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Olympic boxer Tammara Thibeault’s latest accomplishment: a Concordia degree

The Canadian champion talks about her time at university, balancing life and sport, and what’s next
November 23, 2023
Smiling woman with long, curly hair, standing in a gym with many hanging boxing bags.
Tammara Thibeault: “I travel a ton and spend a lot of time abroad. My teachers were always so helpful and accommodating.”

Canadian Olympian Tammara Thibeault is set to cross the stage at Concordia’s fall convocation ceremonies at Montreal’s Place des Arts on November 28. The 26-year-old boxer has earned a BA in urban studies and urban planning.

The Shawinigan, Quebec, native has dedicated most of her waking hours over the last several years to balancing school and sport. And it’s paid off: Thibeault has made a name for herself internationally in the world of women’s boxing.

As a member of the Canadian national team, Thibeault competed in her first Olympics at the Tokyo 2020 games. She made it to the quarterfinals of the women’s 75 kg event and matched the best all-time Canadian women’s boxing result by finishing fifth.

She is now preparing for her second games — the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France — which she recently qualified for.

In addition to her Olympic achievements, Thibeault has had several notable successes as an athlete.

In 2022, she was crowned middleweight world champion at the International Boxing Association Women’s World Boxing Championships. She also won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as the 2022 and 2023 American Boxing Confederation Pan American Championships.

Before she switched to urban studies, Thibeault had been pursuing a major in linguistics and two minors in Mandarin and Spanish. She says she always had an easy time learning languages, but soon realized it wasn’t her passion.

“I took a semester off and dug into what was a better fit and what kind of career path I wanted,” says Thibeault.

“The Canadian national team has a program called Game Plan that offers a school counsellor. Together, we did a bunch of tests and talked about my interests,” she notes.

“It turns out I really like sustainability, making plans and project management.”

Thibeault says she wasn’t aware of urban studies as a program or field until her Game Plan counsellor presented it to her. She decided it was the perfect fit and applied to Concordia, where she was admitted in 2018.

“I had some pretty cool teachers and there were so many interesting topics,” Thibeault says.

“I travel a ton and spend a lot of time abroad. My teachers were always so helpful and accommodating, so I was able to succeed in my classes.”

Thibeault admits that it was challenging to navigate higher education with all her commitments as a professional athlete. Having travelled 20 weeks this year alone for her sport, she says she spends most of her time on planes, in the gym, at school and doing homework.

“There was not a lot of balance during the semester,” Thibeault says.

“I’m not going to lie. There was a lot I had to endure, including remote learning, a lot of talking with my teachers. I made some really good friends who would explain things to me outside of class if I missed something or couldn’t figure a topic out for myself.”

Thibeault adds that the common thread between her life as a student and as a boxer is pushing through such challenges. With the encouragement of her professors, Thibeault says she was able to continuously drive herself to do her best and achieve her academic goals.

In addition to keeping her on her toes, Thibeault also credits her Concordia professors for teaching her the importance of applying theoretical knowledge to real-world problems.

“These people just really gave me the itch to get out there and make a difference,” she says.

When her life settles down a bit following the 2024 games, Thibeault reveals that she plans to pursue a master’s degree in architecture.

“I’m already in the process of applying. I’d like to focus on sustainable energy for housing, specifically,” she says.

“I’d like to see what we can do in terms of developing a system of sustainable and affordable energy for vulnerable or low-income communities, with the aim of ensuring accessibility and adaptability in the face of climate change.”

For Thibeault, although her stellar career as a boxer is far from over, continuing to pursue her other interests through higher education is a priority.

“I truly believe that you’re only an athlete for a certain amount of time. I don’t want my time as an athlete to be the best or most purposeful time of my life,” she says.

“I think it’s important to be passionate about other things because who knows what could happen. As an athlete, things can change so quickly.”

As a Concordia success story, Thibeault says her only advice to fellow students who may be juggling athletics and academics is to keep moving forward.

“Keep doing what you have to do and keep making the sacrifices, because it all pays off in the end. It really does.”

To keep up with Tammara Thibeault’s athletic and academic journeys, check out her Instagram page and personal website.

Follow in Tammara Thibeault’s footsteps by discovering
Concordia’s BA in Urban Studies and Urban Planning.

And learn more about Concordia’s convocation ceremonies.


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