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Kate’s Story

I moved to Canada 10 years ago for love. I packed my entire life into one standard suitcase and arrived with almost nothing. I had met my husband while we were both studying in the Philippines and because I had lived in other western countries previously, I was confident I could make a life for myself. I had completed two bachelor’s degrees: one in political science and the other in nursing. I had a half completed master’s degree in education. I had been a teacher and held other high-profile jobs. I was a hard worker and had always valued my education but I was naive.

I found it difficult to start life over in a new country and restart my career when I had been doing so well in my home country. I applied for job after job and heard nothing, not even rejection letters. Every night I was left wondering if it was lack of Canadian education, lack of Canadian work experience or even if my name was too ethnic. I found a volunteer job but the toll of unemployment and rejection weighed on me.

I put up a brave front. I didn’t want my family to worry but the loss of my worth led to shame and depression. I learned to sew and knit and worked on my cooking. I began working with agencies to seek support in my job search. That’s where I heard about Dress for Success Vancouver.

Dress for Success Vancouver gave me an outfit that made me feel like who I am meant to be. I wore that outfit to three job interviews and got offered each of the jobs. Suddenly, I was faced with the luxury of choosing which job I wanted. After that initial dressing appointment, things started looking up.

Shortly after I began my new job, I joined Dress for Success Vancouver’s Professional Women’s Group. The organization gave me my first professional community, who believed in me so I believed in myself. I absorbed everything I could from the workshops and I made friends and found a sisterhood.

The following year, I became an Ambassador for Dress for Success Vancouver. I wanted to learn more about the organization that had given me so much so that I could give back. As my confidence in myself grew, so did my career. I had started my professional life in Canada as a receptionist, a few months after that I was promoted to a licence clerk. Within a year I was given the responsibility of Administrative Officer and Supervisor. I managed a team of seven at one of the biggest municipalities in BC. I have since shifted to being a consultant for the same municipality, this time working as a Functional Analyst for an IT project. 

Dress for Success Vancouver was instrumental in helping me be who I am, doing what I am doing.  Becoming part of the Ambassador program, the Dress for Success Vancouver family, and being a mentor in the Professional Women’s Group has given my life a deeper meaning and purpose: to help other women achieve their own success.


You can help make more dreams of confidence, community and connection come true by empowering women like Kate into good jobs, financial independence and personal success by donating today.

Kate’s Portrait by Badzak Creative

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