A University of Prince Edward Island student wants to help high-school graduates both here and abroad easily find the best post-secondary institute for themselves.
Nooshin Abedi, a fourth-year student from Iran, launched a free P.E.I.-based student-recruitment aid and counselling service, which mostly helps international students get all the information they need to choose a school.
It's called PathCan, and Abedi works with UPEI students Jesse Champion and Ali Ravaghi. The trio received a startup sum last year for their agency service during UPEI's Panther Pitch — a business pitching competition at the school.
She's keen to help students find the right school and that getting the right advice for university goes a long way, she said.
"If you're getting counselling, you are saving your time, your money and, you know, your career," she said, "and you are much happier with what you are doing."
Going beyond for clients
Before creating PathCan, Abedi helped recent Holland College graduate Sina Bayat come to study on the Island.
Bayat is from Iran and wanted to study abroad, so she got in contact with Abedi — who was working at a recruitment agency.
"While I was 16, 17 years old, I [wanted] to leave my country for a brighter future," Bayat said.
Abedi provided Bayat with information on schools from several countries, but he choose to study on P.E.I. because he had friends here.
Using Nooshin's advice, Bayat said he was able to complete his admission and obtain a study permit to study on the Island
Nooshin helped Bayat in more ways than he'd expected, he said. She helped him find his first job in P.E.I., and advised Bayat on how he could get his father a visitor's visa.
"I applied for my [permanent] residency a week ago, and she also helped me through that. She helped me with the files that I [needed] to submit," Bayat said. "I really appreciate her. She is a really nice lady."
COVID-19 presenting new challenges
With COVID-19 restrictions ongoing, it's harder for international students to come to Canada. Last month, CBC News reported that nearly 1.8 million aspirants to Canada have yet to have their applications processed.
"With the situation of COVID-19, IRCC decided to decrease the amount of students they are approving. It's so stressful for many really well deserving students who are perfectly ready to start their education in Canada," Abedi said.
She and her PathCan team hope to offer international students the right advice and steps to take, as COVID-19 restrictions have made their journey to studying in Canada harder.
Abedi said PathCan does help domestic students in P.E.I., but focuses on prospective international students due to challenges they may face, such as a language barrier.
"English [may be] their second language, or the system is so new to them, so our main market is international students," she said. "But we are developing a system and working on some packages that are going to be helpful for local students."
The school-recruitment agency acts as a consultant for searching and recruiting international students to UPEI as well. They are a resident company at business incubator company Startup Zone in Charlottetown.
CEO Sheryl MacAulay said PathCan is a great addition to the the Startup Zone.
"They have incredible work-ethic and are providing a valuable service to international students," MacAulay said.