The sky's the limit: How Philip explored his passion and built a community at Mohawk

Aviation Technician – Aircraft Maintenance student, Philip

When you're a refugee coming to a new country, there are so many experiences that can be an opportunity for growth. 

That was the case for one Aviation Technician – Aircraft Maintenance student, Philip, who came to Canada with a passion for airplanes, but didn't yet know he could turn that interest into a career.

"Philip working on a planes engine"Born in South Africa, Philip grew up in a small village called Nnewi Anambra in Nigeria. He remembers spending time with friends and family when he was young and playing games with other kids. One memory that stuck out to him is seeing planes fly across the sky, a symbol of freedom and exploration. Philip was inquisitive, and while watching them with his friends, he often wondered, ‘how do they fly?’ With each plane that flew overhead, his curiosity grew until his dream was to learn everything there was to know about planes.

It took several months, hundreds of kilometres travelled and a mountain of paperwork, but Philip attained his refugee status and came to Canada. At first, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, only that he wanted to get settled and gain his footing in this place so far from home. He soon realized he had an opportunity he hadn’t imagined – he could follow his dream. Philip decided to go to school and answer a question that goes all the way back to his childhood: how do planes fly?

Unlike many Canadian students who get the chance to explore the campus and learn more about programs, services and supports available in-person at events like Open House, Philip made the decision to come to Mohawk College based on independent research. Through this research, he learned about the Aviation Technician – Aircraft Maintenance program, where he has flourished. “I know how a plane works now, and so much more about them. I get to touch them, walk on them and work on them every day,” he said.

"Philip working on the front of a plane"Philip knew he needed more than a career to make Canada his true home; he needed a community. He decided to get involved with the Mohawk Student Association (MSA), where he serves as director-at-large and a representative for the Centre for Aviation Technology at the Hamilton International Airport campus. “It’s a very good experience; I've always wanted to be a leader. I want to help other people,” he said. “My main goal is to advocate for my own fellow students and make sure they have a very safe and study-friendly environment.”

Philip loves the sense of community and environment of helpfulness the MSA provides. “My favourite part of working with the MSA is the togetherness of trying to help the students, who we always try to put first, and bringing our ideas and our experiences from different campuses together,” he said.

Philips's journey has been difficult and full of challenges, but now that he’s made it to the other side, it is also full of rewards and happiness. He encourages students to take their lives into their own hands and believes Open House is a great opportunity to learn what your options are to get started. “I recommend students attend an Open House Event because you get experience," said Philip. “You learn about the school, you learn about programs, you learn about different campuses. It's an amazing thing for a student to be part of.

“Pursue your dreams and never stop,” he continued. “I've been through a lot and I've gone through so many phases and I'm still here. If I could achieve my dreams, anybody can. Don’t stop, keep pushing, and continue.”