Concordia University

http://www.concordia.ca/content/shared/en/news/main/stories/2014/06/04/convocation-preview12greatgradsbythenumbers.html

Convocation preview: 12 great grads, in numbers

Concordia’s class of 2014 offers pearls of wisdom
June 4, 2014
|
By Lucas Wisenthal

20130610-convocation-fine-arts-620

For an entire class of Concordians, the big day is almost here.

At this month’s convocation ceremonies, more than 5,000 students will receive degrees, diplomas and certificates from the university. For all of them, this moment represents the end of an incredible educational journey.

Each one of these new graduates began their time at Concordia with a single goal in mind. Now, with their studies complete, they are moving on to the next phases of their careers.

The 2014 spring convocations take place on June 9, 10 and 11 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Place des Arts. Eight new honorands — CBC Radio host Stuart McLean, political columnist Chantal Hébert, neuroscientist Bryan Kolb, business leaders Louis R. Chênevert and Gregg Saretsky, art critic and curator Chantal Pontbriand, and philanthropists Michal and Renata Hornstein — will address the new graduates.

They will be joined onstage by eight university valedictorians, two Governor General’s Academic Medal winners and two Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize winners.

We asked these 12 standout students for the secrets to their success.
 

12 great Concordia grads, in numbers
 

Émil Archambault

Emil Archambault
BA, Liberal Arts College and Political Science
Valedictorian
Faculty of Arts and Science

Archambault’s academic interests centre around the German philosopher and political theorist Carl Schmitt, the subject of his honours thesis. Next year, he will continue this line of research as a graduate student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Archambault is also being awarded the Liberal Arts College Prize.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Do something you love and that you value for itself, not only for utilitarian purposes.”
  • “Go beyond the minimum requirements. Find projects that interest you, and make them happen.”
  • “Find friends who share your interests and struggles, and who can help motivate you.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Being a good student extends beyond the classroom, into extracurricular involvement and projects."
  • “Everything is easier in a community. A successful student does not triumph alone, but with the support of dedicated colleagues and friends.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Whatever you choose to do, value every activity for itself and not only for its rewards.  Be motivated by what you do and not by what it will bring you.”

Mary Caple

Mary Caple
BA, History
Valedictorian
Faculty of Arts and Science

Caple’s research focuses on the history of cartography, data visualization and diagrams. Last year, her work took her to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she interned with BackStory, a history-focused radio show and podcast. Right now, she’s working at Concordia’s Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Curiosity. Maintain a broad and vigorous intellectual appetite.”
  • “Resolve. While we all experience adversity in many shapes and forms during our studies, learning is all the more rich when we can incorporate hardships rather than let them overwhelm us.”
  • “A belief in learning as an exchange — not only between yourself and your professors, but also with a multitude of people, places and ideas.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Take your work out of the classroom.”
  • “Take yourself out of the classroom.”


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Seek out those who do work you admire and contact them. The most valuable opportunities often arise from bonds you forge of your own accord.”

Cameron H. Tisshaw

Cameron H. Tisshaw
BA, Psychology
Valedictorian
Faculty of Arts and Science

Tisshaw’s undergraduate thesis explored the development and neurological underpinnings of same-sex partner relationships in male rats. He’s interested in neuropsychology and, as a graduate student, would like to research Alzheimer’s disease. Tisshaw is also receiving the Science College Prize and the Malone Medal.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Hard work. There are no shortcuts, so don’t waste time looking for them.”
  • “A support network. It takes a village to raise a university student, and having others there supporting you makes all the difference.”
  • “Goals. Set your sights on a prize, and work backwards to figure out what you will need to do to get it.”


2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Empathy. Being at Concordia has put me in contact with a wealth of diverse individuals. I have learned to better respect the different paths that bring students and faculty to a university.”
  • “Worthwhile goals are hard — really hard. The path to them is twisty, tumultuous and sometimes treacherous. Success doesn’t come easily, and you have to be willing to fail to get there.”


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Surround yourself with people who will inspire you and make you work harder. Join clubs, sports teams, student groups — whatever you can do to put yourself in an enriched environment. Having talented, motivated people around you will push you to greater heights than you can reach on your own.”

Omar Badawi

Omar Badawi
BEng, Electrical Engineering
Valedictorian
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Badawi’s research is currently focused on antennas. In his final year at Concordia, he was part of a team that created a functional anechoic chamber capable of measuring the radiation patterns of high-frequency antennas. Badawi aspires to a career as an engineer, and he also hopes to study law one day.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Manage your time effectively. Procrastination leads to undesirable outcomes, especially among academics.”
  • “Nurture your relationships with your peers and colleagues.”
  • “Teach others whenever you can. You never know you’ve mastered something until you’ve tried to teach it to someone else.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Open and honest communication when working with others is the key to successful projects.”
  • “Embrace criticism. If it’s constructive, use it and learn from it. If it’s not, smile and say, ‘Thank you.’ You win either way.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Do not let your failures defeat or define you. It’s how you recover from failure that demonstrates your character and resolve.”

Hilary Whiting

Hilary Whiting
BEng, Civil Engineering
Valedictorian
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Over the course of her studies, Whiting became passionate about urban environments and the complex interactions between society and civil engineering. Last summer, she studied urban design at Harvard University. She hopes to launch a design firm that will work toward creating more sustainable cities.

3 keys to a good education

  • “A collaborative environment.”
  • “A well-rounded understanding of technical topics and the social sciences.”
  • “Discipline, determination and hard work.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “What it means to be an engineer. When I applied, I had an idea of what engineers do, but my education has really taught me the value of an engineering degree.”
  • “The power of believing in oneself and believing that anything is possible.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Make the most of your time at school. Know that each class is an opportunity to expand your skill set and that your classmates can provide you with valuable perspective, while professors can offer a wealth of knowledge.”

Katerina Fragos

Katerina Fragos
BComm, Finance
Valedictorian
John Molson School of Business

As one of 11 winners of executive search firm Odgers Berndtson’s CEO x 1 Day competition, Fragos got to shadow Videotron president and COO Manon Brouillette. Fragos also served as vice-president of Academic Affairs of the John Molson Competition Committee and represented the John Molson School of Business at various case competitions. She hopes to complete a master’s degree at Oxford University.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Apply the concepts you learn whenever you can. Case competitions, internships, volunteering opportunities and student groups are good for this.”
  • “Always try to understand the impact and meaning of classroom concepts. The brain remembers better when it knows why it is remembering.”
  • “The highest form of learning is teaching. You've quasi-mastered a subject once you are able to teach it.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Whether in life or at work, always try to add value.”
  • “Try things that make you uncomfortable. Learn about new topics. Explore exotic countries. Work in different fields. Discomfort develops character.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “The corner office should be the by-product, not the source, of your ambition.”

Sokhna Fatim Niang

Sokhna Fatim Niang
BComm, Business Technology Management
Valedictorian
John Molson School of Business

Niang’s research interests lie in business intelligence and change management. She served as president of the African Students’ Association of Concordia. She dreams of working for Google, and she may one day pursue a master’s degree in business intelligence.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Do not let bad grades or other little things bring you down. Every so-called bad experience is, above all, an experience. Every failure and every challenge makes you stronger.”
  • “Do not compete against others — compete against yourself. You’ll develop confidence, and confidence leads to excellence.”
  • “Do not be scared to step out of your comfort zone. Try new things, push yourself, answer questions in class and break your shell.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Be bold and take ownership of your work. When you don’t show or share the great things you do, there will always be other people ready to take credit for it.”
  • “The power of networking. The people you work with on a group project might be the people able to open doors for you in the future.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Do not limit yourself. As long as you push yourself, you can achieve great things — things you never thought you could achieve. Keep your eyes on the prize, but do not focus on the end result. Enjoy the process.”

Katerina Korola

Katerina Korola
BFA, Art History and Film Studies
Valedictorian
Faculty of Fine Arts

Korola’s work explores the intersections of 20th-century architecture and moving image practices, travel narratives and exhibition architecture. She served as editor-in-chief of the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History and curated a range of student exhibitions. She'll begin a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago in autumn 2014.

3 keys to a good education

  • The courage to challenge yourself, your thoughts and your very way of thinking.”
  • “Transforming your assignments into projects that interest you. Assignments are an opportunity to explore the themes and ideas that really inspire you.”
  • “Implicating yourself in your community. Learning does not end at the classroom walls, nor does it exist in a vacuum.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Be generous with yourself, your time and you talents. Your generosity will always come back to you in some form or other, and you’ll have grown in the process.”
  • “So-called requirements are more guidelines than rules. It’s important not to be afraid to modify your program to suit your needs and the research you want to engage with in the future.”

1 piece of advice for future graduates

  • “Use your time at university to pursue the projects that you are passionate about, academic and otherwise. As a student, there are a wealth of resources at your fingertips, from faculty mentorship to grants and institutional support. Take advantage of these to realize (or, more importantly, test out) your ambitions and talents.”

Gwyneth Edwards

Gwyneth Edwards
PhD, Business Administration
Governor General’s Gold Medal winner
John Molson School of Business

Edwards is investigating how strategic practices in organizations can enable and constrain performance. She’s particularly interested in how strategy unfolds over time and how firms can become locked into patterns of behaviour. She is an assistant professor at HEC Montréal, and has received a three-year Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture grant to extend her thesis work. She hopes to publish in Administrative Science Quarterly one day.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Finding an institution that matches your character and aspirations.”
  • “The desire to keep asking why and making connections with what you have already learned.”
  • “Academic and social support. Students benefit dearly from the support of teachers, administrators, family and friends.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “The classroom is such a small part of a student’s education. As a professor, finding ways to extend learning so that it moves seamlessly from the classroom to real life is an exciting challenge for me.”
  • “The world is relatively small, and everyone in it has a right to be heard. Concordia’s international and open culture broadened my understanding and helped me appreciate the richness of difference.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Dream big. People have significantly more potential than they realize.”

Charles Maranda

Charles Maranda
BSc, Mathematical and Computational Finance
Governor General’s Silver Medal winner
Faculty of Arts and Science

Maranda’s interest in mathematics, statistics and finance drew him to Concordia’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. During his second year of study, he took part in an exchange at the National University of Singapore. He now plans to pursue a master’s degree in the same field.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Focus on understanding instead of learning by rote — it’s what allows you to apply your knowledge to topics that are not explored in class.”
  • “Always believe in your ability to learn.”
  • “Limit the time you allocate to studying. Allocating too much time to it makes studying inefficient, and will lead to procrastination.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “The importance of socializing with your peers. Among other things, this allows you to discuss subjects unrelated to your field of study and to gain general knowledge about the world.”
  • “Compare yourself only to people you believe are performing better than you. This is a great way to challenge yourself to reach new heights.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Go on exchange as far away as possible. You will make friends with people from around the world, become a truly independent individual and gain the freedom of being able to relocate anywhere you wish in the future.”

Eric Weissman

Eric Weissman
Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize winner in Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Science

Weissman is a visual ethnographer who uses still and moving images to produce narratives about social problems. For 15 years, his work has focused on the growing movement of intentional homeless communities and the relationship between forms of housing and health care, along with the well-being of people and communities. In addition to pursuing this work further, he plans to write an autoethnobiography.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Being resourceful.”
  • “Working hard enough to exceed your own expectations.”
  • “Life experience and intuition.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “We can really effect change in our communities if we are steadfast in our efforts.”
  • “It’s never too late to reach your goals.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Make practical and meaningful connections inside and outside of university as soon as you know what you want to do. Volunteer, find a job or create one in the field that interests you. But don’t let work become your whole life.”

Lexuan Zhong

Lexuan Zhong
Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize winner in Engineering and Natural Sciences
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Zhong has extensive research and engineering experience in the field of air quality, as well as an in-depth understanding of physicochemical purification technologies, catalysis and nanotechnology. She specializes in the measurement and analysis of organic compounds, the design of air purification systems, the development and application of air cleaning models, nano-material optimization and air quality assessment.

3 keys to a good education

  • “An excellent supervisor and strong research team.”
  • “The right equipment and facilities.”
  • “Support from your family.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “The professional knowledge I gained.”
  • “To be disciplined about both research and life.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “If you are passionate about your area of study, be persistent. Eventually, you will make progress.”

 

Read about a turning point in six of this spring’s honorands’ lives, and consult the complete Concordia spring 2014 convocation schedule.

 



Back to top

© Concordia University