IAF Loan Gives Dentist a Second Chance

q416maryjean2In the Philippines, dentistry can be a home-based business, which is what drew Mary Jean to this career in her home country. This vocational decision allowed Mary Jean to be home with her young children and have an income. In 2005, Mary Jean and her husband made a significant change in their lives, and moved their family to Calgary, to pursue better opportunities for their kids. Her husband was an engineer but neither of them dreamt that upon moving to Canada, they would be able to practice their professions again.

Settling in Calgary, Mary Jean volunteered at a local clinic as a dental assistant for several years. She challenged the Canadian dentistry exams in 2012 but was unsuccessful in her attempt. Undeterred, she quit her job in 2013 and focused solely on studying for the exams.

She joined a study group through the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women and it was there that she first heard of
Immigrant Access Fund. The possibility of securing a loan for her studies came at a good time for Mary Jean. Her
husband was the sole earner in the family and they had some outstanding debts, so a loan would alleviate a lot
of stress. Mary Jean sat down with an IAF representative and they came up with ideas on how Mary Jean might
consolidate her debts. Together, they developed a budget that would allow her to concentrate on her studies and
pay her dentistry exam fees. The cost of the exams runs into the tens of thousands for the five exam series.

In February 2014, two years and many hours of study later, Mary Jean once again challenged the first exam for
dentistry and passed. She went on to take her subsequent exams and was licensed as a dentist in late 2015. She was
confident in her studies but nervous about employment possibilities, but just two days after receiving her license,
Mary Jean was hired and practicing dentistry in a busy clinic in Edmonton. Mary Jean is enjoying her renewed
career and is appreciative of the support and advice she received from IAF, in addition to the loan. Her son and
daughter, now 12 and 18, are thriving in Canada. Mary Jean’s daughter even talks of following in her mother’s
footsteps and becoming a dentist herself.


Every year, IAF helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to work in their field in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help. Please consider a donation to IAF today.