Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Carmen Dimaapi

By , on October 16, 2014

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Education is the key to a better life and this Filipino-Canadian woman is the perfect example of that.

Carmen Dimaapi used education to bring her from the Philippines to North America. Her education helped set up her career in Canada where she established Nurses Education Inc., a school that helps nursing students pass their licensure exams. Now, she helps people through her business by giving them an education so they can set up their own lives and pursue their dreams.

Perhaps Carmen’s journey started as early as her university days in the Philippines. She had dreams of becoming a doctor, but they were postponed for a while because of her age.

“I always wanted to come to North America. When I was in university, I was offered two scholarships to study in the USA. I had to forego both of them as my parents thought I was too young to leave home,” she said.

But that didn’t stop her for long. Right after graduation, she took the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) qualifying exam and passed. That was her ticket to New York and her future.

However, upon arriving, she found herself faced with another road block. This time, it was financial in nature.

“The primary reason why I went to New York City was to get into medical school to pursue my dream of becoming a physician, but the financial constraints made me go to graduate school instead to pursue a Masters in Business Nursing.”

Carmen took this challenge as an opportunity and she made necessary adjustments to take advantage of it. She was hired by a hospital in New York and after three months of working, she was promoted to Nurse Manager. The hospital ended up sending her to graduate school. She was offered a scholarship to Columbia University – New York for a second Master’s degree.

While she was building up her experience and education, she found time to start a family with her husband, Ben Jr. In 1992, the family made the decision to bring their growing family to Canada.

“My husband and I thought that Canada is a better place to raise young children, compared to New York,” she said.

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It was also at this time that she decided to establish Nurses Education, Inc. (NEI).

Throughout the 90s and up until today, NEI has helped train and place thousands of nurses throughout Canada, the US, and even to overseas destinations such as Australia.

NEI started with just a simple course for students to review for their nursing licensure exams. Over the years, more and more courses have been added. Today, NEI features a full suite of preparatory, comprehensive, and continuing education courses for nurses and healthcare professionals. Just recently, courses have been made available online.

In addition, the company has grown from a single campus to three: Toronto, Mississauga, and Montreal, with plans to open a fourth campus in Scarborough.

Carmen wants to share the story of the success of NEI so that it may inspire others to reach for their own dreams.

“My professional journey was quite exciting and I want to share it primarily to empower other Filipinos who are equally ambitious,” she said.

She acknowledged that there were some risks involved in her journey and she suffered some setbacks, but strong and loving support from her husband, family, and friends helped her get through the challenges.

“I was not afraid to fall. Actually, I had ‘hard falls’ which hurt me [a lot]. It was difficult to get up. But my husband was my walking stick,” she said. “I also intentionally surrounded myself with friends, relatives, and intellectual people, and learned from them as much as I could.”

For those who have the desire to follow in her footsteps, Carmen has some advice for them.

“Formulate your goals and objectives very carefully. Equip yourself with a good education – good schools always help you land a better job. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—[it will] strengthen and improve your intellectual muscles. Don’t compromise quality. Be honest and generous.”

Lastly, Carmen shared, “Don’t be afraid to share. It’s such a blessing to give.”

With files from Mary Ann Reyes-Mandap