50 Grads, 50 Years

In honour of Champlain College Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, we followed up with 50 of our graduates to highlight their achievements.

In honour of the Champlain Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, the college has followed up with 50 of its alumni to see where their paths have led after their time in Cegep. These 50 former students have gone on to accomplish amazing things and their paths show just how much is possible for a Champlain grad.

Browse our 50 featured alumni, arranged in order of graduation date, beginning in 1975.

Dawn Smith

This alumna devoted 20 years of her life to community service.

Dawn Smith (Business Administration, 1975) started her journey in Cegep in the early days of the College’s founding.

Smith, the current Chair of Champlain Saint-Lambert’s Governing Board, was among the very first cohort to graduate from the Business Administration program.

Smith recalls that when she started at Champlain, the building hadn’t been constructed yet.

“We had to go back and forth from a school in Greenfield Park to the license bureau in Saint-Lambert,” she said. It was only during her final year at the College that she set foot in the then-brand new A block of Champlain.

The first cohort in business administration only had three graduating students. Smith said she still keeps in touch with the other two.

Smith chose to attend the College so she could develop the skills she needed to take on a leadership role at her family’s florist business.

During her studies, she worked 30 hours per week at the family’s flower shop in Longueuil and helped run the business for more than 40 years before the family sold it.

While working in the florist business, Smith also became a commissioner for the Riverside School Board and held the role for 17 years.

Once Smith sold the business, she continued to work with the school board and took on a new role as the managing director for the Saint-Lambert Council for Seniors.

Her involvement earned Smith an invitation to sit on the Governing Board at Champlain which she enthusiastically accepted.

“Champlain has always been part of me,” said Smith. “I’m probably one of the only people that has been a student at Champlain, taught for Continuing Education and been on the board.”

Smith’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Cegep is a great time in your life to explore and make sure you’re going where you want to go. Explore all the courses in your electives and try and get a feel for a lot of things. Experience everything and see what the other programs are about and just see if might interest you.”

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Phil Authier

Longtime Montreal Gazette reporter got his start writing for the student newspaper

Phil Authier (Social Science, 1978) has worked as a journalist for the Montreal Gazette for 33 years.

Back in his days at Champlain Saint-Lambert, Authier used to write for The Bugle, the student newspaper on campus.

Originally from Saint-Lambert, Authier said that coming to Champlain for college was a natural choice.

He served as the production editor of The Bugle, which published weekly at the time and would cover stories ranging from events on campus to provincial politics.

“We were as professional as we could be for a bunch of Cegep students,” he said. “We took it seriously.”

Authier recalled his time at Champlain as being one of discovery.

“It made me into a better thinker,” he said. “I was exposed to a lot of concepts and a lot of ideas. I remember Champlain being a very open place. I remember it being a fantastic experience because it was so wide open.”

Authier had worked at his high school newspaper as well and would go on to work at the Concordia student newspaper, The Link, during his undergrad.

He said his work in student journalism proved a catalyst and inspired him to pursue a career in media.

After he finished a Bachelor’s in Urban Studies from Concordia, Authier took a job at the Port Hope Evening Guide in Ontario since jobs in Montreal English media were scarce.

After two years, he returned to Quebec, taking a job with the Sherbrooke Record as a journalist before heading to The Ottawa Citizen as the Gatineau bureau chief in 1985.

“At each of those stages, I acquired more knowledge of the craft,” he said. Authier gained experience covering crime, court stories, and municipal and provincial politics.

In 1989, Authier caught the eye of the Montreal Gazette editor for his work covering the Quebec election that year.

Authier was hired to work as the National Assembly reporter for the Montreal Gazette, a role he still occupies today.

He said that this felt like a culmination of all his efforts: “The Gazette was my goal all along.”

Authier worked as the National Assembly reporter in Quebec City for years, covering the 1995 referendum among other important milestones, before becoming a feature writer for the Gazette.

Several years ago, he returned to the role, and worked throughout the pandemic attending daily press briefings in Quebec City.

“It’s a very captivating job,” he said.

“The English-speaking community is passionate about politics,” he said. “I get a lot of feedback from the readership.”

Authier’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Get as well-rounded an education as you can and take advantage of all the options you have. You will never have that level of freedom again in your life. Later on, the reality of life is work and you don’t have the same freedom to do what you want.”

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Franco Cavallaro

Franco Cavallaro

Before CTV and CBC, this well-known broadcaster graced the airwaves at Champlain.

For longtime broadcaster and Montreal TV personality Franco Cavallaro, Champlain’s campus radio station was an early introduction into what would become his life’s work.

Cavallaro (Social Science Communication, 1978) spent 17 years as a broadcaster for CTV Montreal and another 12 years with CBC Montreal.

The well-known weather man and radio host started DJ-ing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs in Montreal North when he was still a teenager. When it came time to choose a Cegep, Cavallaro was enticed by the chance to host his own radio show with Champlain radio.

“I came to an open house at Champlain and I said ‘Wow, this place has a radio station.’”

The College building was brand new when Cavallaro began his studies in 1976 and he spent hours in the former band ring, hosting a weekly top 40 music show from his spot in the booth.

“The band ring would become a hangout, people would play dance music, rock,” Cavallaro recalled.

In the Communications program, he took filmmaking, public speaking and other classes which related to his newfound passion.

“Champlain really got me going,” he said. “I guess you can say Champlain sort of launched my career.”

After college, Cavallaro attended University of Ottawa and then got a job working in radio in New Brunswick in 1980. He bounced around to other smaller stations before landing a gig doing reports for The Weather Network out of Montreal.

This was his first foray into television, and he continued to be a recognizable face on the airwaves from 1988 to 2020, first at CTV and then CBC.

Now Cavallaro is back working in radio, hosting the morning show for MIKE FM 105.1 and doing a weekend show in Sherbrooke at CJMQ 88.9 FM.

He said after so many years in the industry, “it’s amazing how the business has changed.”

Cavallaro has seen the industry evolve from a time where he would have to send cassette tapes in the mail carrying his demos to the present day where he can produce his radio shows from the comfort of his home studio.

Cavallaro’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Pursue your dreams, be it in radio or television or any other field. You’ll encounter obstacles along the way. Stick with it and you will succeed. With your feet on the ground, keep reaching for the stars.”

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Brian Topp

Brian Topp devoted 25 years to the New Democratic Party.

Brian Topp (Social Science, 1979) is perhaps best known for his work with the New Democratic Party, where he managed Jack Layton’s orange wave campaign, became the president of the party and even ran for the leadership in 2012.

But throughout his long career, Topp has accomplished far more.

He ran Rachel Notley’s campaign war-room in Alberta in 2015 when they were able to form the first NDP government in the province’s history. Following the election win, Topp became the chair of the transition team and served as Notley’s chief of staff.

Topp’s interest in politics began at an early age, when he worked on the student newspaper at Champlain Saint-Lambert, The Bugle.

As the editor of the paper, Topp spent long hours producing the weekly paper which covered stories ranging from current affairs to campus news and Quebec politics.

“I had a fantastic time at Champlain,” he said. “The college put up with me becoming a member of the board of governors as a student representative. I fear I was more a hindrance than a help to them,” he joked.

Topp continued to pursue his interest in journalism at McGill University where he worked at the student newspaper, The Daily, and completed his Bachelor’s in History and Political Science.

Like his fellow Bugle alum, Phil Authier, Topp wanted to become a reporter but found that jobs at the time in Montreal were scarce.

Undaunted, Topp got together with a few friends and founded a graphic design and typesetting company which produced Open City Magazine, of which he was the editor-in-chief.

It was at this time that Topp started producing pamphlets and posters for the NDP, which at the time had meagre support in Quebec.

He supported the party and ended up chairing the campaign for Phil Edmonston, the first NDP MP to be elected in Quebec.

Topp said he had no experience chairing a campaign, but when they were able to secure the seat, Edmonston asked him to come to parliament and run his office in Ottawa.

Topp worked on the hill for three years before taking a job working with the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party as deputy chief of staff to Premier Roy Romanow. He gained experience working in Romanow’s government for seven years, from 1993 to 2000, and gained a reputation within the party.

Out of the blue, Topp got a call from then-newly elected NDP leader Jack Layton, asking for help turning the tide of support in Quebec.

Topp worked on the 2004 federal election and served as the party’s national campaign director in 2006 and 2008.

In 2011, at the height of the orange wave, Topp served as a senior adviser Layton and became the president of the party.

Following a campaign that led to huge gains for the NDP federally, Layton died in August 2011. Topp called the tragedy “one of Canadian politics’ greatest might-have-beens.”

One month later, Topp announced his intention to run for the leadership. He ended up coming in second to Tom Mulcair with 42.8 per cent of the votes.

During this time, Topp served as the Executive Director & CEO of ACTRA Toronto, one of the country’s largest unions representing film, television, commercial and new media performers.

In recent years, Topp has worked with gt&co, a consulting firm he founded with Don Guy, and he is still involved in political campaigns: “It’s like the mafia. You can never leave,” Topp joked.

Topp is also a lecturer at McGill’s Max Bell School of Public Policy, serves as Chair of the Board of the Broadbent Institute and was invited to be a Member of the NAFTA Advisory Council during the renegotiation.

Topp’s advice for current students and recent grads: “These days, great marks and excelling in your academics is what opens the doors to even better opportunities at the university level or at the work you’re going to do after you graduate. So savor the opportunities in a college environment. Dig deep in the wisdom of the teachers and throw yourself at it.”

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Michael Newton

This longtime accountant is the chair of the Champlain Foundation.

Michael Newton (Commerce, 1987) has been working in public accounting at FL Fuller Landau (“FL”) for 33 years.

Managing Partner with FL since 2004, Newton has a wealth of experience in the industry which he has used to help support private companies and public organizations as a board and executive committee member with a half dozen organization in and around Montreal, and on an International scale

Newton was awarded a fellowship by the Quebec Order of Chartered Professional Accounts in 2018 (FCPA).

Newton recalls his time at Champlain Saint-Lambert as the beginning of his “educational freedom of thought” which helped him develop good study habits and proved “a stepping stone to university.”

Initially, he started in Health Sciences but switched to Commerce and never looked back.

“CEGEP is the evolution of free thinking – that bridge between high school and university that should not be looked at as ‘something we have to do’, but rather as something that is much more than going to class. The beginning of educational self-discovery,” Newton said.

Newton played rugby at Champlain and went on to play for another eight years at the Provincial level with the St-Lambert Locks but his greatest discovery was meeting his wife at the college, he said.

After Cegep, Newton went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in accounting & Finance at McGill University followed by a Certificate in Accounting in 1992 and passed his CPA exam on the first sitting.

Newton became a partner at FL in 1998. He became the managing partner in 2004 at the age of 36.

He was also named to the mediation board of the Order of CPAs in Quebec (OCAQ) where he’s responsible for chairing arbitration hearings between CPA’s and their clients.

During his career, Newton has remained involved with the Champlain community, serving as the president of the Champlain Foundation and as a member of the Champlain Saint-Lambert Governing Board.

Newton’s other philanthropic activities includes serving as the vice-chair of the board of Habilitas Foundation, vice-chair of the board of the Cedars Cancer Institute & Chairman of the International association of CPA firms Leading Edge Alliance, with combined worldwide revenues in excess $2B.

Newton’s advice for current students and recent grads: “People we meet at this stage of life may come and go, but it’s a place where we learn how we socialize and interact, as well as learn study habits, participation and life skills. Take it seriously while learning to have fun – a mix in life that will serve you well in the workforce.”

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Jamie Orchard

This Creative Arts grad covered some of the city’s most important stories for over two decades.

Jamie Orchard (Creative Arts, 1985) worked as a reporter and news anchor at Global Montreal for 23 years.

Orchard, who was laid off by Global in 2020, is now a senior advisor for public relations and media at VIA Rail Canada.

Before her career in broadcast, Orchard said she was inspired by the TV production classes she took at Champlain Saint-Lambert taught by beloved teacher Barclay Watt.

“We had a studio in the school with cameras and a sound board. We really got a very hands-on experience of what the behind the scenes of TV was,” Orchard said.

“It was a great experience and a wonderful introduction to Television and I really credit Barclay with that.”

After Cegep, Orchard and Watt remained friends and she even filled in to teach a class at Champlain in the early 2000s.

“It was super fun to be back there teaching a class I loved as a student,” she said.

Orchard knew she was interested in pursuing a career in journalism and felt drawn to print journalism, working to hone her skills as a writer. At Concordia, where she completed a Bachelor’s in Journalism in 1991, Orchard fell in love with radio.

After university, Orchard said no English news outlets in Montreal were hiring and the industry was plagued with layoffs. So she moved out to Vernon, British Columbia and worked in radio for nearly three years.

She said this experience proved to be the stepping stone she needed to land a position in her hometown.

“Once I had this experience under my belt, I was able to return to Montreal,” she said.

Orchard started working at CBC TV in Montreal in 1994 as a reporter and weather anchor. After a year, she moved to CTV News for two years being landing a career-making job at Global.

During her time at Global, Orchard worked as a morning show host, evening news anchor, news editor, senior anchor and assistant news director.

She said that being laid off abruptly in 2020 came as a shock.

“It was very hard for me when they laid me off,” she said. “I was really disappointed in the industry in general.”

Orchard said if she’d had a choice, she would have stayed the rest of her career at Global.

She said that in light of the firing of high-profile CTV anchor Lisa Laflamme, she’s hopeful that the national conversation will spark change.

“It’s very sad for the industry, the way that women are treated as they age,” she said.

When Orchard was cut loose, she said she had to make a decision about whether she wanted to stay in media or pivot to another role entirely.

She said it was a natural fit to enter into the field of communications and public relations and she was happy to take on a new challenge in this new chapter of her career.

“I’m very lucky and I’m really proud of myself for successfully making this pivot,” said Orchard.

Orchard’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Be open to everything. Be open to being surprised by what you’re going to learn. Be open to discovering what you don’t know. Cegep is an opportunity to explore everything and figure out what really lights your fire and brings your passion and choose that.”

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Pino Di Ioia

This Champlain grad found sweet success with Beavertails.

Pino Di Ioia had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age.

He started his first business when he was 11 years old, selling soft drinks next to a golf course by his house.

Now the CEO of Beavertails, Di Ioia (Social Science, 1988) worked his way up to become the head of the quintessentially Canadian brand.

It was a happy coincidence that Di Ioia got involved with Beavertails in the 1980s when the company began to expand its stores outside of Ottawa.

Di Ioia, who was the student council president at Champlain, was in the right place at the right time when a Beavertails manager knocked and asked to place an ad in the student paper, The Bugle.

“Low and behold, it was so enticing I applied,” said Di Ioia. He started working mopping floors at a Beavertails shop located at La Ronde amusement park.

He said at that time, “nobody in Quebec knew what a beavertail was.”

So how did Di Ioia go from selling Beavertails to running the company?

“Funny things happen when they don’t fire you,” he joked. “I’ve done every job at this company from employee to CEO.”

Di Ioia became the first Beavertails franchisee when he bought the two locations which had been set up in Montreal in 1993. He was 24 years old.

Di Ioia said he took the train up to Ottawa and offered to buy the stores “on a lark.”

He said the owners must have thought he was a crazy kid, but they agreed.

Di Ioia continued to open franchises in Quebec and was approached in 2001 to take over leadership of the chain along with his business partners.

He moved the company’s headquarters to Montreal and started to make changes.

The Beavertails brand got a big bump in 2010 after then U.S. President Barack Obama paid a visit to a store in Ottawa during a visit.

“We understood in that moment what ‘an Oprah moment’ was,” said Di Ioia. “The chain jumped about 20 per cent and it never went down.”

Di Ioia said by 2019, Beavertails had hit an all-time record for sales and new franchises opening. Despite a lot of businesses taking a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said luckily his stores had been spared.

“COVID really made people ditch the diet,” he joked. “People realized they needed their happiness more than ever.”

Di Ioia’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Be bold. Young people have so little to lose and they are so overwhelmed and fearful and they don’t realize that they are still young, they can make mistakes, this is their one chance to do that.”

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Madhavi Mantha

Madhavi Mantha is a partner at Deloitte in the Technology Strategy & Transformation practice.

Madhavi Madhavi (Health Sciences, 1986) has been working in the corporate technology industry for 30 years and has an impressive CV peppered with leadership roles at companies like Bell Canada, IBM and National Bank of Canada.

Looking over her career, Mantha said she took every opportunity that came her way, considering each role to be a natural progression from the one before.

“I’ve had a very diverse career,” she said. “I’m not afraid of change. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner.”

Mantha said that even though she studied Health Science at Cegep thinking then that she might go into medicine, she felt the choice left the door open for a multitude of future opportunities.

“It certainly paved the way for me to try different things,” she said.

When it came time to attend university, she ended up choosing computer science at Concordia University.

“I had zero interest in computer science at the time,” she said. “But it struck me as an area I probably wanted to learn more about.”

This was in the late 1980s, before breakthroughs in technology like artificial intelligence. But her choice ended up being a good one, as Mantha quickly rose through the corporate and consulting worlds.

“Progression should be happening at every level of your career,” she said. “The progression of being able to take on more leadership positions came organically.”

Mantha started out her career at Bell Canada and gradually took on a wide range of roles within various Bell divisions over the first 15 years of her career, ranging from systems analysis and programming, to marketing, to product management.

While working full-time, Mantha also began doing her MBA at McGill part-time. She said it took her five-and-a-half years to finish as she was working and had two pregnancies during the same period.

“It was quite an accomplishment. I don’t know how I did it but somehow it got done,” she said.

In 2005, Mantha transitioned from working on the corporate side and shifted toward consulting, working at both boutique firms as well as Accenture and IBM in increasingly senior roles over the next 11 years.

She then returned to the client side with a stint at the National Bank of Canada as a Senior Leader in their Transformation Office and as Chief Architect for the bank, before returning to an advisory role at Element AI focused on applications of artificial intelligence in financial services.

Her career trajectory led very naturally to her current role at Deloitte, where she advises clients on their technology strategy and helps define and implement business and technology transformation programs.

Mantha’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Keep an open mind. Do as much as you can to learn, to get a sense of what you like. You’re going to have to work hard. I learned the hard way what it takes to do well. I’m here now but I will admit to you that I flunked Calculus 2 the first time I took it, but made sure to ace it the second time. Keep your eye on the long game. Don’t miss the opportunity by not giving it your all.”


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Dave Ellemberg

Dave Ellemberg is one of Canada’s leading researchers in neuropsychology.

Dave Ellemberg (Social Sciences, 1992) is a clinical neuropsychologist, neuroscientist, professor at Université de Montreal and the founder and director of the CENTAM clinic in Montreal.

Ellemberg has written over 80 scientific publications and three books on concussions, but he wasn’t always a star student.

In fact, Ellemberg said he went from barely passing his classes in high school to making the honour roll in Cegep seemingly overnight.

“I spent most of high school thinking I was not smart. I did not have any learning strategies. I did not really see the purpose of school and learning,” he said. “I feel that Cegep changed the course of my life.”

On Orientation day at Champlain, Ellemberg said that one of the speakers said something that struck a chord: “She said, ‘remember that is your choice to be here, so make sure that you make the most out of it and that you are not here to waste your time.’ It really resonated for me.”

Ellemberg said he decided to put in the effort not just in his classes, but in developing good study habits.

“For me, Cegep was discovering my intellectual aptitudes and discovering that I have a passion for learning.”

Champlain was also the place where he was first introduced to psychology.

“I had no interest in psychology. It was not seen positively where I came from. I ended up taking intro to psychology because no other course would fit in my schedule. It was serendipity, I fell in love with it,” he recalled.

Ellemberg completed a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from McGill University and a Master’s in science from McMaster University. He completed a second Master’s as well as his doctorate at l’Université de Montréal.

When he finished his studies, Ellemberg started doing learning disability assessments, not realizing there would be a huge demand for his service.

“I did not think I would make a big thing out of it. I thought I would be doing one assessment every two or three weeks,” he said. “But I was getting five or six calls a day.”

That is when he founded CENTAM, the Clinique d’’Evaluation Neuropsychologique et des Troubles d’Apprentissage de Montreal.

This was back in 2000 when “nobody really spoke about learning disabilities.” Twenty years later, Ellemberg said that these issues have become much more ingrained in the public consciousness.

After completing a postdoc at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal and another at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine, Ellemberg took a job teaching at Université de Montréal.

He set up a lab and over the years secured millions in funding from the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, the Canadian Health Research Institute, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

His research is mainly interested in understanding the resilience of the developing brain, with a particular focus on concussion.

Dr. Ellemberg has received several awards for his research, including the certificate of excellence from the Canadian Psychology Society, the E. A. Baker Award from the Canadian Council of Medical Research, the Leaders Award from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Brain Star Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Ellemberg’s advice for current students and recent grads: “The first day of your classes, do not procrastinate. Make a study plan for the entire semester. Take control over your studies and take control over your study plan. Go talk to the teachers who inspire you. Spend some time with them if you can.”

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Judith Caron

Judith Caron is a medical science liaison at AstraZeneca and a lifelong learner.

Judith Caron (Pure and Applied Science, 1993) works as a medical science liaison at AstraZeneca where she combines both her experience in scientific research and business administration.

In her role, Judith educates health professionals on new data and products coming from the pharmaceutical industry.

“You have the science part, so you’re always challenged. Plus, you have the business part where you support the commercial and marketing side of the business,” she said.

Judith has a PhD in Human Genetics from McGill University and has worked with several companies either in research or in the pharmaceutical industry as a scientific expert.

“If there’s one thing that I need to do in my life, it’s continuous learning,” she said. “I always need to be challenged and I need to learn every single day.”

For Judith, her Cegep days represented the first chance she had to study in English. She recalls being inspired by “passionate teachers that went out of their way” to support student learning.

“Normally in Cegep, it’s more anonymous, but not at Champlain. The teachers took time with me (a big kudos to the physics teachers!) and I really appreciated that.”

Her studies continued at Concordia University where Judith completed a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry. She went on to do a Master’s in Microbiology and biotechnology at Université du Québec – Institut national de la recherche scientifique.

“I had a certain passion for research,” said Judith. “I really liked working in a lab.”

In 2005, Judith obtained her PhD at McGill followed by a post doc at Université de Montréal in Virology.

Once she’d completed her studies, Judith wasn’t sure what she wanted to do but she felt academia wasn’t the right place for her.

She started working in a small contractual research organization (ArthroLab) managing pre-clinical and clinical trials in both animals and humans focusing on osteoarthritis.

She wanted to understand the business side to complement her scientific background so, in 2009, Judith started an MBA at HEC Montreal part-time.

After five years at ArthroLab, Judith went to work as the Director of Programs for CQDM (Consortium de recherche biopharmaceutique) — a public/private funding research consortium.

In 2015, Judith began working as a medical science liaison for AstraZeneca.

Judith said she’s grateful that she discovered the role she’s in now which allows her to keep her habit as a lifelong learner.

“I didn’t expect to be in this job for a long time, but I love it. I didn’t know it existed way back when, but I’m happy that I finally did” she said.

Judith’s advice for current students and recent grads: “You might have different careers throughout your lifetime. You don’t need to choose the rest of your life right away. Try to not put so much pressure on yourself. You got this. I was told a few times ‘you won’t be able to do this, you won’t be able to do that. You know what? Don’t let people get you down.”


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Derek Seguin

This grad pursued his passion for comedy and found international acclaim.

Derek Seguin (Social Science, 1993) is a well-known Quebec comedian who has performed at the Just For Laughs festival six times and received a Juno Award nomination for Comedy Album of the Year in 2021.

When he started at Champlain a little over 30 years ago, he thought he was going to be a businessman.

“We wanted to be rich guys wearing suits basically,” he joked.

Seguin quickly realized that Commerce wasn’t for him and ended up switching into Social Science.

He recalled his time at Cegep as being academically challenging and said he learned how to be a better student by the time he enrolled at Concordia University in Urban Studies.

Attracted to a career in entertainment, Seguin was discouraged from studying film due to the precarious career outlook in show business.

Instead, he worked in technology, consulting and marketing for many years before he discovered a talent for comedy.

Seguin took part in his first open mic stand-up comedy performance when he was in his 30s and said he was instantly addicted.

But with two kids at home and a steady job already, Seguin decided to pursue comedy merely as a hobby.

“I loved doing it, so I was doing it for free,” he said.

In 2005, Seguin was invited to perform in the Just For Laughs Festival for the first time, and he started to think he could actually make a living out of his passion for comedy.

“I said ‘I’m going to be a huge star,’ so I quit my job right away,” he joked.

Seguin continued to take on consulting work along with comedy gigs and began performing full-time in 2008.

That was the year collaborated with Mike Ward and Maxim Martin on “French Comedy Bastards”, a touring show which brought Quebec-style comedy to anglophone audiences.

Seguin has performed across the country and appears regularly on the CBC Radio comedy series The Debaters.

In October 2015, Seguin won the 6th annual Canadian Top Comic competition, presented by SiriusXM Canada in association with the Just For Laughs festival.

His comedy album, PanDerek (1st Wave!), earned him a Juno Award nomination.

“Even now, I almost don’t believe it,” he said of his success. “I’m always overwhelmed by how lucky I am.”

Seguin’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Find something that you love to do for yourself and pursue it at all costs. Do it for yourself, not for the reward, the job, the money — that will come. Find something you love and never let it go. Continue pursuing that thing and eventually it will become your vocation.”

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Krista Chin

This grad moved up North to pursue her passion for environmental science.

Krista Chin (Health Science, 1995) works as an environmental scientist with the Government of the Northwest Territories, focusing on aquatic research and monitoring work.

Chin, originally from Montreal’s South Shore, always knew she was interested in science, especially when it came to nature and the great outdoors.

“I had a stronger affinity for being outdoors so biology seemed like a better fit,” she said.

Chin, who played soccer for the Cavaliers women’s team, recalled taking a canoe class as part of her physical education requirements at Champlain and said she still uses those skills today.

“I work in a really remote area so sometimes the float plane can’t get us to shore. So we inflate the pack raft and paddle ourselves to shore.”

After Cegep, Chin completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science at McGill University.

“I really enjoyed all of the ecology outdoor field programs,” she said.

After graduation, she started travelling and working for labs where she would assist researchers conducting field work.

After a few years, Chin went back to school to complete a Master’s in Biology from Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

In 2009, Chin took a job working in the Northwest Territories out of Yellowknife as an environmental management specialist.

In her work, Chin monitors the impacts of natural and man-made disturbances on the aquatic systems, including forest fires, thawing permafrost, mining and other development projects.

She said moving up north was a big transition but she was surprised to find a large community of soccer enthusiasts and other like-minded-individuals there who she connected with.

Chin’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Take some time to explore and determine what interests you, keeping in mind that your career is only a part of your life. Friends and family play a big role in a well-balanced and happy life.”

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Nathalie Tufenkji

‘I love my job’: McGill professor Nathalie Tufenkji is a leading researcher and devoted teacher.

Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji (Science, 1995) is a Yale-educated professor of chemical engineering and a Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces.

She teaches in the Chemical Engineering department at McGill University – the same place she completed her undergraduate degree.

“It was really such a blessing to be teaching at McGill, back in my alma mater,” she said.

But before all that, Tufenkji was in her first semester at Champlain, studying Commerce and not having a very good time of it.

Tufenkji remembers studying between practices with her teammates on the Champlain soccer team and thinking that she was much more interested in their homework than her own.

“It really wasn’t the right fit for me,” she said. But looking at the science texts, she thought: “That looks like so much fun!”

After the first semester, Tufenkji switched into the Science program and never looked back.

She said looking back, “Cegep was some of the best years of my life.”

“I loved my time at Champlain. My time on the soccer team was such a wonderful experience for me. I am so grateful for that opportunity, the friends that I made. I am still friends with some of the girls I met on the team to this day.”

Tufenkji said she’d always had the idea of becoming a professor in the back of her mind.

“I always loved to teach,” she said. “After my first year of Cegep, I was coaching the local soccer team in my community. I was also teaching karate for many years.”

It was on the advice of a professor at McGill that Tufenkji applied to doctoral programs in the U.S.

“He said I should aim for some of the best ivy league schools in the U.S.,” she said. “I had no idea where to even start. No one in my family went to graduate school. I’m so grateful to this professor who really made me realize what kind of opportunities were there in front of me.”

Tufenkji was accepted to Yale with a full scholarship where she conducted research on water filtration.

“I always had a passion for water and the environment. I was really lucky to get this position working with a world-leading group.”

Now a professor herself, Tufenkji said she balances her time between teaching and research.

“I love my work and I love my job,” she said. “I never feel like I’m going to work.”

Tufenkji’s advice for current students and recent grads: “There are so many people who are willing to give advice or give information or give you a tour. Reach out to people. It could be students in the program or professors or people who work in that field. If you’re interested in law, talk to a few different lawyers and find out what their job is like. Don’t try to make these decisions in a vacuum.”

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Gabriel Gervais

Gabriel Gervais

The president and CEO of CF Montreal once sported the Cavaliers jersey.

Gabriel Gervais was named President and CEO of CF Montreal (formerly the Montreal Impact) in 2022. A retired defender for the team, Gervais is a Montreal native who knows the game inside and out.

Gervais (Science, 1995) was a star soccer player at Champlain Saint-Lambert before he started to play professionally.

When asked what he remembers from his Cegep days, Gervais said: “The top education that I got at the college. The great friendships I developed that still stand today as well as the fun and success I had representing the Cavaliers on the soccer pitch.”

After Champlain, Gervais attended Sycaruse University where he completed a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering as well as a Master’s in Engineering and continued to play soccer with the Sycaruse Orange.

He graduated in 2001 and was signed to play professional soccer in Montreal a year later.

Gervais played with the team from 2002 to 2008, won championships in 2005 and 2006 and earned several awards.

He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, 2003 and 2006, and won the Giuseppe-Saputo Trophy in 2004, awarded to the most valuable player.

Gervais was also named Defender of the Year in the USL First Division in 2003, 2004 and 2006, becoming the first player in the league to win that award three times.

After he retired from his pro career, Gervais completed an MBA at McGill University and took a job as a senior manager with Deloitte in 2009. He worked there 12 years and also worked as a broadcast soccer analyst for Radio-Canada four five years.

In 2022, Gervais was made the President and CEO of the newly rebranded FC Montreal.

Gervais’ advice for current students and recent grads: “Do what you love! Do it with passion! And think of the legacy that you’re leaving behind!”


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Cornelia Genoni

This grad went from working in conflict zones to coordinating humanitarian aid efforts in Switzerland.

Cornelia Genoni (International baccalaureate in Science, 1995) works as the program management officer for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan for the Swiss government.

“I was never very career-oriented,” she said. “I did the work because I loved doing it. It was kind of a dream come true to work for the Swiss government based in Bern, but I didn’t start off with that in mind.”

Genoni said that after Cegep, she didn’t have a clear direction so she continued with science and completed a Bachelor’s degree at McGill University in Biology and Anthropology.

After university, Genoni took a year off to do volunteer work in Ecuador and found her calling.

”That’s when I felt it was really my place. It gave me a path. I ended up staying for two years,” she said.

Genoni completed a Master’s of Public Health in International Health and Development at Tulane University in Louisiana, which she said helped launch her into a career in humanitarian work.

“Nowadays you do need a masters often to get into the humanitarian world. That made a difference for me and gave me the skills,” she said.

Genoni started working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Rescue Committee and the War Trauma Foundation which allowed her to do frontline work in conflict affected regions including Chechnya, Colombia and Iraq.

“I loved doing it but it’s also hard,” said Genoni of the work.

In Colombia, Genoni said she worked closely with families who had missing loved ones. She said ICRC  aid workers would try and negotiate with groups to have the remains of people who’d been killed returned to their families so they could find closure.

She also spent time doing frontline work with political prisoners.

“With the ICRC, I was in the field of protection. So I would visit prisoners of war who were being held for political reasons to see what the conditions are, to make sure their basic rights are being met,” she said.

In 2013, Genoni moved to Switzerland to take on a role with the Swiss Red Cross.

“I wanted to apply my skills not so much in the field but in headquarters,” she said.

A year later, Genoni joined the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at first working on humanitarian aid for Latin American and then later for Afghanistan.

Genoni’s advice for current students and recent grads: Choose a topic that you like and go for it even though there’s moments where you want to quit. Follow your heart. Each person has different passion. If you can work in your passion you can always find a way.”

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Nils Oliveto

Arts, science and sport: Nils Oliveto has done it all.

Nils Oliveto is living proof that you don’t have to pick just one career path in life.

An accomplished track and field athlete. A filmmaker, actor and poet. A sports broadcaster for CBC. Plus, he’s got a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and Human Performance.

Oliveto (Pure and Applied Science, 1995) has pursued his passions in a number of directions since graduating from Champlain College Saint-Lambert.

He came to study at Champlain because of his coach, former Czechoslovakian weight-lifting Olympic coach Emil Muller (for whom the weight room at Champlain is named).

“He’s a legend,” said Oliveto, who trained in the hammer throwing event.

In 1993, he earned a spot on the Canadian Jr. National Track and Field Team as a hammer thrower.

During his training, Oliveto recalls spending a lot of time at the College after hours: “All the security guards knew me,” he joked.

“Back then we used to go outside and I would carry my hammers from my locker outside and Emil would coach me. Emil was such an important person and I was his number one athlete.”

Oliveto was also very studious and didn’t have much time for anything besides studying and training: “I don’t have stories of me goofing off at Champlain. If I wasn’t in class, I was training with Emil in the fitness centre.”

After graduation, Oliveto was offered a track scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. From 1995 to 2000, he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees researching peak performance training methodology.

But his career took a sharp turn in 2000, when Oliveto moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film.

He had been toying the idea in the final years he spent in Oklahoma, after receiving encouragement from a high school teacher who had seen him perform in high school theatre productions and improv.

“I had no aspirations at all in becoming a professional actor, but that seed just grew inside me,” he said.

Oliveto started taking acting classes and studying screen writing on the side, joking that he led a “double life – Exercise scientist by day and actor/screenwriter by night.”

Oliveto honed his skills in L.A. and then returned to Montreal where he produced, wrote, directed his own films including “For the Love of Poe” (2014) and “Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear“ (2017).

His first documentary feature “Icelander” (2018) won second prize in the Documentary of the World competition at the Montreal World Film Festival (FFM) and won Best Screenplay / Best Autobiography at the 2020 Los Angeles Documentary (DOC LA) Film festival.

His latest film, “Confessionem’’ (2022) won ’Best International Feature at the Golden State Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was produced, written and directed by Oliveto who also stars in the film.

Oliveto also expanded into broadcasting when he joined CBC/Radio-Canada Sport in 2017 as an Olympic sports analyst in track & field and winter sliding events.

Most recently, he’s published a book of poetry in 2021 entitled “Winter HAIKU-lympics: capturing the poetic spirit of wintertime sports.”

Oliveto’s advice to current students and recent grads: “I get rejections every week. Because I work on so many projects, I’ve learned to shorten the frustration time. Don’t stay sour for weeks, give yourself 24 hours. The next day pick yourself up and move on. Turn the page quickly.”

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Amy Walsh

This Canadian soccer hall-of-famer once donned the Cavaliers jersey.

Amy Walsh (Social Science, 1996) spent 10 years with the Canada women’s national soccer team and was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2017.

She played at the Olympics in 2008 and at the Women’s World Cup in 1999 and 2007.

When she started her studies at Champlain Saint-Lambert, Walsh was “just on the cusp of becoming a recognized elite athlete.”

She said “the landscape of sport back then wasn’t what it is now with early specialization and Sport-études programs,” but said that at Champlain she felt “safe to make mistakes and grow.”

“It’s a time in your life that is so pivotal and I felt like I had a good balance of people I knew I could trust and felt supported by,” she said.

Walsh looks back on her time at Cegep as a period of “newfound independence” and growth for her as an athlete getting tapped to play on the youth national team the summer before she started at Champlain.

“It was then I realized I could maybe do something beyond my wildest dreams,” said Walsh.

“What exists now and the opportunities for young women to pursue a pro career like their male counterparts, we were far from it back in the late 90s. Though things were evolving, I never thought I could make a career of it.”

Walsh said she learned valuable skills in balancing academics and sport in Cegep as she played both soccer and basketball.

“The lessons and the experience that I got at Champlain allowed me to continue and find success in both realms, academic and athletic.”

From 1997 to 2009, Walsh played 102 matches for the national team.

She attended the University of Nebraska and played professionally for the Atlanta Beat, the Montreal Xtreme and Laval Comets.

She retired in 2009 ahead of the birth of her first child, but Walsh never strayed too far from the pitch.

Between providing sports commentary for TSN 690 radio, working as a broadcaster on the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and holding the mic on the sidelines of CF Montreal home games, Walsh is still very much in the game.

“The first time I was between the benches at Stade Saputo, I was so overjoyed to be there and it was then that I realized how much I missed being up close to the game,” she said.

“It’s a chance for me to keep my foot in the game,” she said. “It’s a way for me to get that rush again albeit not on the pitch but close to it.”

She is also working with FC Montreal to develop a women’s soccer program, it was announced in September.

Walsh also keeps her foot in the game literally, coaching her twins’ soccer team and sharing her passion for the sport.

“Any chance I get I try to talk to youth teams in the area about my path and my experience and hopefully give them the idea that a kid who grew up in Saint Bruno got to play on the national team for 10 years.”

“If they want to do it, they can absolutely achieve it.”

Walsh’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Try to find a way to be the best that you can be on a bad day. You can take comfort that you did everything that you possibly could. You leave it all on the field because you’ve controlled everything to the best of your ability.”

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Sabrina Prioletta

This Commerce grad found success by building her own brand

Sabrina Prioletta (Commerce, 1997) was able to launch her own marketing consulting firm a decade ago and has worked with major clients including Bombardier, CN, and Microsoft, to name a few.

So how did she do it? In her view, Prioletta’s family instilled in her a drive to succeed from an early age.

“Both my parents were teachers, so there was a lot of pressure on me to perform from when I was a child,” she said.

Throughout her career, Prioletta has pushed herself to achieve and her hard work has paid off.

“For me, growth was essential. I could not stagnate at any role, so I was very much driven to acquire new skills. I wanted to continue climbing the corporate ladder.”

Prioletta said she knew early that her interests lay in marketing.

She attended a small high school in Montreal’s East End and said she chose Champlain College Saint-Lambert because she “felt right at home.”

“This was a place where I felt immediately comfortable,” she said.

After Cegep, Prioletta completed a Bachelor’s in marketing at Concordia University and was able to land her first industry job thanks to a successful co-op placement she completed during her studies.

In 2004, Prioletta landed a job as a brand manager working for Coty, where she worked with major global brands like Adidas and Rimmel.

After six years at Coty learning to manage Canadian portfolios, she took a role as a Brand Manager at Molson Coors Canada.

She said her experience working with global and national brands helped her develop the crucial skills she needed to take on new leadership roles.

“You gain so much insight. It’s a very enriching experience,” she said.

In 2011, Prioletta became the Marketing Director for The Montreal Gazette. She said it was a particularly challenging time to work in media marketing due to evolving readership profiles and the rapidly changing needs of the media industry.

“I was a little bit disenchanted,” she said. “Media was a very different beast from what I had done before.”

Prioletta was mandated to breathe new life into the brand despite the significant challenges within the industry. She said it was at this point that she started to think about striking out on her own.

She started taking entrepreneurship courses and learning what it would take to launch her own business and in 2012, SIVA Marketing was born.

Now, 10 years later, Prioletta has established her own successful brand.

“The more you put in, the more you get out of the business,” she said. “I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished over the years.”

Prioletta’s advice for current students and recent grads: “We all know intuitively what is right for us. If we just stop and be quiet and reflect, we know what we’re passionate about. We all gravitate toward certain things. Get back to what you’ve always loved to do as a child and that’s probably what will fulfill you in the future.”

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Peter Yannopoulos

This NBA broadcaster shares his passion every night with a community of basketball fans.

Peter Yannopoulos (Social Sciences, 1995) is a colour commentator and TV analyst for RDS and TSN covering the NBA. He also works for BPM Sports, SB Nation and Sports Grid in the U.S.

“I break down the NBA game by balancing enthusiasm and teaching the game to our TV viewers. With all the relationships I have cultivated over the years, I am able to break news as an NBA insider,” said Yannopoulos. “I always believed  in myself and my abilities, but this is tangibly a dream come true for a young Greek kid from Montreal.”

Yannopoulos has been involved in sports most of his life, and played high school basketball at De Roberval High School in Montreal where he was a captain, GMAA all-star in 1992 and league leader in scoring, averaging 31 points per game.

During his time at Champlain Saint-Lambert, Yannopoulos was the team captain for two years and was an all-academic selection for the Quebec CEGEP AAA league in 1995.

“I loved competing  every day, just being in the gym with my teammates and coaches. As a captain, I was the voice for my brothers, I was the shoulder they needed.  The bond we created doesn’t last for two or three years, it lasts a lifetime,” said Yannopoulos.

“My time as a student-athlete at Champlain Saint-Lambert remains one of the best periods of my life. The ability to come to an amazing inclusive community, grow and develop academically and athletically with awesome teachers and students still resonates with me to this day,” he said.

While Yannopoulos loved his time on the court, he quickly transitioned to assistant coaching.

“An opportunity was presented to me by my Coach Craig Norman, to join his staff and become his assistant along with John Dangelas. Although I always wanted to keep playing, becoming  a coach and a leader to our future Cavaliers was too good to pass up,” he said.

Yannopoulos became the youngest assistant coach in the Cegep AAA league at the age of 19.

“I was only one or two years older than the players. I had to help them grow and hold them accountable in a different way. But they respected me and I loved them. It was an incredible experience to be able to keep being a part of the Cavalier family,” he said.

After Champlain, Yannopoulos went on to earn a BA in Political Science from Concordia University.

He was also the head coach at Canada’s National High School All-Star Game in Toronto in 2001, and the head coach at Canada’s Super Pages National High School All-Star Game in Vancouver in 2003.

Additionally, he worked at the Canadian Sr. National Team Training Camp in Ottawa during the summer of 2002, and was the Editor and Publisher of a Canadian Recruiting and Scouting Newsletter/Service.

He scouted, profiled, and ranked the top high school and prep players all across Canada, and worked as a talent evaluator for over 50 Division 1 U.S. schools and Canadian Universities.

In 2003, Yannopoulos took a job as an assistant coach with the Men’s Basketball team at University of Massachusetts.

“Moving on to coach in the NCAA at UMass was significant and special. Becoming the first ever men’s coach from Quebec to coach Division 1 was a touching honour,” he said.

“Passion, dedication and love for the game have always been my methodology and part of my DNA.”

From 2005 to 2011, Yannopoulos worked as a NCAA basketball scout, ranking and profiling the top high school and CEGEP players in Canada for U.S. and Canadian Universities.

In 2012, he began his career in broadcast and never looked back.

“It’s funny, I always wanted to play in the NCAA, but became a coach there instead.. Then subsequently, I always wanted to coach in the NBA, but instead I am working in television, radio and I am a host in the greatest league in the world,” he said. “I get to articulate and express my passion every night to a television audience.”

Yannopoulos was the recipient of the Randy Tieman Community Engagement award in 2021 at the Montreal  Community Cares Gala.

Yannopoulos’ advice for current students and recent grads: “This is what I love doing the most. Well, I love yelling #OuiPapa after a big Raptors dunk. But I truly love giving back to my community. To all my Champlain St-Lambert family, it’s simple. You need to have relentless work ethic, you need to personally sacrifice, you emphatically need to network and work harder than anyone else. Ultimately you have to be a good person, the rest will work itself out. Believe im yourself! Sometimes dreams come true. They have for me.”

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This Montreal doctor is an author and activist fighting for Indigenous rights in the medical system.

Dr. Samir Shaheen-Hussain is a pediatric emergency physician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor (Department of Pediatrics) in the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at McGill University.

He has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of Indigenous children in the medical system and has authored a book called Fighting for A Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada (2020).

Shaheen-Hussain (Health Sciences, 1998) said he discovered a passion for medicine once he started his degree, but said that becoming a doctor hadn’t always been his goal.

“When I applied to university from Champlain, my first choice was physiotherapy, with a focus on athletics. However, I was also encouraged to apply to medicine, and so when I was offered a spot at McGill, I decided that it would be foolish of me not to accept,” he said.

During his Cegep years, Shaheen-Hussain was involved in campus life as a member of the theatre club and a competitor in the annual Powerlifting Competition. He credits the education he received at Champlain with helping to develop his critical thinking skills and reinforcing his interest in writing.

“My overall experience at Champlain allowed me to gain self-confidence and develop a more grounded sense of who I was at the time,” he said.

In medical school at McGill Shaheen-Hussain became socially and politically engaged during hands-on clinical rotations outside of Montreal.

“After my first year of medical school, I was part of a group volunteer elective in a pediatric hospital in Rabat, Morocco. During my third year, I did my family-medicine rotation at a community hospital in Sioux Lookout (northern Ontario), which serves several Indigenous communities, including some that were only accessible by plane,” he said.

“All of these experiences made me aware of both local and global injustices. They politicized me, and played a significant role in transforming my worldview.”

Shaheen-Hussain said he witnessed and personally experienced “racist backlash against people perceived to be Arab or Muslim following the 9/11 attacks in the United States” and felt drawn to get involved in “anti-authoritarian social justice movements – including Indigenous solidarity, anti-police brutality and migrant-justice organizing”.

In his work at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Shaheen-Hussain has firsthand experience dealing with patients and families from Indigenous communities in northern Quebec who are flown to Montreal for medical care.

Since the 1980s, the Quebec government had a rule of separating children from their families during these medical evacuation airlifts.

This practice was stopped in 2018 because of the #aHand2Hold campaign that Shaheen-Hussain and other healthcare providers launched that year.

In his book, Fighting for A Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada, Shaheen-Hussain writes about the Canadian medical establishment’s role in the displacement, colonization, and genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

“The book argues that this history and ongoing medical colonialism prevents Indigenous communities from attaining internationally recognized measures of health and social well-being because of a pervasive culture of systemic anti-Indigenous racism,” he said.

On top of his work in the hospital and his contribution as an author, Shaheen-Hussain has done many media interviews pushing for changes to the way Indigenous patients (particularly children) are treated by the healthcare system.

Shaheen-Hussain’s advice for current students and recent grads: “We live in a time that is fraught with uncertainty and anxiety about our collective future, including that of the planet’s ability to sustain human life. We cannot rely on the same economic and social systems that have gotten us into this mess over the last few centuries. We will all have to think creatively, courageously, and collaboratively to carve out new possibilities, making sure that no one is left behind. I wish I had been better clued in to these issues when I was at Champlain. But, I am inspired by the many students who are!

Regardless of the path students decide to take after CEGEP, what is clear to me is that we need to work together to build a new world where being empathetic, emphasizing cooperation, mutual aid, and solidarity, respecting human dignity, and living in harmony with the environment become core values.”

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Chrystal Healy

Chrystal Healy wants to be a ‘catalyst for change’ in the corporate world.

Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Air Transat, Chrystal Healy is responsible for implementing an ambitious environmental, social and governance plan, which include managing and reducing the carbon emissions from its flight operations, developing its people and strengthening diversity and inclusion.

Healy, (Science, 2000), has long been interested in environmental issues, before issues of sustainable development were part of the mainstream consciousness.

“I grew up having a strong appreciation for nature. We spent all of our childhood outside and I had this very strong desire to protect it,” said Healy.

Healy was involved with student life at Champlain, playing on the volleyball team and was very focused on her studies.

“There was a silent room in the library where no one was allowed to talk and I was in there all the time,” she joked.

Healy pursued a degree in Applied Science, with a major in Biology, at McGill and did her master’s in Science there as well. She benefitted from a collaboration between McGill and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

“I was drawn towards conducting my research abroad and focused my on conservation and biodiversity in a tropical tree plantation in Panama,” said Healy.

After finishing her masters degree, Healy didn’t feel drawn to continue in academia. Instead she took a job working for a subsidiary of Quebecor, one of the largest media companies in the country.

Healy started as a project manager in Sustainable Development and after three years, jumped to working for Quebecor’s corporate offices, where she would become the Director of Environment and Sustainability.

While there for 13 years, Healy implemented a number of programs and policies aimed at improving the company’s social and environmental impact.

Among her many accomplishments, she implemented a program at Quebecor’s film studio Mels which encouraged film production companies in Quebec to reduce their environmental impact.

Healy said the program is still in place today even after she left the company in 2019.

“Netflix even became a partner of it so I was super happy,” she said.

Healy worked as the Corporate director of environment for Kruger Inc. for two years before taking on the newly created role of VP Corporate Responsibility at Air Transat.

Healy explained that the concept of corporate responsibility boils down to the idea that companies have a responsibility not just to their shareholders, but to their clients, employees, the environment and their community.

Healy said in this line of work, “you can be a catalyst for change, but you have to be patient and you have to celebrate the small wins. The work is never done, you can always do better and you can always do more.”

Healy jokes that her ultimate objective is to work herself out of a job. “Over the next 10 years, if I do my job well, all the things I’m doing become ingrained and part of the culture.”

Healy’s advice for current students and recent grads: “You can make a difference in whatever role you choose. You can be in finance, in business, an entrepreneur, as long as you’re following your values and doing what you believe in. That’s the most important thing.”

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Jade Healy

This Creative Arts grad took her passion for filmmaking straight to Hollywood.

Jade Healy (Creative Arts, 2000) is a Los Angeles based production designer who worked on major films such as I, Tonya (2017), The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), Marriage Story (2019) and The Green Knight (2021), among many others.

Healy said she first discovered her love of film while studying in Creative Arts at Champlain. Little did she know then that her career would take her to the epicentre of American film: Hollywood.

Healy started her studies at Champlain with photography as her main concentration. However, when she took an elective film class with longtime teacher Dan Babineau, something clicked into place.

“I remember being completely enamored by the moving image,” she said. “I loved movies but I hadn’t really thought about working in film.”

Healy added that living outside Quebec, she has a greater appreciation for the value of the Cegep system, saying that the two years between high school and university gave her time to really figure out what she wanted to do.

“Had I not gone to Champlain and been able to do Creative Arts, I would not have discovered this passion.”

After Cegep, Healy completed a BA in Communication Studies at Concordia where she was able to secure a for-credit internship working in film in Los Angeles.

“If you do your homework and look into it, you’ll find there’s a lot of people who will take free labour,” she said.

It was working on the set of the 2006 film Lying where Healy was first exposed to the world of production design.

She started working in the art department, doing props and learning the trade.

“If you have a good aesthetic and a good eye, you can do a lot,” Healy said.

I’m not the best production designer. I’m very good in person and I’m good at understanding what a director wants. That’s my gift as a designer.”

Healy was also recently nominated for an Art Directors Guild award for The Green Knight (2021) in the most competitive category: Fantasy.

Healy has also racked up credits producing, writing and directing.

She’s directing and writing a project with funding from the Canadian Council of the Arts and working on a documentary she shot about a cross-country father-daughter road trip.

“My love was always filmmaking. When I think about design, I think about storytelling. I’m thinking about how I would shoot it, it’s a very natural transition for me,” she said.

Healy’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Just follow your heart, follow your passion and dream. Start with ‘I can’ and not ‘I can’t.’”

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Judith Moreau

This grad spent 7 years in the army before finding a place in the corporate world.

When Judith Moreau was working as a career guidance counsellor, she learned that there are often two types of people when it comes to work.

“Some people are really directed into one path and other people are surfers,” she said.

Moreau (Social Sciences, 2001) identifies more as a surfer, willing to jump on new opportunities as they appear and keep an open mind.

Now a project leader working on organizational development at Pomerleau, Moreau started her journey at Champlain College.

“I come from the farm. It was a big stretch to go to Champlain and discover a bigger town and getting to know so many people,” she said.

Moreau was motivated to come to Champlain to improve her English language skills.

“I come from a Francophone part of Quebec and I just wanted to make my own path,” she added.

At this formative time, Moreau wasn’t too sure what her path would be so she consulted a career counsellor at the College.

“The guidance counsellor told me to become a guidance counselor!” she joked. And so she did, but first Moreau enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces.

She was a member of the reserves for seven years and was even deployed to Bosnia in 2002 before taking a release in 2006.

Moreau said during that time she completed her bachelor’s and master’s in guidance counselling from UQAM.

She said her time in the army still has an impact on the way she works now.

“In a way, it prepared me for the rest of my career,” she said. “It helps a great deal for stress management. And you depend on people, that’s what you learn in the army. You cannot work alone. Those are my two takeaways.”

In 2007, Moreau started working as a guidance counsellor at the YWCA Montreal in career development.

She then jumped over to the private sector, working for a few years in career development before making another leap to work in leadership assessment and development.

It was at this point that she discovered organizational development. Moreau describes it as a way to “bring change to an organization so that it leads to more performance and more wellbeing on the employee side.”

For Moreau, passion and interest have always gone hand in hand with success.

“I was really an average student in high school, but when I found Social Sciences in Cegep, I was on the honours list because I really liked it,” she said.

“When you really find what you like, you become good at it.”

Judith Moreau’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Trust your feelings about what you like and what you dislike. Don’t try to do something because it’s what your society or your parents want you to do. To me, it wasn’t clear but it became clear the more I grew. Trust your instincts and don’t try follow what people say.”

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Maya Toussaint

This grad is supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives in tech.

Maya Toussaint (Creative Arts, 2000) had been working in the recruitment space for a decade when she founded the first Black employee resource group while working at LinkedIn Canada.

The Black Inclusion Group’s (BIG) mission was to leverage LinkedIn data, resources, and employees to close the opportunity gap for people of colour in the technology industry.

Maya worked for months with the leaders of the American chapters for BIG to organize programs, events and visibility for Toronto employees of colour and allies.

She is also a founding council member of the Black Alumni Network at Concordia University, where she completed a Bachelor’s in journalism in 2005.

While working in recruitment and customer success, Maya was also working as a public speaker and started training and facilitating on topics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

‘With my training and my lived experience, I was able to start hosting sessions on unconscious bias and microaggressions,” said Toussaint. “It’s pretty emotionally draining but very, very worth it,”

Maya said that in recent years, there has been increased awareness and demand for DEI training and resources.

“I think historically, it feels like a moment where we’re more open to having these uncomfortable conversations,” she said. “It feels really good when I get feedback after a session that I’ve maybe changed how someone sees a particular community.”

Maya started working on learning and development programs, “pulling tools and resources for recruiters and hiring managers so that they are up to date when it comes to these (DEI) practices.”

As well as facilitating on a consulting basis, Maya has two certifications from WSET to be a sommelier and worked as the Senior Program Manager of Diversity in Engineering at Shopify until July 2022 when she took a job with Amazon.

As a DEI Learning and Development Program Manager at Amazon, Maya says she can make a positive impact.

“It’s an opportunity for me to connect with people and have a direct impact on how someone sees somebody else,” she said.

Maya’s advice for current students and recent grads: “It’s okay to not know what your next step is. I’m 41 and I’m always asking myself what I want to be when I grow up.”

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Emanuelle Dufour

This Creative Arts grad was the first in Quebec to submit a graphic novel as part of her PhD thesis.

Emanuelle Dufour (Creative Arts, 1999) published her first graphic novel the same year she graduated from her PhD program in Art Education at Concordia University.

Her book, C’est le Québec qui est né dans mon pays!: Carnet de rencontres, d’Ani Kuni à Kiuna (2021) focuses on Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in Quebec society and explores the legacies of colonialism.

Dufour included a longer, unedited version of the book in her doctoral thesis making her the first scholar in Quebec to submit a graphic novel as part of her doctoral thesis. She went on to win the Governor General’s gold medal upon graduation.

Dufour always had a passion for art, but it wasn’t until she started at Champlain Saint-Lambert that she had the chance to learn about art theory and practice in the classroom.

She described her experience in Creative Arts as “very open and personalized” where students were invited to explore their art practice in studio classes.

“The quality of the teaching really stands out to me, their passion,” said Dufour.

After Champlain, Dufour enrolled in scenic design at the National Theatre School but quickly felt it wasn’t for her.

She completed a certificate in screenwriting at UQAM, a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and screenwriting at Université de Montreal and went on to do a Master’s in cultural anthropology at Université de Montreal in 2015.

In between her studies, Dufour travelled extensively and said her consciousness was awakened toward Indigenous issues in Canada and in Quebec by meeting Indigenous people all around the world and particularly in New Zealand.

“It made me realize how little I knew about Indigenous history in Quebec,” she said. “I wanted to improve my knowledge about the colonial history of Quebec and Canada.”

While completing her Master’s, Dufour conducted a field study where she interviewed more than 100 Indigenous students and 15 professionals.

She described in her research how adapting education programs and services to Indigenous students’ needs for cultural security can contribute to their retention and success, with a special focus on Kiuna College, the only Indigenous college in Quebec.

Dufour has been collaborating with the administrators and teachers at Kiuna, located in Odanak, Que., for over a decade.

“I had a coup de coeur for this work,” said Dufour. “Everything I learned, it really transformed my identity as a Quebecoise and shifted my paradigms.”

Dufour wanted to make sure that her research findings would be accessible to the public, so she began thinking about a way to explain her thesis in a more digestible way.

She decided to produce a graphic novel along with 50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors. Within the first year, her book had sold 11,000 copies.

After completing her PhD, Dufour started working as a pedagogical counsellor at College Ahuntsic, focusing on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work. She also worked as researcher and writer for the City of Montreal’s Reconciliation Strategy along with Cree-Eeyou commissaire Marie-Eve Bordeleau.

Dufour is doing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Centre interuniversitaire d’études et de recherches autochtones (CIERA) – a research centre affiliated with Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke and teaches at Université de Montreal and Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue in different programs focusing on Indigenous media, cultures and ethics.

Dufour’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Don’t worry about the timelines. We are so lucky to have the College system in Quebec. Try new things. Explore and meet people. Try again when you need to. Don’t lose confidence. All our experiences are tools we will have for the future. We have the right to make mistakes. It’s not a race, it’s a journey.”

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Adekambi “Kambi” Laleye

This grad went from securing a Division 1 basketball scholarship to starting his own tech company.

Kambi (Film, 2006) is the co-founder of a company called Uptaste which he started with fellow Champlain alum and ex-Cavaliers teammate Maxime Paulhus Gosselin.

Uptaste is a network of automated in-store tasting machines which offer customers free tastings of products in stores.

“Retailers are struggling to find staff, brands need visibility and for consumers to try their products, and consumers want to taste products before buying. Click. Taste. Grab. It’s a win-win-win for everyone,” he said.

In an era of self-checkout machines and increasing automation amid the labour shortage, Kambi and Max developed a machine that offers free samples and plays advertising ads on the screen of the Uptaster.

For Kambi, whose education was primarily focused on film and media studies, working to create ad campaigns and video content for brands seems like a natural way to turn his passion into a successful career.

Following his graduation, Kambi worked for nearly two years in Dubai for a technology company where he was able to use his passion for film and storytelling in a more corporate environment.

Before starting Uptaste, Kambi started a digital agency 10 years ago focused on emerging technology specifically augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with three other partners.

After the acquisition of that agency, Kambi ran Key Accounts for KLIK and was Head of Corporate Experiences at C2 International before deciding to go back into the world of entrepreneurship.

He described the agency work as a creative outlet where he could use his skills in video creation and develop immersive experiences.

Kambi first began to study film at Champlain where he benefited from hands-on experiences in the editing suites in the creative arts department.

“The program allowed me to slingshot into my career. It allowed me to discover a new passion for film,” he said.

“Having the access to cameras and editing suites allowed me to go into university ahead of my classmates in terms of my capabilities.”

A star basketball player for the Cavaliers, Kambi secured a full athletic scholarship to the University of Buffalo where he completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.

“Getting the chance to play basketball at a high level and getting the chance to get my academics paid for was just an incredible experience. I’m extremely grateful to my parents for the endless support, my coaches from high school, club/summer programs, and to my Champlain coaches, most notably John Dangelas,” he said.

Kambi said he will always remember his time at Champlain Saint-Lambert as having launched him to where is today.

“It was a remarkable time. It was the period that shaped me into the person I am today. My closest friends today are four teammates (Max, Rodney, Brad, and Maurice) that I played with 20 years ago during my years at Champlain. It’s a brotherhood and they are family.”

At the University of Buffalo, Kambi was nominated for the NCAA National Student-Athlete Development Conference Award and won the Taurus Aureus Award for outstanding academic achievement by a student-athlete. During his Master’s degree, he served as captain of the basketball team.

Now, embarking on his next chapter with Uptaste, Kambi is optimistic about his and Max’s chances of growing another company.

“We call ourselves Uppers because we uplift brands and people to embrace diversity through trial. We take risks, do everything with passion, learn, and share,” said Kambi.

Kambi’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Internships, internships, internships. Find out what you’re good at and the best way to understand that is through internships where you can experience many different things. Try everything and anything. Volunteer. The only way you can find out if you like and more importantly what you’re good at is by trying! Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail. Because the way I like to look at it is that you either win or you learn.”

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Romina Perri

This Health Sciences grad and Loran Scholar has been spreading the word about the role of dental specialists in Quebec.

Romina Perri (Health Sciences, 2003) is a periodontist, clinic owner and served for two years as the president of the Association des parodontistes du Québec.

Perri, who owns a specialty dental clinic in Brossard, has advanced post-graduate surgical training in periodontics and implant dentistry.

As president of the association, she was involved in an effort to educate the population about the work of periodontists.

“We’ve been trying to do a lot of work to bring awareness to the Quebec population that dental specialists exist,” she said. “It’s been fun and a challenge to sort of educate the population at a different level.”

Perri, who completed her Master’s in Periodontology at the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, said that Americans in general have a much higher awareness of the role of dental specialists.

“People don’t know about it here like they know about it in the U.S.,” she said. “We exist for a reason, just like medical specialists. You wouldn’t see your GP to have open heart surgery.”

Perri said she jumped at the chance to get involved with the association in 2016, where she served as Treasurer, Secretary and then most recently as President. With her term as president having just come to an end, she still sits on the executive committee.

“It’s nice to be able to be involved in these associations and to have a say about how specialists like myself get to practice in our province.”

Perri said that she knew early on what she wanted to do with her life.

“I always had an interest in science and I knew that the medical field interested me, but it was during my time in Cegep that I started shadowing dentists on Christmas break and holidays,” she said.

“There was this interesting side of being your own boss, owning your own business, working in an environment where you are the one who makes the decision.”

While studying at Champlain Saint-Lambert, Perri applied for the Loran Award given out by the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation. She ended up winning, becoming one of a select few to be given the most prestigious scholarship in the country and securing a full ride to McGill University.

She completed her studies in dentistry in 2008 and her Master’s in 2011.

A year later, Perri opened up her clinic in Brossard and is now celebrating the 10th anniversary of her business.

Perri’s advice for current students and recent grads: “The best thing to do is use the first year of Cegep to explore a lot of career possibilities and to find something that interests you. The second years is to explore that career option more. Once you find something you love, go and reach out to people who are in that career.”

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Carmelo Marsala

This entrepreneur braved the dragons to push his business to the next level.

For Carmelo Marsala (Commerce, 2006), it all started with an idea.

His idea was for a product that had virtually no competition on the market and met a consumer need he’d experienced firsthand. It proved good enough to impress a high-profile investor.

In 2015, Marsala appeared on the CBC TV show Dragon’s Den and was able to secure an offer of investment worth $175,000 from Boston Pizza co-owner Jim Treliving.

“We kind of made history on the show,” said Marsala. “Normally people spend an hour making their pitch. I was in and out with a deal in less than 12 minutes.”

Marsala didn’t ultimately end up taking the investment from Treliving but he said the experience on Dragon’s Den proved to be great exposure for his company.

Marsala started off painting houses as a student job. When clients would ask if he could paint their vinyl siding or garage doors, he’d refuse, saying the regular paint would just chip off and crack.

But the requests got Marsala thinking: If these surfaces could be painted in a factory, why couldn’t the same process apply for on-site work at people’s homes?

“This service didn’t really exist before,” he said.

Marsala embarked on a project to develop a prototype which would act as a permanent exterior paint solution. He worked with paint formulation chemists and developed a mobile unit that could produce factory-quality spray painting from anywhere.

That’s how Spray-Net was born.

“It brings the factory to the homeowner,” he told the dragons during his pitch.

Marsala already had a successful business and several franchisees before his appearance on Dragon’s Den, but the investment allowed him to expand his franchising to across Canada.

He now counts 110 Spray-Net franchises across Canada and the U.S., with about half of those located south of the border.

For Marsala, starting a company and becoming his own boss was a natural way to jumpstart his career.

“My father always had his own business,” Marsala said. “I tried working in a job a few times and I didn’t last very long.”

Marsala launched his company at the same time he was finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business in 2010.

Marsala’s advice to current students and recent grads: “You’ve got to work, you’ve got to read books, you’ve got to learn. Things don’t come easily in life. Know yourself, read, learn, try things and see what you like and what you’re good at.”

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Émilie Campbell-Renaud

This grad found a career in environmental activism, and the freedom to truly be herself

Émilie Campbell-Renaud is proof that sometimes “failure can be a blessing.”

Campbell-Renaud, (Social Science Commerce Option, 2007), had an entirely different plan for her life as a young adult, but said in retrospect she’s grateful things ended up the way they did.

“I feel like my life panned out in an opposite direction than I was imagining,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I realize this is such a better fit for me.”

Now the Director of Operations at Climate Reality Canada, Campbell-Renaud has found her true calling, working with citizens and grassroots organizing for climate action.

But at the time, finding out she didn’t get into business school after Cegep was devastating.

“You feel like your future is crumbling in front of you when you receive that letter of refusal.”

Despite the disappointment, Campbell-Renaud pivoted and decided to study Political Science and International Relations at McGill. She said this was the first time she was exposed to issues of climate injustice and the pressing need for change on a global scale.

Campbell-Renaud completed a master’s in Environmental Studies at Unversite de Sherbrooke and started thinking about how she could build a future in the environmental sector.

When she landed a part-time job at Climate Reality Canada, the Canadian branch of an international organization with 11 branches in 10 countries, everything changed.

“It really opened my eyes to this whole new world of non-profit work,” she said.

Campbell-Renaud said she felt she had finally found the right place for her, where she could do important work and feel free to be herself.

“For several years, when I worked in more rigid fields such as engineering, I felt that I was leading a double life. Putting on that mask, hiding my tattoos, my sense of humour, my quirks, my colourful hair, my eccentric style,” she said.

“Looking back, I realize how draining and unhealthy it was. For fear of judgment or rejection, I was stifling my creativity and my bubbly personality.”

She said the non-profit sector felt much more welcoming and allowed her to feel more comfortable expressing her authentic self.

“Now that I can be myself, I feel like my growth journey has truly begun,” she said.

Campbell-Renaud’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Failures can be blessings in disguise. Trust the process. Things tend to pan out even if they feel disastrous in the moment. One regret I have is I focused too much on grades during my bachelor’s degree and too little on living that experience and savouring it and making connections. So don’t forget to have fun!”

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Samuel Spadoni

This alum put his business skills to good use working for the United Nations

Samuel Spadoni, (Commerce, 2004) works with a United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Africa and says he feels lucky to be there.

Working in a mission means that no two days are identical. You might find me at my desk or behind the wheel of a truck,” he said.

Spadoni said that he was inspired to make a change amidst the upheaval caused by Covid-19.

“During the pandemic, I felt the urge to leave the country so I started looking at opportunities abroad. I applied to a mission, had the chance to interview and connected with some amazing people who guided me through the hiring process. Thankfully, I can now call them my colleagues,” he said.

Spadoni’s pandemic career change was a significant shift from what he was doing before, though he was uniquely positioned having had an international education from early on.

Originally from Montreal’s South Shore, Spadoni attended primary school in both Boucherville and Istanbul, and completed high school in Bangkok and Hong Kong.

“I had the chance to follow my parents who were posted internationally in a multinational company,” he explained. “The timing of things made my return happen right after I finished my GCSE’s in Hong Kong, which is the equivalent of a DES in the British system. Since Champlain was the closest English-speaking Cegep, that’s where I found myself.”

When Spadoni arrived at Champlain, he said he had to get adapted to the new academic system after having done most of his schooling outside of Canada.

Still, he was able to make the best of his years at Champlain Saint-Lambert.

“I made friends in class and had the chance to play for two years on the rugby team.”

After Cegep, Spadoni completed a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce at Concordia University. He would later complete a Graduate Certificate from Concordia in Business Administration and Management in 2014.

Between the two stints at Concordia, Spadoni worked for several large organizations gaining experience as a contracts specialist at Vale in Rio de Janeiro and at the McGill University Health Network in Montreal.

After getting his graduate certificate, Spadoni moved into the food industry working in increasingly senior positions at Restaurants Brands International, the parent company to Tim Hortons and Burger King.

In his current role with the UN, Spadoni is still using his skills he developed, only in a very different sector.

“I’m still figuring out what my path is 20 years after starting at Champlain,” he said.

Spadoni’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Don’t worry if you haven’t figured out what you want to do, life isn’t that simple for all. Maybe you’ll be an entrepreneur, maybe you’ll work a government job for 35 years and collect your pension, maybe you’ll find yourself in a foreign country, or maybe you’ll do a PhD on Caribbean literature. Just start something, keep moving forward, and build your own story. Whatever it is.”

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Aalia Adam

Aalia Adam

This Champlain grad broke into broadcast and became a successful news anchor.

If Aalia Adam’s journey to the anchor desk at Global Montreal is proof of anything, it’s that patience is a virtue.

Adam (Liberal Arts, 2009) spent years interning, taking short-term contracts and putting in the work. She spent 5 years working in Toronto before she got to claim her seat on the evening news desk in her hometown of Montreal.

Adam knew she was interested in journalism in high school and wanted to explore how film and video could be used to tell true stories and inform the public.

She sent her CV to all the major English media networks in Montreal, asking to shadow a reporter to get a feel for the trade.

Her request was met with some skepticism – usually the newsrooms took interns from university, not high school – but the manager at Global agreed to have her come in.

This was the beginning of Adam’s introduction to the world of broadcast journalism and she continued to intern there during her time in Cegep.

“I actually did my very first story at Champlain,” she said. “It was about voter apathy and it was an election year. And I was just about to turn 18.”

She went to the college’s campus and interviewed students about their intentions to vote.

“That was my first TV report to go on the air.”

Thanks to her persistence, Global hired Adam as a freelancer and she would fill in on weekends and holidays while she pursed her studies in journalism at Concordia.

Her first real contract was with Citytv where she worked at Breakfast Television on a maternity leave replacement for one year. Once that ended, Adam started freelancing for CTV Montreal, learning to do weather and rubbing elbows with industry veterans.

“It was a great experience working with Mutsumi Takahashi,” she said.

Not long after Adam was married, her husband took a position in Toronto and she agreed to go along to see what opportunities there were in a larger English market.

Adam was hired on at Global’s Toronto station working as a videojournalist and producing content for the company’s YouTube page.

She said making more in-depth, longer form videos brought her back to her early love of documentaries and helped her to get a permanent job at Global.

“From there it was one opportunity after another,” she said. Before long, Adam was hosting the weekend morning show doing news and current affairs.

“It was another one of my dreams to host a morning show,” she said. “Sure, I had to wake up at four in the morning but it was worth it.”

The timing couldn’t have been better when Adam was offered a chance to come back to Montreal in 2022 and anchor the news, considering she had a toddler at home and wanted to be closer to her family.

“I value my village and having that support around me,” she said.

Adam took over as the Montreal and Maritimes anchor for the evening newscasts on Global TV in September.

Adam’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Follow your passion. If you are passionate about something and you are not sure what the opportunities are, if you’re not sure you want to do that as a career, just ask, reach out to people in similar positions. There’s no harm in finding out what a job is like. I followed my heart, I asked questions and I ended up with my dream job.”

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Ryan Trudeau

Former Cavaliers football captain becomes leading voice on anti-racism.

Ryan Trudeau has delivered over 50 keynote speeches on anti-racism to over 16,000 people from 25 different government departments in the last two years.

Trudeau (Social Science, 2007), now in training to become a Canadian diplomat abroad, accomplish this in his prior functions as a Senior Analyst for the Anti-Racism Secretariat at Global Affairs Canada.

“Outside of my normal responsibilities, I do a lot of extra work talking and educating people about white privilege and white fragility,” he said. “It’s an honour to do this. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about.”

Trudeau said his leadership journey began in sports when he was named team captain of the Cavaliers first ever football team in 2006.

“I was so honoured to be part of that first team,” he said. “I had an amazing experience at Champlain. I had some great years at that place.”

His success on the field took him to play football at McGill University where he completed his bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in International Development.

Trudeau said a research trip to Haiti proved to be “lifechanging” for him. “It was the pivotal moment for me in deciding what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” he said.

With a young child at home at the time, Trudeau started applying to work in some capacity for the federal government.

His first job was as a Passport Clerk, but he quickly moved up, finding a place at Global Affairs Canada.

He said the killing of George Floyd in 2020 was a wake-up call for him as it was for so many others.

“Six months later, a racist event happened to my son at school. That, for me, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Trudeau is white, but his wife and children are visible minorities. He said he felt it was time to get educated and figure out a way to make an impact and contribute to anti-racism work happening on a global scale.

That’s when Trudeau started to find his voice, developing a keynote speech and using his own privileged position to communicate with thousands of public servants.

“It’s allowed me to discover this hidden talent I didn’t even know I had as a speaker,” he said. “It’s led to conversations with the audiences which are very important.”

Trudeau’s advice for current students and future grads: “You need to figure out what you’re passionate about and you need to pursue it, no matter how difficult things can get. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you aren’t passionate about your work – you won’t perform well and you won’t be happy. You need to be happy in what you’re doing every day.”

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Jessica Silva

This Champlain grad landed a coaching role with the FC Metz in France.

Jessica Silva has been a self-described “sports fanatic” for most of her life. But after a string of injuries sidelined her from playing sports, she found another way to stay on the field.

Silva (Social Science, 2007) is the director of the women’s section of FC Metz, a professional football club located in Lorraine, France.

In her Cegep days, Silva had already started coaching for the Club Soccer Longueuil.

“I grew a huge passion for coaching at a very young age,” she said. “I was working in [soccer] full-time but I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. I didn’t think I could have a job in pro sports, especially as a woman.”

Silva continued to work with CS Longueuil for nine years.

Silva said it was during her last couple years doing a degree in Physical Education at McGill University that she started to think a career in coaching might actually be possible for her.

Silva worked with Club Soccer Longueuil for eight years before going to work with the Federation Soccer du Québec and the Canadian Soccer Association. She also worked as an assistant coach for the McGill Women’s Soccer team during the same period.

She said working full-time while balancing school work was challenging, but she was motivated to continue.

Silva wasn’t even 30 when she got offered a chance to move to France and take a role with US Orléans Loiret Football. She worked with the women’s team in Orléans for two years before taking on a new role with FC Metz.

During FIFA Women’s Soccer Development Workshops she took in 2014 and 2015, Silva was inspired to apply for her UEFA license by renowned British football legend Hope Powell.

Powell, the former coach of the England women’s national football team and the Great Britain women’s Olympic football team, told Silva at the FIFA workshop that she needed to think bigger.

“She kind of gave me the tap on the shoulder and said: ‘You have a lot of potential. You ought to be in Europe,’” recalled Silva.

Coming off a win at the Canada Games, Silva decided to set her sights on the pro soccer world.

“I really wanted to be in the middle of an actual professional environment, so I made the jump to Europe,” she said.

She said her three years with FC Metz have been an “adventure” and that she’s looking forward to where her passion for women’s soccer will take her next.

Jessica Silva’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Life is about choosing a door and once you open that door, there’s going to be a long corridor with a bunch of other doors. and every door you open, there’s new opportunities. There’s no set book on how you achieve your career, but you have to have faith in your capacities and have confidence that no matter what happens, you will achieve whatever you put your mind to.”

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Michelle Shipley

This Tourism Management grad followed her passion for travel to Air Canada Vacations.

When Michelle Shipley (Tourism Management, 2009) enrolled at Champlain Saint-Lambert, it was nearly a decade after she’d completed her first Cegep diploma.

Shipley had completed a DEC in Community Recreational Leadership Training, Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies studies at Dawson College in 1999 and gone on to work at a series of jobs she didn’t see herself staying in longterm.

Eventually, Shipley felt that she wanted to expand her career prospects by going back to school.

“I thought, ‘I need to start looking at what I want to do,’” said Shipley. “I’d been out of school for so long, I wanted to get refreshed. I thought, ‘now is the time to refocus on what I want to do.’”

Shipley had long been an avid traveler and she thought that building a career based on her existing personal interest would lead to a rewarding work life.

“I was looking to go into event planning and I love to travel. I saw that the program encompassed both of my dreams at the time,” she recalled.

Looking back at her time at Champlain, Shipley said that what stands out most to her are the teachers who helped her along her path.

“We had some fantastic teachers in the Tourism Management program,” said Shipley.

Now a Coordinator of Training and Development at Air Canada Vacations, Shipley was able to use her knowledge and passion for travel to open new doors in her career.

Before landing at Air Canada Vacations, Shipley worked in travel-related jobs at CAA Quebec, Expedia and American Express.

Shipley loves to take cruises with her family and was delighted to find opportunities, like at Air Canada Vacations where she was able to help clients book cruises every day.

“My passion when I travel is cruising,” she said. “I really enjoyed doing it. I got to sell what I love.”

Now Shipley trains other employees in the company, returning to an early love of teaching and helping others develop their skills.

Shipley’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Everything you learn stays with you. If you pick something and you don’t like it, it’s not the end of the world. There’s tons of things out there. Find something that you love.”

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Terence Dobson

How this Sport Marketing grad landed a ‘dream job’ at Hockey Canada

Terence Dobson (Sport Marketing and Management, 2009) said he feels “extremely blessed” to have landed a job as the manager of member engagement at Hockey Canada.

He was always passionate about sports, but ironically never played hockey as a kid.

Dobson’s interest in soccer, basketball, football and volleyball drove him to look around for a way to make a career out of his passion for sports.

“I don’t think I’d be happy doing something that I didn’t love, something I wasn’t passionate about,” he said.

After coming to the realization that he’d never be a pro athlete, Dobson decided working in sport management or administration would be “the next best thing.”

He chose Champlain as one of the few institutions that offer a Sport Marketing and Management program and said “it ended up being a great fit.”

After college, Dobson went on to study Marketing and Management at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

When he started looking for work, Dobson realized that all signs were pointing one way: “In Canada, there’s a lot more opportunities for hockey than other sports because it’s so popular.”

In 2017, Dobson jumped from a job doing marketing and coordination for a youth basketball league in Montreal to a position at Hockey Canada.

In his role in member engagement, Dobson helps manage meetings, events and programs between all the provincial branches of the organization across the country.

“If you told me while I was doing my three-year program at Champlain that I would be working for Hockey Canada one day… it’s a dream job. I couldn’t be happier honestly.”

Dobson’s advice for current students and recent grads: “You have to work hard especially in the sports field. There’s going to be a lot of people applying for the same jobs. It comes a lot easier if you really love what you’re doing and you really work hard for it. Be likeable, be positive, be eager, be willing to help out in any way possible.”

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Jonathan Aubertin

This former Cavaliers football captain teaches Engineering at ETS

Jonathan Aubertin (Pure and Applied Science, 2011) is an assistant professor at École de Technologie Supérieure in the Construction Engineering Department.

Aubertin comp a PhD in Geological Engineering – Rock Fragmentation by Blasting and Rock Mass Characterization and takes his grad students out in the field to blast rocks.

But it’s not all fun and explosions. Since he took the teaching job at ETS in 2021, Aubertin is helping to build out the university’s mining and tunneling course offering.

“Every course that I teach is a new course that I’m creating,” he said.

Prior to joining the faculty at ETS, Aubertin was working in the mining industry in Louisiana and finishing his PhD at Queen’s remotely.

“I didn’t sleep much for a few years,” he joked. “I was happy when it was done.”

Three months after he finished the degree in 2020, his son was born. When he landed the teaching job, he was happy to come back to his native Montreal.

“An academic role is not something that comes very often. It was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” he said.

Originally from the South Shore, Aubertin said he chose to do his Cegep at Champlain Saint-Lambert partly because he wanted to improve his English language skills.

He said completing his DEC in English helped him get into McGill University where he completed his Bachelor’s in Engineering.

Aubertin also had the chance to get involved in the Champlain community, where he served as the captain of the Cavaliers football team.

At McGill, Aubertin stayed involved, serving as the president of his student association (the Co-op Mining Engineering Undergraduate Society) and taking leadership roles in the Mining Games.

Aubertin said he’d always been interested in going into engineering and felt drawn to large construction projects: “I wanted to get my hands dirty a little bit.”

In the Co-op program at McGill, Aubertin was able to complete several internships and ended up being hired on by Windsor Salt Ltd. after.

He continued to gain field experience while completing his studies and has now returned to academia after working for five years in the industry.

Aubertin’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Keep doors open. Cegep is a time of developing and furthering opportunities. You never know where things will take you. Keep as many doors open as long you can to be able to get the opportunities you want later.”

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Erika Massoud

This World Studies grad helps support immigrant and refugee rights groups in Quebec.

Erika Massoud (World Studies, 2011) turned a series of volunteer opportunities and internships into a career in the non-profit sector where she now works to defend the rights of immigrants and refugees.

Massoud’s resume is long and varied. She’s worked with the International Bureau for Children’s Rights, the Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education, FEM International, and Oxfam-Québec.

“Once you get involved in the sector, once you do volunteer work, participate in youth programs, it opens up doors, it opens up opportunities,” she said.

She now works as a project manager for the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI), a provincial network that works with non-profit organizations across the province.

“We support organizations all over Quebec that offer services to immigrants, refugees, and newcomers.”

Particularly, Massoud is working on a project to help make workplaces more inclusive for immigrants and refugees.

She said her passion for this work was sparked at Champlain where she switched from IB Science to World Studies after her first semester.

“Going into World Studies was a big step for me, for my parents, to trust that it would lead to a future career in the non-profit world,” said Massoud.

On campus, Massoud was involved with student life as a member of the Green Club, Health and Wellness Club, Charity Club and volunteered as a student tour guide.

She was awarded the Andre E. Leblanc prize for contributions to student life on campus.

After college, she attended the University of Ottawa where she was able to do work terms and international placements as part of her International Development and Globalization degree.

She went on to do a Master’s in Migration and Intercultural Relations with the Erasmus Mundus international program. This program is jointly run by universities in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

On campus, Massoud was involved with student life as a member of the Green Club, Health and Wellness Club, Charity Club and volunteered as a student tour guide.

She was awarded the Andre E. Leblanc prize for contributions to student life on campus.

After college, she attended the University of Ottawa where she was able to do work terms and international placements as part of her International Development and Globalization degree.

She went on to do a Master’s in Migration and Intercultural Relations with the Erasmus Mundus international program. This program is jointly run by universities in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Massoud said that her master’s program and the international placements she did in Bangladesh, Bolivia, and Tunisia contributed to her “international, global outlook.”

“Immigrants who arrive in Quebec, they carry with them their stories, their journeys. It’s important to understand the factors that push people to immigrate.”

Massoud’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Try new things. Don’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone. Get involved in activities that you might not have thought you’d be interested in. Cegep is a great time to test out different things and find what you’re interested in.”

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Steve Deku

This documentary filmmaker brings ‘athletic prowess’ into focus.

Steve Deku has spent the better part of the last decade chronicling the career of Quebec pro boxer Shakeel Phinn.

As a filmmaker and sport enthusiast, Deku has been privileged to have a ringside seat to his friend’s career from the very beginning.

Deku and Phinn met at Champlain College, where they were both involved with the Cavaliers football team.

Deku (Creative Arts, 2012) said he discovered his passion for film and sports documentary in particular.

“I wanted to find a way to celebrate all the athletes I knew at the time,” he said. “There’s such a diversity of athletic prowess at that school. I wanted to celebrate that aspect of our school.”

Deku started shooting game highlights and cutting reels together for the Cavaliers in his final year at Champlain, which he described as “one of the best experiences of [his] life.”

His efforts earned him the Cavaliers Athletic Shield award for contributions to the Champlain athletics program.

“That to me is one of the most valuable things I’ve ever been given. It meant the world to me.”

After college, Phinn started boxing and went pro in 2015.

As Deku completed his bachelor’s in Film Studies at Concordia, he started doing highlights for Phinn, and documenting his progression as an athlete.

“I’ve spent more time with him than he’s spent with me because of all the time I’ve spent editing footage,” joked Deku. “He’s been nothing but a blessing.”

He described the work he’s done with Phinn as “a continuation of [his] time at Champlain.”

Deku even produced a short documentary on Phinn which was aired on CBC TV as part of the Being Black in Canada project.

His film can be screened for free online as part of Absolutely Canadian season 21.

Deku said looking back, “leaving Champlain was when I was the absolute most passionate about my craft.”

He said he felt that he could have gone directly into the industry from Cegep.

“They gave me all the passion I needed to pursue a further education in film.”

Now Deku is focusing on moving away from documentary and more into narrative: “I want to show people the stories in my head.”

Deku’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Take your time and pay attention to what your teachers know. You don’t know everything and their insight will help you craft your taste in ways you can’t imagine yet. Keep your vision strong, but with an open mind. It’s not a race. You can take your time and create something great.”

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Simone Cavanaugh

Loran scholar, non-profit founder, law grad: How Simone Cavanaugh came so far, so fast.

You might know Simone Cavanaugh as a recipient of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award. Or from her time serving on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Youth Council.

Or maybe you saw her name on the list of prestigious Loran Scholars, recipient of the largest undergraduate scholarship in Canada. Maybe you even watched her Ted Talk about the nonprofit she founded to help children with disabilities in developing countries.

Cavanaugh (Liberal Arts, 2013), now the Manager of Strategy and Operations for the Social, Healthcare and Public Entities Practice at McKinsey & Company, has managed to accomplish a great deal in the last decade.

Diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of six, Cavanaugh has overcome struggles of her own to pursue the advocacy work she’s always been passionate about.

“I was really interested in activism and setting myself up for a career that would make a difference in the lives of people,” she said.

Cavanaugh said she chose to attend Champlain for Cegep because she “wanted to have a learning experience where the teachers would know [her] and build relationships.”

While at Champlain, Cavanaugh was involved with the Amnesty International Club and won a Forces Avenir prize for student engagement.

It was during a volunteer trip to Nicaragua that Cavanaugh was inspired to start Pivot International, a non-profit organization whose aim was to provide adapted equipment and sustainable access to medical services for children with special needs.

In her Ted Talk, Cavanaugh describes a friendship she forged with a young boy and how it drove her to take action to improve his quality of life.

As a child with disabilities herself who used a wheelchair for seven years before finding a treatment that would manage her pain, Cavanaugh felt a deep personal connection to the cause.

She began working on the non-profit while finishing her time at Cegep and launched the organization officially in 2014 when she started law school at McGill.

Cavanaugh chose to pursue law so she would be equipped with the concrete skills and tools she needed to make an impact in the human rights sector.

She ran Pivot International for almost five years while completing her law degree with a major in International Human Rights and Development.

Now working at McKinsey, Cavanaugh works with a team advising governments, NGOs, and charitable organizations, “helping them solve the biggest problems that they have.”

Cavanaugh said she’s been able to accomplish so much because she feels the work is so important and aligned with her values.

“When you feel like you’re working toward something bigger and you really believe in it, you find skills and strength you didn’t know you had.”

Cavanaugh’s advice for current students and recent grads: “There’s this debate all the time, ‘should you follow your passion or do something practical?’ I think really the goal is to find that sweet spot where you do feel you’re contributing something while being practical. We aren’t really in an era anymore where you have one job and you keep it for life. You float around and try new things. Staying flexible and always keeping in mind that you don’t know what that next door is going to be.”

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Justin Hunt

Former Champlain Student Association president now runs his own AI-based startup.

Justin Hunt (Pure and Applied Science, 2013) is the CEO of Blaise Transit, a tech startup he co-founded in 2018.

Blaise uses artificial intelligence to optimize public transit systems and enable operators to use public buses to respond to user demand.

“We built a software that allows transit agencies and cities to implement on-demand transit services,” he explained.

“My two criteria for a business was that it had to be something that had a positive social and environmental impact – if I was going to work hard for something, I wanted to make sure it was to accomplish something positive in the world,” he said.

Hunt took on leadership positions from an early age, serving as president of the Champlain Student Association during his time in Cegep.

“I learned people management skills, negotiation skills and fine tuned my public speaking skills. My experiences in student life at Champlain served me in various roles in the years after CEGEP,” he said.

“Not to mention that being involved was also a ton of fun – we brought in therapy dogs to relieve student stress, set up bouncy castles during orientation week, organized a flash mob, set up a food bank for students in need and created a new scholarship fund to support student leaders,” he added.

Hunt also has fond memories of his time as a member of the Cavaliers Cross-Country team.

“Champlain is incredibly supportive of their student athletes and the team spirit was a highlight for me,” he said.

Hunt was the second generation in his family to attend Champlain, after his father who did a three-year program in computer science in the 1970s.

In 2017 Hunt and his family created a scholarship award for Champlain Saint-Lambert graduates in honor of his late grandmother, Mary Hunt, who was a pioneer for women in engineering and technology in Canada.

The $1,000 award is given out each year to an outstanding female graduate continuing her university studies in male-dominated STEM fields.

“Not only was my grandmother the first to study mechanical engineering at her university in England, but when she came to Canada she worked her way up to the Chief of Computing at Pratt and Whitney Canada,” Hunt said.

“She was the first and only woman at the leadership table and fought hard to give women employees the same pay and rights as male employees.”

Hunt said that this scholarship award was a way for him to stay involved in the Champlain community after graduation.

After Cegep, Hunt went to University of Waterloo to study systems design engineering and then completed a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering at McGill.

It was at this time that he started thinking seriously about developing his own startup.

“Throughout university, I did a total of six internships, mostly at large companies. The majority of these experiences showed me the kind of environment that I didn’t want to work in,” he said.

“One of my last internships was at a startup and this was the most motivating experience. This is when it became very clear that I should try to start my own business.”

Hunt said he had developed an interest in entrepreneurship in Cegep, where he had the freedom to execute his own ideas and take responsibility for managing student projects.

In 2018, he was selected as a Participant of The Next 36 program, an entrepreneurial leadership organization whose goal is to develop Canada’s next generation of high impact entrepreneurs.

Hunt said that paving his own way with a small team has its challenges, but he is proud of how far Blaise Transit has come in four years.

“I had been shut down hundreds of times, told that my idea wasn’t going to work by more people than I could count but I continued to work, persevered, learn from each ‘no’ and eventually found a way forward.”

Hunt’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Take as many risks at the beginning of your career when you don’t have much to lose – switch fields if you’re unhappy, go back to school, start a business, or even move to another country. In the worst case if it doesn’t work out, you will have likely learned a lot but can easily start over in another path and the impact on your overall career will be minimal. Too many people wait until the stakes are much higher before doing anything that society deems as being a little bit risky. If you want something, don’t wait until mid-career before going after it. The other thing I would say is to be patient – when you figure out what you want, work hard for it, even if it takes longer than planned.”

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Jennifer Mathurin

This grad played professional basketball in Australia and Finland. Now she’s finding ways to marry her love for sport and social work.

Jennifer Mathurin (Science, 2013) played basketball for three years during her time at Champlain College Saint-Lambert. After Cegep, her passion for the sport took her to the U.S. on an athletic scholarship and then to Finland and Australia to play pro.

Her memories of Champlain are tied to her time with the Cavaliers and the hours spent training and dominating the court.

“I have a lot of good memoires attached to sports,” she said.

Mathurin’s skills brought her the chance to play Division 1 basketball for North Carolina State University where she completed a bachelor’s in social work.

Her star continued to rise after University as she was hired to play pro basketball for the Vimpelin Veto in Finland in 2017.

“The women’s basketball scene is bigger overseas. Bigger than what people think,” she said.

After four months, Mathurin went to play with Gladstone Port City Power in Australia.

She might have continued playing pro basketball abroad but Mathurin injured her Achilles tendon and had to hang up her jersey.

Wanting to continue her studies, Mathurin completed a Master’s in social work from NC State and worked as a referee.

When the pandemic hit, she returned to Quebec and started working at a high school in Quebec City as an assistant coach and counsellor with the women’s basketball team.

Mathurin approached the role as a continuation of her work both in sports and in social work, providing support for young athletes on and off the court.

When she saw that Bishop’s University was looking for an associate coach in women’s basketball specializing in wellness, she applied right away.

“It was a perfect combination for me,” she said.

Mathurin said that in the U.S., there are more resources available for athletes in the realm of wellness mental health including teams that have dedicated sports psychologists and social workers.

“I think it’s going to grow in Canada because there’s a need. There’s a lot of student athletes and pro athletes who need it,” she said.

“I would like to speed up things more in Canada so that field is nationally recognized,” she said.

Mathurin’s plans changed in 2022 when her 19-year-old brother Bennedict Mathurin was drafted to the NBA to play for the Indiana Pacers.

In a recent interview, Bennedict told reporters that his sister was his “idol” growing up.

“She always pushed me and she was always better than me, obviously, because she was older and stronger than me. But she always pushed me to be better than her and she kept me on a straight line for me to succeed in life,” he told CBC News.

Mathurin is now living in Indiana with her brother to help support him during this transition.

Mathurin’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Young me would want to hear to be more confident in herself and believe that if you want to achieve something, you actually can. I know it sounds cliché, but if you put your mind to it you really can do it. What you put in the universe will come back to you.”

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Daniel Cavalheiro

This Continuing Education grad found success at Google.

Daniel Cavalheiro says that going back to school in Continuing Education changed the course of his life.

At the time, he was managing a team on the Geek Squad at Best Buy and wanted to expand his knowledge and his horizons in technology.

So he completed the Information Technology Support Specialist program at Champlain Saint-Lambert in 2014, which quickly led to new opportunities.

For one, Cavalheiro was hired on to work at the College as a Content Specialist right after graduation.

He said that when he started the program at Champlain, he was living in Laval and was unsure if the lengthy commute to the South Shore would pay off.

“I started without a lot of expectations,” he said.

It wasn’t long before he felt that his efforts were being recognized.

“I was one of the top of the class because I was able to bring my previous experience,” he said.

Beyond the training itself, he said that the opportunity to make new connections and learn from others in his class proved a valuable experience.

“The level of the trainings at Champlain are so high that really qualified people can still benefit from it,” he said. “They have a lot of industry experience and with that, great questions.”

As a teacher, Cavalheiro said he impressed by the diversity of students pursuing adult education.

“There is no age to start learning. I see people from early 20s to late 50s doing training at Champlain. You can always learn something extra. You have to be studying your whole life,” he said.

After four years working at Champlain, Cavalheiro jumped to Telus where he worked with a team providing tech support for Google.

From there, he was able to snag a competitive spot working for Google in the Kitchener, Ontario office.

“It’s 33 times harder to get in at Google than to get into Harvard because so many people apply,” said Cavalheiro.

He said finding out he had been hired by the tech giant was “a great moment in [his] life.”

Now a Senior Program Manager at Google, Cavalheiro said he’s learned a lot in the last four years.

“I really like the company, how they think about people and how they want to make people grow inside their careers,” he said.

Cavalheiro’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Keep going. The more you know the better. No one ever said that excess of knowledge was a problem. The more prepared you are for everything that comes your way, the better you can recognize and seize opportunities.”

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Kristyn Brown

This Indigenous nursing grad is using her skills to serve her community.

Kristyn Brown was among the first cohort to graduate from Champlain Saint-Lambert’s Nursing program. Not only did she complete the rigorous three-year program, but she did so with two toddlers at home.

Brown (Nursing, 2014) said balancing full-time study with young kids at home wasn’t easy, but she took it one day at a time.

“I missed out on a lot of time with my children, but all my hard work was for them and our future,” she said.

Brown said she relied on her children’s father and her family during that time. She also felt a great deal of support from her classmates.

“I had a really supportive cohort, we were like a family,” she said.

It helped that she wasn’t the only one balancing school and family life: “There was a lot of moms in our program actually,” she said.

After she graduated, Brown started working at the Kateri Memorial Hospital in Kahnawake in longterm care.

She also started working part-time at an drug and alcohol rehab centre specialized for Indigenous patients. Brown said after four years, she was burnt out from the stresses of that job.

“It’s a rough field of nursing – drugs and alcohol detox,” she said. “Especially when it’s from an Indigenous perspective. There’s a lot of trauma. There’s some really sad stories.”

When she felt she couldn’t stay in that field, a new opportunity came Brown’s way. Her mother handed her a flyer advertising for a research assistant position at the Douglas Hospital who would help create mental health assessments for Indigenous people.

Brown jumped at the chance to get involved. She said that COVID-19 disrupted her work doing data collection for the research project but that she was happy to be part of the project to develop health services specialized for her community.

Brown is now back at Kateri Memorial, working in acute care and focusing on maintaining her work-life balance.

“You have to slow down and learn to take care of yourself,” she said.

Brown’s advice to current students and recent grads: “Leave home. Get out there and expand your horizons. Go different places. Learn as much as you can. Never stop learning. Don’t feel defeated, everything you do in life has a purpose. Don’t be hard on yourself.”

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Bertin Yamdjeu Tandjeu

A few months after arriving in Canada, this Continuing Education grad was able to earn an AEC and land a job in IT.

Bertin Yamdjeu Tandjeu, who completed the Cisco Certified Network Professional CCNP Recognition of Acquired Competency (RAC) program in 2014, works as an IT analyst for the Ministère des Transports du Québec.

Yamdjeu Tandjeu enrolled in the Continuing Education RAC program shortly after arriving in Canada from Cameroon where he had previous experience working in the information technology sector.

He said that getting an AEC in Network Administration from Champlain College Saint-Lambert helped propel him toward his career goals.

“For immigrants, it’s not so easy in the job market, so with a degree or certificate in Quebec, it can help,” he said.

“It’s a useful process for new immigrants like me to show that they have some knowledge in the field.”

Yamdjeu Tandjeu took classes on the weekends and was able to land a position as a summer student at Bell Canada while he was completing his studies at Champlain.

Thanks to his student status, he got in at Bell and was offered a contract position after the summer. He continued to work his way up at Bell and became a Manager of Service Assurance in 2018.

In 2021, Yamdjeu Tandjeu left Bell to work for a year as a Computer Support Technician at the Grandes-Seigneuries School Board.

At the same time, he started a certificate in cybersecurity from Polytechnique Montréal, wanting to add to his resume and stay current in the job market.

“At that time, I decided to do something to have other qualifications in a domain which has good growth,” he said.

Yamdjeu Tandjeu has been working at the MTQ since February 2022 and is finishing his certificate from at Polytechnique.

Yamdjeu Tandjeu’s advice for those considering RAC: “As a new arrival, when you already have some experience in your field, the best way is to continue in that same field. You can either do a new program or do a RAC. I recommend the RAC because it does not take much time. It is something feasible.”

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Tahirah Mirza

Coming from a household of videogames enthusiasts, this grad found her perfect place at Ubisoft

Tahirah Mirza (Social Science, 2014) is the Manager of Social Media Publishing (Global) for Ubisoft, a French video game company. She currently works from home but is based out of the Montreal Studio.

Mirza started out as an intern at the company in 2017 and worked her way up on the North American team to the point where, after five years with the company, is managing the Global Social Media Publishing team.

Mirza says she couldn’t be happier about where she is, but working in the videogame industry wasn’t always her goal from the beginning,

When she started at Champlain Saint-Lambert, Mirza was enrolled in Health Sciences and had her heart set on becoming an orthodontist.

But she quickly realized that calculus and biology were not her strongest suits. Mirza switched programs which caused some disappointment for her parents.

“The hardest hurdle was my switch from health science to social science,” she said. “But they were definitely able to adapt and accept over time.”

Mirza, still hoping to find a career path that would please her family as well as herself, considered using her Social Science DEC as a springboard to study law. She completed a Bachelor’s at Concordia University in Political Science but became increasingly aware that her aspirations were being drawn elsewhere.

During her final semester at Concordia, Mirza simultaneously enrolled in an e-commerce program at LaSalle College just a few blocks away. She earned her degree in Political Science and a Quebec Attestation of College Studies (AEC) from LaSalle all while interning at Ubisoft where she would eventually be hired full-time.

“It was a tough year but I think it was worth it,” she said. “I’m glad I put in the work that year. Now I’m super happy with where I am.”

Mirza said she was able to snag the internship by connecting with a Ubisoft recruiter on LinkedIn. Coming from a family of videogame enthusiasts and armed with her new skills in marketing, she felt well-positioned to take on the role.

Since starting at the company, Mirza has been able to rise within the social media team rapidly: “I think I got promoted almost every year that I’ve been there,” she said.

She attributes the success to the support of managers who helped her get access to trainings and continuing education opportunities.

Along with her work at Ubisoft, Mirza also lectures at LaSalle College part-time teaching classes on Video Game Industry and Production Process, Environment Design in Gaming as well as courses on Social Media.

Looking back at her experience in Cegep the first time around, Mirza said she’s grateful for the people she met during her time as a student.

First off, she met her husband at Champlain in the library. And second, she recalls teacher Connie Galatas, who she described as a passionate and inspiring teacher.

“She made me love all her classes,” said Mirza. “When I think of Champlain, I think of her because she made such a positive impact on me.”

Mirza’s advice for current students and recent grads: “What I struggled with most in my first couple of semesters was studying because I didn’t know how to study. Not everyone studies the same way. That’s something we don’t learn about in high school. I definitely encourage students to explore different study guides and techniques. That said, everyone takes school so seriously. It’s important to take a step back sometimes and enjoy the moment and make memories you’ll look back on later in life.”

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William Tessier

This nursing grad wants to ease transition shock for new nurses entering the workforce.

William Tessier (Nursing, 2016) found the transition from being a student to working in a busy hospital on Montreal’s South shore tough. That’s why he started researching ways to ease what’s called ‘transition shock’ for students coming into the profession.

“There’s a huge gap between school and the hospital setting,” he said.

Tessier said he was interested in the health field but not sure what he wanted to do before Cegep. Once he started the nursing program at Champlain, he felt it was a good fit for his interests.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I really enjoyed the program so I stayed,” Tessier said. “We became good friends because we were a small cohort of about 30 students.”

After graduation, Tessier worked for five years at Pierre Boucher hospital in Longueuil. He’d done a stage there during his program and was hired on as soon as he graduated.

While working part-time at the hospital, Tessier completed both his Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Nursing at Université de Sherbrooke.

Now a lecturer at Université de Sherbrooke, Tessier did his master’s research project on the topic of transition shock and how to reduce the amount of burnout and turnover in high pressure fields of nursing.

“I started looking at how to help decrease the transition shock for new nurses when entering the profession. If we can decease the transition shock, then we can decrease the turnover, especially in critical care settings and ICU.”

As part of his work with the Association des infirmières et infirmiers d’urgence du Québec and as the spokesperson for Alliance pour l’avenir des soins infirmiers au Québec, Tessier has been advocating for transition programs which will help new nurses feel more supported at the beginning of their careers.

In his role as spokesperson for the AASIQ, Tessier has given a number of media interviews and recently published an op ed in LaPresse about his vision for the future of nursing in Quebec.

Tessier’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Careers are long and you never know what’s going to happen in the next few years so be open to new things.”

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Salma Rehimini

This Loran Award winner and medical resident is training in pediatrics at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

During her time at Champlain, Salma Rehimini (International Baccalaureate, 2016) co-founded the Export Support initiative which collects used school items in order to redistribute them to disadvantaged children, including to families in her native country of Morocco.

“With my friends in the IB program, we started a non-profit organization,” she said. “I also led a leadership and support group for young Muslim girls to empower them to contribute to their communities and share the common challenges they face in their journey to become strong leaders.”

She was recognized by the Loran scholarship (valued at $100,000) for her involvement, including being captain of the soccer team and being part of an educational initiative aiming to teach kindergarten and elementary school students about healthy habits.

Salma said that she felt supported by the Champlain community to take part in these kinds of activities and apply for a high profile, national scholarship.

“Champlain has that thing where it makes everyone feel like they belong,” she said.

Salma was always passionate about going into health and felt a strong desire to work in pediatrics.

“I always took pleasure in taking care of my younger siblings and cousins while nurturing a strong passion for science. I used to love going to the Doctor to get all my questions answered because I was most curious about the human body. I tried to keep an open mind and consider other career options, but as I advanced in my academic journey, I was more and more convinced of my passion for medicine,” she said.

After completing her medicine studies at McGill University in 2021, Salma is that much closer to making her dream come true.

Salma’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Whether you know exactly what you want to do or not, follow your heart and take it step by step. What’s most important is that you don’t stop. If you keep going even if the path seems more like roller coaster with hundreds of detours, you will end up exactly where you should be.”

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Antonio Pierfelice

Sport marketing grad passes on his love for hockey with the Habs.

The saying goes that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Antonio Pierfelice (Sport Marketing & Management, 2018) this could not be truer.

Pierfelice’s passion for sports has landed him an opportunity to work with the Youth Hockey Development Program for the Canadiens de Montréal, which he calls a “dream come true.”

“I participated in camps when I was younger with the Montreal Canadiens and I always knew it was something I potentially wanted to do,” he said.

“Promoting my favourite sport, working for the team I grew up supporting, it’s honestly a dream come true.”

Pierfelice has been working with the Youth Hockey Development Program for five years part-time as he completes his bachelor’s at Concordia University in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

He said he was able to snag the coveted position by following up on the advice of a teacher in the Sport Marketing Program who told him to shoot his shot without fear of rejection.

So Pierfelice, only 18 at the time, reached out personally to the director of the Canadiens program and asked to get involved. Now he helps run hockey camps for beginner players across the province.

“We try to grow the game and introduce as many new kids to it as we can,” he said.

Pierfelice also works at Champlain as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers men’s soccer team.

It seemed like a natural progression for Pierfelice who was heavily involved with students clubs, the leadership program, and volunteering as game staff for the Cavaliers while he was a student.

“Champlain is a very special place to me so much so that I still help out with the soccer team,” he said.

He added that in staying involved after graduation, he feels as if he’s never really left.

“When you leave high school you’re fed all these misconceptions about college: ‘Now you’re on your own, now you have to be an adult, your teachers won’t chase you for your work.’ But I never felt like I was on my own at Champlain,” he said.

“The school is so small and teachers can actually form relationships with their students. I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed the fact that’s it’s a small school and you really get to know people.”

Pierfelice’s advice to current students and recent grads: “Just say ‘hi’ to people. Those simple little interactions can really go a long way in forming friendships that go beyond Champlain.”


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Tahothoratie Cross

How this grad helped build a community for Indigenous students at Champlain.

Despite graduating only a few years ago, Tahothoratie Cross has already managed to leave an important legacy at Champlain College.

Cross (Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, 2020) was one of a small group of students who formed the Indigenous Student Ambassadors at Champlain Saint-Lambert and advocated for the College to become a more welcoming place for Indigenous students.

Cross said that coming from the school system in Kahnawake, he was excited to come Champlain for Cegep because of its small size and reputation for a personalized touch.

“I started the program and it was the first time I went to school outside my community,” he said. “The people in my program were really nice, but I was having a hard time fitting in with them.”

“A lot of them spoke French and they didn’t grow up in my community, so I felt I couldn’t engage with them. A lot of that was the language barrier.”

Cross felt isolated since there were only a handful of other Indigenous students at the College.

“A lot of times I would end up sitting in my car, I didn’t have a place to go, didn’t have anyone to hang out with,” he recalled.

But all of that changed when he joined together with a few of his peers to create a student group which provided Indigenous students with peer support, mentorship, leadership, and advocacy opportunities.

Read the story of how the idea sparked here: Indigenizing a campus, inspiring a city

Through the program, the student ambassadors have provided input on curriculum, hosted presentations, organized awareness events, and shared experiences with faculty during professional development training.

The efforts of the ambassadors led Champlain College to give a land acknowledgement for the first time at its convocation ceremony, and provide a space for an Indigenous resource centre, along with other long-term commitments.

Read more: How these Kanien’kehá:ka students are trying to Indigenize a Quebec college

After Cross helped establish the student group, he felt at least one obstacle hindering his success had been eliminated.

“I felt there was a community set up for me, but I still had the language barrier,” he said.

Cross struggled to learn French as his third language and couldn’t pass his required French credit to graduate.

“I was doing well in other classes but there would always be my failing grade in my French,” he said. “That really derailed my whole path. Now my three year program ended up being four-and-a-half solely because I couldn’t pass the French classes.”

But Cross persevered, refusing to throw in the towel and keeping at it despite his mounting anxiety.

“I would wake up feeling physically sick before the French classes,” he said. “And that really affected the school work, I dreaded presentations, I was so scared.”

Finally, Cross was able to overcome his fears and his struggles and passed the course thanks to his hard work and “a lot of extra support from the teachers” in the department.

Cross was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award (Youth Medal) for his involvement, determination and constant strive to create a positive influence within his community.

Since completing Cegep, Cross has gone on to study in Art Education at Bishop’s University.

He is also the Chairperson of the Kahnawake Combined Schools Committee, the governing body of the education system in the community, as well as a post-secondary representative.

In July 2022, Cross appeared at a major funding announcement for Indigenous education programs alongside members of the First Nations Education Council.

Cross’s advice for current students and recent graduates: “It comes down to using your voice. There’s a lot of opportunities out there and making sure that your voice is being heard is really important. Whether it’s speaking up or going for a position you’re passionate about, make sure you have a presence in your community.”

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Celeste Trianon

This recent grad was an outspoken advocate and winner of the Forces Avenir Persevering Student Award.

Celeste Trianon (Social Science: Commerce, 2022) is a highly engaged trans activist in Montreal. She is a law student and executive director of the Trans Legal Collective, a brand new organization she founded which serves as a legal clinic for trans people across the province of Quebec.

During her time at Champlain, she was an outspoken activist, leading a community campaign against Quebec Bill 2, which would have limited people’s ability to access identity documents reflecting who they are.

Celeste was an active member of the Champlain Saint-Lambert community and took part in several campus activities including the Born This Way club and the response against Quebec Bill 96.

Celeste faced many challenges during her teen years but managed to succeed personally and academically at Champlain where she graduated with a pristine academic record.

She was given the Champlain College Saint-Lambert Governing Board Award for having the second highest average in the graduating class – all while working full-time for two-thirds of her college career.

She also won the Champlain College Teachers Association Award, the Social Science Program Prize for the Commerce Option and received two Millennium Certificates of Merit for studies in Democracy and Social Movements and for Gender Studies.

In recognition of Celeste’s incredible journey, she was awarded the Forces Avenir Award in the category of Persevering Student.

The provincial award includes a bursary to help Celeste pursue her studies in law at Université de Montréal.

Looking back at her time in Cegep, Celeste said that her “experience at Champlain was one of growth.”

“Having a framework under which I could become both autonomous and get to further understand myself – both as a student and as a person – was what really made Champlain a ‘third home’ of sorts,” she said.

“I still remember all of the good times I worked with student clubs, notably Born This Way, as well as Student Services and the Champlain Student Association! The place where you learn to grow, it’s not the classroom, it’s the college itself.”

Celeste Trianon’s advice for current students and recent grads: “If you are just starting off on your educational or career journeys, I have one thing to tell you: even during your darkest hour, when all hope may seem lost, never give up. As much as it may be tempting to consider quitting altogether, remember that you have access to support and resources throughout your years in CÉGEP and beyond. There are people who are there to help and support you in various ways — whether peers, professors, or professionals. As much as so many people make it seem, both life and CÉGEP aren’t straight lines defined by specific scripts. Don’t feel pressured. Take things slowly if that will help your mental health! Just make sure to not be afraid to seek help when you need it — you’re not alone.”

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We are always looking to highlight the achievements of our graduates. Know someone who should be featured in our future alumni profiles or want to nominate yourself? Email alumnisl@crcmail.net

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