The Graduate Spotlight features exceptional students who have had unique journeys through Laurentian University. We celebrate these students and their accomplishments.
Darshan in Vancouver
(May 16, 2023) - Growing up in Ahmedabad, India, Darshan Shah may not have envisioned receiving his university degree in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, but in just a few weeks, he’ll do just that.
Darshan has been an active and dedicated member of the Laurentian University community over the past 4 years. Graduating from the Mechanical Engineering program on June 2nd, Shah describes his experience studying in Canada as “...totally different from what he had imagined in a positive way’’.
Travelling alone and internationally for the first time at only 18 years old, Shah expressed language as one of his biggest challenges. Being that Shah’s mother tongue is Gujarati, English is his second language. “I was finding it hard to kinda grasp things at the pace which professors wanted but then, you know, it was a learning process, the more I spoke, the more I got familiar myself with the environment”.
Darshan and one of his school projects
Being one of the only international students from India studying in the Mechanical Engineering program, Shah describes that this ‘’accent barrier’’ posed to be a big concern for him. However, by engaging himself in his community and talking to those around him, he explained that he was able to overcome this barrier through numerous conversations; which eventually helped him gain self-confidence.
This confidence in turn assisted him in establishing part-time work positions across campus. This included his work as a leader with both the Domestic Recruitment Office and the International department; which he describes as ‘’...foundational to having my name recognized here at Laurentian’’. In recognition of his leadership, Shah was selected to represent the University at the Ontario University Fair in 2022. Continuing to support the Orientation and Marketing team, Shah took pride in providing comfort to other international students as a representation of someone who people can connect with and hold shared experiences. Shah’s presence and positive impact on the Laurentian community have also been shown through his participation in the Canadian Mining Games in Vancouver where his team earned a podium finish in the Health and Safety category.
Darshan and his colleagues at the Canadian Mining Games
Despite initially thinking of Sudbury’s weather as “brutally cold” and having never before experienced negative temperatures, Shah expressed the benefits of his new home. “I like big cities but coming from a really big city like Ahmedabad, I prefer a quieter city and Sudbury defines that.’’ When asked what he likes the most about Sudbury, he stated: ‘’I like being around nature, I like to explore the trails we have here at Laurentian and I also like hiking”.
Upon starting his University experience, Shah defined himself as an introvert. That said, upon not knowing anyone in Canada, he decided to change his mindset. “I had this feeling that my introvertness wouldn't be helpful to me because I’m starting everything from scratch so I started talking to more and more people…’’ By putting this into practice throughout the years, Shah has become an extremely social person. He spends most of his time with his Canadian friends and considers many of Laurentian’s professors and employees as friends.
Shah expressed the importance of connections around your community; especially as an international student, as they can assist you in getting opportunities. He recommends that international students “not be afraid of anything and just take up opportunities along the way. Your confidence will only grow after you have experiences like that.’’
Fortunate for his start as a Mechanical Engineer Intern, Shah says that upon graduating this spring, these new experiences will help support him in finding an engineering job towards earning a professional designation (P.Eng). Although Shah is not sure if his journey will keep him in Sudbury, he expressed wanting to stay connected to the community which has provided him with a lot of learning experiences that he will cherish and utilize in his future endeavours.
Darshan’s graduation photo
Despite many unforeseen challenges, Shah’s English is now strong as he has flourished here at Laurentian University. As he crosses the stage this month, Shah will have many proud professors and friends recognize him. Being unable to visit home during the lockdown, his family is eager to welcome him home again and congratulate him for his successes here at Laurentian.