Concordia University

http://www.concordia.ca/content/shared/en/news/main/stories/2017/05/29/convocation-preview-10-great-grads-break-down-the-secrets-to-success.html

Convocation preview: 10 great grads, in numbers

Concordia's valedictorians and Governor General's Academic Medal winners offer pearls of wisdom for the class of 2017​
May 29, 2017
|
By Meagan Boisse

convocation-gown-great-grads-620


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

From June 5 to 7, more than 5,400 graduates will receive their degrees, diplomas and certificates from the university.

The 2017 spring convocation ceremonies take place in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts.

Nine new honorands — Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc, novelist Kim Thúy, economist Robert Calderisi, business leader and philanthropist J. Sebastian van Berkom, investment expert Kenneth W. Woods, brand founder Lise Watier, computer scientist Jahangir Mohammed, education specialist David A. Martin OBE and musician Measha Brueggergosman — will address the graduating class.

Eight university valedictorians and two winners of the Governor General’s Academic Medals will join them onstage.

We asked these 10 standout students for their secrets to success.

 

great-grad-tagliamonti-david-460

David Tagliamonti

BSc, Actuarial Mathematics
Faculty of Arts and Science
Member of the Institute for Co-operative Education
Governor General’s Academic Medal (Silver)

Tagliamonti was enrolled in the Co-op program and completed internships in the pharmaceutical, property insurance, consulting and life insurance industries. While pursuing his studies in actuarial mathematics, employment and extra-curricular activities, he passed the first five professional exams of the Society of Actuaries.

3 keys to a good education

  • Stay organized: use an agenda to track deadlines and exam dates.
  • Stay healthy: regular physical activity helps keep the mind sharp and improves productivity when it’s time to study.
  • Stay engaged: push yourself to go beyond the course material and ask “why?” This will deepen your understanding.

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Don’t be afraid to take on more: join a club, sports team or case competition.
  • Don’t forget to be social: especially around exam time, it’s easy to isolate yourself. While studying is important, be sure to also plan time with friends. Social events boost morale and give you something to look forward to.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Keep learning long after your formal education comes to an end.

Next great goal

  • To complete my master’s degree at Stanford University.
     

great-grad-jana-ghalayini-460

Jana Ghalayini

BEng, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science
Valedictorian

While studying mechanical engineering, Ghalayini developed a passion for student life and politics and became actively involved in several clubs and associations. These ranged from the Concordia Dodgeball League to the Concordia Student Union. She is also a member of the Co-op program and has worked as an Edison engineer for General Electric (GE).

3 keys to a good education

  • Be eager to learn and develop.
  • Find an atmosphere that fosters friendly relations.
  • Find out about the resources that are available to you.

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Hard work pays off.
  • Grades are not the only indicator of success.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Concordia provides its students with the opportunity to take on leadership roles in clubs, societies and associations. Join them from day one. The experiences will greatly shape who you are and what you become.

Next great goal

  • Invent a breakthrough at GE that will help save people’s lives.
     

great-grad-l-mackinnon-460

Lachlan MacKinnon

PhD, History
Faculty of Arts and Science
Governor General’s Academic Medal (Gold)

MacKinnon defended his PhD dissertation in September 2016 under the supervision of Steven High at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling in the Department of History. His thesis examined working-class experiences of deindustrialization in the former steel town of Sydney, Nova Scotia.

3 keys to a good education

  • Choose a project that you are passionate about. It will be easier to stay motivated when challenges arise.
  • Surround yourself with academic role models — people who are interested and experienced in your field of research.
  • Set goals. Recognize the outcomes you hope to reach and identify the specific steps and timelines that will get you there.
     

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Being able to recognize and appreciate ideas that emerged from experiences vastly different from my own is one major lesson that I’ll carry forward.
  • Be open to sharing your professional interests and expertise with the public. Engaging with enthusiastic lay audiences prompts novel questions and offers new viewpoints that may otherwise remain obscured. 


1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Roll with the punches. Setting goals is great, but be ready to let your plans evolve as life brings unforeseen changes. With motivation and perseverance, things will come together in the end.


Next great goal

  • Conduct research on the intersections of state policy and workers’ experiences of deindustrialization in Atlantic Canada and the Scottish Highlands as part of my postdoctoral fellowship at Saint Mary’s University. 
     

great-grad-matthieu-d-amours-005-460

Mathieu D’Amours

BA, Journalism (Multiplatform Specialization)
Faculty of Arts and Science
Valedictorian

From his first days in the Department of Journalism, D’Amours has been involved with campus news outlet The Link, where he devoted himself to covering big stories in Montreal. During an internship last fall, he was hired at CBC Montreal, where he continues to work as a web, radio and television reporter.

3 keys to a good education

  • Curiosity
  • Dedication
  • Regular sleep schedule

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Force yourself to listen more than you speak.
  • Convictions are fine, but be open to the possibility that you’re wrong and/or misinformed — and correct it!

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Don’t limit yourself when building a portfolio. Put in those hours for independent work and projects. Your perseverance and dedication will be recognized. 

Next great goal

  • Keep Montrealers informed about news that affects their lives. 

great-grad-oreoluwa-ajayi-002-460

Oreoluwa Albert Ajayi

BEng, Electrical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science
Member of Institute for Co-operative Education
Valedictorian

Ajayi hails from South West Nigeria and is graduating in electrical engineering. As a Co-op student, he completed more than a year as an intern on the Bombardier Aerospace C Series program. Ajayi hopes to pursue a career in control and telecommunication systems engineering. After his degree, he’ll be working with CS Communication and Systems Canada as an embedded software specialist.

3 keys to a good education

  • An environment conducive to learning
  • Hands-on learning experiences
  • A curious and inquisitive mind

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Being in university is not all about academics. It’s also good to have hobbies and extra- curricular experiences.
  • You must always be willing to learn and accept that points of view are based on different perspectives and experiences.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • In moving on from undergraduate studies and choosing a career, fulfillment is the best influencer.

Next great goal

  • Gain more experience and knowledge in my areas of academic interest through postgraduate studies. 

20170526-Great-Grad-Ryan-Meredith-001-460

Ryan Meredith

BComm, Finance
John Molson School of Business
Member of the Institute for Co-operative Education
Valedictorian

Meredith’s interests lie in corporate finance and investment management. While at Concordia, he served as president of the Finance and Investment Students’ Association and was a Jeux du Commerce delegate. Upon graduation, he will start working at the Toronto Stock Exchange while pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Meredith aspires to earn his MBA at a top-tier business school.

3 keys to a good education

  • Study hard and study smart.
  • Get involved in the school and expand your network.
  • See internships as key opportunities to bridge the gap between the classroom and the corporate world while gaining invaluable industry experience.

2 lessons you learned at Concordia

  • Don’t back away from the challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. These are often the opportunities that allow you to develop to your full potential.
  • The outcome is not measured by the final grade, but by the experience you gain throughout the process.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Don’t focus on tough times and failures, for they are only temporary. Focus on constant development as professionals and humanitarians.

Next great goal

  • CEO!

20170525-Great-Grad-Laila-Mestari-007-460

Laïla Mestari

BFA, Fibres and Material Practices
Faculty of Fine Arts
Valedictorian 

Mestari is a Montreal artist born in Morocco. Well-versed in music and dance, she chose to focus on studio arts for her first academic degree. Mestari wants to live off her art or become an art teacher.

3 keys to a good education

  • Stay curious.
  • Be dedicated.
  • Enjoy it!

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • If you learn to do something nobody else can do, you become the best at it. 
  • Thinking and making are the same process.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Keep feeding your soul with beautiful, inspiring things.

Next great goal

  • Teleportation 

20170526-Great-Grad-Matteo-Pisano-007-460

Matteo Pisano

BComm, Accounting
John Molson School of Business
Valedictorian

During his studies, Pisano immersed himself in university life. He got involved in student government, case competitions in taxation, the Board of Directors of the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association and teaching assistant/tutorial ventures. After graduation, Pisano will begin pursuing his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, concurrently with an MBA.

3 keys to a good education

  • Think critically: constantly challenge yourself to analyze, assess and reconstruct problems. Do not sit idle. Be rigorous and commit yourself to excellence.
  • Invest in others: seize opportunities to get involved beyond the four walls of the classroom through associations, committees, competitions and mentorship.
  • Foster relationships with others: use these as a springboard to capitalize on your hopes and desires and suppress your shortcomings.

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Follow your curiosity. Students underestimate the number of open doors and opportunities that exist at Concordia. Fuel your imagination and let it tap into great prospects.
  • Helping others is never time foregone. There is always room to be compassionate and helpful even in the most personal ventures. Take with one hand and give with the other.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Always remember to pursue your dreams. If you persevere, success will one day be yours. The greatest oak was once a little nut that held its ground. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings; let it inspire you.

Next great goal

  • In addition to pursuing my professional and academic initiatives, I plan to start my own practice, obtain a professorship and travel far and wide, while inspiring others in the process.  
     

great-grad-shiann-whitebean-029-460

Shiann Whitebean

BA, First Peoples Studies
Faculty of Arts and Science
Valedictorian

Whitebean is a Wolf Clan member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawà:ke. She completed her BA in the First Peoples Studies program at the School of Community and Public Affairs, with a minor in Anthropology. During her undergraduate studies, she received several scholarships and became active in Indigenous leadership and engagement initiatives. Whitebean is a member of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group and founded two student groups at Concordia: the First Peoples Studies Member Association and the Indigenous Student Council.

3 keys to a good education

  • Be respectful of the knowledge and expertise of your professors, but be critical and engage with what you learn.
  • The most innovative learning opportunities occur when you’re challenged. Rise to those occasions!
  • The time and energy you invest in your education will determine what you get out of it. If you want a great education, be a great student.

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Knowledge is something that is meant to be shared. Connect with others and get out of your own head.
  • Education is not just about what you have to gain but what you have to offer.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • You will make the most difference in a cause or career you are passionate about. Give yourself time and space to figure out what that is and make it your mission. Be the architect of your educational vision. Every step that you take should get you closer to achieving it.

Next great goal

  • Complete a self-designed master’s degree in First Peoples Studies within Concordia’s Individualized Program.  

great-grad-daniel-andrews-004-460

Daniel Andrews

BSc, Physics
Faculty of Arts and Science
Valedictorian

While at Concordia, Andrews took the opportunity to get involved in several research projects. Currently, the area that most interests him is biophysics applications to neuroscience that measure communication between neural networks in the brain.

3 keys to a good education

  • Admit when you do not understand something and seek help from someone who does.
  • Build deep knowledge in your own domain but also read widely in areas outside it — history, art, philosophy, psychology and science. Work hard in your courses and explore areas that interest you on your own as well.
  • Learn by doing, whether through internships, proactive research, community engagement or your own projects. Engage playfully with your work and apply it outside the classroom in creative ways.

2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • By developing our minds and working tirelessly to better ourselves and those around us we rediscover and reinforce our sense of agency. We find that we are capable of great things, and more importantly, that we have the capacity to determine for ourselves what those great things are.
  • Life presents everyone with difficulty. Periods of struggle are the most important times to work and study harder and care more deeply for yourself and others.

1 piece of advice for future grads

  • Your only responsibility in life is to work relentlessly in the pursuit of authentic personal and scientific truth. Do so in a way that betters you, your friends, your family and humanity at large. In this pursuit, make your rational mind serve your emotional intuition.

Next great goal

  • Next year I'll begin my master’s at McGill University. Ultimately, I plan on using the experience I gain in graduate school to become involved in entrepreneurship in the areas of artificial intelligence and scientific research applications of neural networks.
     

Read about turning points in the lives of nine individuals who will receive honorary doctorates during this spring’s convocation ceremonies. Consult the complete Concordia spring 2017 convocation schedule, and be sure to share your thoughts and photos on social media: #CUgrad and #CUalumni.

 



Back to top

© Concordia University