By Yvonne Voulgaris
Kind, compassionate, intelligent, strong, and determined.
Olga Saade found PTP on her journey towards entering the field of dentistry so that she can carry on in the profession she worked in and loved in El Salvador.
Having left fearful and troubled times there, she arrived in Canada in February 2015 knowing only five words: yes, no, he, she, and you.
Some adult learners experience fear and apprehension when returning to school, often afraid that their communication skills will be found wanting and they’ll be misunderstood, especially if past experiences in new surroundings have dictated this to be an expected result.
Olga arrived quiet and soft-spoken, but with a laser-like focus on accomplishing all that she needs to. Fear has not held her back in the least. In fact, leaving no opportunity wasted, she has found an unexpected confidence and has thrown herself into any available learning situation offered at PTP. In a short amount of time, she has achieved recognition for completing an Office Basics course, as well as gaining her Food Handler certification. She volunteers in PTP’s coffee shop, run by and for the students, and she even dutifully assists with training new volunteers. In class, she is an inquisitive sponge, taking no learning opportunity for granted.
She says of PTP, “This school is amazing for me. It helped me a lot. I am more comfortable now. More confident. I love this school very much. I’ve learned many things.”
And she does all of this with humbleness and modesty.
Sometimes people who have lost a way of life they’re accustomed to and have to start over again, in a new country no less, arrive with bitterness or sadness, which can often impede strides forward. What makes Olga amazing is that she just accepts the reality of needing to start over and she does so with gusto. She worries about wasting time. She wants to move forward as efficiently as possible.
Olga worked as a dentist in El Salvador for 14 years, and it’s a profession she loves. The support and love of her family is key to her perseverance and success.
With encouragement from her kids and her husband (who is working towards the same goal), she dove right into researching the necessary requirements and took action.
She started with ESL classes and then moved onto upgrading her math and English skills. When asked what her next steps are towards her goal, she is clear. Once she is finished at PTP, she plans to enter the Dental Assistant program at George Brown. While they recognize her transcripts from El Salvador, she needs to improve her math and English skills before writing the entrance exam, which is how she ended up at PTP. She will enter the industry and learn how to navigate the Canadian nuances of dentistry so that she can move forward to becoming a dentist here. She plans to attend the Golden Target Training Centre, which is for international health care professionals.
“I want to be an example for my kids. In life, we have to have education because it’s the key to having success. It’s important for me. It’s important for them. If my kids don’t see my effort, they might not want to go for their goals.”
She carried this spirit with her into PTP, and she is a positive influence and example for all of those around her. She has a work ethic and mindset that makes her a success in all aspects of life she strives for.
For Olga, success can know no bounds when strength of character and family are the motivating factors.
Smiling, she says: “My husband and I are encouraging each other. The goal is very far, but we know that one day we will reach it.”
And the glint in her eyes leaves no doubt that this will happen.
*Editor’s Note: Steven Trussler, the PTP student last featured, has since successfully achieved his GED.