Celebrating Diversity and Success: The Journey of Lizzie Gonzalez at Confederation College


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A diverse and multicultural institution, Confederation College has students from over 40 countries. Among these international learners is Lizzie Gonzalez, an ambitious student from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her journey to Canada with her family is a testament to the dreams and challenges international students face. Lizzie's story is the first in a series that will highlight international students' invaluable contributions to our community.


Lizzie embarked on her Canadian adventure in 2022, bringing with her a wealth of experience in marketing and a desire for a safer, more secure life for her family. "Living in a country with more opportunities and more safety was something my husband and I were chasing, for I don't know how long. So, this is a dream we've been searching for, and here we are," Lizzie shares, her smile shining.


The transition to a new country was not without its challenges. Lizzie reflects on the difficulties of balancing studies, work, and family life in an unfamiliar environment. "Oh, my God, it was so difficult and challenging... So, I'm not just studying, I'm studying a new language, taking care of my family and my children, and working. So, it's been really hard. But I'm doing it."


Choosing Confederation College was a decision driven by both practicality and ambition. Lizzie explains, "I chose to take the Business Marketing program because this is my career, and I just wanted to improve all my knowledge." It’s been over 15 years since the first time Lizzie was a college student. She notes that the Business Marketing program has helped her hone her skills in a new digital market and learn about techniques used in the Canadian landscape. The decision to move to Thunder Bay, as opposed to the bustling city of Toronto, was influenced by the desire for affordability and a quieter life, reminiscent of their life back in Santo Domingo but without all the traffic.


Lizzie's time at Confederation College has been marked by memorable experiences, particularly her student position with the Marketing and Communications department. The team allowed her to learn about projects around campus and how to execute them while accommodating her class schedule, ensuring her schoolwork came first.


Working in the marketing and communications department introduced her to people within the college community and reminded her of the reason she immigrated. She transitioned to work for the international department during her last year of school. In this position, she was able to connect with future and current international students, often in Spanish, and share her experiences. "I am a very friendly person. So, working in the college…I'm making friends with the faculty members and all the students. For me, it's very easy, I guess. But also, it's very empowering for the things that I want to chase here," Lizzie remarks, underscoring the importance of building connections and networking as an international student.


Reflecting on the challenges of studying in a second language, Lizzie acknowledges, "For me, the most difficult part is to be able to communicate properly in a language that is not my first language." Yet, she has adapted remarkably well, finding the cultural differences and the kindness of Canadians both shocking and heartwarming. In her studies, she notes the warmth shown by Canadians as crucial to her success. In a second-year project, Lizzie was involved with the planning and execution of ‘Brushes for Hope,’ a paint-night fundraiser supporting the Tournament of Hope, which raises money for First Nations youth. Planning an event in a city you are new to can be overwhelming, but alongside her classmates, the group raised over $1900.00.


Lizzie's involvement in extracurricular activities, including volunteering for the city of Thunder Bay and serving as the Director of Social Events on the Student Union of Confederation College Inc., board, has further enriched her experience. These roles have not only allowed her to practice her English but have also played a crucial role in her integration into Thunder Bay, making connections and getting familiar with events and work-life in Canada.


For prospective international students considering studying in Canada, Lizzie offers some sage advice: "From my perspective, the most important thing is to be aware of your emotions, and be in control of them, because this is going to take more from you than you might expect." She also stresses the importance of English proficiency, advising students to be well-prepared to face the linguistic obstacles of studying abroad. Lizzie noted that the challenges were worth it for all the opportunities that resulted.


As she prepares to graduate and continue her new career as the Marketing Coordinator at Jones Insurance, Lizzie proudly acknowledges the role the College has played in her journey. "Today I am what I am, because of Confederation. I feel like I'm a different person now.”



International Student Spotlight is an ongoing series that documents the experiences, contributions, and stories of Confederation College international students. For more information or media inquiries, please contact:


Scott Hobbs, Communications Consultant 

Mobile: (807) 621-5265 | Office: (807) 475-6295

[email protected]