BBA graduate Alain Ndayishimiye: from refugee camps to business degree

Oct 16, 2013


The following story was published by SFU News on October 10, 2013. 

When Alain Ndayishimiye collects his Bachelor of Business Administration this week, he can afford a moment to reflect upon the journey that led him to SFU.

Growing up in Africa, Ndayishimiye lived in a number of refugee camps in Rwanda, Tanzania and Malawi, although he identifies as Burundian, the country his parents are from.

He came to Canada through the World University Services Canada student refugee program, an initiative that allows refugees to continue their studies in post-secondary institutions across Canada.

Having spent so much of his life in refugee camps, Ndayishimiye recognizes the opportunities that have been made available to him in Canada.

“Growing up in the camps was a happy time for me, but as a child you don’t realize that there’s a completely different world out there,” he explains. “There are not a lot of resources, and many restrictions in place—I would not wish for anyone to live there due to the lack of opportunities.”

Ndayishimiye has not forgotten his heritage since arriving in Canada—he is co-founder of both the SFU African Students’ Association, which has attracted more than 100 members since being founded last year, and Club Komera, an initiative that brings Burundian people in B.C. together as a community.

“I am passionate about community and about people,” he says. “Co-founding these organizations has been an amazing ride. In the future I would like to work for companies that enhance the community and make life easier for people.”

Ndayishimiye has already found work helping others—he works for an environmental charity, Dogwood Initiative, as well as an organization that helps immigrants in Surrey integrate into Canadian society.

“The education SFU has provided has helped me tremendously—it is so much more than a university to me,” he says. “I am very thankful to SFU and I feel ready for the world now.”

With his degree, Ndayishimiye already knows where his future lies.

“One day I intend to return to Burundi and use the education SFU has given me to benefit the people there.”

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