Beyond the face: Meet Ariana

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals — just like you.

Ariana Gomes could have started post-secondary at a research university, but after hearing stories from friends about what things were like at the big schools, she chose to start at Douglas College instead.

“There’s a notion of being ‘just a number’ when you’re in a class of 400 and not getting one-on-one time with your professors,” says Ariana. “I learn better when I have a relationship with my teachers. And of course, smaller classes mean more familiar faces among the students. Knowing your classmates alleviates the stress of group work or public speaking. I have all that at Douglas.”

Read more: Taekwondo world champ figures out a career path at Douglas

Ariana originally enrolled in the Associate of Science program. With a background as a competitive gymnast, gymnastics coach and soccer player, she was eyeing a career as a physiotherapist. But then, on a whim, she completed a Sport Science field school that included courses from the Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching (BPEC) program. Ariana enjoyed the field school so much that she switched to the BPEC program.

“If there was a degree made for me, this would be it,” says Ariana. “And I’m able to complete the entire thing at Douglas, rather than having to transfer to university.”

The BPEC program also gives Ariana several career options once she graduates. She’s specializing in kinesiology, which will allow her to become a physiotherapist, or she can choose to pursue something else. Bonus: the program includes hands-on experience that gives her the opportunity to test out different jobs.

“When looking at my education options, the BPEC program gave me more career choices than similar programs at universities where I would be restricted to only one job option once I graduated. Which is a good thing, because as it turns out, I don’t really want to be a physiotherapist,” says Ariana.

The glam shot you’ve seen around town.
Ariana IRL — still quite glam, in our opinion.

Through BPEC’s hands-on experience, Ariana discovered she didn’t enjoy physiotherapy work as much as she thought she would; her exposure to teaching in a classroom pointed her in the new direction of becoming an elementary school teacher instead. She’s applied for the teacher education programs at both SFU and UBC.

Read more: Softball led this student to coaching and kinesiology in the Indigenous community

When asked what advice she would offer to other students thinking about post-secondary, Ariana recommends college as an equal, if not better, alternative to university:

“You have to get past the stigma that college is for people who aren’t smart, or that you won’t get a good job because it’s not reputable. It’s not true. You’re learning the same content; after all, in order for college courses to transfer to university, they have to meet the same requirements. Some employers actually value college education more because they know you’re getting that extra quality time with instructors and hands-on experience.”

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