered and that they feel well-prepared for their studies at Sheridan. She is on hand to discuss everything from study permits to health insurance to typical weather in Canada. No task is too big or too small for Jablonski, says Shabnam Sevinch, a second-year Computer Programming student from Turkey who sought Jablonski’s guidance during one of the most pivotal moments of her life.
“I was completely overwhelmed by the process of becoming an international student and choosing the right courses,” she says. “The academic system in Canada is very different than in Turkey. But as soon as I walked into the International Centre and met Melanie, I knew everything was going to be okay. Her smile was comforting and reassuring. She went out of her way to support me through the process and answer all of my questions. Even when I have questions now, she goes above and beyond to help me.”
And according to Jablonski’s peers, she demonstrates this thoughtful approach each and every day.
“Melanie’s role is crucial to the success of our international students,” says Shik. “She ensures every student feels heard and valued. Many students even return to Sheridan after they graduate and ask for Melanie because she was the person they remember most who made a difference during their Sheridan journey.”
“Many students even return to Sheridan after they graduate and ask for Melanie because she was the person they remember most who made a difference during their Sheridan journey.” – Elena Shik
“I have a passion for boosting student engagement, promoting inclusiveness, and creating a holistic student experience here at Sheridan,” Jablonski says. “It’s something I strive to achieve on a daily basis. I want everyone to feel included and welcome.”
From boosting student engagement to making a difference in the lives of others, Jablonski says she loves all aspects of her job. But perhaps the best part of all?
“What I love most about my job is meeting our students,” she says. “I enjoy the stories they share, and the perspectives and values they bring to the Sheridan community. As part of the International team, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to meet exceptional students who open my eyes to different cultures, perspectives, customs and traditions.”
Pictured at top of page: Melanie Jablonski. Photo by Darryn O’Malley.
Written by: Darryn O’Malley, Portal Communications Officer at Sheridan.