International medical insurance provider guard.me has been a ”lifeline” for Mohawk students from abroad hard-hit by the pandemic.
A gift from Mohawk College’s international medical insurance provider has helped students from abroad weather the pandemic a little easier.
Markham-based guard.me donated $750,000 to Mohawk in 2018 to be used for scholarships and emergency funds. No one knew then how critical that gift would be over the last year.
“They really are fantastic. They care so much about students,” said Katie Burrows, the college’s director of development.
When the pandemic hit, many international students found themselves in financial difficulties because they lost their jobs, had their hours cut, or couldn’t rely on support from family at home. They also didn’t qualify for any government support in Canada and many couldn’t return home.
Thanks to the guard.me gift, the college’s International team was able to increase emergency aid funding and “that was a huge lifeline to a lot of international students at the time,” says Burrows.
“Helping people come to Canada and experience the benefits of a Canadian education is something we take immense pleasure in being able to do,” said Keith Segal, President and CEO of guard.me.
“Humanity is integral to our outlook as a company, and we always see the real people behind our insurance policies, and recognize that their needs change as life changes.”
Being awarded a guard.me scholarship eased Yi-Lun Tsai’s worries and allowed her to focus on her studies in Office Administration-Legal.
She says she dreamed as a little girl learning English in Taiwan to come to Canada to study. It is an expensive proposition though, with students from abroad paying several times as much in tuition as domestic students.
The pandemic nixed her plan to get a job last summer and she also had to invest in better internet to handle her online classes.
The scholarship has inspired her to give back herself and made her feel confident about her choice to come to Mohawk. She says she no longer feels alone, even as she desperately misses her family back home.
“You sacrifice a lot to come to Canada to study but then you start to doubt yourself, like: Can I do it? Is it worth it?” she said.
“It’s like you imagine that you are falling from some cliff and then the scholarship is like a hand that catches you and says, ‘I’ve got you. I support you.’”
Image: Yi-Lun Tsai, International Mohawk student