Exchange student finds career focus at JIBC

Ciara Maguire is an exchange student from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) at JIBC's New Westminster campusCiara Maguire is an exchange student from Ireland’s Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and spent a semester in Canada at JIBC (Photo and story by Richard Chu)


Ciara Maguire’s drive to become a police officer has gotten a boost after studying at JIBC this past semester.

An exchange student from Ireland’s Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), she’s been taking courses in JIBC’s Law Enforcement Studies Diploma (LESD) program since she arrived in Vancouver in January.

“It’s been really beneficial,” she said in a recent interview after class at the New Westminster campus. “At home, not everyone in Criminal Justice Studies is 100% sure what they want to do , whereas here in the program, everyone is pretty focused on having a career in law enforcement. I’ve realized that it is something I really want to do. It’s pushed me to know that it’s definitely the direction I want to take.”

She’s had a packed course load this semester and learned applied research methods, how to handle conflict and negotiations, and strategies for computer-aided investigations. She also took courses about Aboriginal justice and applied ethics in law enforcement.

“I find it really, really interesting. You learn from all the instructors here because they have so much experience and they have so much knowledge. The experience the instructors have is unreal,” she said.

“With conflict negotiation, before taking the course, I thought this was going to be about arguing and trying to get your point across as best as possible. But, it’s about listening and developing necessary skills for law enforcement,” she said. “With computer-aided investigations, I’ve learned about what is going on technologically with respect to crime. This class helped me see things on a wider scale.”

She will return to Ireland in April to complete the rest of final year of studies at WIT in preparation to apply to be a member of Ireland’s National Police Service. But aside from the education she’s received at JIBC, she will be going home with more self-confidence.

“Living abroad, you develop as a person. You have to become independent and you have to deal with things on your own and believe the decisions you make are right. It’s helped me realize I can do things on my own.”

Tips for future exchange students

As with any student exchange, some things can catch students off guard. Here are some of her insights when asked about some of the most significant differences between Canada and Ireland that stood out for her while completing her studies at JIBC:

“With regards to studying in Canada, the main difference is the marking scheme. At home, in a lot of subjects, you have a 100% exam at the very end, so your exam is your make or break point. Or you might have one or two additional assignments. Whereas here, it’s very broken down between attendance, participation, presentations and stuff like that. I’m not sure which load seems bigger, having all the pressure at the end on one thing or having it over the semester, but it was a big change for me.

“With regards to policing, I think the biggest thing that stands out is that the force here is armed. That is one thing that has come up in ethics, in a lot of subjects. People here can’t understand how we are not armed [in Ireland], but at the same time, I can’t understand the necessity of being armed. I think that’s the biggest contrast. That was the biggest difference with respect to law enforcement.

“Your public transport works really, really well. I’m living in Vancouver, so I have to take a bus, the Skytrain and a bus [to get to the New Westminster campus], but it’s great. They seem to work really well together. At home, you could be waiting for ages. It’s pretty bad at home at times.”

Story by Richard Chu

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