College is all in the family for this foursome

Family members and fellow college students (l-r) son Muhiminul Aziz, parents Taslima Sultana and Mahbubul Aziz, and daughter Lia Aziz.
Family members and fellow college students (l-r) son Muhiminul Aziz, parents Taslima Sultana and Mahbubul Aziz, and daughter Lia Aziz. (StudentFamily4online)

An East York-area couple are finding that the promised land of Canada comes with caveats.

But they’re trying to overcome the professional hurdles in front of them by making college a family affair.

Mahbubul Aziz and Taslima Sultana, who immigrated to Canada in 2006 and who now live in the Danforth-Victoria Park area, have both entered Centennial College as mature students, so that they can qualify for suitable jobs. Since their arrival in Canada, they haven’t been getting work that matches their foreign education and experience.

Aziz believes the east-end college may help open doors for them.

“I’m studying computer communication and network engineering and I’m in the final semester,” Aziz said. “After completion of my study I’m confident that I will get a job in network engineering or in system engineering.”

Both Aziz and his wife are on OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Program of financial aid. Their two children, Muhiminul and Lia, are also pursuing studies at the same college — although the family members are spread across two of Centennial’s Scarborough campuses.

“I want to work as an early childhood educator. I was a school teacher back home, so I chose ECE as my future career here in Toronto,” said Sultana. “I didn’t start studying immediately after my coming to Canada. I took time and then I decided to study ECE.”

When asked what pressing problem they face in their new situation, both said that language has been the major barrier, especially in getting a job. But while the language is a drawback for the parents, the children have not faced the same difficulty. Muhiminul had English schooling back home, and Lia was an infant when she came to Canada. So English has not been an obstacle for either of them. And both Lia and Muhiminul say they’re happy in an environment where the whole family is working toward a better life.

Their parents agree that it’s not easy to succeed in higher education — with Aziz saying that it involves “efforts and determination… to prepare for the new situation and to better personally and professionally.”

Nazma Khanam, another East York resident and Centennial ECE student, is a relative of the family.

“They’re a hard-working couple, studious and firm in achieving their goal,” Khanam said. “They’re also taking care of their children and managing household things.” For her part, Khanam is optimistic about getting a job after completing her studies.

“We do not belong to homogenous group,” Aziz said. “We can be termed differently, and that’s why there are lots more challenges ahead, but we hope to overcome the hurdles.”