Instagram artwork helps international student continue college studies

Artist Mark Dizon commissions his artwork to help pay his way through school

international student Mark Dizon
Centennial College international student Mark Dizon is funding his film studies in part with a social media ad. Zeenya Shah/Toronto Observer

A Centennial College international student has come up with a creative way of funding his studies and living expenses using his Instagram account.

When Mark Dizon, originally from the Philippines, learned that he had been accepted into Advanced Television and Film – Script to Screen program at Centennial College, he posted an ad on Instagram explaining his situation.

“I’m going to film school in Toronto, I got accepted but I don’t have enough money to put myself through school, and I’m doing commissions if you need art work for friends and families,” his ad read.

Dizon hoped to become an animator or filmmaker, if only he could afford the education.

“I didn’t ask for money, I asked for work,” Dizon said.

Dizon’s Instagram account, showcasing his artwork, has more than 10,000 followers and, according to him, most offered to help.

Many students find adjusting to the demands of college or university a difficult process. For international students being away from family and friends, performing in a new language, in a new country, while adjusting to a new climate, can be even more challenging.

Despite his talent and success so far, Dizon says finances are still his biggest challenge.

“Paying for tuition, rent and finding a good place to stay is a lot more expensive than where I am from,” he says.

Nita Saini, a advisor at the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion at the college, says international students face additional pressures often without the help of friends and family.

One of their biggest challenge is their finances, finding a way to pay for their tuition and living expenses, in a city with very high rent and a high cost of living, Saini says.

“There are a lot of stressors,” she says. “Currently there is a housing crisis and high cost of living, and minimum wage is not adequate.”

According to the college’s website on tuition fees, the cost per year for international students can vary from double to quadruple the cost for domestic students.

A bachelor of science in nursing can cost a domestic student $6,223 and an international student $27,000, for the first year.

This difference is due to provincial funding, says Jennifer Cabell, an international student advisor at Centennial. Domestic students, Canadian citizens or those with permanent residency pay less because a portion of their tuition is paid by the government.

Despite the higher fees for international students, there are many reasons why students chose to study in Canada and in Toronto such as costs of living programs, and job prospects, she says.

“If someone overseas would like to strengthen their English, they may pick Canada — it’s more affordable than the U.S.”

Despite the costs, Dizon says he has learned more in his program than he believes he would have in the Philippines, and hopes to find work in Toronto upon completion.

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Posted: Mar 4 2020 10:17 am
Filed under: News