Concordia University

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'Be curious, and embrace opportunities': 10 great Concordia grads share what they've learned

The spring 2019 valedictorians and Governor General’s Academic Medal winners reflect on their academic careers at the university
May 30, 2019
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By Ashley Fortier

Convocation preview: 10 great Concordia grads

Students from four Faculties and the School of Graduate Studies are getting ready to take the stage during Concordia's Spring Convocation ceremonies.

In all, more than 6,000 of them are eligible to receive their diplomas from June 10 to 12, in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Montreal’s Place des Arts. 

Ten new honorands — including a women’s hockey star, a space engineer and a world-renowned classical music conductor — 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 standout students for the secrets to their success.


Noémie Tito

Noémie Tito

Valedictorian
BSc
Honours Athletic Therapy
Science College

Noémie Tito is one of the first students to graduate from Concordia's new honours program in athletic therapy. She completed three academic internships and pursued research in three different labs. Her work culminated in an honours thesis investigating the effects of fear avoidance on return-to-play time in athletes. Tito also completed a minor in multidisciplinary sciences from the Science College.

Her extracurricular activities included volunteering at the Centre for the Arts in Human Development and coaching a varsity high school volleyball team.

Three keys to a good education

  • Curiosity: It’s much easier to learn when you're studying what really interests you.
  • A great study technique: Take time to observe yourself and find out how you learn best.
  • Good sleep, nutrition and physical activity: A healthy body supports a healthy mind.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try different things. Don’t limit yourself to only one field of study. Volunteering and getting involved in extracurriculars is a great way to make new friends and discover new passions.
  • Cultivate good relationships with your teachers and your peers. They are an invaluable source of information and encouragement and you may need a reference letter or professional advice from them.

Next great goal

  • I want to travel in South America and Asia for a year before pursuing further studies, possibly in physiotherapy, medicine or osteopathy.

Advice for future grads

  • Up until today, various external sources guided us as to what to do, who we should become and where we should go. Our next steps are ours to choose. Close your eyes, take a moment to breathe deeply and put your finger on what your dream is.

Joshua Cayetano-Emond

Joshua Cayetano-Emond

Valedictorian
BEng
Aerospace Engineering (Co-op)

Joshua Cayetano-Emond got involved in student life as soon as he started at Concordia and participated in many engineering competitions. In his last year, he represented Concordia at the Compétition québécoise d’ingénierie (CQI) in scientific communication and was the director for the national Troitsky Bridge Building Competition.

As a Co-op student, Cayetano-Emond had two internships in his field of study. The first was at Dassault Systèmes in Montreal and the second was at Airbus Helicopters in Germany. He was recently awarded the Aerospace Engineering Medal for his outstanding grades.

Three keys to a good education

  • Seek to learn outside the classroom. Internships and clubs are great for that!
  • Be able to accept your failures — it’s even better if you can embrace them.
  • Be passionate for what you are learning.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • A little bit of work every day pays off much more than cramming everything at the last minute.
  • There’s always something to learn from other people so try to approach others.

Next great goal

  • My next great goal is to continue my studies by pursuing a master’s in mechanical engineering at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Advice for future grads

  • Sleep more than you study, study more than you party, but party as much as you can. It’s all about a proper life balance.

Jacob Krane-Paul

Jacob Krane-Paul

Valedictorian
BComm
Management

Beginning in 2016-17, Jacob Krane-Paul made the Concordia Dean’s List for three consecutive years. He was the 2018-19 vice-president of finance for the John Molson Sports Marketing Committee and the recipient of a Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award.

He is also a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Beta Gamma Sigma Honours Society and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.

Three keys to a good education

  • Time management: Setting and following an agenda is critical to ensuring that we have enough time to adequately learn and subsequently apply course materials.
  • Open-mindedness: Entering the classroom with personal opinions is easy. The challenge lies in viewing issues from other perspectives and thinking critically.
  • Explore your interests: Concordia offers a myriad of courses. Taking a range of subjects — within or outside the boundaries of our fields — leads to engagement with the materials and ultimately a better learning experience.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Engagement is essential. Becoming involved in student life is the perfect complement to academic pursuits. Engagement allows us to foster relationships with others who have shared interests, while offering a venue outside the classroom to learn a different set of skills — such as planning, working with others and problem-solving.
  • We have voices and our voices matter. But we have to speak up, speak out, listen and use our voices strategically. In the classrooms, in our professors’ offices and with colleagues and friends, we face countless opportunities to use our voices to express our opinions and rethink our positions in the context of engaged dialogue.

Next great goal

  • I aim to find similar success at McGill’s Faculty of Law and position myself for an exciting career in the sports industry.

Advice for future grads

  • At JMSB, we have developed a tightly knit community of aspiring business people. Given our communal pride, we should not hesitate to reach out to our friends, who, one day, may become our business partners.

Autumn Cadorette

Autumn Cadorette

Valedictorian
BFA
Art History and Studio Art

Autumn Cadorette was editor-in-chief of the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History. She was also a recipient of the 2018 Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award, which will allow her to work with Alice Ming Wai Jim on the Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange this June. She has been on the board of many student groups.

Three keys to a good education

  • Don’t be afraid to take an assignment and make it reflect your interests.
  • Take advantage of office hours and build connections with your professors.
  • Start assignments early!

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Community is important.
  • Balance is a difficult skill to achieve.

Next great goal

  • I’m taking time off from academics to digest what I’ve learned in these past four years. I hope to work in non-profits, get some experience in art galleries and then complete a master’s degree.

Advice for future grads

  • Get involved in your student community. It's a great way to individualize your time at Concordia and to meet like-minded students.

Bernard Cloutier

Bernard Cloutier

Valedictorian
BCompSc
Computer Science and Software Engineering

Bernard Cloutier worked at fostering education in technology during his time at Concordia. He co-founded a neurotechnology club at the university and led the HackConcordia Society. Cloutier organized three hackathons in three years and participated in more than 15 hackathons and competitions. He led delegations to campuses across North America, including Yale University.

He acquired more than 24 months of experience in industry through internships during his undergraduate studies. Cloutier contributed to a smart-city project to modernize the City of Montreal's streetlight infrastructure. In his final term, he was the director of design for the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference.

Three keys to a good education

  • Appoint your board of directors: Find mentors and champions that will inspire you and give you honest feedback.
  • Get outside your comfort zone: A lot of what you want or need is on the other side of fear.
  • Commit: Find something that sparks interest in you and commit to it. This is how passion grows. It takes time.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Life, success and happiness is all about relationships, networks and connecting with others.
  • Your degree does not define you. It's a tool. Don't let your dreams be dreams.

Next great goal

  • I’m pursuing graduate studies abroad to earn a master’s degree in management. I’d like to find innovative ways to contribute to education and technology.

Advice for future grads

  • University is such a unique time for personal growth, so get involved in student life. It will bring you leadership experience that will be invaluable in your career. And remember that failing is not nearly as important here. Make use of that sandbox to elevate yourself, fail and learn as much as you can.

Enrique Fibla Gutierrez

Enrique Fibla-Gutiérrez

Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal
PhD
Film and Moving Image Studies

Enrique Fibla-Gutiérrez received, amongst others, the Concordia Merit Scholarship (2015), the Faculty of Fine Arts Fellowship (2014-17), the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema Advisory Board Scholarship (2016), a Stand-Out Graduate Research Award (2018) and the Concordia University Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize (Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences category) in 2019.

He enjoyed the Graduate Student Mobility Award to do research in Spanish archives for four months, something that was instrumental to the completion of his dissertation. He also participated in a workshop in Italy thanks to Concordia International.

Three keys to a good education

  • It has to be free, public and well-funded.
  • It’s important to be part of a truly collaborative and generous educational and professional environment.
  • Never think of education as a means to achieve social distinction or a good job, but as a duty toward engaging others in the daunting task of building a more equal and open society. This is more important than ever today.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Success is never achieved alone or in a vacuum, but thanks to the support of your peers and the generosity and guidance of mentors and teachers.
  • When students organize and find the support of faculty, they can overcome precarity.

Next great goal

  • I want to get a job in a public educational institution that allows me to be to future students what my mentors and colleagues have been to me in these wonderful five years at Concordia — a constant source of intellectual and emotional support.

Advice for future grads

  • Learn to fail better and not obsess over success.

Chloé Evans

Chloé Evans

Valedictorian
BComm
Finance (Co-op)

Chloé Evans was part of the Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program, competed in a variety of strategy and finance case competitions and coached JMSB’s first sustainability team for the Commerce Games.

In the summer of 2017, she travelled to Ghana to teach an entrepreneurship seminar to high school students affiliated with SOS Children’s Villages. Evans was also the community project chairperson for Concordia’s 59th Garnet Key Society.

Three keys to a good education

  • An appreciation for learning. It yields greater receptivity, effort and commitment. We’re incredibly lucky to be provided with opportunities for self-development.
  • Hands-on learning. It enables students to explore the world as it is, nurture different skill sets and bolster their knowledge base through experience.
  • A committed professorial body. They push students to think critically and connect theory with real-world applications.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Complementing academic studies with extracurricular activities, networking and professional experiences significantly increases students’ level of preparation for the world beyond the classroom.
  • Hard work often begets luck — it catalyzes a chain reaction whereby one opportunity sets in motion the next.

Next great goal

  • I’m going to hone my investor mindset to identify ways in which sustainable practices can be further embedded within our financial system and business activities to help design an inclusive and balanced world.

Advice for future grads

  • Be curious, embrace opportunities that push you outside of your comfort zone and get involved as much as you can. There’s no better way to learn and you’ll create a collection of unforgettable memories.

Dexter Lavery-Callender

Dexter Lavery-Callender

Valedictorian
BA
Honours Linguistics

During his time at Concordia, Dexter Lavery-Callender had many great opportunities to be involved both within and outside his field. He worked as a teaching assistant for four terms and a research assistant for two more. He also attended the Canadian Linguistics Annual Undergraduate Symposium twice.

Lavery-Callender is a co-founder of Autodidacts Concordia Theatre. He was the assistant director on three shows, co-president for three years, and chief executive officer of inter-personal and extra-personal human theatrics for one year.

Three keys to a good education

  • Do the homework assignments and attend lectures — they will improve your grade.
  • If you look for help, there are always resources out there.
  • Set small, achievable goals and focus on those. Don't get caught up in long-term anxiety.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Research your course topics and professors and choose ones that match your interests and learning style. If you are invested you will learn more.
  • Don't let school be your entire life. Find hobbies and friends.

Next great goal

  • I want to find my passion.

Advice for future grads

  • "I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are." – Takeshi Shudo

Nicholas Lavigne

Nicholas Lavigne

Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal
BFA
Electroacoustic Studies

In 2018 Nicholas Lavigne was awarded the Marguerita Award in Electroacoustic Studies and the Bank of Montreal Undergraduate Bursary. In 2019 he received the Campaign for a New Millennium Student Contribution Scholarship, the Hugh and Trudi Le Caine Award in Electroacoustics, the Concordia Music Prize and the Alfred Pinsky Medal.

Three keys to a good education

  • Good time management
  • Maintaining an open mind
  • Staying curious

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family when you need to.
  • It’s important to be open to new experiences and challenges because you have no idea how they might lead you to new, unexpected paths.

Next great goal

  • My next goal is to work as a sound designer and composer for film and animation, while also deciding on which graduate program I would like to pursue in a few years’ time.

Advice for future grads

  • Be kind to yourself and others and support one another where you can.

Adèle Dumont-Bergeron

Adèle Dumont-Bergeron

Valedictorian
BA
Honours English and Creative Writing

Adèle Dumont-Bergeron is a recognized academic writer. Concordia awarded her the Compton-Lamb Memorial Scholarship in 2018, and she was shortlisted for the A.G. Hooper Prize the following year. She has spoken at numerous conferences, including the Literature Undergraduates’ Colloquium at Concordia, as well as the Heart and Souls Conference at Bishop’s University.

This past year, she served as copy editor for Yiara Magazine, a student-run, undergraduate feminist art and art history publication. Dumont-Bergeron currently works as a research assistant for the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) and will pursue her master’s in English Literature and Creative Writing at Concordia in the fall.

Three keys to a good education

  • Find a safe and suitable environment for learning.
  • Be curious and perseverant in your quest for knowledge.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone.

Two lessons learned at Concordia University

  • A balanced lifestyle makes a difference. Get involved, have a hobby and take breaks with family and friends.
  • Perfection doesn’t exist — but you can try!

Next great goal

  • I aim to survive graduate studies and disseminate my personal work, which includes a fictional podcast series and an LGBTQ young adult novel.

Advice for future grads

  • Be passionate about what you do. Whether you’re studying or working, love it, because you won’t be satisfied with your own story otherwise.
 


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