Staying True to Her Heart’s Desire

Amilyn PanotesAmilyn Panotes believes in the power of dreams.

As a young girl, she dreamed of working in medicine. As a young woman, she dreamed of traveling. As a mother and wife, she dreamed of a good future with her family.

She trained to become a medical laboratory technologist, and learned to conduct the complex analyses that doctors use to help them make diagnoses. Right from the beginning, Amilyn loved the profession. She worked for a year in her native Philippines and for eight years in Abu Dhabi, before she and her young family applied to come to Canada.

They lived with family friends in Edmonton, and began to learn the ways of their new home. One of the first things Amilyn discovered was that her profession was structured differently in Canada, and that she would need to get certified by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science before she could work as a lab technologist.

Until then, however, she could use her training to work as a lab assistant, collecting the samples that laboratory technologists then analyzed. She applied for lab-assistant positions all across Canada, and earned money in the meantime as a cashier in big-box stores. After several months, a hospital in Grande Prairie hired her. She and her family moved once again, and soon Amilyn began the long and expensive process of getting certification.

The required prior learning assessment showed that she needed to take two courses. Having completed them successfully, Amilyn was then eligible to take the certification exam. Meanwhile, she was working full-time, living on a very limited income, managing a household in an unfamiliar culture, and looking after her family. Now somehow she also had to find enough time to study for the challenging board certification exam.

The fact was, however, that no matter how much she tried, her time to study was almost non-existent. As a result, she failed to pass the exam.

To start again would require two more refresher courses. To take the courses and then the exam would require paying substantial fees and having time to study. And having time to study would mean taking a break from working full-time. She didn’t see how it was possible. She was determined to hold on to her dream, but she was tired, discouraged and disappointed.

Then a friend introduced her to IAF.

For the first time in months, Amilyn felt hopeful. “The IAF loan I received gave me peace of mind,” she says. “It was such a relief. The loan covered our rent and the cost of the courses and the exam. It meant I didn’t have to work. I could take a leave of absence and focus on studying.”

Sure enough, with time to study, Amilyn passed the certification exam on her next try, just one week before her second child was born. Now on maternity leave, she is confident she will find a full-time job as a laboratory technologist. She and her husband feel established in Canada. They have bought a home, are settled in, and look to a bright future.


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.