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How a ‘safe, clean and affordable place’ while studying at Concordia helped a single mother find community

Crediting Project Chance, Misoo Chung now wants to give back to the non-profit organization by supporting others like her
February 27, 2024
By David Silverberg

When Misoo Chung, BA 99, looks back at how she succeeded as a single mother who immigrated to Montreal while enrolled at Concordia, and later at McGill University for law school, she credits a life-saving organization: Project Chance, a non-profit agency that offers subsidized housing to single mothers who are also post-secondary students.

A woman stands smiling in a navy collared dress and red earrings. Misoo Chung, BA 99

“Project Chance helped me and so many other women who needed a safe, clean and affordable place to stay while they focused on studying,” says Chung.

At the time, she didn’t speak French, and was slowly learning English after arriving in Montreal from Argentina. With a young son in tow, she appreciates how Project Chance, a 20-unit site on Guy Street, gave her both solid housing and a community she could rely on.

“My son could play with other kids there, and I could talk to people who also were in my situation,” she recalls.

More than 20 years after she stayed at Project Chance, Chung joined its board of directors in 2023 to help steer the organization. She adds that they are always looking for more volunteers to join the board in its commitment to providing practical support.

“We help finance after-school programs for the residents’ children, for example,” she says. “What I find fulfilling is how I can help other women today who are in the situation I was then. I can offer emotional support to someone who needs it.”

Born in South Korea to what she calls “a humble upbringing,” Chung faced poverty in her early days, which forced her family to find a better life in South America. Chung, her parents and her two siblings spent time in Paraguay and Brazil before settling on Buenos Aires as their home.

With her parents selling products in local markets, Chung busied herself with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, all while learning Spanish to better communicate with her neighbours and friends.

After high school, she moved to Montreal “to follow a man, who became my husband, and we had a child together,” she explains, and she majored in Spanish at Concordia due to how familiar she was with the language.

‘It felt like living with my extended family’

The relationship with her son’s father ended, and as a single mother Chung was soon anxious about money and what she could afford for her son.

“When you’re studying, you don’t have time to think about if you can pay rent or how you can pay for baby shoes, but when I came to Project Chance — thanks to a social worker who suggested it — that really made a difference in my life.”

She goes on to say that she didn’t have any family in Montreal but the friends she met through Project Chance “felt like living with my extended family.”

Chung was also at Project Chance with her son when she entered McGill’s law school and soon after she found roles at various investment firms. Today she’s the chief compliance officer of Presima Securities, a wealth-management firm, where she oversees the regulatory policies governing transactions and the flow of money to clients.

“I like it — every day is different here,” says Chung, who still lives in Montreal. “And some people might find compliance boring but, like with school, I’m always learning something new and I like keeping busy that way.”

As packed as her schedule may be, Chung ensures she spends time with her now 31-year-old son, who works as an accountant in Montreal, and to indulge in her favourite pastime: playing ping pong.

“I’ve always thought if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and that is my approach to ping pong, whether I win or lose in the end,” she says.


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