Sara Khabbazi needed to begin again.
The new Fleming College graduate took a leap of faith when she enrolled in the Electrical Techniques program in January 2020. Khabbazi admitted she was surprised by her interest in electronics. But she was inspired by the technicians at her former workplace.
“I went in as a completely blank canvas,” she said. “I didn’t even know how to solder.”
“I was like an old system of DOS,” Khabbazi, 47, joked. “And I needed to upgrade myself.”
Two years before Khabbazi’s “upgrade,” the mother of two had spent much of her adult life working in her family’s distillery business. She had held that job since she came to Canada in her early 20s, putting aside her own dreams of a post-secondary education in her new country.
Then things fell apart.
Her marriage ended, and Khabbizi said that meant she was out of a job, with nothing to fall back on.
It was a difficult time in her life. Feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn, Khabbizi thought long and hard about her next steps. She said she came up with two options.
“I had a choice between going to therapy and going to school,” Khabbazi said, “and so I went to school.”
Khabazzi, a Peterborough-area resident, knew Fleming College would get her where she wanted to go.
“I needed to learn about all this new technology and this new world we are living in,” Khabbazi said. “At Fleming, I felt like I was home.”
“I used every opportunity for me at Fleming,” she said.
For two years Khabbazi worked hard. She asked questions, studied, and grew her knowledge. Khabbazi would later transfer to Fleming’s Electrician Engineering Technician program.
Her months of hard work paid off. On June 17, with her family and classmates looking on, Khabbazi represented the School of Trades and Technology as Valedictorian.
“In two years, I learned what I’m made of, and what I’m capable of,” Khabbazi said. “It was a huge confidence boost.”
That same boost has motivated Khabbazi to continue her education through Fleming College’s education pathways, with the intent on earning her Bachelors of Electrical Engineering at Technological University of the Shannon in Ireland.
“It’s like opening the door to a big playground,” she said. “I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’m open to all the possibilities.”
She has inspired her youngest daughter-who starts school in September-to follow in her footsteps and pursue a career in aerospace engineering.
Khabbazi hopes her inspiration travels beyond her family. She said she wants to inspire others to go into a career in skilled trades-particularly older women who may find themselves in similar situation.
“I wanted to do something I am proud of, and my kids are proud of,” Khabbazi said. “Now I am proud of this new life.”