Pursuing further studies abroad is an achievement in itself, but graduating with honors and receiving one of the most prestigious academic awards given to students with exemplary performance is a whole notch higher, as Filipina student Jonhel Ampil has shown – a Niagara Falls resident who completed her studies in Recreation Therapy at Niagara College (NC) in Canada with a final grade of 98.046%.
“It means so much to me. Being an international student and away from home, it made me feel that all my struggles and hard work have paid off,” Ampil said in an interview.
Aside from graduating at the top of her class, she will also receive the prestigious Governor General’s Academic Medal at her convocation ceremony on June 24. The award, given to just one student at each postsecondary institution every year, is the most coveted award given to a Canadian student in recognition of their academic excellence.
“It gave me the confidence that I can do great things if I just put my mind and heart into it,” Ampil added, saying that she also feels that she has brought honor not just to her family but to the whole country as well.
The associate dean of the School of Community Services, Carol Philips, praised her dedication to her profession and her “compassion” to care for vulnerable people.
“Jonhel is a model example of a community services professional, whose heart is deeply rooted in caring for others … Jonhel always brought a joyful presence when working with her peers and participants at placement as she approached all of her work with enthusiasm and a bright smile,” Philips said.
Ampil grew up in Quezon City, the largest city in the country’s capital, where she spent four years as an occupational therapist (OT). Afterwards, she decided that she wanted to expand her skills and further her career, and so she set her eyes on attending NC.
After spending her studies online for four months, she then moved to Canada with her partner to continue her studies. They are set to graduate together with the same degree program on June 24.
But even before graduating, she was able to establish her career in Canada, working as an assistant activity coordinator at a retirement home in Niagara Falls. She said that it’s “a job that she loves doing because it gives her a chance to use recreation as an effective rehabilitation tool and grow her skills as a recreation therapist.”
She plans to secure an OT license in Canada.
“[I’ve been] a registered OT in the Philippines since 2015 and gained work experiences in both the hospital and pediatric settings,” Ampil said in a press release by the college. “I believe that having both OT and recreation [backgrounds] would really help in my advocacy for a better quality of life for my clients.”
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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