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From Degrassi to Concordia

Valedictorian Sarah Barrable-Tishauer balanced her job as an actress with her studies and volunteer work to achieve academic success
June 19, 2012
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By Karen Herland

Unlike many of her fellow valedictorians, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer won’t be addressing an audience for the first time. The communication studies graduate has been a working actress for more than half her lifetime, first on the Toronto stage in The Lion King, and then for 10 years as one of the kids at Degrassi Community School.

During her first year at Concordia, she commuted between her Montreal classrooms and the Toronto set for Degrassi: The Next Generation. Her role as Liberty Van Zandt on one of Canada’s most iconic TV series was perhaps more demanding than other part-time jobs, but the experience helped her maintain her straight-A record.

Communication studies graduate Sarah Barrable-Tishauer has been a working actress for more than half her lifetime. She graduated with a minor in computation arts. | Photo courtesy of Sarah Barrable-Tishauer
Communication studies graduate Sarah Barrable-Tishauer has been a working actress for more than half her lifetime. She graduated with a minor in computation arts. | Photo courtesy of Sarah Barrable-Tishauer

“I had to find a really strong balance between work, school, volunteering and time for myself and my friends, that’s what keeps you sane,” she says of scheduling downtime as diligently as she scheduled her other responsibilities. “I’m a perfectionist, that’s what got me As, but I also don’t always know when to stop.”

As youth ambassador for Free the Children, a global network of children helping children through education, she has given public lectures, and travelled with a group of Canadian young people on a school building initiative in India in 2010. The experience earned Barrable-Tishauer a two-year Canada Millenium Scholarship for Excellence in Community Service and Academic Achievement. In a happy coincidence, Free the Children founder Craig Kielburger, and his brother Marc, were recognized at Concordia’s June 2012 convocation with honorary doctorates.

Although she could have stayed in her hometown of Toronto, a trip to Concordia confirmed its place as her first choice.

“Concordia’s campus tour was all about ‘these are our plans, this is how you can get involved’,” she recalls. “It was about looking forward, rather than focusing on the past.” In comparison to other campus tours that she felt were mired in tradition and history, “It was exciting to be in an environment where people wanted to innovate.”

She was also impressed by the Department of Communication Studies dual emphasis on production and theory. Taking Concordia’s multidisciplinary perspective to heart, she opted to add a minor in computation arts to her degree, effectively straddling the Faculties of Arts and Science and Fine Arts.

She got involved in other projects while studying, including Process, a science fiction web series produced by Concordia students and alumni. For the past year, she has been communications and media consultant at Westmount High School, developing poster projects, information campaigns and a 13-minute lip-dub that earned the school top prize in Montreal’s Beat 92.5 school spirit contest.

“I feel like I’m coming out of Concordia with a diverse portfolio,” Barrable-Tishauer says of the documentaries, web pages, papers and poster projects she has produced. She wants to take some time to review what she has done, and think about translating classroom projects into real-world marketing and communications strategies.

She’s moving back to Toronto to apply her skills to her own business offering communications consultation services, social media coordination and web development. She would also like to continue her extensive travels, which have already taken her to every continent of the world, and is looking into potential artist residencies.

“It’s very exciting, I can’t tell you where I’ll be in a year.”

Related links:
•  Read about more 2012 Great Grads in the Faculty of Arts and Science
•  Westmount High lip-dub
•  “Concordians set to launch unique sci-fi web series” — NOW, April 26, 2011
•  Communication Studies
•  Design and Computation Arts 


 



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