Pursuing passions even when others put you down


Patricia Barrera used to teach children from preschool to grade six back home in Colombia. She first turned her eyes to Canada when a friend talked to her about going there as a live-in caregiver. Patricia was open to the idea and decided to give it a shot. Through the Live-in Caregiver Program, Patricia made her way to Canada.

For four years, Patricia worked as a nanny in Calgary. During that time, she grew to love the city and wanted to make it her new home. Eventually she applied for and received status as a Permanent Resident of Canada. Happy to gain her new status, Patricia wanted more of her new home. She wanted to follow her true passion in teaching.

Patricia decided her first step was to assess her English to see if she had the fluency needed to become a teacher in Canada. She achieved a high intermediate result, but decided to continue improving her English through LINC classes. While studying, Patricia submitted her documents to Alberta Education to begin the process of becoming a certified teacher in Alberta. This early step was already difficult because it took her nearly one year to collect and translate all her supporting documents from Colombia.

Waiting for the results from Alberta Education was the most difficult. Not only was Patricia eager to know the results, many people around her were also discouraging her from pursuing her dreams. People told her that she would not make it. They said she should change careers or train for another job at SAIT.

In all the noise, Patricia remained focused on her own goals. Eventually, her steadfastness paid off. Alberta Education asked Patricia for one final document, which was her International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results. Afterward providing the results, she was able to apply for her teaching license!

Even though she obtained the credentials to teach in Alberta, Patricia decided to enroll in the Bridge to Teaching program at the University of Calgary to give herself more exposure to Canada’s teaching environment. After the eight-month program, Patricia interviewed with the Calgary Board of Education and landed a substitute teacher position. Six months later, she received a full-time job. Patricia now teaches at an elementary school in Calgary that has a Spanish bilingual program!

To newcomers, Patricia would encourage them to stay focused on their dreams. Do not let others discourage and distract you from your passions. Internationally educated teachers who want to teach again in Alberta should reach out to Alberta Education. They will answer your questions and help guide you.