Celebrating over 25 years of student success

Student Success

  • 80-90% of students who fully participate are eligible for admission to a degree after their ESP year.
  • Students who began their studies with ESP have now graduated with degrees in Communications Studies, Architecture, English, Law, Film Studies, Music, Social Work, Engineering, Business, Science, Psychology, and Criminology/Criminal Justice among many others.
  • Former ESP students have gone on to study in post-graduate programs such as law school, teacher’s college, master’s and PhD level graduate programs.

Student Video Stories

Student Stories

Randy Way

Degree (current or graduated): Canadian Studies, minor in Indigenous Studies

Where are you now?: Senior Program Delivery Officer for the Indigenous Skills Programs, Government of CanadaPicture of male student

Memories of IESP:

I have been working with Service Canada for the last few years as a Senior Program Delivery Officer for the Indigenous Skills programs, with the exception of a one year acting assignment with the UNDRIP Secretariat at the Department of Justice. I manage funding agreements between Canada and First Nations in Manitoba, in a relationship and capacity building approach, to collaboratively support socioeconomic development among Ininiwak, Anishinaabe, Dakota and Dene peoples. I am a Metis person who was helped by the Carleton program to have a better understanding of the context of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada, I am interested in innovative research and policy analysis and love to collaborate with people to inform policy development and create cultural change.

I really enjoyed and appreciated the courses from Jennifer Adese (otipemisiwak/Métis), Norman Gull, Simon Brascoupe and others and especially learning from the many Indigenous students I met there – and I continue to marvel at their achievements post Carleton. I loved the visit we made together to Parliament and to meet a northern member of Parliament. Patricia, Susan, Rodney, Irvin and Jennifer were great supporters who have become friends. I believe that in my professional career I have a proven track record of helping the organizations I have been working with develop solutions to strengthen organizational Indigenous leadership and to engage Indigenous youth in our organizations – and this skill was greatly enhanced at Carleton. I know that Carleton is very committed to achieving the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. My ancestors accepted script and I am a proud member of the Manitoba Metis Federation. I have been happy to learn and grow in Winnipeg for the last seven years and appreciate the great mentorship and support given to me by the Enriched Support Program. I have had a fourteen-year federal public service career where I was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Award for Indigenous Inclusion at the Correctional Service of Canada and was most proud of the work, I did on the Urban Reserve file in Manitoba at Indigenous Service Canada. I am sorry I’ve missed some of the events and reunions. I did not get to Ottawa as much as I would like, but I know all the students I have referred to the program have had a very good experience with these entrance programs too.

Meegwhich Carleton Enriched Programs for all you do for our community!

Stephanie Palaczka

Degree (current or graduated): Public Affairs and Policy Management

Where are you now? Second year student at Carleton.

Memories of ESP: I feel so privileged to have been part of the ESP program. As a mature student, I felt I lacked the skills necessary to return to University. Coaches, student mentors and instructors provided me with the resources needed to succeed and restored my confidence in my academic abilities. As a result of the knowledge and experiences I acquired in the ESP, I applied and was accepted into my program of choice. I am now in my second year, doing exceptionally well and truly enjoying my University experience. Thank you to Daphne, Susan, Rachelle and Eve-Marie. Your guidance and support was so instrumental to my academic success!

Keanan Mason

Degree (current or graduated): B.A. Biology

Both of my parents were exposed to the Residential School System and the 60’s Scoop. Despite this, they persevered. Growing up, they had always impressed upon me the importance of education. They emphasized that post-secondary education at a reputable university was an important element that could lead to fulfilling academia, but also a meaningful career and economic security in the future. I internalized this and set post-secondary studies as my goal.

Throughout high school, I performed moderately well, but struggled in key areas. This lead the school guidance counsellors to believe that I would not be a good candidate for post-secondary study at university. Rather, they believed I was better suited for College and attempted to dissuade my university pursuits. In my heart, I knew that their assessments of me were wrong – but accepted that there were some challenges and that I would need some assistance. A good family friend recommended that I consider the Indigenous Enriched Support Program (IESP) at Carleton University as it had been instrumental in assisting him with his own academic issues.

Through the IESP, I was fully accepted into Carleton University under a carefully considered academic plan that recognized and assisted in addressing some of my deficits. In so doing, it allowed me to strengthen these areas while learning how to manage an increasing course load. None of the course work that I completed was lost, All Credits were applicable to my degree of choice. I graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor Of Arts – Biology degree in October 2021.

The IESP at Carleton University was a truly exceptional experience. From the onset, I was surrounded by a dedicated team of professionals who were aware of the realities of Indigenous Peoples and the many challenges facing us. The tailored approach to each student’s course load provided necessary support in those areas requiring assistance. The IESP Coordinators understood the importance of connections within the Indigenous community and went out of their way to promote and foster relationships between staff and students. Several activities were offered to IESP applicants to welcome us into the program and create a sense of camaraderie. Events were also frequently held at the indigenous student centre; Ojikwanong, from beading and movie nights to moccasin making and elder teaching circles. IESP TAs, mentors and staff are all very welcoming and want to see you succeed in your academic journey. IESP and ESP programs have dedicated tutors available to assist with any trouble you might be going through in your classes.

The IESP program and Ojikwanong cultural centre was a key determining factor to my success in university, in a time of my life where my expectations and capabilities were uncertain; they gave me a chance to show my strengths and ultimately complete my degree. The teachings and experiences this program have provided will continue to assist in my future academic pursuits and professional development. Indeed, the success of this program has allowed me to continue education through a second-degree program. It was a wonderful experience and allowed me to develop a sense of community and deepen the connection with my culture and people. I strongly recommend this program to any and all prospective indigenous students looking to go into post-secondary education.

Katherine Seale

Degree (current or graduated): B.A. (Hon.) Law, M.A. Counselling

Year graduated/graduating: 2010

Where are you now? After graduating in 2010, I reapplied to Carleton to complete a second B.A. (Hon.) in Psychology. April 2016, I graduated with a Master’s in Counselling from Athabasca. I now work full-time for the federal government.

Memories of ESP/IESP: IESP gave me the opportunity to go to university because my ‘stellar’ grades in my final year of high school prevented me from being accepted in the regular admission stream. It gave me the opportunity to show that I do have the discipline to study and get good grades. The program helped to build my confidence so that I could continue with my education. 3 degrees and 10 years later I definitely know that I am capable of whatever I put my mind to.

Meagan Blais

Degree (current or graduated): B.A. Honours History and English

Year graduated/graduating: 2011

Where are you now? I am a permanent teacher with the Ottawa Catholic School Board

Memories of ESP: My favourite memories were from Petra’s class. She taught the seminar I was in and it felt like a place of belonging. I learned so much about myself, and my abilities as a student. I learned that I am a learner, I can achieve success, and I can be an inspiration. This is something that I tell and represent to my students each day – that everyone can achieve success in their own right, we all just learn a bit differently. On the day of my graduation, Petra came up to me and was genuinely proud of my accomplishments and my future plans as an Educator. It made my heart so happy that she remembered who I was. It just goes to show that the educators genuinely enjoy helping the students succeed. Ever since I graduated, I have recommended the ESP program to several individuals. ESP was a strong piece of the foundation to my great success at a young age, and without the program, there is no doubt I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Nora Jorjani

Degree (current or graduated): B.A. in Honours Psychology, Concentration in Developmental Psychology

Year graduated/graduating: June 201712140784_10209277509198842_5117919497801088341_n

Where are you now? I am currently in my 5th and final year at Carleton. I am simultaneously working in then CIE department as an ESP facilitator for Psychology. I am a member of the Psychology Society and the Student Alliance for Mental Health.

Memories of ESP: My memories of ESP range from my first-year as a student, to the three years that I mentored within the program. My overall memories of ESP as a program is that it has always been a home to me. Through being a student who felt lost in my first-year, just a number within the swarms of students, to being empowered by all the wonderful individuals a part of the program, who made the time for you and truly cared about your success. I came to ESP straight out of high school, not knowing what I wanted and what I was capable of achieving. Throughout my year with ESP, my confidence began to grow and I soon came to the realization that I had the potential to achieve and to be successful all along. Throughout the years of being a mentor, every year I felt that I grew and became more confident. This year I am a facilitator for the program, an accomplishment that I did not believe that I could attain as a first-year student.

Marie Abou-Malhab

Degree (current or graduated): Psychology with a Concentration in Health Psychology and a Minor in Neuroscience and Mental Health

11096476_10206445445199012_8628834104470444594_nYear graduated/graduating: 2017-2018

Where are you now? I am currently in my fourth year at Carleton and my third year mentoring for ESP. I am completing a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a Concentration in Health Psychology and a Minor in Neuroscience and Mental Health. I am very involved in campus through various clubs such as the Student Alliance for Mental Health, Psychology Society, Carleton Disability Awareness Centre, and the Student Mental Health Advocacy Council. I have also left ESP with awards and currently earned a scholarship and a place on the Dean’s list.

Memories of ESP: I remember hearing about ESP from my guidance counsellor in Grade 12 as going to university seemed impossible and even graduating seemed unattainable. I had found the higher I went in grades, the more my mental health deteriorated. By 12th grade, I was constantly in the hospital with also two hospitalizations for crisis intervention; was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety, social anxiety, major depressive disorder, constant panic attacks and even a learning disability that went undiagnosed until I was 17; I was unable to sit in a classroom; and most significantly just had trouble getting out of the bed every morning. I didn’t see any purpose in anything or in myself. My grades reflected all of these struggles. With support from my family, doctors, and teachers I was able to graduate and get into ESP. Starting ESP, I was hesitant. I did not understand the program and felt that others would look down on my degree. I was overwhelmed by the environment and was so anxious that I even warned my facilitators that if I ran out of the classroom randomly, it was from anxiety and not an attempt to be a distraction. I couldn’t speak up in workshops and couldn’t speak in my FYSM. However, as the year went on I began to get more comfortable. I started speaking up and helping run activities as well as study groups in my workshops. I started making connections with my mentor as well and had started seeing some coaches. I saw myself become more comfortable and was realizing that I did belong at university. My grades starting improving greatly as well. I started seeing the potential within myself and I wasn’t being hindered by any diagnoses. I was excelling and as I left ESP, I was able to come back not once, not twice, but three times as a student mentor to share my experiences with other students. I am beyond grateful for these opportunities that it gave me and the supports I was given. I had started to think I wasn’t capable of going to university let alone doing well. I felt like I was walking around with a sign that said ANXIOUS on my forehead. ESP showed me the potential for success I had within myself. Although it took a lot of tears, hospital visits and doubts to get me here, I wouldn’t change a thing! I am so thankful to be part of this program and history at Carleton and hold a special place in my heart for everyone in the CIE.


Degree (current or graduated): Psychology, Minor in Communications

Year graduated/graduating: 2011

Where are you now? After graduating from Carleton, I did my Masters in Education at10463789_10100721040801155_4263666485718660371_o Ottawa U. After completing my Masters, I was lucky enough to find an awesome job in my field. I work at Carleton U in the Educational Development Centre (only a few floors away from the ESP offices!). I work as an educational technology development coordinator – I provide support to instructors, students, and staff using different online tools for teaching and learning in the classroom. One of my favourite parts of my job is visiting classrooms to do hands-on workshops with students using new learning technologies. I’ve even had the pleasure of leading workshops with a few ESP First Year Seminars. It has been quite the full circle experience! I started out at Carleton enrolled in an ESP First Year Seminar and now I’m on the other side of things, providing support to some of these classes :)

Memories of ESP: When I think back on my first year at Carleton as an ESP student, I am reminded of all of the awesome people I got to know: Susan Lee, my FYSM instructor; Danardo and Ashley my mentors; Julie and Matt, my facils; Justin and Amy, the two closest friends I made through ESP. It was 10 years ago and I still remember all of their names; that’s a true testament to the positive impact that ESP had on me!


Here are a few facts about me: I was a D+ student for most of high school. I got an early acceptance offer to uOttawa’s law school.

How did that happen?

Well, there were a number of circumstances that helped me get to where I am. One of the biggest ones was the Enriched Support Program. The ESP program gave me two much needed advantages in the transition from high school to my undergraduate program. First, it taught me the skills I needed to be successful that were not properly developed during my time in high school. Second, it provided an enormous support staff of peer mentors, instructors, professors, advisors, facilitators and coaches. I had a 60% average in high school and an 85% in my first year of university.

Thanks in large part to the ESP program, I managed to greatly improve my academic performance and I got into law school early. Not bad for an underachiever who failed grade 12 English. Twice.

Zakarias Armengol
Proud Graduate, B.A. Psychology


Zakarias at graduation, June 2015.

For a host of reasons I did not get the grades required for admission into University in High School. However, I knew that with some support and guidance, I would be able to succeed. ESP gave the opportunity to prove that.

I struggled academically at first but the Enriched Support Program was there to support me and guide me. Eventually I struggled less and less – proving to MYSELF that I was capable of being successful in university. I emphasize myself because ESP already knew that I was capable and wanted to provide me the opportunity to show that.

Members of ESP would keep in touch with me and kept their doors open if I ever needed any additional guidance. Their doors remained open to me well after I had finished the ESP program. Days before my convocation they sent me a letter to congratulate me.

ESP looks at you as a whole person not just your grades. I recommend this program to anyone who is looking to pursue post-secondary education at Carleton and feels that you can do better than what circumstance dictates.

adib shadid

In Athens, for Carleton’s study abroad program

 Adib Shadid
BA. Combined Honours: Communications  and Greek & Roman Studies

CIE was a saving grace for me at the start of my Undergraduate Degree; I was not only a first year ESP Student, but Second Year as well. It gave me the confidence and guidance I needed to figure out where I wanted to direct my life, and how to achieve success.

After high school I felt lost and unsure. The ESP program was great for gently introducing University life and academics, while the Advisors were helpful in determining my strengths and honing my interests. Soon my grades started drastically improving and I was accepted into a degree program. In the Fall 2014, I finished a B.A. Combined Honours in Communications and Greek and Roman Studies. The program allowed me to explore career paths regardless of industry, introduced the idea of graduate studies, and I also had the chance to travel to Europe on three separate trips with Carleton’s study abroad programs. Needless to say, l learned lots and my horizons expanded greatly.

The ESP Program gave me the push and support I needed to continue studying. Today, I prepare to begin my graduate studies this summer at the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland. Glion is widely renowned as one of the best schools of Hospitality in the world; acceptance is very difficult to achieve. I owe mine to ESP which gave me the skills and the attitude I needed to seriously consider such a program. The Glion program is two years, 6 months of which will feature an international paid internship. I hope to achieve great success, to enjoy Europe, to meet lots of new people, and, of course, to learn many new lessons both in life and academics.

I owe very special thanks to Susan Burhoe, Allan Blunt, Jennifer Gilbert, Beth Hughes and Stephanie Wagar for always seeing the brightness in everyone, and encouraging each of their students to really shine.

  Sarah Crawford, B.A. Law
“No one thought I could survive in university as a young parent, but I did, thanks to the support that I received.”

As a young parent, I had no real options when it came to university. I couldn’t get accepted because my grades were low and my self-esteem even lower. I was an abused woman  whose wounds were too great, I thought. Then, I found ESP. I was impressed by the fact that they prioritized my awkward schedule and put emphasis on what I wanted to achieve. No one thought I could survive in university as a young parent, but I did, thanks to the support that I received. Every class was a challenge but a feasible one that could be managed.

I became extremely well supported and gained knowledge of so many programs, advantages to single parents, and government benefits. I got connected to a counselor at Carleton  Health Services and met a few friends. Because I was a parent and I also had a learning disability, my ESP coordinator suggested enrolling with the PMC and  BECAMPS, both of  which helped steer my career at Carleton in the right direction.

Most importantly, everyone involved helped me fight for my life outside Carleton. I connected with various organizations thanks to the many resources the ESP offered and, as a result, I graduated the ESP program to a regular BA program, where I continued to succeed. Despite having to juggle my health, my personal hardships, being a single mother, and school, the direct help I was given in the form of extra workshops geared specifically to understanding the material in actual university credits worked for me.

In 2008, I got a job working for the Senate of Canada; in 2009, I graduated with my BA in Law. If anyone is proud of me, it’s my daughter. I’m still a single parent and nothing will change what my daughter and I both suffered through, but our lives are that much better thanks to the incredible staff at CIE and what difference a year in the ESP program made.

Gerry Chan, B.A. Honours in Psychology:Human Oriented Technology

“Carleton’s Enriched Support Program not only offers an amazing opportunity but excellent support for building skills that one will find useful throughout their entire university career.”Gerry Chan, Student

Obtaining a post-secondary education was always an important goal for me. However, my high school grades were not high  enough for admittance into a university program. I still remember the day that a representative from the ESP called me and explained to me how the program works. After the conversation, my hopes of attending university suddenly became possible. I went through the interview process and fortunately, was accepted into the program!

I could have not survived through first year if I had not been in the program. Attending the workshops motivated me to learn and prepared me for class. Without the workshops, I would have no idea of how to take useful lecture notes or study for exams. Furthermore, my first year seminar instructor was an inspiration. He gave me valuable advice for improving my writing skills and helped me with deciding which areas of psychological research to pursuit.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and am currently taking some graduate level courses in hopes for acceptance into Carleton’s new human-computer interaction program. The ESP has certainly helped me and I am sure that the program will continue to help others alike.

Erin MacLachlan, B.A. Hons. History, minor in French
“During my year in ESP, I learned how to study effectively and juggle my practice schedule and my studies.”

Erin_000In high school, I took courses that I thought suited my interests but in the end didn’t. I ended up graduating just short of the average I needed for university. My friends were getting into schools and I was pretty disappointed when I wasn’t. Then, I got a letter in the mail from Carleton University suggesting that I apply to the Enriched Support Program (ESP). I was so relieved that I had another option because a university education was the only path I had ever considered for myself.

During my ESP year, I was able to take courses I was actually interested in. The workshops helped me meet students and form small study groups with students from large first-year classes. In the workshops and in the first-year seminar, I really felt like I finally had a place somewhere. Through the ESP, I learned a lot about study skills, and about campus resources that were available to me. I have used resources like the Writing Tutorial Service and Academic Advisors through my years at Carleton.

I am a student athlete, and played varsity field hockey for Carleton. During my year in ESP, I learned how to study effectively and juggle my practice schedule and my studies.

When I got into my degree program, I became an ESP mentor. I had that the chance to return to the program and help new students. The on-going mentor training program helped me develop skills working in different classrooms and learning contexts. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher; being an ESP mentor confirmed this for me.

I am graduating in June, 2009, with an honours degree in History with a minor in French. I got offers from four teachers’ colleges. I plan to go to Brock University this fall.

Steven Richardson, B.A. Honours Sociology, minor in Philosophy
“Through the program I rediscovered my eagerness to learn.”Steve

Six years ago I was a struggling student at my High School in the small mining community of Timmins, Ontario.However, this was not always the case. Throughout elementary school, I was an avid learner with a knack for quickly understanding the concepts that were thrown at me.The horizon looked very promising as I was at the top of my class.I was strong writer, writing short stories in both English and French in grades 5-6, and even published one of my poems in a book for regional students.

Then, from grades 7 on, things changed for the worse.I found the pace of learning too slow and lost interest. My grades began to slip and I didn’t end up with the grades I needed for admission into a university degree program.

Not getting into university was disappointing, but I found out that I could get access to university through the Enriched Support Program (ESP). During my ESP year, I discovered I had ADHD. This helped explain some of my difficulties in high school. I had to learn about how best to organize my studies and to use my learning style to meet the demands of university work. The ESP provided a structure and support that helped meet these demands.

I would like to show that it is possible to succeed despite having a negative high school experience. If it wasn’t for Carleton’s unique ESP program, I would not be where I am today. I am currently pursuing my BA Honours in Sociology (minor in Philosophy) and plan to continue on to graduate school.

For me, the ESP is the perfect program for students who have potential for university, but not the grades.The program launched me into what it is to be a university student. Through the program I rediscovered my eagerness to learn. The ESP staff and faculty facilitate a smooth transition to university learning. My ESP first-year seminar was the perfect stepping stone and catalyst for sparking my academic interests at the university level.

Hear from former students…

  • I thought ESP was perfect for me because I was given a second chance at University. This is hard to find in any other University; they will look at your grades and turn you down. ESP really took the time to get to know the candidates. Thanks!
  • It’s a good program which gives opportunity to people who otherwise would not get it. The profs and facilitators are down to earth, easy to approach and explain things well. I feel better prepared for my second year here!
  • Everyone is ESP has been amazing, helpful and friendly. It is so easy to get things done with all of the help. Thank you!
  • I love ESP, it’s the best. I am glad I joined; it pretty much shaped my new student life.
  • ESP really helped with my confidence in the transition into university.
  • I’m really glad that I applied and got accepted to ESP because it is very helpful and it’s made my first year in university a great experience and I met some really great people.
  • ESP exceeded my expectations. There is nothing more I could have asked for.
  • Well structured program that I am proud to be in.
  • Every university should have an ESP program.