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Convocation preview: 5 great grads, in numbers

Concordia's valedictorians and Governor General's Academic Medal winners offer pearls of wisdom for the class of fall 2017
November 10, 2017
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By Ashley Fortier

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More than 1,700 students from all four faculties and the School of Graduate Studies are eligible to take the stage to receive their diplomas on November 20, in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Montreal’s Place des Arts.

Three new honorands — trailblazing explorer and environmentalist Bernard Voyer, ambassador and women-in-business advocate Isabelle Hudon, and tech innovator and leader Kon Leong — will address the fall 2017 graduating class.

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

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


Jing Fu

Jing Fu

BA, Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics
Faculty of Arts and Science
Governor General’s Silver Medal

Jing Fu’s professional interests lie in theoretical linguistics, developmental psychology and neuroscience. She is currently enrolled in a graduate program in speech language pathology at McGill University.

“Before completing my undergraduate degree in linguistics at Concordia, I worked as a flight dispatcher back in China,” Fu says.

3 keys to a good education

  • Knowledgeable and helpful professors. They always give me great guidance to help me achieve my academic goals.
  • Critical thinking and critical reasoning. Just as Confucius once put it: To learn without thinking is blindness, to think without learning is idleness.
  • Good education should ignite genuine passion for the study itself — education is not about filling buckets, it is about lighting fires.


2 lessons learned at Concordia?

  • Always be organized and don’t snowball the work and cram at the last minute.
  • Learning is more active and efficient if you can take even 10 minutes to preview the materials before the class.


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • I have a feeling that most of us, including myself, make the mistakes of thinking and wondering too much without taking any action. The more important thing is to go out into the real world and learn from your own experience, not those of others.

    I was made aware of the profession of speech therapist through my work in a children’s hospital and my part-time job as a daycare educator. Then I started my second bachelor’s degree at Concordia, and it was only through study that I realized linguistics is my “true love.”


Next great goal

  • I will finish my master’s degree and then go back to China, where people with specific linguistic impairment (SLI) need supportive services.

    Currently, fewer than 1,000 speech-language pathologists serve a population four times that of the United States. I want to train the medical community there on speech therapy use, bring up the awareness of SLI and change the practice of speech therapy in China so that Chinese children can benefit from the same services as in Canada.

    I believe this will benefit millions of children in the near future.

Abdelmohsen Ali

Abdelmohsen Ali

PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science
Governor General’s Gold Medal

Abdelmohsen Ali’s research interests include cognitive radio networks, machine-to-machine communications, and the internet of things (IoT). Ali has received many awards, including for best paper at the 2016 IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference in 2016.

From 2008-2012, he was with Wasiela, Egypt working in the area of digital communications and modem design. Currently, he is with Riot Micro as a principal systems architect for IoT physical layer solutions.

3 keys to a good education

  • Resources and facilities
  • Experimental work and applied projects and labs
  • Teaching                                                  


2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Your supervisor can push you to conduct outstanding research.
  • Environment is key to building teams of excellent researchers.


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Be patient with your research because no effort will be lost.


Next great goal

  • To use my educational and professional expertise to build a startup in IoT solutions.

Kristopher Woofter

Kristopher Woofter

PhD, Film and Moving Image Studies
Faculty of Fine Arts
Valedictorian

Kristopher Woofter teaches courses on the American Gothic, the Weird tradition, and horror in literature, cinema and television in the English Department at Dawson College.

His research interests and publications include work on early horror cinema and television, and the intersections of documentary and horror cinema.

Kristopher is also associate editor of Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies, a programmer for the Montréal Underground Film Festival, and co-director of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – Montréal.

3 keys to a good education

  • Community
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Inspiration


2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Life and politics are not mutually exclusive; everyone lives a political life.
  • One is only as strong as the community they build around them, intellectually and emotionally.


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Part of becoming a responsible and productive scholar means knowing when you do your best work, and developing a routine of reading and writing that works with that knowledge. I used to try to force myself to write late at night, when I thought I had the most concentrated time.

    But I learned (all-too-gradually) that my most productive intellectual time was in the morning. If I get up and start writing or reading right away, the hours fly by, and I am extremely productive. If I get up and start my day on another tack (cleaning, socializing, etc.), my scholarly productivity is diminished.


Next great goal

  • I am currently working on the inaugural issue of a new academic journal that is associated with the horror school I’ve been co-coordinating in Montreal for nearly eight years. We’re undergoing a name change for the school, which was formerly the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – Montreal.

    The yet-to-be-named journal of horror studies will be out in March 2018. I am also editing a book of scholarship on Joss Whedon and the horror tradition, entitled Joss Whedon vs. Horror: Fangs, Fans and Genre in Buffy and Beyond, which will be published by I.B. Tauris (London, UK) in late 2018.

Erin McNally

Erin McNally

PhD, Biology
Faculty of Arts and Science
Valedictorian

Erin McNally’s academic training focuses on understanding the molecular basis of lysosome physiology and how the lysosome remodels its membrane in response to cellular changes.

“I helped to discover a novel cellular protein degradation pathway that is important for the turnover of lysosomal and surface membrane proteins, such as nutrient transporters and receptors,” McNally explains.


3 keys to a good education

  • Be proactive. Take the initiative to create your own opportunities and be open to new or unexpected experiences.
  • Critical thinking. Well-cultivated critical thinking will help your academic career as well as prepare you for navigating the post-graduate world.
  • Intellectual curiosity. Rather than limiting learning to just your research subject, investigate a wide range of topics.


2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Your experiences are among your greatest assets — leverage your academic knowledge and practical experience, as they are valuable transferable skills.
  • Be humble and transparent.


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • Seek learning opportunities outside of your research project and academic courses by attending as many conferences or workshops as possible. Participating in external scientific exchange will not only foster new relationships or collaborations, it will help make your research relevant to others and better prepare you for future career decisions.


Next great goal

  • To transition into the private sector and contribute to translational research by bridging the gap between new drug research and development and its commercialization. 

Hamed Ghanbari

Hamed Ghanbari

PhD, Business Administration
John Molson School of Business
Valedictorian

Hamed Ghanbari’s research interests include theoretical and empirical derivate pricing, asset pricing, financial analytics and risk management.

During his PhD studies, he acquired extensive research skills. Some of his research findings were presented at the Northern Finance Association meetings and the NYU Society for Financial Econometrics.

His work has been recognized by several awards and scholarships. He teaches at both undergraduate and graduate levels and his teaching excellence was recognized by Bloomberg for Education. Hamed holds an MBA and a BSc in electrical engineering.


3 keys to a good education

  • Personal motivation
  • The right supervision and direction
  • Support (coursework, administration, family)


2 lessons learned at Concordia

  • Never quit.
  • But make sure that you have a balance in every aspect of your life.


1 piece of advice for graduates

  • In your research, address issues that have real life impact. Be aware of your social responsibility.
     

Next great goal

  • Giving back to the community which provided myriad growth opportunities and helped me make my dreams come true!

 

Read about the three individuals who will receive honorary doctorates during this fall’s convocation ceremonies.

Consult the complete Concordia fall 2017 convocation schedule, and be sure to share your thoughts and photos on social media: #CUgrad and #CUalumni.

 



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