My SWAF Story
Boi Hanh shares her experience of the UGDSB's School within a Factory program, and describes her journey to earning her high school diploma
I immigrated to Canada in 2014 from Vietnam. I still remember being anxious and nervous about starting my life in a new county. I had a university degree from Vietnam but I knew that things would be different here. Guelph was a city with a lot of opportunity. The first step was to get a job.
I began working at Linamar, specifically Linergy, where I was a machine operator on the line. I was in a unique position because a lot of my co-workers were Vietnamese and Chinese. My supervisors would ask me to translate things to the others on the floor and in meetings. I took a lot of pride in the fact that they had asked me to translate. It showed me that they valued me as an individual. I truly felt that Linamar was a place where I could see myself working not just for now, but as a place where I could turn my job into a career, all part of the Linamar Grow with Us program. I knew that I would need to get my high school diploma if I wanted to move forward in the company.
I had always loved school and enjoyed math a lot. I was very nervous about my English and literacy courses. I enrolled with the School Within a Factory (SWAF) program that I had seen advertised at work. It was perfect because I was able to work full-time and still get my diploma; there was a lot of flexibility in the program. I went every day for two hours before work; I was very dedicated. I began to see my English improve and with it, so did my confidence. I volunteered with Guelph Immigration Services, cleaned up local parks and was even a clown in the Santa Claus parade. All of these things were made possible because of the confidence school and work has giving me.
I graduated from the SWAF program, having achieved my Ontario Secondary School Diploma in June of 2016. After that I interviewed for, and got, a Quality Inspector position with Linergy. This was my dream job. For the first time, the job didn’t feel like work; it felt like a career. I now have a pathway that I can follow and see my career and skills grow at the same time. I am thrilled to be involved with the Each One Teach One program at work where I am learning valuable skills from my mentor. Management has recognized my potential and is helping me achieve it. I hope that one day I can return the favour and act as a mentor for other employees.
Linamar and the Upper Grand District School Board have been so good to me. They have given me my career, fostered my education and allowed me a space to grow as an employee. I will be forever grateful. If anyone asks me, would I recommend the SWAF program, the answer is always absolutely!
Learn more about SWAF at www.ugdsb.on.ca/swaf.