Roberto Hernandez-Enriquez

In the past few years, Roberto Hernandez-Enriquez, MSc’02, has travelled around the world, making stops in New York and Brazil, and living at times in Nigeria, Angola and Mexico.

When he came to Canada in 1999 as an international graduate student, it was his first time living outside of his home country of Mexico.

“It was difficult at first. I was missing my home and missing my parents,” said Hernandez-Enriquez, who was awarded a scholarship from the Mexican government to complete his master’s degree in chemical engineering at Western. 

Seeking support and a place where he could feel comfortable, he signed up for the International Peer Guide program and was matched with a mentor tasked with providing resources and helping him transition to life in Canada and at Western.   

“I wanted to meet people and make friends and also to get help in learning how to get around the city and the university,” he said. “English is not my first language, so even though I studied English at university and did small trips to other countries, it was my first time speaking full-time in English. Being in the Peer Guide program helped me to not be so lonely. I was very, very shy.”  

Meeting other international students, gaining knowledge about other cultures and countries and developing language skills had a big impact on his experience then and on his career.  

After graduating, Hernandez-Enriquez returned to Mexico and began working for an oil service company, for which he still works today. In 2018, he accepted an international position in Nigeria and he recently moved to Angola, where he will introduce new cementing technologies and business opportunities to the area.  

In his role as Principal Technical Professional, Cementing, Hernandez-Enriquez provides technical advice to customers for the design, planning and execution of cement jobs for oil/gas well drilling. He also provides coaching and training for young or new engineers.  

“Being in the program helped me a lot to develop more skills, to socialize and to get along with people from other countries,” he said. “I learned to listen and understand that sometimes they have different points of view, because they have a different culture or different environmental factors, and of all these can affect how we think or how we decide to do things. That has helped me working in an international position.” 

Looking back on his time at Western, Hernandez-Enriquez has many fond memories, including the first time he saw snow.  

“[My peer guide] still sends me messages when it snows in London now because she remembers me screaming about it excitedly the first time I saw it,” he said.  

“I will also always remember the food. Peer guides had a potluck dinner where everyone shared a dish from their country. I still remember these gatherings we had whenever I’m trying or tasting something new."