In 2018, Kyle Leon moved from a university campus with less than 1,500 students to one with 15,000.
Such a transition might be overwhelming, even traumatic, for some. But Leon said the preparation he received from the University College of the Cayman Island made going to Canada’s University of Windsor a breeze.
“It was like, I was built for this,” Leon said.
He had gone to Windsor to pursue a master’s degree after earning his bachelor’s in business at UCCI and spending six months at then Maples FS as an intern.
“I think I was well prepared,” Leon said. “The first part of my bachelor’s was a little bit smooth, until I met Drs. Blessitt, and Swearing. They realized I was going abroad for my master’s, and they stepped it up and made it a little harder for me. They motivated something that was already in me.”
One thing that benefited him the most, he said, was learning to speak in front of a group of people. When he began his college career, he was petrified of doing any kind of oral presentation.
“My hands did not stop sweating,” he said, and his nervousness was easy to see.
Then he got some perspective from an instructor who had seen his social interactions with other students.
“Dr. Blessitt was like, ‘You talk to all these girls in the school and you can’t talk to this group without being nervous?’” he said. “I took great appreciation of what she said. I worked on my presentations in the mirror at home.”
He overcame his fear and learned to feel comfortable in front of a group. That ability served him well during the rest of his academic career.
Leon said he got plenty of help from other UCCI instructors as well. Among those he mentioned were Drs. Annette Murphy, Susanne Palmer, Allen Young, Robert Weishan and Stephanie Fullerton-Cooper, along with Tracey Hargrave.
In 2019, Leon received his master’s and reconnected with Maples. He works as an anti-money laundering analyst in the firm’s Montreal office, where the environment isn’t quite what it is in Cayman, he said.
“Maples Group is very different here in Canada,” he said. “In the Cayman Islands, it’s a little more of a balanced life. Here, it’s all about work. I’m the first one in and, sometimes, the last one out.”
He said he often misses that Caymanian balance, but he doesn’t complain.
“I’m always going to put a smile on,” he said.
Leon said he hopes to one day return and work in Cayman. His girlfriend recently completed the UCCI nursing programme and he would like to be more involved with the campus as an alumni. Signing up for the UCCI Alumni Network was a no-brainer, he said.
“They gave to me. It’s easy to give back to them,” he said, although due to the distance, he’s not really sure how to do that. “If I were there, it would be a little more helpful. But I’m still thinking of ways to be involved. I’d always like to be a voice for the students there. I could be a voice to let them know what the journey is like.”
And, now that he no longer suffers from stage fright, he said, “I could be a great help as a guest lecturer.”