International student Oanh Ho wins Female Business Student of the Year – Fleming College

For five years, Oanh (“Jo”) Ho worked in the hospitality industry in Vietnam, feeling exhausted from long work days in a busy city. She decided it was time for a change and wanted the adventure of studying abroad.

“I was born and grew up in the hustle of Ho Chi Minh City, and now I preferred something different, something unique and with a slower pace,” said Jo. “I’m happy with my choice of starting the new journey here at Fleming College.”

She chose the Global Business Management (GBM) program because it relates to her previous education in hospitality and career experience. Jo also feels that the length of this program (two years) gives her enough time to immerse herself in her studies, as well as Canadian culture and lifestyle.

“I treasure every moment I am here,” said Jo, who started the GBM program in January. “I’ve got to try my best whenever I have the chance; work hard at school, gain experience at my part-time job, participate in the Enactus Fleming group, and optimize but also balance my time budget efficiently before I graduate.”

2019 Female Business Student of the Year – Fleming College Award winner

It is this work ethic, enthusiasm and involvement in the community that led Jo to win the 2019 Female Business Student of the Year – Fleming College Award at the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough’s Women In Business Awards.

Faculty member Raymond Yip Choy canvassed faculty for nominations and said Jo received the most votes. In the nomination form, Raymond writes, “From the time that Jo started her Global Business Management program at Fleming College, she stood out as a leader. Not only has she been very diligent in her studies, but she has also taken the time to get involved in campus activities and is always looking for ways to give back to the community.”

He adds, “Her peers and her professors all agree that she is exactly the kind of woman that will make a real difference to the business and the wider community.”

Jo said she was surprised to receive an award after only three months in the country and was very excited to be chosen.  

“In class, the front row is my favorite spot to sit, as I always prioritize studying because this experience is a huge investment from my parents. With an estimated GPA of 3.5 after my first semester, my efforts are paying off,” said Jo.

Jo said she is a mature student and the only Vietnamese student in her program, which forces her to immerse herself in a different culture, get involved, and develop her language skills.

“I strongly believe that a person can evaluate an issue as a challenge or a chance, it’s mostly up to their mindset,” said Jo, who views this as a chance.

Leading Enactus Fleming

One chance Jo took was getting involved in Enactus Fleming, a student-led entrepreneurial club where students apply their skills to entrepreneurship, participate in workshops, impact the economic growth of international communities, and start a business on campus.

“When I first came to Fleming, I knew I had to find that club!” said Jo, who found Enactus Fleming on her first day. “I heard of Enactus before coming to Canada as I was inspired by another Vietnamese student, who is the president of Enactus at Bow Valley College in Alberta. I watched her updates from Regionals to Nationals and then to the World Cup, and the spirit of the people at these events is what triggered me to want to become one of them. That’s when I added ‘join Enactus Fleming’ to my To-Do List.”

A few months after joining Enactus Fleming, Jo presented at the regional pitch competition in Mississauga, and on April 3 she was elected as President of Enactus Fleming. Now, Jo is helping prepare the team for the national pitch competition in Vancouver.

“My favourite experience in Enactus isn’t one thing or time, it’s our meetings that we have every Wednesday,” said Jo. “The quality of the time we spend together is important and we have become friends who can share about school and life. Enactus has given me the chance to expand my network with Indians, Brazilians, Canadians and Russian.”

Jo credits previous president Emily Scott for believing Jo could lead Enactus Fleming, and faculty member Raymond Yip Choy for his dedication to the team and his guidance.

Peterborough is Jo’s perfect place for college

When Jo isn’t busy studying or meeting with Enactus Fleming, she is playing in the bell choir at Sacred Heart Church, working part-time at Zaffron Grill, or spending time with new friends at the Trent Valley International Coffee House group, which she recently joined.

“Peterborough is a great place to focus on studying and engage in interesting activities. With a smaller campus community, it is a good chance for international students to get involved with on-campus activities and have fairly less pressure and competition than bigger cities,” said Jo.

“I would definitely recommend Fleming College to other international students because not only is the school good, but also the students and the faculty make your experience even better. I really believe that Canada has treated me so nice since I first came and I really believe the chances for international students are always available for everyone.”

Riding the wave of experiential learning

By: Laura Copeland

blog-photoThe surf’s up for 15 Fleming College students who are working on a multi-faceted project to help a west coast surfboard company expand overseas.

Swell Composites Supply Ltd., based in Richmond, B.C., is sponsoring three applied projects for business students. Applied projects, available within certain programs in the School of Business and School of Trades and Technology, see students spend their final semester finding innovative solutions to a real-world challenge. The students gain academic credit and on-the-job experience. At the same time, the project results provide new information, answer questions, contribute to planning, and lay the groundwork for future innovations.

For Swell Composites – Entropy Resin’s Canadian partner that is the Importer and Distributor of the complete range of composite materials used in Fiberglass and Resin manufacturing within the sporting goods, custom manufacturing and marine industries in Canada -, a team of students in the International Business Management program have been creating a logistics and export manual that will aid the company in exporting to international markets. As well, two groups of Global Business Management students have been analyzing the markets of targeted, specific countries.

International Business Management student Duy Vong says working in teams on the applied projects has been both eye-opening and uplifting.

“I have been very lucky to work with an incredible group of people who are super supportive. They always help me whenever I’m in need and help me get over my weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”

Duy added that working on the project has been an “incredible journey” thanks to the sponsor, Swell Composite Principal Cofounder Jimmy Stewart, who is also a Fleming alumnus.

“He has taught us meaningful, real-life lessons, and he has provided a lot of information to helps us get our work done more easily and more quickly.”

Arielle Smith, an International Business Management student, says the three teams were “synergistic” and helped each other grow and develop over the semester. Like Duy, she also appreciated the support from their sponsor throughout the project.

“As a past Fleming graduate, Jimmy knows what it’s like to be in our shoes. He’s been able to offer us advice on what to do after we leave Fleming, advice about the industry, and has been a great overall guide for the project. He’s gone through information with us to ensure we have a solid understanding on the material, which has helped us in giving him an overall better final product,” she said.

Both Arielle and Duy said that communication between students and across projects presented a bit of a challenge at times.

“In order to be successful as a team, you need to have an effective channel of communication, to make sure that everybody is on the same page. Distance does not, and will not, stop a team from being successful as long as you know how to overcome the challenges,” said Duy.

Arielle says she is grateful for the applied project opportunity, as it will help her move forward into a career.

“With the experience I’ve gained from working for Swell Composites, I feel more prepared to enter the workforce than ever before,” she said. “I think it has been invaluable not only to myself but also the other groups. It’s easy for teachers to recreate situations for students to participate in, but there’s nothing like the real-life experience that we learned from the applied project.”