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Convocation preview: 5 great grads, in numbers

Concordia’s fall class of 2014 offers pearls of wisdom
October 15, 2014
By J. Latimer

convocation-great-grads-fall-620 Photo by Concordia University

As milestones go, it’s hard to beat a university graduation.

All the hard work is about to pay off for Concordia’s most recent cohort of 1,900 graduates from across the university’s four Faculties and the School of Graduate Studies. On Tuesday October 28, they’ll receive their well-deserved certificates, diplomas and degrees.

This year, the university’s fall convocation is being held at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Place des Arts. The ceremonies roll out at 10 a.m. for the Faculty of Arts and Science; at 3 p.m. for the John Molson School of Business; and at 7:30 p.m. for the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

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

5 great Concordia grads, in numbers

Ginta Cojocaru

BA, Political Science
Governor General’s Silver Medal Recipient
Faculty of Arts and Science

Cojocaru will graduate from Concordia this fall with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science. She began to gravitate toward a career in law and soon discovered a passion for legal studies.

Currently, she is a B.C.L./LL.B. (Bachelor of Civil Law/Bachelor of Laws) candidate at McGill University. As a student athlete, Cojocaru exercized her passion for tennis by creating and managing the Concordia University Tennis Team.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Passion — being intellectually driven by one’s field of study is essential to having the strength to persevere when the going gets tough.”
  •  “Harmony — a comfortable balance between school, relationships and extracurricular activities creates a favorable environment for a flourishing education.
  • “Open-mindedness — a learner must welcome, and be stimulated by challenging perspectives.”

lessons learned at Concordia

  • “There is no universal recipe for success. While people’s advice may be useful, ultimately people develop their own personal learning styles.”
  • “Professors play an invaluable role in a student’s life. They are much more than mere sources of knowledge. They guide us, they provoke us, but most importantly, they inspire us.”

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • “Explore! Dare to dive into the unknown.”

Isar Kiani

PhD, Business Administration
John Molson School of Business

Kiani’s PhD research at Concordia focused on processes and agents that facilitate the diffusion of market information.

She is currently working as an assistant professor of marketing at Lawrence Technological University, Michigan, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses. Her research has grown to include the study of environmental activist groups and how their activities influences consumer attitudes.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Commitment to a vision. The PhD experience is a complex journey with many twists and turns that could easily derail. To succeed, you must never lose sight of the ultimate objective.”
  • “Flexibility. While commitment to the vision is critical, the successful PhD student possesses a curious mind and stays flexible to experience a more fruitful journey.”
  • “Opportunism in learning. There is so much to learn as a graduate student and being a student gives you the perfect excuse to express your curiosity!”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “There are many different lenses that can be applied to observe the same phenomenon. At Concordia, I found a great opportunity to benefit from sitting in classes from various disciplines and to understand how not just one, but many theoretical perspectives could exist in parallel.”
  • “I learned that everyone has something you can learn from. One’s apparent limitation is never a good excuse for dismissal of other capabilities. At Concordia, I learned that you should always meet others with an open mind to learn because your refusal to do so means that you have lost an opportunity.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • “More important than the diploma you receive is the experience you gain along the way. Try to ensure that this experience is one you stay fond of for the remainder of your life.”

Amir Ajorlou

PhD, Electrical Engineering

Governor General’s Gold Medal: Technology, Industry and the Environment
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Ajorlou, a two-time gold medal winner of International Mathematical Olympiad and a winner of the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, obtained his PhD from Concordia University with a focus on distributed control of multi-agent systems. 

He is a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Pennsylvania and currently a visiting postdoc at MIT, working on social and economic networks.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Have a forward-looking plan. You should have a clear vision about your goals, talents, available opportunities, then plan accordingly.”
  • “Seek out a knowledgeable and supportive advisor. I was honored to have one such advisor at Concordia, Prof. Amir G. Aghdam.”
  • “Collaborate with other researchers. I enjoyed fruitful collaborative research with Stephane Blouine from Defence Research and Development Canada during my PhD.”  

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Never lose hope when working on a problem. If you find the door closed, try the window!”
  • “Get inspirations from daily life to come up with research ideas. Observe, model and analyze what you find interesting.”

1 piece of advice for graduates

  • “Before you start a path, look ahead as far as you can. Imagine yourself reaching the goal and see how satisfied will you be with what you achieve.”

Karine Lalonde

PhD, Chemistry
Faculty of Arts and Science

Karine Lalonde’s PhD research in environmental sciences focused on studying organic matter in sediments and water systems. She now has a new job as a research associate in an anti-doping laboratory, where she helps determine the origin of steroids — whether endogenous or exogenous — in samples from athletes.

3 keys to a good education

  • “Study what you love. If you love it, it’s fun, not work. You won’t spend all that energy motivating yourself to get to your readings.”
  • “Be curious! You don’t always need a prof to read a book or to answer a question. Learning it for yourself is much more rewarding.
  • “Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are always bumps in the road, learn from them and stay confident in yourself.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “You don’t have to wait until you’re done with your studies to start living. You need your twenties to meet new people, try new things and just figure out who you are as an individual, not just as a professional.
  • “No man (or woman) is an island. You don’t need to figure everything out alone! If you’re not the expert in something, find someone who is.”

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • People will always try to fit you into a labelled box. Surprise them. Well-rounded people don’t fit in square boxes. You can be great at more than one thing.”

Khoa Luu

PhD, Computer Science
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Currently a research scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, Luu’s PhD research at Concordia involved estimating peoples’ ages based on digital imaging and extrapolating from existing images what they might look like as they grow older.

Today, he leads biometric projects and collaborates with research scholars to build stand-alone biometric systems. Luu was a vice chair of the Montreal Chapter of IEEE SMCS (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Systems, Man and Cybernetics) in Canada from September 2009 to March 2011.

3 keys to a good education 

  • “During your education, join strong teams with active advisors.”
  • “Cultivate your imagination to help solve problems and find creative solutions.”
  • “Work as hard as you can on each task. That’s the key.”

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • “Support! Always help your team members and other friends as much as you can.”
  • “Uphold a professional research environment.”

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • “Define your goals, make as many professional connections as possible and get ready for challenges.”

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