At a virtual gala held Friday, January 15, 2021, My East Coast Experience presented their annual awards celebrating the most inspiring immigrants in the Maritimes. Among the honourees were three MSVU alumni, all noted to be trailblazers and leaders who are making a positive impact in the community: Aris Hernandez, Christine Qin Yang and Randy Headley.

“We couldn’t be prouder of these Mount Saint Vincent University alumni,” said Dr. Mary Bluechardt, President and Vice-Chancellor, MSVU. “They each made tremendous contributions to our University community as students and now—as alumni and community leaders—they continue to make enormous contributions at MSVU and beyond. We are fortunate they chose Halifax as their home—our community is stronger because of it.”

Aris Hernandez, originally from Veracruz, Mexico, came to Halifax to complete high school and subsequently completed a Bachelor of Business Administration at MSVU. A passionate champion of international students, Aris was recognized as a student leader across campus, in particular for his work with the International Education Centre and the Students’ Union. Today, Aris continues to support international students in Nova Scotia as the Retention Coordinator with EduNova. He also serves as a mentor through two community not-for-profit organizations and as a member of the Mount Saint Vincent Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Christine Qin Yang was born in Fujian, China and came to Halifax in 2012 to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration at MSVU. She quickly grew to love her new home in Nova Scotia. She launched her career after gradation as a Coordinator with Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program and, in 2017, joined the Nova Scotia Department of Intergovernmental Affairs as an International Relations Officer. In that role, Christine has played an instrumental part in strengthening the intergovernmental, economic, cultural, education and health partnerships between Nova Scotia and several provinces in China. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the inaugural Women’s Advisory Committee for Halifax and as a Board of Directors member on the Canadian International Council, Halifax branch.

Randy Headley immigrated to Nova Scotia in 2003 from Guyana to continue his academic career. In 2008, he completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and, in 2018, he graduated with a Master of Arts in Education from MSVU. In 2013, Randy founded the MSVU Africentric Support Group through which he provided mentorship and individualized supports to Black students of African-descent. Today, as the Black Student Support Advisor at MSVU, Randy provides support to students of African ancestry, including through building connection with the broader community. He also serves on the Board of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute and the Youth Empowerment Organization.

In addition to presenting this awards program, My East Coast Experience includes an online presence, a magazine (called My Halifax Experience), a multicultural festival (Mosaic Festival) and more. As noted on their website, “We hope to inspire East Coasters to welcome immigrants with open minds and open arms, and we hope to inspire newcomers to stay, take advantage of the region’s amazing opportunities, make the East Coast their home and flourish.”

MSVU joined sister universities Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s as sponsors of the event.