WHILE many people are seeking to return to their respective countries in the face of the covid19 pandemic and many have applied for exemptions – with TT’s borders closed – to return home, Kyra Arthur is not one of them.
Even as the pandemic rages on, the 23-year-old University of New Brunswick, Fredericton student decided to stay in Canada even though she had an opportunity to return before the borders closed.
Arthur plans to make Canada her home and upon retirement, return to TT to do “amazing things.”
She began her studies in TT in 2018 doing business management through Roytec.
“I did the University of New Brunswick project with Roytec. That was the programme they had at that time. What would happen is that we would go to school for two years, gain our associate degree and then we would have the option to do one semester or the remainder of our degree in Canada.
“I chose to do the rest of my degree in Canada. I am graduating in May of this year. I just have one more semester to complete,” she said during a phone interview.
Arthur came to Canada in 2019 as a full-time student and at the end of that year’s fall semester she joined the university’s co-op programme. Co-op programmes in Canada allow students to work in fields related to their study.
“That programme is for third and fourth-year students who are transitioning into the working world and who would like to gain some experience in the working world. With the programme you work full-time and you are paid as a full-time person. However, it is only for students who have a 3.0 GPA,” she said.
At the end of 2019, she got a job with the university’s career development centre. Her job required her to provide jobs for students, be it part-time, full-time or voluntary and she also assisted with matching employers with students.
“My main responsibilities were to have interviews with students and have interviews with the employers and set up times for students to be interviewed by employers and make a good or high qualifying connection with students and employers.
“I was able to help students with their resumes, give them guidance. I attended info sessions. I let students know of info sessions that were happening, where they can attend work-study programmes or full-time, part-time programmes,” she said.
Arthur also liaised with employers and informed them of when students will be on campus, when they won’t, the best times to come to campus. She also managed the department's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to keep the students updated on information.
An article on the university’s website said, “Finding a job can be challenging at the best of times, but never more so than during a pandemic.
“Enter the Career Development and Employment Centre (CDEC) on the UNB Fredericton campus.
“Making a quick pivot, the CDEC enlisted Kyra Arthur, a two-term, co-op student from the faculty of management who was serving as the co-ordinator of employer services, to reach out virtually to potential employers and prospective student employees.”
It added that her role called for strong communication skills, insight and empathy.
While e-mail was a critical channel between the businesses and students, Arthur “also devised a social media plan that sped up posts about job opportunities and reached more students.”
It said, “An international student from TT, Kyra was living in a UNB residence, far from home, during her assignment with CDEC. Drawing on her own experience of adapting to the unexpected, she helped students looking for work build confidence and strengthen their networking skills.”
Having to figure out what employers wanted in the new covid19 work environment, Arthur created a questionnaire for employers and their answers were posted for students to review.
It added that Arthur’s effectiveness in “less-than-ideal circumstances” enhanced its communications strategies so more students could benefit from its services.
Arthur also recently got a position with a software development company as its business development specialist. She hopes to help build the company to help Canadian citizens and then use the knowledge gained to do the same for TT when she returns.
The former NorthGate College student has always had a passion for connecting with young people even though she is young herself, she said.
The St Augustine school always pushed its students to be their best no matter what and that is now transferred into everything she does.
Canada’s strong delivery system and its forward-thinking culture made the decision for Arthur to stay during the pandemic quite easy.
She also loves TT 1,000 per cent and makes it known that she is a Trinidadian everywhere she goes as well as that TT moulded her and made her.
She also loves ballroom dancing and started dancing in TT in 2016 with Edinburgh Dance studio. She hopes to open a ballroom dance school to help grow confidence in young people.
Her mother Kirtia Arthur was at first concerned when her daughter decided to stay “because there was so much uncertainty around and about the pandemic.”
“Of course, as a mother my instinct is to be protective. I was never worried as much as I was aware and definitely had my concerns,” she said.
However, being able to speak with Arthur everyday and “listen to her confidence, courage and what she planned to do,” knowing that she and her husband, Gary, were there to guide made a world of difference and relieved some of the anxiety and worry.
She added that Arthur assured them that the systems provided by the Canadian government would keep her safe and she’d be secure.
Her mum said she is proud of all that her daughter has achieved during the pandemic and the way she used her time wisely.
“In a time when there was so much panic and uncertainty, I felt that she was always sure of herself and really used the relationships that she had formed to propel her to the next level both as a student and in her career.
“She has landed such an amazing opportunity and opportunities. She has widened her network base. She is well known at the university and even secularly through the Chamber of Commerce. She really used the pandemic to her advantage and of course I am secure because I am really, really proud of the individual we have put out into this world.
“And even at a time when there is a global pandemic to see her stand so confidently without us physically there, just made her father and I really, really proud.”