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Great Grads

We have enjoyed the company of many wonderful students over the many years of our existence: as Loyola, Sir George Williams, and now Concordia University. It is exciting (and satisfying) to see what has become of our students once they leave us. Below are some examples of our Great Grads.

Congratulations to all of them.

MA Anthropology 2003

When I look back at the experience I acquired in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University as a Master student, I realize how much my training there still influences my approach to the discipline today.

I terminated the MA program in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Concordia University in 2003 with a thesis entitled “Manufacturing Culture in Cuba, an Ethnography.” As a prerequisite to the program, I conducted 4 months of fieldwork in Santiago de Cuba where I applied, in practical terms, what I had been learning during the first year of my MA training at Concordia, which consisted in strengthening the students’ theoretical baggage. For the first time of my life, I was encouraged to lead a research project in Social Anthropology, and I was doing it in the Caribbean! This implied meeting informants, conducting participant observation and interviews in addition to accommodate myself to new cultural settings. This intensive experience, which was closely supervised by attentive faculty members of the department, was a truly formative experience.

In addition to producing a written thesis, I edited, as part of my MA project, an ethnographic film called State the Rhythm, which was subsequently presented at different anthropological venues and film festivals. All faculty members who were implicated in supervising my research always took seriously my interest for visual anthropology. The department provided me with the support and facilities to learn about techniques of video production.

After graduating from Concordia, I pursued my PhD studies in Social Anthropology with visual media at the University of Manchester, England. I continued there to further my interests for Cuba and its popular culture in addition to develop my abilities to produce audio-visual texts. In 2008, I terminated a PhD thesis called “On the Beat: Composing with Cultural Policies and Music in Cuba” in addition to produce the ethnographic film Respect Your Necklaces. It is as a post-doctoral fellow at the Université de Montréal that I carry on my research today on youth popular culture and music in Cuba, a passion that indeed emerged during my MA studies at Concordia.

BA (Honours) Anthropology 2006

I graduated from Concordia with an honour’s degree in Anthropology in 2006.

It was as a student of Anthropology at Concordia that I discovered the two passions that have shaped the last three years of my life: storytelling and social justice. Both these themes run through the work that I have pursued since 2006. Specifically I worked as a program director for Canada’s largest media development organization (Journalists for Human Rights My role at JHR was to support students across Canada and the United States interested in using the media to raise awareness about human rights issues.

In 2008, I moved from JHR into a research position, documenting the history of Canada’s second wave feminist movement.  As the lead researcher on this project, I am using oral history to record the intricacies and personal experience of feminism in Canada. These recorded oral history interviews will be housed at the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives at the University of Ottawa.

I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on such interesting and rewarding projects. I fully credit my experience in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology with giving me not only the academic grounding to achieve my professional goals but also with helping me understand what motivates and inspires me. The Anthropology Department at Concordia is a place where Anthropology is understood and taught in a way that is makes it relevant to its students. It is a safe space where students are able to build lasting and meaningful relationships with their professors. Indeed, if I am successful today it is because of the mentorship and encouragement that I received from faculty and staff at Concordia. 

BA Sociology (Honours 1999); MA Sociology 2003

I greatly enjoyed my time at Concordia University.  It was a journey that allowed me to grow both personally and intellectually.  While studying in the sociology program I was fortunate to have been encouraged to explore and investigate subjects that were of particular interest to me.  Coming from a small town in the Eastern Townships, I have always been interested in small communities and how they shrink, grow and change.

I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Honours) in 1999 and focused my Honours paper on Rural Crime.  I then went on to complete my Sociology Masters degree in 2003 with a thesis on Migration into Rural areas and the underlying reasons for population change in rural communities between 1991 and 1996.  While studying at Concordia I had the privilege to work as a research assistant for Dr. Bill Reimer, and was the executive secretary of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation’s New Rural Economy Project (NRE).  Although the knowledge acquired during my studies have proven useful within my career, the experience and skills gained by applying that knowledge working with the NRE was immeasurable. 

Although there were students in my program who knew exactly what they were going to do with their degree, I was among a group of students who were still searching for what it was that could be done with mine.  Luckily, there were many resources at my disposal, including professors, the Department chair, the graduate program director and alumni who were always available for any questions or concerns I had with the Sociology program, and/or personal career ambitions.  My journey was a bit tough at times, but I would encourage all potential and current students to continue to work hard and to reach out for help if needed, because the personal success and sense of victory I had once my degree was completed was well worth all the effort.

The guidance received from faculty and department staff, and the opportunities and experience gained working with the NRE and Dr. Bill Reimer all lead me to discover statistics as a career.  In May 2002, as I continued to research and write my Master’s thesis, I began working for Statistics Canada.  I have since had opportunities to develop content for several surveys including questions related to Social Capital, Immigration, Education, and Health related subjects.   However I am particularly proud of the Immigration and Citizenship content that was enhanced and developed for the 2006 Census.  

Currently I am on leave from Statistics Canada and am living in Iqaluit, Nunavut with my husband and two young boys.  I have the amazing opportunity to be a stay at home mom and to raise my children in a unique environment.  I plan to return to work in the future, but at the time am enjoying and am grateful for the opportunities that have lead me here.

MA Sociology 2005

Graduate school allowed me the opportunity to explore different areas of interest through the variety of courses offered, it allowed me to develop on a personal level helping me acquire more self-confidence, and fine-tune essential life skills.  Some of these skills include: writing, research, critical thinking, as well as networking.  My time at Concordia University has also provided me with the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and interests.

In my opinion, making the most of your time here at Concordia and within this program, means taking time to go through the process; that is, persevering through the intense course load, discovering your likes and dislikes, exploring and debating theories, pushing beyond your comfort zone by getting involved, putting yourself out there to present at student conferences and learning from others.

During my studies, I often found myself wondering how my degree would materialize into a concrete job.  I soon realized after graduation that a degree in Sociology meant that I could apply my skills to many different fields; it just depended on me and what my interests were. 

Since graduation, I have worked in the field of corporate social responsibility for a leading Canadian retail company.  Completely new to the field, I discovered new ways of thinking about how I can use some of the skills and knowledge acquired during school and other related work experiences, to create positive change through business, concrete community actions and beyond.  This includes looking at employee engagement in a corporate setting and using business assets to create strategic partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote positive social change.  In my three years experience thus far, I worked on several partnerships with Canadian NGOs resulting in raising funds for breast cancer research and treatment as well as leadership training for Canadian youth to actively engage in positive social change through their schools, in their communities and internationally.  

My proudest and most memorable moments since graduation have been my trip to Kenya, Africa, where I got to see first-hand the work of Canadian youth who had raised funds and built schools in remote rural villages promoting cross-cultural exchange, education for boys and girls and contributing to poverty reduction in a sustainable way.

The only advice I could share with current and future students would be to emphasize that your university experience is all about process much more than end result.  Accord yourself the time to enjoy the learning you are doing, let yourself be inspired and become actively engaged in the issues most important to you.  Goodluck and enjoy your personal journey!

MA Sociology 1998

I received my Master’s of Arts in Sociology in 1998 from Concordia University - specializing in community development and aboriginal youth culture. During my studies I also worked as a research assistant for Professor Bill Reimer on the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation’s New Rural Economy project.

Over the past ten years since graduating from Concordia University I have worked in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world with a number of different organizations including the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and Child Fund International. Duty station countries have included Angola, Swaziland, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Kosovo.

For the past four years, I have been working with Child Fund International (CFI). For the first three years with CFI I worked as a Regional Child Protection Specialist in Africa. My regional position involved providing technical support to country programs in several West and East African countries. In 2007, I moved to CFI’s International Office in the United States to become a Global Child Protection Specialist, coordinating technical support and fund-raising for child protection programming for thirty-three countries worldwide. I also began serving on a number of global interagency steering groups and coordination networks for child protection and education.

The mentoring and opportunities for practical application of skills offered by professors at Concordia University were invaluable to me, providing the essential building blocks for my career in international development and humanitarian assistance. 

BA Sociology 1989; MA Sociology 1993

After graduation I went on to complete a doctoral degree in Sociology at McMaster University. The year I graduated (1999) with my PhD I took up a position as a Lecturer in Health Studies at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK. There I taught a variety of health related courses and received funding as principle investigator for a study of the use of alternative and complementary health care among people with Parkinson’s disease. After two years there I returned to Canada as an assistant professor in Sociology at the University of New Brunswick. I was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and was awarded tenure in 2007.

I do research and publish in the areas of the sociology of health, illness, and health care— in particular chronic illness, disability, health policy; and alternative and complementary therapies; deviant behaviour; and qualitative research methods. I am currently conducting a qualitative analysis of the nature and scope of alternative and complementary health care in urban New Brunwick. In 2002 I testified before the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada and have recently published a critical analysis of health promotion policy in Canada. I have published two books to date: Using alternative therapies: A qualitative analysis and Sociology of the body: A reader. I teach a variety of courses including: sociology of health and health care; sociology of culture; introductory sociology; sociology of the body; the institution of health care; and health care in international context; as well as a graduate seminars in qualitative methods and selected topics in the sociology of health and health care.

It was during my BA that I discovered my love of sociology and my desire to pursue an academic career. I began my bachelor’s degree majoring in English and had finished half my degree when I took a sociology course as one of my electives. The course was social problems and was taught by Dorothy Pawluch of McMaster University (then a sessional instructor in sociology at Concordia). I chose the course because I though, like many undergrads, that it would teach me how to solve the world’s problems. Instead what I learned about was the constructionist perspective on social problems and it blew my mind. I had what I can only describe as a conversion experience. The next day I began filling out the forms to change my major to sociology and seventeen years later, here I am, a tenured associate professor of sociology.

In general, the theoretical and methodological grounding I received during my BA and MA in sociology at Concordia was instrumental in allowing me to develop the skills and confidence necessary to go on to complete my PhD. Learning how to analyse my garbage during the BA research methods course in sociology with Professor Taylor Buckner sensitized me to the problems of interpretation in sociological analysis, a sensitivity I try to pass on to my graduate students today. My MA supervisors Susan Hoecker-Drysdale and Anthony Synott could not have been more supportive and I have benefited exponentially from their expertise. Professor Bill Reimer generously included me in his research projects giving me training as well as a CV line that I know helped me to get funding at the doctoral level. I retain a love of classical sociology due in no small part to the 4th year classical theory course I had with Professor Hoecker-Drysdale and I would not have been able to teach sociology of culture in my first year at UNB had it not been for the contemporary theory course I took with Professor John Drysdale and the community studies course I took with Professor Vered Amit Talai. I would go on but you only need 300 word ; - ).

I would tell students that a degree in sociology prepares you for a variety of career paths including jobs in academe, government, and business. It provides you with empirical knowledge of social processes and social institutions that make up society and research skills, as well as critical analysis and problem solving skills that are transferable to any career path. I would also tell them that despite the current economic situation, there are academic jobs here and around the world so do not give up.

MA Sociology 2005

I completed my MA at Concordia in 2005 after two years of great opportunities and days filled with fabulous people. My time at Concordia was a time of professional transformation that continues to shape my world.

Before Concordia I never imaged that I would do a PhD. It was much to my surprise that I thrived in the department and that professors suggested that I apply for PhD programs. I am currently a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Carleton University, where I work in the areas of drug use, drug policy, treatment, and gender.

My entire MA experience provided me with opportunities to explore ideas, learn about myself, and foster wonderful friendships, which I continue to hold dear. Working with Dr. Bill Reimer on the NRE project was a tremendous experience that gave me opportunities to present at conferences, write, and work on a national research team. Bill and the NRE team became part of my Montreal family and many of us now live in Ottawa and connect often. My advice to new students is to be open to new ways of thinking and don’t limit yourself to ideas you hold of yourself or academia. One of my struggles throughout the MA was reconciling my desire to do activism and be an academic at the same time. I had an idea that I couldn’t be both an activist and an academic. However, I am living that life now as a PhD Candidate and as Executive Director of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP). I continue to be active in all sorts of activist projects along side my work in academia. Not only does my activism keep me grounded and nurture my spirit, combining my activism with my research and writing absolutely strengthens my PhD work. For example, I have testified before the Justice and Human Rights Parliamentary Committee against mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, I have been interviewed on CBC National (live!) TV, I have organized lobby days on Parliament Hill, and I’m regularly invited to speak at community forums, panels, and in classrooms.

I am so grateful for the tremendous professional and personal support offered by my brilliant supervisor, Dr. Valérie de Courville Nicol, my committee, Bill, Jody, Linda, and the department as a whole. My MA journey had its bumps, however I can barely remember these bumps over my really great memories of my time at Concordia.

BA Sociology (Honours 1995); MA Sociology 2000

My experience at Concordia may be summarised by the word opportunity; the opportunity to build an academic career, explore new ideas and be a part of a dynamic, diverse educational environment. I have two degrees from Concordia University, B.A. Honours in Sociology completed in 1995 and M.A. in 2000.

I believe that the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is an excellent choice for aspiring sociologists and anthropologists. The dedication and professionalism of the professors has been invaluable to my personal and professional development. The skills and knowledge necessary to be an ethical and competent social scientist were inculcated throughout my education at Concordia.

The faculty took an interest in my academic career from the outset and encouraged me to go further than I thought I was capable, always with the knowledge that their support was available if needed; an approach I employ with my own students. This encouragement and faith in my abilities helped me to forge ahead and successfully publish at an early stage in my academic career. The training I received both through formal workshops given by the University and working as a teaching assistant for Caroline Knowles provided a stable foundation on which to build my teaching career. Following the completion of my Master’s, the department provided me with a teaching opportunity. These experiences made it clear to me that teaching was truly my vocation. With recommendations from my Master’s supervisor Vered Amit, and committee member Anthony Synnott, I applied for a doctoral degree and received full funding for my studies.

I completed my doctorate in 2007 and am presently teaching part-time for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia, full-time at the CEGEP level, as well as acting as a consultant for distance-education businesses and publishers. These various positions keep me busy and content. I love what I do and enjoy knowing that I have the option to explore many fields of interest.

During all of my studies, attaining a degree was not my primary concern. My primary concern was acquiring knowledge. This approach continues to serve me well. The friendships built along the way and the support we provide to one another ensures our collective success. No matter which degree you are contemplating, may the thirst for knowledge carry you through!

Stephanie Mitelman is the only AASECT certified sexuality educator in Montreal, and a Canadian certified family educator. She is a National trainer on issues of sexual health; training teachers, nurses and front line workers across the country. Her work focuses primarily on prevention of pregnancy and STI/ HIV transmission with youth.

Stephanie is an Instructor at McGill University in the Department of Educational Counseling and Psychology, as well as at Concordia University in Applied Human Sciences.

Stephanie has made contributions in establishing programs of sexual health in high risk Aboriginal communities of Canada, where she integrates knowledge and practice for several weeks a year in dozens of communities. As a consultant, she has created partnerships with Health Canada, The Commission for First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

She is also the creator of a full line of teaching tools in circulation throughout schools and clinics in Canada, including; the Sex Education Classroom Activity Kits, Sexpressions Sexual Health Trivia DVD Game, Anatomy Posters, STI Charts, Pregnancy Diagrams, and the Lecture Series.

She is a founding member of the Executive Board for The Sexual Health Network of Quebec (re-launched from the Planned Parenthood Chapter of Montreal in 2005), and a past member of the AASECT committee for certification in sexuality education. She is also the past President of the Association of Family Life Educators of Quebec.

She is a regular expert voice in the National media on issues of sexuality, teens and health. She is a consultant and regular feature with Canadian Living magazine, and Teen Flare. She has made appearances on the television shows Sex Files on the Discovery Channel, Sexual Secrets on the Life Network and Let’s Talk Sex on MENTV.

Stephanie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of British Columbia, a certificate in Family Life Education and a Master’s in Sociology from Concordia University. Her degrees in Sociology have helped her to understand social roles and norms and has helped propel her career in sexual health.            

MA Sociology 1993

I completed my PhD in Educational Technology at Concordia University in 2006 and credit my passion for Ed Tech to the time I was a Research Assistant for Professor Shaver in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia. Without any prior education in developing instructional programs, I designed a training program under the tutelage of Professor Shaver to train research assistants to do field work.  The skills I developed during that time led to my interest in exploring how people learn. Consequently my interest in Educational Technology flourished.  It’s remarkable how my professional and academic life converged - it certainly was not by design!

After completing my BCom with a major in Industrial Relations, I yearned to continue my education. Although an MBA was the most obvious choice, it was an undergraduate elective course in Sociology taught by Professor Smucker which introduced me to the field of sociology and pulled me in a different direction. This didn’t come without much questioning from family and friends but I have no regrets.  Doing my Sociology Graduate degree was an excellent complement to my business degree. To run a business you need people and the MA taught me much about people and cultures in a variety of settings and it exposed me to the social institutions and the interdependencies among each of them.  The learning blew my mind and the professors were exceptionally caring and interested in my intellectual development.  With the help of a TA position with Professor Horwitz, and Research Assistant positions with Professor Shaver coupled with a FCAR grant provided by Professor Smucker I was well on my way to completing my Sociology graduate degree without too many financial constraints.

Interestingly enough it was the Sociology graduate degree that provided me with the opportunity to work professionally with Professor Stolovitch, an Educational Technology Professor at Universite de Montreal, President of Harold Stolovitch and Associates and Co-Editor of the Human Performance Technology Handbook that led me to my current career. I worked with his consulting firm to help organizations build performance management programs and organizational efficiency programs.  At the same time, I was accepted to the PhD program in Educational Technology and the rest is history. I joined Pfizer Canada in 1998 as Manager, Organizational Effectiveness and moved into the Director, Strategic Planning and Business Consulting position in 2002. On a day to day basis I am able to apply the learnings from all three of my degrees. My role at Pfizer is eclectic.  I work on developing the strategic plan as well as working in the capacity of Business Consultant where I work on projects such as Mergers and Acquisitions. I am currently working on my sixth merger and have completed two major divestitures since 1999.  These are only a small sample of the projects in which my team and I are engaged.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be mentored by such exceptional Professors at Concordia University and give back to Concordia through a Graduate Scholarship that I sponsor annually.

BA Anthropology 2010

I completed a BA of Anthropology at Concordia University as an international student from Japan. During my stay at Concordia, I joined the NRE research team as an RA for Dr. Bill Reimer in his work on social capital and rural revitalization.

This experience, in addition to my Sociology and Anthropology courses, deepened my logical thinking, data collection and analysis skills, which became the foundation for my career in the humanitarian field.

After completing my BA in Montreal, I returned home and joined a Japanese NGO called Peace Winds Japan (PWJ). : A month after joining the organization the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck the Touhoku region, the northern part of Japan, on March 11th, 2011. PWJ responded to the disaster immediately, and soon after I was sent to the field to engage in emergency relief operations. Subsequently, various projects in the areas affected by the tsunami disaster were initiated and since then I have been involved with several recovery operations. Furthermore, I was allowed the opportunity to work on the flood relief operation in Bangkok, Thailand in November of 2011. I closely worked together with local NGOs in response to the worst flooding in Thai history. This experience strengthened my ability in such work and prepared me for future operations that provide humanitarian assistance globally.

I am currently working on the child psychosocial care program called Moving Forward, created by Nike, CARE international and Mercy Corps. I am helping to implement and adapt this program to a Japanese context. This project links social capital and sports/physical activities in order to assist in the re-establishment of the well-being of children living in the disaster area. With the NRE research experience as background knowledge, I have a good basic understanding of social capital and its impact on community bonding through sports activity.

It was, and continues to be, a great honor for me to be engaged in productive projects throughout and after my time at Concordia. 

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