Laurier student seeks unique opportunities as a Naval reservist

Photo by Luke Sarazin

Simon Gonsalves, fourth-year political science and history student at Wilfrid Laurier University, has spent his time throughout his post-secondary career undertaking a unique part-time job as a naval reservist with the Canadian Military.

Gonsalves works as a naval combat information operator and member of ship’s company at HMCS Star in Hamilton.

Gonsalves said that he decided to pursue a career as a naval reservist ensuing high school.

“Retail work wasn’t really for me, as a lot of other people were doing. My brother was [working with the military], he recommended it to me,” Gonsalves said.

The unique experience, international travel, adaptable schedule and tuition assistance were a few of the aspects which induced Gonsalves to pursue the field.

“It pays a good chunk of my tuition … plus the schedule is super flexible, it’s usually only one Tuesday a month you have to attend that’s mandatory, it’s very flexible,” Gonsalves said.

Though flexible, the job does involve a larger time commitment for those who take advantage of the travel opportunities, such as shorter trips that take place on weekends.

“The schedule is super flexible but if you want to make the most out of it, it does kind of get demanding … so if you take a lot of the opportunities they offer you it is time consuming. I’m there twice a week, it does eat into your time but it’s fairly worth-while,” Gonsalves said.

“If you make the most out of it, it gives you a lot of opportunities you might not get at an average student job. I’d never really get these chances otherwise, there’s some really cool opportunities and it’s really changed a lot of how I see things.”

This past summer, Gonsalves also deployed to Busan, South Korea for the duration of a month as part of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Naval Security Team (NST).

“That was the first time I’ve ever left North America before so that was interesting,” Gonsalves said.

The NST works to protect and defend RCN ships and assets overseas by deploying small protection teams, usually these teams are made up of small groups of reservists.

“We follow around some of the ships as part of the big navy, we protect them in a way or maintain them so no one runs into them,” Gonsalves said.

“That [experience] was awesome, I’ve never got to experience Asia before and being able to get around eight days of total time off to explore Busan — it was unreal.”

This coming spring, Gonsalves will be deploying to Croatia for a month as part of the NST as well.

Upon graduating from Laurier, Gonsalves intends on staying in Kitchener-Waterloo to complete a master’s degree.

“I’m gonna stick with it for at least two more years, we’ll see then onwards [where] life takes me,” Gonsalves said.

“If you make the most out of it, it gives you a lot of opportunities you might not get at an average student job. I’d never really get these chances otherwise, there’s some really cool opportunities and it’s really changed a lot of how I see things.”

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