Pathways: Success Stories


Assan is originally from Kurdistan.  He was living with his mother in a refugee camp in Turkey when they received word that they were being sponsored by a Church group to move to Canada.  In 2000, at the age of 7, Assan arrived in Canada with his mother to begin a new life in a country where he did not know the language or the culture.  Assan lived for several years in Winchester, then Cornwall, eventually moving to a social housing neighborhood in the West end of Ottawa.  When he was in Grade 8, Assan’s mother heard about Pathways to Education and signed him up.  He started attending the program the following year and immediately earned a reputation as a positive and passionate student.  Assan took full advantage of all of the supports available through Pathways, including tutoring and mentoring, and quickly established himself as a leader within the program, at school and in the community at large.  Along with other Pathways students, Assan has participated in the Pathways Youth Leadership and Peace Building Program which helped him to develop conflict resolution and cross-cultural communication skills.  In Grade 10 he assumed the very responsible position of Treasurer and Vice President of his local community association and in his senior years in high school he joined his school’s Link Crew, and provided mentorship and support to incoming Grade 9 students.  When he graduated in 2012 Assan was recognized for his formal and informal leadership activities by being awarded the Student Recognition Award from the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. He is deeply committed to social issues, and is currently enrolled in the Police Foundations Program at Algonquin College. He has also brought the sport of Parkour to Algonquin College and is the President of the first ever Parkour Club Algonquin College has ever had. Assan is also committing his own time to help expand the Pathways to Education Ottawa Alumni group so that former Pathways students now in post secondary can network and stay in touch with each other.  His long-term goal is to work in the area of human rights.


Rahel is a second year at the University of Ottawa, studying Conflict Studies and Human Rights in French Immersion with a minor in Criminology.

When asked what experiences she benefited most from being in Pathways, Rahel says “The effective study environment that was provided during Tutoring, paired with the helpful tutors that got me through my math and science classes, as well as the motivating career events where I got to learn about different jobs and post-secondary paths. It is a wonderful initiative and I am so glad to have met all the amazing people that make Pathways what it is today.”

On top of her studies, Rahel works at Chapters, is employed as a student mentor at the University of Ottawa, and is a member of the Model UN association.

She hopes to go to Law School after completing her undergrad and says “I want to continue to contribute in anyway I can to the Pathways to Education Program.”


Hussein arrived in Canada in September 2010, at the age of 17, with a dream of finishing high school, pursuing a career in dentistry or medical science and, ultimately, bringing his mother and father to Canada to build a “good life.”  With limited support and very little English, Hussein got himself registered for school and for the Pathways Program and set about working toward his dream.  He was determined to catch up on his high school courses and, with this goal in mind, attended the Pathways tutoring program 2-3 times per week.  He formed a strong bond with one of our most dedicated tutors, Eric, a retired physicist who has been volunteering with us since 2008. Eric is a gentle, caring individual who isn’t afraid to take the time needed to make sure a student understand concepts.  He volunteers a minimum of once per week and often drops into tutoring when he has time, to provide extra support.  More than just tutor, Eric has become a mentor and a father figure to many of the students with whom he works.  He and Hussein formed a strong bond and, over the past two years, they have been a consistent presence at the Pathways tutoring site, working on math and sciences for up to 10 hours per week.

In addition to attending school and participating in Pathways, Hussein also worked part-time at the local mall where he won an award for best salesperson and volunteered with several organizations raising money for children with disabilities in Honduras and Brazil.  Over this period, Hussein had to move several times- initially living with extended family and then in a shelter.

Hussein is now entering his last year of high school.  He has his own apartment, his English has improved immensely and, thanks to his hard work and the support of a dedicated tutor, his marks are good.  He is planning to apply to university here in Ottawa and his goals of pursuing dentistry or medical science are becoming a reality.  On top of all of this, Hussein is working on establishing a philanthropic organization focussing on collecting donated items to be sent to help the people of Somalia.  In September, the Board and staff of PQCHC recognized Hussein’s efforts by awarding the first ever PQCHC Youth Award.   Of his achievements to date, Hussein says, “I’m taking the stairs to the top step by step. In other words, today is my proudest moment, and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be the next proudest moment. Life taught me that every day of my life is a lesson, and life is an endless school.”

Apiew and Achan

Apiew and Achan come from a family of 7 children. They immigrated to Canada with their mother and siblings at the age of 10 from Sudan. Life was not easy for these girls as they transitioned from Sudan to Canada and the girls frequently sought out their SPSW and other Pathways staff to help them navigate these challenges.  Drawing on their considerable resilience, both girls began to get involved in their communities and both have made valuable contributions to the Pathways program and to the neighbourhoods in which they live.  Apiew has been a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa for as long as she can remember.  An activist, community worker and artist, Apiew was recently nominated for a Leading Women’s Award for Ottawa West.  She also recently received her silver Duke of Edinburgh award and was runner-up for the Spirit of the Capital Award for Arts and Culture. She is now studying Fine Arts at Sheridan College. Her art work deals with issues of social justice and it is likely to be hanging at Canada’s National Gallery one day soon!

Her sister Achan is equally accomplished. A strong leader in the community, Achan has championed many initiatives to give voice to disadvantaged youth. She works as a junior youth worker at the Boys and Girls Club (BGC), she is a member of the Provincial Youth Council (PYC) and a member with Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa (CAYFO).  In addition to her work through community organizations she has worked on her own to organize a yearly March break camp, York Street Ultimate, which gives underprivileged children the chance to attend camp. She has also organized and facilitated a For Youth by Youth (FYBY) Summit at her high school that focused on building healthy relationships and initiating change within communities. Achan was recently named one of Canada’s top ten teen philanthropists and received an award for Leading Women Building Communities in Ottawa West from MPP Bob Chiarelli.  She has recently been awarded the Garfield Weston Award. Achan is now at St. Lawrence College in the Social Service Work Program.