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You can do some very interesting things with a Bachelor of Arts

‘It can help you be disruptive, and if you're disruptive, you can move things forward’
October 21, 2019
By Meagan Boisse, BA 17

A documentary filmmaker, a throat singer, an international development advocate and a casting lead. This incredibly diverse quartet share something in common: they are all Concordia grads who have gone onto fulfill some amazing and dynamic careers since completing their Bachelor of Arts.

The BA has sometimes been maligned in the popular press in an age when advances in science and technology are driving rapid progress in so many aspects of everyday life.

Try telling that to people who have one, or academic leaders who know a thing or two about what a BA does and where it can take you.

2019 Spring Convocation 2019 Spring Convocation for the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“A BA gives you all the skills,” says Anne Whitelaw, BFA 87, GrDip 92, PhD 96, Concordia’s interim provost and viceprovost of planning and positioning. “It gives you transferrable skills. It gives you the ability to write and to make arguments coherently. You have the ability to analyze data, interpret data.

“There’s just something about doing a BA that makes you think to always question, and if you’re always questioning, that means you have a tool kit to be disruptive. If you’re disruptive, that means you can move things forward in the world.”

Whitelaw knows several people who have been in senior positions in marketing and other types of departments who consistently hire students with arts degrees because they find that BA or MA graduates are often able to do more than students with business degrees. Because they’re creative and risk-taking and they do things business books say are needed in a 21st century enterprise.

“It comes out of disruption,” Whitelaw says. “And I think that’s the thing about art is that it teaches you, it’s constantly questioning if it’s done right. I think Concordia does that. I think so many of our programs, our transdisciplinary programs, have community engagement components. So it means you’re not in an ivory tower thinking all the time. You’re actually out there putting things in practice.”

“The humanities touch on every facet of the human experience,” says André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. “A BA is a dynamic and agile degree that equips students with the intellectual, social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in any path they choose.”

We spoke with four successful grads to learn more about how their undergraduate experiences shaped their career trajectories.

Aaron Hancox, BA (Communication Studies) 07

Aaron Hancox Aaron Hancox

Aaron Hancox is the vice-president of Markham Street Films in Toronto. He gained notoriety earlier this year when Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit, a documentary he produced and co-directed, was sold to Netflix and subsequently went viral.

“I love what I do, we produce all kinds of content that celebrates people and communities on the fringes of the mainstream,” says Hancox, noting he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for the time he spent at Concordia.

“The courses I did required me to work quickly and efficiently, and forced me to speak and think critically about my work and defend my creative choices,” Hancox says.

“All of this prepared me for what I do now: working for a private production company and being an entrepreneur. I rely on my experience from Concordia.”

Today, Hancox looks fondly back on his time at the university.

“I was fortunate to have mentors and be in an environment where it was acceptable to make mistakes. Montreal, and Concordia, specifically, is where you want to do your BA! There’s a vibrancy to the city and university that’s hard to beat. I met many great friends and future collaborators during my time in Communication Studies.”

Laura Fraticelli, BA (Western Society and Culture) 14

Laura Fraticelli Laura Fraticelli

Laura Fraticelli is the Team Lead of the Casting Department at Ubisoft Montreal, a video game company known for franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow 6, and Far Cry.

While Fraticelli says she loved her time at Concordia’s Liberal Arts College, she also spent a lot of needless energy stressed about what she’d do after her studies.

“All of that was a waste of time, however, I never could have guessed where my education would take me,” she says, noting that while being an expert in Western Society and Culture might not seem like it would lead to a career in the gaming industry, it was actually a natural progression.

“During my studies, my favourite lectures were the ones spent dissecting the characters that populate both history and works of art,” she says. “Nothing has changed. My favourite days are still the ones I get to spend reading scripts while analyzing every character.”

Fraticelli recalls how her first mandate at Ubisoft was Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ancient Egypt at the end of the Ptolemaic period. “I was overjoyed! As soon as I got home that night, I went digging through old lecture notes, and the next morning I bounced out of bed and arrived at work early with the same energy I had walking into the favourite courses of my undergrad.”

Nina Segalowitz, BA (Applied Human Sciences) 99

Nina Segalowitz Nina Segalowitz

Nina Segalowitz is a professional throat singer, as well as a case worker at the Centre des Femmes de Montréal. While her interest in throat singing began before she came to Concordia, it was while attending university that she first learned her craft.

“Being a Sixties Scoop survivor I was constantly searching for ways to reconnect with my community. From a young age I yearned to sing,” she recalls.

“In 1998, I met Taqralik Partridge, who was also attending Concordia and looking to learn throat singing. Together we reached out to Evie Mark, a local expert in the craft, and she guided us in learning throat singing.” Since then Segalowitz has performed across Canada, the United States and Europe.

Looking back, she says the education she received at Concordia was far from textbook.“There was such a lively student centred services approach to learning and a community of peer support,” says Segalowitz, noting an integral aspect of her success as an Indigenous student was the Centre for Native Education, then headed by Manon Tremblay.

“She provided a space on Mackay that would become a second home to me for the four years that I attended Concordia,” she says. “It was a space where Indigenous students congregated to share meals, cheer each other on, share the trials and tribulations of being away from their families and communities, all while laughing along the way.”

Segalowitz says through Concordia’s support system she felt empowered and that this feeling of accomplishment continues to serve her in her career as a front-line worker, artist, board member and mother.

“I pushed myself to learn more and to share that knowledge to encourage others to follow their academic dreams,” she says. “I am still in touch with Manon Tremblay and the majority of the students that I hung out with in the CNE. My Concordia friendships have spanned 25 years and sustain me to this day.”

Elana Wright, BA (Women’s Studies) 93

Elana Wright Elana Wright

Elana Wright is a research and advocacy officer at Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, a Catholic international development and humanitarian agency that works to address poverty and injustice in more than 30 countries.

Wright, who also received a graduate diploma from Concordia in 1997, says her passion for advocacy was fostered during her time at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, where she studied feminist history, literature and theory.

“I learned to analyze our world through a gendered lens in the early 90s, which was a dynamic time to learn strategies to address inequality based on gender and race —back then we were just beginning to talk about decolonization,” she recalls.

From passionate debates about feminism and anti-racism in the classroom to student -activist meetings and late nights at the Link student newspaper, where she was the Fringe Arts Editor, Wright says her Concordia experience taught her to have a critical eye towards the unjust social structures that serve to marginalize some people and elevate others.

“My BA experience offered me a broad education in and out of the classroom, and this foundation propelled me to a career where my focus has always been fulfilling the human rights of the most marginalized and vulnerable people; here in Canada and also around the world.”


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