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A new life

With a degree and job at Memorial, fall graduate — and his family — embrace N.L.

special feature: Class of 2023

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Melissa Watton

New fall graduate Md Mahmud Reza has a very different life today than he did just two years ago.

Md Mahmud Reza, a brown man in his late 20s, wears a puffer jacket and poses for a photo on a walking trail in the woods.
Md Mahmud Reza will collect his master of employment relations degree during convocation ceremonies on Oct. 19. His wife and daughter will be looking on in the St. John’s Arts and Culture auditorium.
Photo: Submitted

In 2021 Mr. Reza was living in Bangladesh with his family and working as a human resources professional when he was accepted into Memorial University’s Master of Employment Relations (MER) Program.

A difficult start

Originally accepted to start in fall 2021, he was forced to defer his studies while waiting for his visa to be processed.

Approval came in December; he had to move quickly in order to arrive in Canada in time for the start of the winter semester.

After travelling for 53 hours, Mr. Reza arrived in St. John’s with just two suitcases in hand in January 2022.

He left behind his wife, Etu, and daughter, Ifza. It wasn’t a move he took lightly. He made the difficult decision in order to provide Ifza with a better future.

Mr. Reza’s plan was to complete his studies while working, but finding a job proved to be difficult.

After applying to numerous places for a variety of roles, he began to question whether he would be able to continue to study and live in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Unexpected help

During an intersession semester, one of his classmates asked if he would accompany him to Memorial’s School of Graduate Studies.

Andrew Kim, the director of student enrolment services, started a friendly conversation with Mr. Reza, asking him questions about his studies, background and plans for the future.

Once Mr. Kim learned about Mr. Reza’s work experience in human resources and his educational background, which included a master of business administration degree, he offered to introduce him to his contacts in Memorial’s Human Resources department.

The staff there arranged for a meeting; Mr. Reza came prepared with a presentation showcasing his skills.

“That chance meeting with Andrew Kim literally changed my life.” — Md Mahmud Reza 

While he didn’t get a job offer immediately, he was told there might be a project in a few months and that his resumé would be kept on file.

Opportunity arises

Mr. Reza went back to focusing on his studies and applying for jobs. Two months later, he received word that his skills were needed.

He says he was so excited, he met with the department the same day.

“I started part time as an HR analyst on Sept. 9, 2022, and then nine weeks later my hours were increased,” he said. “Since then, I interviewed for an HR consultant position and was happy to get that job. That chance meeting with Andrew Kim literally changed my life. He changed my life. I have since met with him several times just to say thank you.”

Md Mohammad Reza, a brown man in his late 20s, stands in a pedwalk with a bank of lockers and a glass wall behind him.
Md Mahmud Reza’s Human Resources colleagues say he brings a wealth of experience in policy, planning and analysis to his role, as well as an engaging personality.
Photo: Submitted

Having secured a full-time job, Mr. Reza was juggling his work during the daytime and his classes in the evening.

In addition to the source of income, his employment status opened up new opportunities for him and his family.

He had previously applied to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for visas for his wife and daughter. Mr. Reza informed IRCC that he now had a job at Memorial.

Shortly after, Etu and Ifza joined him in St. John’s.

“Mr. Reza is not just a colleague, but a friend to many in Human Resources.” — Michael Kielly

Mr. Reza also became eligible for Memorial’s academic credit course offering for full-time employees. He received tuition funding during the last semester of his program.

Employment at Memorial has also brought new connections.

“Mr. Reza is not just a colleague, but a friend to many in Human Resources,” said Michael Kielly, manager of policy and organizational effectiveness in Human Resources. “While he brought a wealth of experience in policy, planning and analysis to the role and to the department, he also brought an engaging personality that has made him an integral part of the team.”

Future plans

Life has calmed down significantly since Mr. Reza finished the MER program this past summer.

“I now get to go home after work and listen to my daughter as she tells me stories about her day in kindergarten,” he said. “Going forward, I want to stay and contribute to the province and to Memorial University in some way. My ultimate goal would be to get permanent residency and raise my daughter in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

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