Today our world is busier than ever meaning those who need help sometimes have a hard time finding it. De’Anndra Sands is a Coast Mountain College (CMTN) international student who has seen first-hand how a little help can go a long way. Her many actions to help others definitely speak louder than her words. De’Anndra’s volunteerism paired with her experience at CMTN has helped her decision to pursue a career in social work. She is one of many amazing international students coming to CMTN in hopes to make a difference in the world.
Before coming to CMTN in 2017, De’Anndra established her own non-profit organization called Forever Always I Trust Him (FAITH) in her hometown of Freeport, Bahamas. De’Anndra says while FAITH promotes Christian values, it is geared towards providing community support to anyone who needs it, regardless of their religion. FAITH consists of De’Anndra, her mother and three close friends who pool their resources together to provide support to community members who need it. Recently FAITH collaborated with Teen Life Services, another non-profit who provide baby supplies to teen mothers who cannot afford them. In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, De’Anndra wants to restructure FAITH to support hurricane relief efforts starting this year.
“What I hope to do this year is give people affected by the hurricane a proper Christmas dinner. There are hundreds of displaced kids near my community, so I hope to run a toy drive this December as well,” she says.
Shortly after starting her non-profit, De’Anndra left the Bahamas the same year to become a student in the University Credit Arts program at Coast Mountain College in Terrace, British Columbia in Canada. This program consists of courses such as Women’s Studies, History, Criminology and Psychology. Fall 2019 is De’Anndra’s final semester at CMTN after two-and-a-half-year journey. She will be graduating with an Associate Degree in Arts. She says her experience at CMTN was not what she expected.
“You actually can talk to your teachers. And because the community is so small, everybody knows everybody, so it kind of has a family feel, even on campus,” she says.
De’Anndra says she has learned more about life through her experience attending CMTN, inside and outside the classroom. Her time in the region has helped her learn many aspects of Northwest Coast First Nations culture, something she says she would’ve never learned about if she had not come to CMTN.
In her spare time De’Anndra has had the chance to explore Northern British Columbia’s amazing outdoors and Canadian pastimes and log many first-time activities.
“Canadian people love to visit. So, I find myself doing a lot of visiting with friends and their families,” she says. “I got to go camping with them and I never camped before I came here.”
De’Anndra is part of CMTN’s student-led volunteer group, Leaders in Action
. This group helps out with preparation and execution of on-campus events and volunteers receive a letter of reference at the end of the year outlining the contribution students have made to the CMTN community. De’Anndra was one of the first Leaders in Action and says her experience in the group has already proven beneficial.
When she first arrived, De’Anndra was a bit shy. Through her time with Leaders in Action, her social confidence has grown exponentially. This year De’Anndra was providing information on mental health at the Beyond the Blues wellness event through a “Health Jeopardy” game she facilitated.
“I would definitely recommend Leaders in Action,” De’Anndra says. “I encourage anybody to be part of their student life and getting to know people. The letter of reference helps as well because you can put it on your resume.”
After settling in and getting acquainted with her school schedule, De’Anndra decided to get a part time job at Thompson Community Services (TCS) as a support worker. The organization provides clients with personal care, employment support as well as health and wellness support. De’Anndra says that this job has sparked her interest in social work as a career.
“I just got so interested in my job, I love all my clients and all of our programs. I work with some amazing people,” she says.
De’Anndra has immersed herself in campus life from start to finish of her CMTN study experience. While she balances her final two classes, a part time job at TCS, volunteerism through Leaders in Action and FAITH, De’Anndra has also taken on a Residence Advisor role. Living on campus has made room for her to add this to her list of responsibilities as an international student. She explains how this role has been overwhelming at times, but very rewarding overall.
“I feel like spaces I occupy; I always bring a different perspective,” she says. “Especially living with domestic students, I learn a lot as well.”
Over the span of her Associate Degree, De’Anndra has had a several classes with women’s studies professor Dina von Hahn. De’Anndra recently helped Dina give a presentation at a provincial Learning Symposium, where educators from around British Columbia and the Yukon came to CMTN to learn about experiential, place-based learning – CMTN’s specialty. Dina has watched De’Anndra’s personal transformation during her study experience. She was able to watch De’Anndra build relationships with other students who faced similar struggles as she did, such as homesickness and culture shock.
“Throughout all of her classes with me, she was so engaged,” says Dina. “She is very open minded and attentive. She has shown a lot of resilience, determination and engagement. I wish her all the best. I am very confident she is going to change the world.”
If you would like to donate or find out more about FAITH, you can email De’Anndra at firstname.lastname@example.org