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Top co-op student in Quebec is a Concordian

Biochemistry student Maria Eugenia Arias wins provincial award
November 17, 2011
By Louise Lalonde

Maria Eugenia Arias recently completed the Toronto Marathon. But that’s really not surprising because speed, stamina and determination are part of her personality. In 2011 alone she received a Co-op Employer’s Choice Award, the Montreal Lakeshore University Women’s Club Scholarship, and an industrial grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada. But the highlight of her year is receiving the Bourse Gilles Joncas.

Maria Eugenica Arias
From left to right: Concordia Provost David Graham joins Maria Eugenia Arias and Gerry Hughes, director of the Institute for Co-operative Education.

Gerry Hughes, director of the Institute for Co-operative Education, commented on the warm reception granted to Arias and to Concordia at the award ceremony on November 3. “It was a memorable event. Not only was she recognized as the top university co-op student for the year with this prestigious award but it was obvious to me that our Concordia co-op program has a very positive reputation within ACDEC and the Quebec academic community."

Awarded annually by the Comité Québec de l'Association canadienne de l'enseignement coopératif (ACDEC-Québec), the provincial wing of the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CACE), the Bourse Gilles Joncas is named after a pioneer of co-operative education and founder of CACE. It was developed to promote co-operative education and to encourage students to distinguish themselves in their field at both the cegep and university level.

At the award ceremony, attended by academic representatives from across Quebec, Arias said, “I would like to thank ACDEC for this award. I would also like to thank Concordia’s co-op institute for believing in me and supporting me all along … I strongly believe in experiential learning. I will continue to be involved in promoting co-op among students and employers and continue to be an ambassador for my university and for co-op in general.”

"To listen to Maria recount her co-op experience and how it has helped her grow as an individual and develop a stronger awareness as to her career options was really very impressive," Hughes continued. "To hear Maria speak about how she got involved with several aspects of co-op, with the Co-op Awards of Recognition Event, student orientation and the mentorship program, made me think that she has taken advantage of the entire co-op experience. She is an outstanding ambassador for Concordia and for the co-op program.”

In addition to completing four co-op work terms with PerkinElmer BioSignal, MédiMabs and Boehringer Ingelheim, and participating in the 2010 and 2011 Co-op Student Showcase exhibits, Arias juggled her academic work, co-op commitments and community involvement with personal hobbies that include swimming, jogging and cooking. Arias's performance impressed her employers to such an extent, they subsequently hired other Concordia co-op students.

In accepting her award, she recounted that, “The benefits of being a co-op student are abundant and I want to share and promote this with as many students and employers as I can. This is why I got involved with co-op, its promotional campaigns and its mentoring program. I have not only gained job search and networking skills, but I have become more confident, assertive and self-motivated.”

Related links:
•    Institute for Co-operative Education
•    Bourse Gilles Joncas - ACDEC-Québec 
•    Canadian Association for Co-operative Education 

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