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65th Garnet Key

Carolynn Boulanger

Carolynn Boulanger – President

Hi there! My name is Carolynn Boulanger, and I am currently a third-year undergraduate student, studying Honours Behavioural Neuroscience, as well as minoring in Multidisciplinary Studies in Science. 

While growing up, it was impossible not to reflect on all the strong people that supported me. As someone who lost a parent tragically at a young age, I understand first-hand the importance and positive impact social services have on the lives of youth. I have seen it, lived it, and dream of paying it forward. It is my goal to give back to others and make a positive change in our community. 

Moreover, I have always been the type of person that needed more from their education than simply learning in the classroom. Ever since primary school, I have been volunteering in the community all whilst learning as much as I could in school. I have worked on projects that range from volunteering in communities within Montreal, to those across Canada, and internationally. Whether giving back entailed spearheading fundraisers, shaving my head to donate my hair as a teenager, building schools in remote villages, or offering my time on a mental health crisis line, I feel strength and pride in knowing that the kindness shared with me, will be given to others. 

Over the past few years at Concordia, I have led and been involved in many student groups. This has allowed me to work alongside like-minded individuals that strive to enrich the University and make it a more diverse learning environment. Hence, I am extremely excited and honoured to be a part of the 65th Garnet Key Society with this group of bright, driven, and kind individuals whose mandate is to give back to the community.

Tania Cretella

Tania Cretella – Vice President

Hello! My name is Tania Cretella, and I am in my second year of study at Concordia University, where I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Biology, in addition to a minor in Multidisciplinary Studies in Science.

In my personal life, I am the proud granddaughter to incredibly strong and resilient Italian grandmothers and daughter to an admirable mother. Being the youngest-born female in a family of generous and awe-inspiring women has taught me to be kind to others, strong-minded in my pursuits, and to carry myself with assuredness and confidence. In turn, I learned that the volume and register of my voice were not my greatest strength; rather, it was the quality of my words and the kindness I showed towards others. I attribute my hard work and perseverance to these women who never made me feel as though any accomplishment was beyond my reach.

As a result of my upbringing, as well as my involvement with Concordia, and the Montreal community-at-large, I believe that my experiences, both personal and academic, have allowed me to acquire resilience in leadership, navigating challenges and developing interpersonal relationships. My interest in joining the Garnet Key society peaked following my experience with the development of Concordia University’s Biomedical Science Society. Although challenging in its conception, my work with the association has been extremely rewarding. I feel as though my part in creating this community has brought out my innate leadership skills while also providing me with expertise and versatility that can only be taught through experience. It is an honor to be given this opportunity to further develop my leadership skills as Vice-President of the Garnet Key Society’s 65th Cohort, serving a year-long mandate with the university and working alongside driven and accomplished individuals.

Marcela Paredes Osorio

Adriana Marcela Paredes Osorio – Secretary

Hola! My name is Adriana Marcela Paredes Osorio. My parents, following traditions, gave me two names. Funny enough, almost no one calls me Adriana, which is weird since it is my first name. For as long as I can remember, I have been Marcela. So let me introduce myself again: Hola! Me llamo Marcela, un gusto. I’m a fourth-year Honours Political Science student minoring in Italian. I was born and raised in the smallest country in Central America (in fact, the smallest in America), El Salvador. When I turned eighteen years old, my life changed forever. I had to leave my country and seek refuge in Canada in March 2017. The beginnings of my academic journey were difficult. I was trying to adapt to a new country and culture and get accustomed to having all my classes in English instead of Spanish. However, all these challenges brought me to Concordia. It has been here where I have challenged myself and my axioms multiple times; Concordia University is where I discovered my true passions and interests and where I met my friends. Most importantly, it is the place that allowed me to join such an incredible ad respectable association as the Garnet Key Society.  

 Community engagement has always been a crucial element in my life. When my family and I landed on Canadian soil (with nothing, I might add), we received enormous help from the community, and I have been trying to help others even if my contribution is little. I started in middle school and continued through high school, where I was able to help at the Museum La Palabra y la Imagen in El Salvador, which gathers the personal and communal experiences and documents of the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992). In Canada, I became a volunteer for the YMCA du Québec. I worked as a receptionist, helped other refugees fill up government forms (federal and provincial), helped Latin American refugees to translate important documents, worked in the food bank, and organized outings. 

I cannot say that one particular role or job in my life changed and modelled me to be the person I am today. Yet, I can say that all I have done has taught me different skills that I find are necessary for every aspect of everyday life. I am honoured to be the Secretary for the 65th Garnet Key cohort. To work hand in hand with an incredible group of intelligent, wonderful, and diverse people is an honour and an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Chad Buck

Chad Buck – Treasurer

Hi everyone, my name is Chad Buck and my journey at Concordia has not been straightforward. This is my second degree; the first being in Biology. At the time, I was aiming for medical school. However, after learning a little more about myself and about the day-to-day of a physician, I decided that path was not for me. I decided to return to Concordia to pursue software engineering, an interest I had from an early age. I now have the honour and privilege to give back to the University that has been my home for a total of five years. To do so through such an important and historiedsociety makes it even more special.

My first degree was more of a checklist item for my life. I viewed Concordia as an institution that could give me my degree rather than a community with a rich ecosystem. This mentality caused me to ignore all the opportunities to get involved within the school, spending my time on outside interests instead. This time around, with the goal of giving and getting as much as possible at Concordia, I am embracing all the community has to offer. Now, halfway through my seconddegree, I realize the importance of getting involved and the opportunities it provides.

This upcoming year promises to be a unique one. At the time of writing this, it will be the first time since the start of the pandemic where a sense of normalcy is returning to campus, with most events taking place in person. This reality affords the Key an incredible opportunity but also an important responsibility to come back strong and with intention. Being among such an incredible and diverse group of students I have no doubt we can achieve anything we put our minds to. To that end, my goal is to provide as much support and leadership as I can to make our vision a reality.

Heather Bridle

Heather Bridle – Community Project Chairperson

Hello! My name is Heather Bridle, and as a student of Concordia I am studying Behavioural Neuroscience. As a human being, I am trying to engage myself in community in all ways imaginable. I love to ski, dance, create art, cook, to be as environmentally conscious as possible, and learn new things! 

I realized recently that it is the connections--social and supporting connections-- that have given me the ability to grow passionate for many of my sports, hobbies, and studies alike. Creating new connections has thus become a priority in my life. I want everyone to feel included and welcome, regardless of where they are and what they’re doing! Imagine me as an inclusion-hype-master.  
Concordia has been a great school to foster, build, and strengthen new connections, and I am so grateful I chose this as my university! I have found so many opportunities to connect over environmentalism, sports, arts, and volunteering in this diverse community. 

Moving to Montréal from British Columbia meant building all new community connections, and after one year in the city of Montréal I somehow wound up in this wonderful position. I had no question as to which position I would fit-- Community chairperson aligns perfectly with my own goals and values. 

I am very excited to be in this position with the Garnet Key Society, and I am even more thrilled that Yasmine and I can work together from our separate backgrounds, studies, and brains to plan and execute a year of community building. I have big dreams for the coming year, and I am excited to see and meet many new faces, to achieve our community goals, and create new connections this year!

Yamine Yahiaoui

Yasmine Yahiaoui – Community Project Chairperson

Dear all Concordia students, faculty and staff, 

I’m Yasmine Yahiaoui, a 3rd year student in Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies with a minor in Immigration. My long academic journey as well as my personal drive to succeed brought me here today. As a dyslexic child, I deeply struggled in elementary school and wasn’t able to build self-confidence. During high school, after years of seeking professional assistance, I was finally able to achieve self-confidence as well as excellent academic performance. However, once I’ve gotten into CEGEP, my journey takes a turn. I was in Pure and Applied Sciences with no desire nor motivation to continue my studies - I thought that I couldn’t succeed in my post-secondary journey because of my very low grades. I ended up not going to classes, failing to the point that I was on academic probation. What a shock! I tell myself. 

The truth is - I wasn’t studying what I liked. I wasn’t studying what I was good at. 

Thus, I made the change. I realized that giving up wasn’t an option because this world needs positive change. After choosing what I truly wanted, I was able to achieve real success: the feeling of joyfulness! 

This is why today, I help students who struggle in school, who lack motivation, to find a purpose and continue pushing. 

What made me join the Garnet Key Society is the excitement of engaging with a variety of communities within the university. I’ve always enjoyed planning events and giving the opportunity for students to have a great undergrad experience. To me, it is extremely important to have an educational journey that is filled with memories. Indeed, for this year, I plan to have fun and interesting events for Concordia’s communities. 

My goal as your Community Project Chairperson is to organize events that are fun to attend!

Silvia Ramirez

Silvia Ramirez – Sponsoship Chairperson

Much of who we are comes from the intentional choices we make. Proactivity and collaboration are the building blocks of progress, and ultimately determine whether we reach our goals.

My interest in the study of choices and markets prompted me to study Economics and Finance at JMSB. I feel great satisfaction in devoting my knowledge toward projects with a positive social impact. I participated in initiatives dear to my heart via some of Concordia's student-run programs. I learned that working on projects with peers is, in my opinion, the most effective way to build meaningful relationships as well as to obtain outstanding results.

Through Eduquo, I taught a financial literacy workshop to 60 Québec High School students. Thanks to CEED, I advocated for Women's Solidarity and Entrepreneurship through the writing of a policy brief for the Québec Government. At JMIBA, I helped bridge the gap between industry professionals and JMSB students.The Welcome Crew gave me a chance to support new students who, like me, wanted to make the most out of their university experience. Lastly, I am integrating sustainability criteria into investment decisions at the Sustainable Investing Practicum.

I learned lessons that textbooks could not teach by getting involved and being proactive. In my final year at Concordia, it is a true honor to join the 65th cohort of the Garnet Key Society. Once again, I am excited to belong to a group of high-achieving students working for a common objective. This is another opportunity to engage in meaningful, impactful projects and give back to Concordia, a community that has given me so much.

Vilma Escorcia Vera

Vilma Escorcia Vera – Recruitment Chairperson

Hola! My name is Vilma Escorcia Vera, and I am in my fourth year studying Behavioural Neuroscience. I was born and raised in Nicaragua. From a young age I knew that whatever career path I chose, it would have to do with helping people. When I lived back home, I volunteered at medical clinics and group homes for children, which only strengthen my desire to give back. I started university in Nicaragua, but a socio-political uprising caused a significant number of people to flee the country – including myself. Because of this, I uprooted my life to move to Montréal and started over with my studies. 

During that time, I found myself sulking. I was sad that I couldn’t finish my studies, I was sad that I left my friends, and I was sad that I had moved to a new country without notice. After a while, I realized I was extremely lucky to even have the opportunity to come here and continue studying, and even luckier to have my family to support me every step of the way. This support I received put things into perspective for me, and in feeling blessed for having said support, I also realized that not everyone gets to receive it. This led me to look for volunteering opportunities here in Montréal. I’ve been volunteering for organizations outside of Concordia for a couple years, so when I received the invitation to apply for the Garnet Key, I saw it as an opportunity to get more involved with my university and to give back in a bigger way. 

I’m very excited to complete my mandate as a Garnet Key along with this amazing group of people. We’ve chosen a cause that I’m passionate about and I know we’ll do our best to give back to the community. Once again, I feel lucky that I get to be a part of this great legacy and I truly can’t wait to see what we can accomplish as a group.

Sharon Saddick

Sharon Saddick – Recruitment Chairperson

Hello, my name is Sharon  Saddick, and I am Canadian born of Guyanese descent. Being a mother of four has made attaining higher education a challenge. I started at Concordia, an older student, looking to learn about my son’s Indigenous culture. My intention was to pass on this knowledge, so that he could better understand and connect to his roots. I quickly realized that the expertise I was obtaining would also help me in my career in the Department of Youth Protection, as well as within my role in Adapted Services in the Cegep Education System. What I didn’t expect was that the Indigenous knowledge I was acquiring had a significant impact on my understanding of the flaws in our society. Majoring in First Peoples Studies has granted me an opportunity to appreciate Indigenous perspectives as well as an understanding of the struggles and challenges of other marginalized people. 

My first year at Concordia was isolated due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and feeling a sense of community was absent. The Garnet Key has provided me with a chance to connect with my peers and help the community while being part of a great legacy at Concordia University. My passion for equity, diversity and inclusion has led me to my role as Recruitment Chairperson. My experiences as an intersectional individual have left me with a desire to eliminate systemic barriers that exist within our society.  My drive to accomplish greatness has been amplified by my association to the Garnet Key. I look forward to continuing a tradition of excellence and bringing new perspectives to our collective.

Audrey Pitaru

Audrey Pitaru – Banquet Chairperson

Hello! My name is Audrey Pitaru, and I am currently a second-year Exercise Science student. This is my second undergraduate degree at Concordia, my first being in Behavioural Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology. I was interested in the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, with its myriad of courses in anatomy, physiology and emergency care. This aligns with my desire to learn more about the human body and its capabilities when pushed to the limit, such as in sports and exercise. Additionally, I am very passionate about research, and I have experience in this at both Concordia and McGill. 

Volunteering and assisting people are incredibly important to me. I have volunteered in a listening and referral center (Face à Face), as well as at a hospital in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU Bridge Program). I also have experience in associations in my previous degree as a part of the Concordia Student Exchange Association, after having had the opportunity to go abroad to the Netherlands for a semester. When I received the invitation email from Garnet Key and explored what the society does, I knew this was the right fit for me. Being able to represent Concordia and give back to the community through fundraising for a non-profit inspired me to apply. 

I am honoured to have been a part of those selected for the Garnet Key Society and to have the privilege of organizing the Banquet this year. I hope to create a memorable evening and bring together alums and students to commemorate the hard work and accomplishments of the members of this society. I look forward to representing Concordia with my exceptionally talented and driven cohort.

Hajar Mouddene

Hajar El Mouddene – Banquet Chairperson

Having dedicated over a decade of my life to being an active community member and a student at Concordia University, initially obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance as an international student, and later pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Honours in Psychology, I have come to consider Concordia as a home away from home. 

Wherever I turned, I found support not only at an academic level and a professional level but also at a personal level. 

Throughout the years, I have been awarded generous opportunities by professors, students, alumni, and other members of the community that have proved instrumental in shaping a career path that I could not have possibly dreamed of. Today, I wish to pay it forward and help the next generation of “Concordians” achieve even greater accomplishments.

It is an honour to count myself amongst this year’s cohort. Working alongside community-driven, talented, and hard-working students, I have full faith in our ability to use our collective voice to support our local community.

Chelsea Sales

Chelsea Sales – Marketing Coordinator

Hi everyone! My name is Chelsea Sales and I am a 3rd year student in Film Production and Political Science. 

Whenever I mention my two majors, a lot of people are surprised by this unusual combination: afterall, cinema and politics seem like two different worlds that are completely unrelated. However, I tend to disagree. Cinema and politics are both about the same thing: people. Cinema tells people’s stories, their experiences, their lifepaths and their choices. Politics expresses people’s ideologies, their core belief systems, how they conceive of the world they live in. I see significant overlap between the two. I believe that this explains why I was so interested in joining the Garnet Key Society: I want to connect with people as much as I can in a way that is authentic and meaningful. 

I am more than excited and proud to be part of a student organisation that not only is here to represent the Concordia community, but also works towards helping the Montreal community. Since the start of my academic journey at Concordia, I have been a part of many student-run groups such as the Concordia Film Festival, the Art Matters Festival, the Miracle Food Drive among other groups. Each and every single one of these groups has taught me valuable life skills and has allowed me to meet fellow students that were incredibly hard-working, selfless and passionate in what they do. I look forward to meeting much more of them. 

I cannot wait to see what experiences await for me in the Garnet Key Society, and what our beautiful cohort will accomplish this year!

Arianne Paquin

Arianne Paquin – Communications Officer

Hello everyone! My name is Arianne Paquin, and I am a third-year undergraduate student in Communications and Cultural Studies with a minor in Professional Writing.

“It is time we elect a class representative,” my 5th grade teacher announced. I immediately raised my hand, expressing my interest in the role. When I got home, I took out my glue stick and crayons to design a poster. The day of the elections, I came to class well prepared while my peers presented in front of the class having barely rehearsed their arguments. We were just kids, but I took the challenge seriously! That’s how I became class representative. By tuning into that leadership role that I always had inside of me, I felt a sense of pride like no other. 

As time went on, the leader within me grew stronger and stronger. Since the start of my studies at Concordia in the Fall of 2020, the university’s interest for community support and student life was a clear sign that this is a place where I can make an impact. By this time, it was the first summer of the COVID-19 global pandemic; it was difficult to make friends. I believed that finding different ways to get involved in the Concordia community would help me overcome this challenge. Looking back, I can say that it certainly did. Since then, I’ve participated in Frosh, supported learning opportunities hosted by alumni, and attended Homeroom where I was able to connect with other students. I also attended the Concordia Outdoors Club meetups and was an editor for Concordia’s Communications Journal. 

Becoming a member of Concordia’s 65th Garnet Key Society is a valuable opportunity to get involved and connect with the community in a more impactful way than I have ever done before. As your Communications Officer, I promise to deliver content that will authentically portray this amazing group of people as leaders, as a team whose diversity is one of their greatest assets and simply as people with generous hearts and great ambition towards giving back to their community. 

Philip Smith

Philip Smith – Alumni Liaison

Hey! I’m Phil, a second year Honours Linguistics student.

 There are two ways you can show strength: by pushing down, or by lifting up. I choose to lift up. This simple principle has guided me for many years now. I have learned – often the hard way – that leadership is primarily about empowerment and lifting those around you. And the Garnet Key Society is all about leadership: every member is a leader in their own right. This is precisely what inspired me to join. I now find myself surrounded by thirteen incredible individuals all poised to make a difference in their community and at Concordia.

 We all wear many hats in life. As a former engineer/musician/service worker/etc. now pursuing a second degree in my thirties, I can certainly attest to this. It’s what I love about the Concordia community: it’s a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences – and I feel completely welcome. The Garnet Key Society provides me with a way of showing my gratitude and giving back to this student community.

 As the Alumni Liaison, I hope to ensure that others are able to maintain their connection with Concordia in a meaningful way. Coming out of the pandemic, connection is something we’ve all been depleted of, yet it’s fundamental to the human experience. The responsibilities that come with being a member of the 65th Garnet Key Society are not things we have to do, but things we get to do. It is a privilege to serve as this year’s Alumni Liaison and to maintain the history of the Society.

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