Page 1




• Become a leader

• Learn French

• Work on campus

• Stay fit

• Join the SWARM

• Get a flu shot

• Volunteer


concordia.ca/studentservices 2 | BRIDGE 2013/2014









Editor: Marlene Gross


Designer: Lynda Guy




Cover image: Concordia graduate, Breanna Harvey by Summer[Rayne]Photo








Photo Editor: America Blasco Contributors: Anna Barrafato Chanel Bourdon Chantal Forgues Eduardo Fuenmayor Catherine Grace Breanna Harvey Louise Lalonde Judy Lashley George Menexis Faisal Shennib Rafael Sordili Shona Watt


from the


Your university journey starts now – and it is going to be wonderful! Whether you are joining the Concordia community to pursue a degree, diploma or certificate, or simply to enrich yourself by taking a few courses, you are beginning a journey which promises to be rewarding and which will take you closer to achieving life goals. University campuses – and particularly Concordia’s – are exciting places to be. There is always so much going on, both inside and outside the classrooms. You will be stimulated by new ideas through your coursework. You will form lasting friendships with people from a diversity of backgrounds, allowing you to learn from each other’s experiences. You will have opportunities to engage in activities that help you build new skills and increase self-confidence. And when you reach the end of your university journey, ideally with a degree in hand, you will feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment and be ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The Bridge is published by Counselling and Development, a Student Services department of Concordia University. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the university.

4 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Our goal is to help you make your university journey a success. There are many people, resources, services and activities on campus that are dedicated to this task. The Services for New Students and the Bridge magazine are here to help you make a smooth transition into the Concordia community. We want to be sure you are well-aware of everything Concordia has to offer you. In this issue of the Bridge, we introduce you to some of the people who make Concordia so dynamic. You will learn about some of the special, extra-curricular programs that can enhance your university experience. You will discover some of the services that can provide support and guidance as you pursue your studies. We hope the stories in this magazine will inspire you and will help you connect with your campus, your learning, your future and your success. On behalf of the Services for New Students and the university community, welcome to Concordia. Enjoy the journey!

The Bridge welcomes readers’ comments. Contact the editor at bridge@concordia.ca. Please include your full name. Visit us online at newstudent.concordia.ca



By Chantal Forgues, Sustainability Coordinator, Environmental Health and Safety; Faisal Shennib, Environmental Coordinator, Environmental Health and Safety; Shona Watt, Office Coordinator, Sustainable Concordia

What does sustainability look like at Concordia? For some, it may be attending a conference focused on sustainable business, making an engineering capstone project about energy efficiency, or designing a bench out of reclaimed materials. For others, it’s about attending a workshop on natural dyes or sketching a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building.

Sustainable Concordia brings all Concordians together to create a more sustainable community. Sustainability is relevant to every field of study, and is linked through strong networks at Concordia. Whether you are interested in sustainability in engineering, computer science, humanities, science, business or arts, reducing one’s negative environmental and social impact can be personally satisfying and an important step towards making our world a better place to live.

of nature. For a “sustainable” society, there are three basic goals: an equitable economy, a just society, and a healthy ecosystem. Although a large part of sustainability encompasses the physical environment, social sustainability (like ensuring accessibility and diversity) and economic sustainability (like micro-financing and closing the wealth gap) are the two other pillars of sustainability. It is important to note, however, that without the proper functioning of the ecosystem the other two pillars suffer greatly as demonstrated in Figure 1. This means that sustainability isn’t just for tree-huggers with solar panels on their roof! A sustainable society can help the lives of every person by providing strong local economies, promoting inclusivity through more transparent governments, and ensuring resilient ecosystems that can help lessen the effects of more intense storms caused by climate change.

Although these days we hear a lot about “going green,” sustainability is so much more than buying a cleaning product with a picture of a leaf on it. To achieve true sustainability, we must rethink the idea that we can have continuous growth and unlimited consumption on a finite planet. If everyone in the world lived as Canadians do, we would need the resources of several planets to fulfill our lifestyle – but of course, we only have one Earth.

Three Pillars of Sustainability

Sustainability is the process of ensuring fairness and high quality of life for all humans and aspects

R4 Annual Waste Audit Sustainable Concordia

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 5

Sustainable Concordia

supported projects, like the industrial composter on the Loyola campus.

Biking at Concordia

Sustainability at Concordia is Everyone’s Concern

Sustainable Concordia (SC) is a not-for-profit organization that builds and measures culture and practices of sustainability at Concordia in solidarity with the global community. SC works to assess and address challenges of the existing economy, which is based on unlimited growth and exploitation of natural resources, and a political system that excludes key stakeholders from participating in decision-making.

Sustainable Concordia provides a lot of resources for individuals or groups to start their own project for fun or class credit. SC brings all Concordians together to create a more sustainable community. SC is a team of coordinators, a board of directors, lots of volunteers, several interns, and various supporters and partners. Many of the people most intimately involved with SC are students or recently-graduated students. However staff, administrators, faculty and community members are also involved in projects.

SC provides a lot of resources for individuals or groups to start their own project for fun or class credit: office space, computers, workshops, and probably most importantly, the knowledge of how to turn a project from an idea into a reality at the university. Several ideas that started at SC have turned into their own full-fledged organizations, such as the John Molson Sustainable Business Group (JSG), the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF), and the Concordia Greenhouse, which recently became an independent group.

A Little History‌

SC’s first project was a massive assessment of sustainability at Concordia conducted in 2002 and released in 2003. It was a giant report card that identified areas where the university was doing well on sustainability and those where it needed to improve. This report led to the creation of several projects with the mission of addressing these problem areas, all under the umbrella of SC.

ECOSYSTEM Indoor Environment & Air Quality Community, Health & Well-Being

Purchasing & Materials Transportation, Space & Planning

HUMAN SYSTEM Research & Curriculum

Economy: Income & Investments Water Management Governance: Policy & Implementation Energy Management

Waste Management

SC is a place of constructive communication and collaboration on sustainability between the university's administration and the community. It is a place where innovative projects can be started and eventually grow into larger, university-

6 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Figure 1 The ecosystem and human systems are interdependent in maintaining a sustainable society.

Since that first assessment, SC has helped bring about a lot of sustainability changes on campus, mostly in environmental areas like reducing waste through an on-site composting program, setting up a secure bike parking facility at the downtown campus, supporting urban agriculture programs, stopping the sale of bottled water in vending machines, and helping make departmental offices and events on campus more sustainable. SC also works on general awareness about sustainability issues by hosting workshops and conducting public outreach.

Sustainable Concordia thrives on a culture of empowering individuals and groups to change their community for the better.

Currently, there are several working groups within SC. For example, Allégo promotes sustainable transportation such as bicycles, public transit and rideshare, not to mention the old standard – those trusty two feet. R4 aims to engage the Concordia community in becoming a zero waste campus by encouraging everyone to rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle. SC is also working to revamp its Sustainable Ambassadors program which supports staff and faculty to promote sustainability in the workplace at Concordia. SC thrives on a culture of empowering individuals and groups to change their community for the better. SC members work with a lot of autonomy, in a supportive environment. Getting involved at SC is an easy step to take – stop by one of the SC events, volunteer for a few hours, or visit the SC office to discuss an idea you have! 

Sustainable Concordia sustainable.concordia.ca

America Blasco

Sustainable Concordia

Last year, SC celebrated its tenth anniversary! Several “Sustainabili-tea” events provided snacks and an open space for discussions in the university’s Hall building. The Sustainable Event Guide was re-launched, and SC hosted a zero-waste competition, as well as co-hosted film screenings and workshops.

Learn More and Get Involved

R4 Waste Education & Awareness Mascot “Huggy da Muggy”

Huggy with the Welcome Crew



By Judy Lashley, Financial Aid Advisor, Financial Aid & Awards Office

For Shalane Armstrong, a recent Concordia grad (BA, Child Studies) and a self-confessed nomad, finding a place to call home has never been an easy task. That’s why, when she reflects back on her experience with the Financial Aid & Awards Office (FAAO) at Concordia, she is surprised just how “at home” the office made her feel. What Armstrong says she liked most about the FAAO was the personalized service she always received, and as a student with a disability, she admits to sometimes getting a little overwhelmed. Says Armstrong, “I could just come in and say look, I have a problem; I need to talk to someone.” And there was always a patient and supportive staff member there to help. Armstrong recalls her first visit to the FAAO. Her move to Montreal had drained all of her finances and her Ontario Student Aid funding was very late. She was at a loss about how to manage her financial situation. “I knew I could not have afforded to even stay [in Montreal], let alone buy my textbooks if I didn’t have basic financial aid help. My dad died right as I was accepted, so there was a lot of extra expense, a lot of extra stress,” she explains.

I love the fact that Concordia is a very personal university. To get some extra help, Armstrong applied for an in-course bursary through the FAAO Scholarships and Awards area. “I didn’t know about it; an [FAAO] advisor actually suggested it,” she admits. Armstrong ended up getting a $1500 bursary. “I then found out about the student emergency food fund, which is run by the Multi-faith Chaplaincy office. “I would not have known about it if I had not gone to the FAAO.” When asked what she would like to change about her financial aid experience, Armstrong laughingly replies, “I would love not to have to pay anything back!” Then, more seriously, she says her only real regret is that after graduation she 8 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

would no longer have reason to drop by the FAAO and visit the advisors she feels really made a difference in her years at Concordia. “I like the fact that we have that available to us here at Concordia because I didn’t have it at my last school. And I found that, when I was dealing with applying to other universities and stuff, it was all very impersonal, so I love the fact that Concordia is a very personal university.”

The advisors in the FAAO are approachable and can provide students with assistance and information on financial matters related to their education. Students can drop by the FAAO, located on the second floor of the GM building in room 230, to learn more about government loans and bursaries, undergraduate scholarships and awards, and the Work-study program. The FAAO holds walk-in clinics every afternoon, or students can book appointments if they wish to discuss their finances one-onone with a financial aid advisor. For those who can’t get down to the office, the FAAO website provides a lot of useful information, including tips on preparing a budget and money management. The FAAO has recently introduced a series of budgeting workshops. The introduction to budgeting session is designed to be fun and give students a true overview of what a budget should do. In this hands-on session, students create a faux budget to learn how to set up a budget of their own, one they can live within. Living within a budget can be challenging, but there are many ways to cut corners and save a few dollars. Being a student presents plenty of challenges and ignoring financial problems won’t make them disappear. Fortunately, the advisors in the FAAO are approachable and can provide students with assistance and information on financial matters related to their education. 

BUDGETING TIPS 1. Avoid living on credit If you don’t have the cash to pay for something, before you take out the credit card ask yourself if you really need that item and if you really need it now. Interest charges on credit cards are high and your unpaid balance will grow quickly if you can’t pay your bill in full at the end of the month. Try to keep credit cards for emergencies only. 2. Use ATMs carefully Private ATMs charge for each transaction, usually several dollars, and that can really add up if you use them regularly. Open an account at a bank with ATMs near school or home for convenient and inexpensive access to cash. Ask about special programs for students to reduce extra bank fees, as well. 3. BMW to get around Bike, bus, metro, walk – there are many ways to get around that are cost effective and sustainable. Driving a car is not one of them – with the high cost of gas and parking. If you must drive, consider carpooling. You’ll save money and leave a smaller footprint on the environment, too. 4. Don’t eat your budget Dining out, buying coffees, and using vending machines can really put a strain on your budget. Be aware of how much you spend on those grab and go eats and drinks. Take advantage of grocery store specials. Join a food co-op or set one up with friends. Buying in quantity can be much cheaper. And remember, don’t shop when you’re hungry because you may give in to impulse and buy items you don’t need! 5. Entertainment can be economical Plan a games night or dinner party with friends. Share expenses by shopping and cooking together. Share recipes to discover new dishes that are inexpensive, tasty and healthy. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. 6. Textbooks –

you need ‘em and they don’t have to break

the bank

Textbooks can be expensive but most are available secondhand. Check out the used books at the university or studentrun co-op bookstore. The Concordia bookstore even has a “rent your textbook” option. Consider selling your old textbooks unless you really need them for future reference. Concordia student Lesley De Marinis, getting budget advice from Judy Lashley and putting it into practice America Blasco

Financial Aid & Awards Office (FAAO) faao.concordia.ca

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 9



By Rafael Sordili, BA (Western Society & Culture / Political Science) and Student Success Mentor

Sharing Knowledge and Experience The Student Success Mentors are a small team of upper-year students, carefully chosen for their high academic standing and involvement in student life. They work in the Student Success Centre (SSC), a service of the Counselling and Development department. (There is a SSC at Loyola in AD 101 and another on the SGW campus in H 481.) Since the mentors are current students, their experience and familiarity with the resources offered by

Vicky and Vivian Nguyen chat with their mentor Winnie Wang

10 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

America Blasco

Beginning university, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, presents many exciting opportunities–opportunities to develop intellectually, socially and personally, but sometimes, unexpected challenges can also arise. When new students are feeling a little overwhelmed, when they need information, or if they are just looking for ways to get the most out of their university experience, they can turn to the Student Success Mentors.

Concordia place them in an optimal position to help other students meet the demands of university life and, ultimately, achieve success.

The Student Success Centre offers a welcoming atmosphere and is a great place to make connections. Although a small team, the Student Success Mentors reflect the diversity that characterizes the Concordia community. They hail from Montreal, Canada, and other corners of the world; they belong to distinct cultures and collectively speak many languages. This diversity makes the SSC accessible; students from across town or across the globe are comforted to identify with mentors with whom they share a language and culture.

Sharing Cultures Connections


plated dropping out of the program – until she paid a visit to the SSC, that is. “Happy! I was literally happy when I learned that there was a mentor in my area,” says Ugonma. Hawa had taken the same course before and could relate to the stress very well. She shared with Ugonma her strategies to cope with the course, as well as tips on how to approach studying at the graduate level. Their relationship extended beyond the Economics program: “When I saw that Hawa was also from Africa, I started asking her things [like] where to look for apartments, how to find shea butter in Montreal” says a smiling Ugonma. Their shared cultural identity nurtured a deep friendship between the two. It is not unusual to find them engaged in lively conversations around the campus.


Although Hawa had done her undergraduate degree at Concordia, she had been out of school for a few years and admitted that starting graduate school was a challenge for her: “I felt overwhelmed at first. I was not really prepared for the workload, it took a lot of effort for me to adjust to the new environment,” she says. The initial difficulties of the program encouraged Hawa to develop techniques that allowed her to finish her degree with distinction. During her first semester at Concordia, Ugonma too was overwhelmed by the demands of school. She was having a lot of trouble with a particularly difficult math course and felt really stressed about it. It had been several years since her last contact with math and she questioned her capacity to get through the course. Ugonma seriously contem-

Rafael Sordili

One such identification occurred between Hawa Dia and Ugonma Ejeh. When they met, Hawa was a graduate student in economics and had been a Student Success Mentor for two years. Originally from Senegal, Hawa had been living in Canada for 11 years. Ugonma Ejeh, a mature student from Nigeria, was just beginning a graduate degree, also in economics.

Hawa and Ugonma share academic and personal interests

Sharing Strategies for Success Another veteran of the SSC is Winnie Wang. She came to Canada from China almost four years ago to study accountancy and human resource management at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB). She is also a co-op student, which means that every year she combines two semesters of study with a work term of internship. With such a busy schedule, it is impressive that Winnie still finds time to be a Student Success Mentor, maintain good grades, and get involved in student activities. Her secret? To practise efficiency: “Work in blocks of two to three hours. Do nothing during that time except focus on the

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 11

task at hand. Leave distractions for later. This is how I manage to get so much done in university," explains Winnie. The experience acquired by Winnie, both as a student and as a mentor, has been extremely valuable to the sisters Vicky and Vivian Nguyen. Vicky in particular was unhappy with her courses and wanted to switch into a different program, but she did not know how. “I was in my first semester, feeling lost and discouraged, I needed some advice,” she confesses. Luckily, having attended one of the Concordia orientation events, Vicky knew what to do. She went to the SSC to ask for advice from Winnie. As a student in JMSB, Winnie was able to share a lot of useful information about the school and basic program requirements. Now, Vicky is a proud and happy member of JMSB.

volunteer at the Career Management Services, an office that provides placement services to John Molson students; Vivian frequently volunteers at the LIVE Centre, Concordia’s volunteer bureau, which helps students find volunteer opportunities both on and off campus. The SSC is a unique place. Not only does it provide students with the necessary tools to succeed at university, it is also a great venue to meet new people and make friends. Its multicultural staff offers all Concordia students, regardless of their background, a welcoming atmosphere and a great opportunity to make the kinds of connections that add value to the university experience. To meet the mentors, drop the by SSC, visit them online or join them on facebook!

The Student Success Mentors Student Success Centre studentsuccess.concordia.ca reflect the diversity that charac- facebook.com/studentsuccesscentre terizes the Concordia community. Counselling and Development Moreover, coming from a French CEGEP, the Nguyen sisters needed to adapt to an anglophone environment. “Although I am perfectly bilingual, I had never had to read, write, or do homework in English before,” admits Vivian. As an international student, Winnie understood the challenges of attending university in a second language. She helped the sisters by introducing them to the resources that Concordia offers to help students improve their linguistic skills, such as conversation groups and writing assistance, both offered through the Learning Services team in Counselling and Development. The relationship between Winnie and the Nguyen sisters, however, went far beyond the confines of school. “Winnie changed my life,” states Vivian, “I learned how important it is for students to know what they really want, so that they know where they are heading, and don’t waste time.” Both sisters took Winnie’s example as a model. They understood the importance of getting involved and decided to make the most of the opportunities offered by Concordia: Vicky is now an active 12 | BRIDGE 2013/2014



Concordia University Alumni Association for generously donating these wonderful tote bags for Discover Concordia Orientation




SGW – H 608



BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 13

CONCORDIA GRADUATE STUDENTS: CONNECT TO YOUR FUTURE By Eduardo Fuenmayor, MA (Communications) and Member of the 2013 GradProSkills Events Team

Graduate students spend a lot of time alone, struggling to meet academic deadlines and assimilate great amounts of complex technical knowledge in their domain. But sooner or later they realize that getting through graduate school and being a professional involves much more than getting good grades: Where do I learn to dress for a professional meeting? How do I prepare for a job interview? Is there a better way to present my CV? How can I communicate my ideas more effectively – orally or in writing? And perhaps most importantly, how can I meet and connect with fellow students, professors, professionals and other interesting people in Montreal? Aware of this, in 2011 Concordia created the Graduate and Professional Skills program – GradProSkills.

Providing Free Skills Training

GradProSkills is a student-driven initiative supported by the Concordia School of Graduate Studies. It offers a comprehensive year-round calendar of free workshops designed to help students develop professional, academic and soft skills, under the premise that employers today, whether within or beyond the academy, are searching as much for attitude as for aptitude in the professionals they are hiring. Communicating effectively, planning and managing projects, being entrepreneurial, understanding and applying ethical practices, working effectively in teams and as leaders, developing a memorable CV, speaking in a second language (especially French), networking with peers and professionals, managing stress, and negotiating faith at the office are but a few examples of the skills training on offer. Students are encouraged to take as many workshops as possible, and the registration process can be easily carried out online through the MyConcordia portal.

GradProSkills also organizes the Concordia 3-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT), an event which is held at universities across the world. Graduate students from different fields of specialization are given the opportunity to explain their research in easy to understand terms to a diverse non-specialist audience. Before the competition, contestants attend at least one coaching session and get professional advice on how to deliver their message more effectively. Presentations can be done in French or English, and the winners receive up to $750 in travel grants to attend a conference of their choice. Although challenging, this competition allows graduate students not only to address their research with a wider audience, but also to develop presentation and communications skills that will help them further their academic or professional careers.

Adding Value to Student Profiles

Although the extracurricular training offered through GradProSkills does not give academic credits, an official GradProSkills record of participation may be prepared for students to include in funding applications, immigration process or when requested by employers. Considering that funding agencies, employers and research institutes are increasingly requiring applicants to provide a record of training in professional skills, participation in these GradProSkills workshops and events may boost a student’s résumé and provide an advantage when applying for a job. 

Creating Networking Opportunities

Additionally, GradProSkills organizes events that create opportunities to network and apply newly learned skills. Speed Networking is aimed at connecting graduate students with professionals of different industries in Montreal and provides a professional setting for practising networking skills.

GradProSkills Speed Networking event 14 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Anmol Vig explains GradProSkills to a new student All photos: GradProSkills

Testimonials From GradProSkills Users Shaun: “My French has improved dramatically.”

Shaun Gamboa, a PhD candidate in humanities, is currently a GradProSkills team member. The possibility of learning French for free got his attention in an email about GradProSkills activities. “I have taken French classes at GradProSkills since the first semester and my French has improved dramatically since then. Now I can sustain a conversation, read books and pretty much anything I want in French – I’m even reading Foucault! I have also benefited from professional training that helped me develop my portfolio and academic CV. I’ve become aware of the importance of wearing a nice blazer, tie, and shoes at networking events – now that’s a lesson! Last but not least, I’m meeting colleagues and fellow international students that I wouldn’t meet otherwise.”


Sabrina: “GradProSkills taught me to keep perspective.”

Sabrina Lightstone graduated from Concordia with her MA in English in 2012 and moved to Toronto to teach at George Brown College. From the nearly 30 workshops she took at GradProSkills, she especially recalls the “excellent” computer skills courses and one workshop about conflict resolution in the workplace, which provided her insight that she finds most useful today for teaching. “One valuable skill GradProSkills taught me is how to keep perspective, how to stay focused, and to not become overwhelmed. I can and do share this with my students. I actually apply some of the theories into the development of my curriculum. If my students are feeling stressed and have an ‘I can't do it’ attitude (which is more common than most think), I find that I can reassure them, that I can put things into perspective for them.” Sabrina credits GradProSkills for helping her develop the kind of soft skills her career demands.

graduatestudies.concordia.ca/gradproskills BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 15

FROM TO THE By George Menexis, BA (Journalism) and Intern, Advancement and Alumni Relations

During their time at university, students enjoy a wealth of opportunities to improve their knowledge, be exposed to new ideas, meet a diverse group of people and learn more about themselves. Upon graduation, however, students face a new hurdle: entering an unknown job market, needing to chase down leads and search for openings. The transition from university to the workforce can be daunting.

necessarily how to apply it in different human resources situations,” says Branford, who majored in human resource management. “Having a mentor gives you that experience from someone who’s been there, done that.”

Learning from the Pros

Shortly after she graduated, Branford was working for a company that was undergoing organizational changes. She needed advice on how to standardize some of their human resource systems. Through the mentor program, Branford connected with Sandra Scott, a Concordia 1970 graduate who spent most of her career in human resources before retiring in 2009.

That’s where the Concordia Mentor Program comes in. A joint initiative of the Concordia University Alumni Association and Advancement and Alumni Relations, this mentor program strives to provide students and recent graduates with an opportunity to network with and receive career coaching from successful Concordia alumni. It’s an ideal way for students to prepare for the work world by getting practical advice from a professional in their area of interest.

The Concordia Mentor Program acts as a stepping stone to work life. Melissa Branford, who recently earned a Bachelor of Commerce from the John Molson School of Business, is among the many former students to take advantage of the program and receive valuable mentoring shortly after she graduated. “My degree taught me a lot about structure and information, but not 16 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

The Concordia Mentor Program can also lead to lasting friendships.

“Sandra had already set up a company’s human resources department, so she was able to tell me exactly how she did it,” says Branford. “She really facilitated the process.” Scott was glad to lend seasoned advice. “We went over what she wanted to do and I actually came to the company, met with the boss and developed a system that made her more efficient with her human resources processing,” she says.

Making Connections

Established in the mid 1990's, the early years of Concordia’s mentor program were initially low-tech: mentors’ names were placed in binders at the Alumni

Relations office, and students and new graduates came in to browse the books for mentors that matched their career direction. Today, technology makes the process faster and simpler. Registration is completed online and only takes a few minutes. Alumni who wish to become mentors provide information about themselves such as where they work and the kind of work they do. Users, known as “mentees,” can browse the database of alumni mentors to find those that match their career-related interests.

Many Ways to Meet and Learn

Advancement and Alumni Relations also organizes events to complement its mentor program and bring students other possibilities to connect with alumni. One of the most popular, Dinner for Eight, offers a chance for students in specific programs to discuss career opportunities with alumni over dinner at a restaurant or the alumni’s home. “Mentors help people understand the prospects they’re facing after they go from university into the workforce, because it’s very different,” says Scott. “We conduct mock interviews and role-play to help them get the confidence they need to go out there and be successful.”

“Working with Melissa was and continues to be a great experience for me,” says Scott. “The mentee should always feel comfortable picking our brains about their career — or just for general advice.”  At a recent Dinner for Eight, Heather Ferguson (right) learned about careers in communications with other students, including Toumai Kafri (left)

Sculpting Future Alumni

While the Concordia Mentor Program offers an excellent opportunity for current students or recent graduates to connect with alumni, that’s just one of the joint Alumni Relations/Concordia University Alumni Association initiatives that help prepare students to enter the job market.

Here are the career-related programs available: Dinner for Eight Started in 2009, Dinner for Eight creates an opportunity for alumni to discuss their careers and outlook with students in a relaxed dinner setting. Participants have greatly benefited from this chance to connect with professionals who share their real-world work experience. Backpack to Briefcase This program is of interest to students who hope to make an impression in their job search. The Backpack to Briefcase workshops complement academic teaching by helping students develop life skills not typically taught in classrooms. For example, recent workshops included a seminar on strategies necessary to help students reach their full potential, business dining etiquette and interview skills. Speed Networking Divided into six 10-minute sessions and modelled after the speed-dating concept, Speed Networking gives students the opportunity to quickly connect with former graduates, ask questions and pick up career and job-search tips. Job Shadowing This program offers students an excellent opportunity to shadow professionals – usually alumni – for up to a day, giving them a unique look into the daily responsibilities of a work day.

Concordia Mentor Program

concordia.ca/alumni-giving/alumni/connect-learn/mentor concordia.ca/alumni-giving/alumni/connect-learn/student-programs BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 17

Advancement and Alumni Relations

The Concordia Mentor Program acts as a stepping stone to work life. It can also lead to lasting friendships. Branford and Scott’s relationship has continued, both professionally and personally. “When I have a question, I just shoot her an email and we discuss it later, and we still meet at least once a month,” Branford says.



By Catherine Grace, Sports Information and Communications, Recreation and Athletics

Are you looking for people who enjoy painting their faces maroon and gold? Are you looking for friends who gather to cheer at the top of their lungs, all the while bursting with school pride? Are you looking for a group that likes to celebrate and have a good time? Are you ready to support the Stingers, Concordia’s varsity athletes? Then you need to join “The SWARM.”

Fans Have More Fun!

The SWARM is a lively Concordia University student association that fosters student spirit and encourages Stinger pride. The official student fan club chooses several Stingers games every year, rallying large numbers of students who take FANaticism to a whole new level. There’s also great swag like T-shirts, noise makers and everything you need to cheer on the Stingers. Of course, being a member of the club gets you free access to Concordia home games. As well, some of the best parties on campus are organized by the SWARM, either before or after games.

Stingers men’s hockey team, has taken over the leadership of the group. It was a desire to have a better quality student experience that inspired him to take on the job. “Ideally, I hope our students will make this school a community where all groups support each other,” Kabbaj says. “I’d like to go to a school where everyone promotes not only their own interests but the ones of the university. Through the Stingers, I hope eventually, we are all unified and have great pride in our university.”

Inspiring our Stinger Athletes

Last year, Kabbaj earned a place on the men’s hockey team and got involved in the SWARM after attending a barbecue during student orientation. As a Stinger athlete, he enjoys playing in front of a packed pro-Concordia crowd. As a proud Concordia student, he wants to see the SWARM out in large numbers when rival schools – like McGill University and its Red Thunder supporters - are rallying. “We have to be bigger, better, louder,” he says. “We can’t be outdone.” Go Concordia! Go Stingers! 

Joining the SWARM is a FANtastic way to meet fellow students and put some fun into your university experience. All Concordia students are welcome to join the party.

Connect with the SWARM and follow the group!

Inspired by School Spirit

Twitter - @ConcordiaSwarm Facebook - Facebook.com/concordiaswarm Instagram - @Concordia_Swarm

The SWARM, now in its third year of existence, has a new president. Youssef Kabbaj, a defenceman with the Concordia

18 | BRIDGE 2013/2014


Jennifer Duff

Representing Concordia and Quebec Jennifer Duff is a fifth-year member of the Concordia women’s soccer team. The Moncton native accounted for half of the team scoring last season. It is no surprise, then, that the striker was named to the Quebec conference first all-star team. This marked the first time since 2005 that a member of the Stingers has made the top team in Quebec.

Working hard on the field and off Caleb Jordan is a second-year member of the Concordia men’s rugby team. The winger earned a prestigious position when he was named to Team Canada’s entry in the men’s rugby sevens competition at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. He was one of 12 university students selected to represent Canada.

Caleb Jordan

In addition to his studies and rugby commitments, the Montreal native holds down a full-time job. He graduated from Dawson College’s Diagnostic Imaging program in 2011 and currently works in the radiology department at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

A real crowd pleaser Kaylah Barrett is a fourth-year forward with the women’s basketball team. Last spring, the Brampton, Ontario native earned her second straight Canadian Interuniversity Sport all-Canadian honour. She was also the most valuable player in Quebec university women’s basketball and was named Concordia’s Female Athlete of the Year. Kaylah is a very dynamic and exciting Stinger. When the game is on the line, she’s the one everyone is watching and cheering for.

Cory Greenwood – Linebacker in the NFL Martine Dugrenier – Olympian, world champion wrestler Cammi Granato – Olympian, Hockey Hall of Famer Sylvain Girard – Montreal Alouettes (1999-2006) Michael Noonan – Wrestler, 2012 Rhodes Scholar

All photos: Recreation and Athletics

Stinger Alumni continue to inspire

Kaylah Barrett

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 19







9 20 | BRIDGE 2013/2014



4 8

Images: 1, 9: Department of Contemporary Dance / Photo Yves Gigon 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12: Courtesy of the FOFA Gallery 3, 11: Hexagram / Topological Media Lab / Photo Nina Bouchard


7: Hexagram / Photo Jon Woods BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 21




lp ho to s:

In sti tu te f



-o p erat ive E ducat ion

By Louise Lalonde, Communications and Marketing Officer, Institute for Co-operative Education

Life in Montreal is pretty great. We have people from everywhere, international food and entertainment, a festival-filled summer, and world-class winter sports on our doorstep. But no matter how international and cosmopolitan we may be, there is nothing like spreading your wings and trying a new environment on for size.

International Co-op Programs Provide Learning, Experience and Adventure

Nehemias Gonzalez Pineda, a civil engineering student in the co-op program, has three international work terms under his belt. “An international work term is a great alternative to studying abroad,” he says. “It gives you a new perspective and possibly a better understanding of your field.” Gonzalez Pineda believes success comes from persistence, good planning and circumstance. He suggests first considering your options and determining the countries where you can legally work. He also recommends starting early because many internship programs have early deadlines.

22 | BRIDGE 2013/2014


of es r o sh

n itla t eA Lak

Gonzalez Pineda’s first work term took him away from Montreal and back to Guatemala, where he is from. “I contacted a friend who is a civil engineer in Guatemala and he put me in contact with the municipality that hired me, San Miguel Ixtahuacán. While gaining practical experience, I also had the opportunity to enjoy my country.” His projects within the municipality exposed him to a range of engineering-related skills and included work on an important technical policy manual, the construction of a school, and a cost estimate of a three-story building. He was also fortunate to work on a project on the shores of Lake Atitlan, a most scenic location. At the close of his work term he received a merit award from the municipality for his outstanding performance. “My second and third work terms were advertised online. I worked very hard to find my internships and applied to a lot of positions. I was very motivated to secure work and felt fortunate to be hired.” His hard work paid off. On his second work term as a Public Service Intern with the Nevada Department of Transporta-

tion (DOT) in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA), he took an active role with contract management and administration of policies implemented by the DOT for the longest steel girder bridge ever built in the State of Nevada. On his third work term, as a Civil Engineering Intern at Woodard & Curran in Portland, Maine (USA), he assisted professional engineers with design, cost-estimates, and peer review of water treatment plants and storm-water drainage systems, as well as in site inspection of various municipal water and waste-water treatment plants.

Travel and Educational Opportunities Combine in Many Programs

There are a wide range of opportunities for students who wish to travel. Some, like co-op work terms, must be related to their academic program. Others may be unpaid internships. The Government of Canada, through International Experience Canada, has agreements with a variety of countries for working holidays, young professionals programs and international co-op opportunities. There are also other associations and agencies which specialize in helping youth gain a global perspective. Concordia International is an excellent place to start. Not only are they the place to contact if you wish to study abroad, but their website spells out options if you want to work outside Canada. One of the programs offered to all qualified Concordia students through Concordia International is called The Washington Center. As described on Concordia International’s web page, “… The Washington Center has been providing university students with an integrated academic and work experience to prepare them for professional lives of achievement, leadership, and civic engagement.”

Her work term made a difference in more ways than one. When she started, she had a minor in political science, but then switched. “As much as I still have a strong interest in political science, I realized that a business minor in supply chain operations management (SCOM) would be a better fit for my future career path. Talking with some professionals in Washington reinforced my decision. The minor in SCOM always appealed to me and I see a lot of potential to apply sustainable practices – another of my interests – to this area of business.”

An international work term gives you a new perspective and possibly a better understanding of your field. When asked how she felt about her experience, Rodriguez Estrada had this advice for her fellow students: “I don't think I will ever forget my time in Washington, D.C.” She goes on to encourage other Concordia students to consider participating in this program. “There is so much to gain. Students will have the opportunity to meet influential professionals with astonishing careers, build connections from all over the world, and prepare themselves for the current competitive job market. It is an experience that will change them forever.”



International business major Maria Camila Rodriguez Estrada participated in The Washington Center program. “I thought there could be no better city than Washington, D.C., to see if I would like to pursue a career in politics or in a related field,” says Rodriguez Estrada. “Also, I had always wanted to do an international work term.”

Gu ate m al a

Fine-tuning Career Plans through International Experience

ru onst c a n o Nehemias

e sit n ctio

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 23

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

One important consideration for most students thinking about a work experience in another country is the timing. Are you willing to take a little longer to graduate in order to gain the international experience you want? Will it be worth it in the long run? Gonzalez Pineda definitely thinks so. “Having the opportunity to be exposed to different work environments has been both rewarding and challenging. I feel that my chances of securing a full-time position upon graduation have greatly increased because of the diversity of my experiences.�

ria Ma

Whether you go the do-it-yourself route or take advantage of the many student resources available at Concordia, there are programs, internships, work terms, holiday jobs and short-term employment opportunities in companies and countries next door and around the world. The key to your success is in the rig ht planning. The experience, exposure and opportunities to make a real contribution )v o o isit are priceless.  lZ ing ona Smiths onian's Nati


Concordia resources to help you find international opportunities Concordia LIVE Centre Institute for Co-operative Concordia International Education






SGW CAMPUS BOOKSTORE 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., LB-104 514-848-2424, ext. 3615

LOYOLA CAMPUS Bookstore, Computer Store and Digital Store in one convenient location

7141 Sherbrooke Street. W., CJ-1.422 514-848-2424, ext. 3620

24 | BRIDGE 2013/2014




Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses, like mumps, have occurred on Canadian university campuses in recent years. You are more likely to catch and spread these types of illnesses if you are missing common vaccines. Vaccines are amazingly effective for preventing many infectious diseases. Make sure your vaccines are up-to-date to stay healthy all year long.

DID YOU KNOW? MANY STUDENTS ARE MISSING VACCINES Getting sick can have a serious impact on your academic performance. The symptoms of illnesses like the flu can last for weeks, making it hard for you to study and keep up with your assignments. BENEFITS OF UPDATING YOUR VACCINES • More likely to stay healthy • Experience milder symptoms if you do get sick • Less likely to spread infection to others, including your classmates and family

c o n c o r d i a .c a / h e a lt h


Ultimately, it is your decision whether to get vaccinated. Health professionals at Concordia University Health Services can explain why vaccination can contribute to a healthy life. Make an appointment with a Health Services nurse to: • Ask questions and discuss your concerns about vaccinations • Review your vaccine history • Receive any vaccines you are missing We will answer your questions and share the latest scientific evidence on vaccines. If you choose not to be vaccinated, we will respect your decision.


FROM THE INSIDE OUT By Anna Barrafato, Disability Accommodation Specialist, Access Centre for Students with Disabilities

Can you read this? Anewun kan lurn if thay nothe rit stradijy No? Are you sure? Still can't read the sentence above?

Look Again

It's quite an easy sentence to read – maybe you're just not trying your hardest. Could you read it if I offered you $5? How about $20? Really, you still can't read it, even for $20? How about if I offered you an “A” grade?

Now You Know How it Feels

Now you know, in a sense, what it feels like to be a student with a learning disability (LD). No amount of incentive will help you read more effectively when you live with a reading disorder. You are not "lazy" or "stupid." You know you are trying your best, even though everyone else makes it look so easy.

What Does a Learning Disability Look Like?

Learning disabilities (LDs) can be defined as a group of weaknesses in the processes involved in reading, writing or arithmetic. Students with LDs often have difficulty with processing information, memory, attention and organization. LDs are often diagnosed in childhood, are biologically based and are lifelong. University students with LDs report difficulties in: • reading comprehension; they often find themselves reading and re-reading a text before understanding it • note-taking; they often have trouble listening to lectures and taking notes at the same time • finishing exams on time • getting organized • managing their time and schedule • staying focused and motivated

26 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

• interpersonal and social relationships • managing their emotions; they can feel frustrated, anxious, and/or depressed

Do I Have a Learning Disability?

As you’re reading the characteristics of LDs, you might be thinking that you have a LD. After all, most students exhibit some of these difficulties some of the time. However, just because you may experience some of the symptoms described above, it does not necessarily mean you have a LD. Keep in mind, academic difficulties must be demonstrated since childhood and they must have an impact on different areas in your life. In order to diagnose a LD, a full psycho-educational assessment by a trained professional is needed. These professionals administer a battery of tests as well as obtain a full educational and familial history, as LDs tend to run in families.

Concordia students with LDs can obtain services and support from the ACSD. If you suspect you have a LD and have never been assessed, you can meet with professionals from the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) who will discuss your concerns and potentially provide you with external referral sources. You can also meet with Counselling and Development, where you could possibly undergo a screening for a LD. If you then need a full assessment, a referral will be made.

Tools and Services to Assist

Concordia students with a documented LD can receive help and support in various ways. As presented in our opening example, students who suffer from a reading disability, or dyslexia, may have visual processing difficulties; they may find it challenging to "sound out" and identify printed

words. An accommodation that can often help students with reading disorders is giving them extra time to complete exams or timed assignments. Since they have difficulty processing written language and may read at a slower rate, extra time “levels the playing field� for them. It allows them the opportunity to read through the material and comprehend it without feeling rushed. Learning specialists in Counselling and Development can also provide support with learning and study strategies.

How Can the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities Help?

Concordia students with LDs can obtain services and support from the ACSD. Classroom and exam accommodations are just some of the services offered. Students can also obtain information about and have access to assistive and adaptive technologies and software that may help them cope with their LDs. Individual and group support is also provided for psycho-educational and learning needs. 

If you suspect you have a learning disability, contact:

People with learning disabilities are stupid.

People with learning disabilities have limited potential or will never geta real job.

People with learning disabilities have been shown to have average or above average intelligence.

Many famous actors, politicians and business people have learning disabilities; some notable names include Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Cher, Tommy Hilfiger and Anderson Cooper.

Access Centre for Students with Disabilities supportservices.concordia.ca/disabilities Counselling and Development cdev.concordia.ca

People with reading disabilities see letters backwards.

People with reading disabilities often have difficulty combining letters to make sounds. Most see letters oriented properly on the page.

People with learning disabilities are crazy.

People with learning disabilities do not have intellectual / developmental disabilities or psychiatric disorders.

If you would like to learn more about learning disabilities: Learning Disabilities Association of Canada www.ldac-acta.ca/ National Center for Learning Disabilities www.ncld.org/adults-learning-disabilities Learning Disabilities Association of Quebec (Montreal Chapter) www.ldaqmontreal.org/

If you would like to volunteer

at the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (i.e., as a note taker or a reader): Call 514-848-2424, ext. 3525 or drop by the office at SGW-H 580

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 27

A BETTER ME (AND MAYBE YOU) By Breanna Harvey, BFA 2013 (Contemporary Dance / English Literature / Education) and Student Success Mentor

About Breanna Breanna Harvey wrote this blog in the Spring of 2013, when she was in her fourth and final year at Concordia. Breanna came to Concordia from Brampton, Ontario, so for her, like for many other students, university meant an adventure in living on her own and making sound choices for herself, as much as it was an adventure in learning. Breanna majored in contemporary dance with minors in both English literature and education. It is her ambition to teach dance and by the time you read her blog on these pages of the Bridge, Breanna should be on her way to a new adventure as she pursues a graduate degree in dance education – in Hawaii! During her final year at Concordia, Breanna also worked as a Student Success Mentor in Concordia’s Counselling and Development department. As a mentor, Breanna helped other Concordia students have the best possible university experience. She shared many strategies for success which worked well for her, and she also shared her wonderful energy and enthusiasm for learning. Here are some highlights from Breanna’s blog “Eat, Sleep, Dance, Smile: Healthier Habits for the Health Conscious Individual.” To read Breanna’s complete online blog, along with her video clips, photos, recipes, tips and links to relevant resources, visit http://eatsleepdancesmile.wordpress.com.

28 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

America Blasco


University isn’t simply about going to class and getting good grades (although that is a big part of it); university is about creating your life and preparing “you” for how the rest of your time here on Earth will be. University is a great place to experiment, make mistakes, learn from them and create memories and habits that will last a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you are in shape, eat healthy, or survive on a fast-food diet – there is always more you can learn to ensure that YOU are living up to your potential and YOU are reaching every goal that you set out for yourself. And so, to anyone reading this, I challenge you to see what I have done – a healthy student in my final year of university – and see that it is never too late to make changes (even the tiniest ones) to create a better you.

Post #1 (March 25, 2013) – “Staying Healthy at University”

As a major in contemporary dance, eating right and staying active has always been a huge priority for me. The problem is, lately, I’ve been pretty tired and not feeling my greatest – and I think I know why. You see, I’m lactose intolerant; however, from time to time I give in to temptation and allow myself to indulge in some dairy products, which usually results in me feeling very sick, tired, and unable to fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning. So how can I change this? Obviously I need to stop eating dairy products – but is there more I am doing that may be messing with my system? Are there some changes I can make that will help me be a healthier, better me? I sure hope so! So I have enlisted the help of Gaby Szabo, one of the Health Promotion Specialists at Concordia’s Health Services. Hopefully she can give me some tips and shed some light on what I can do to make my eating habits even better.

Post #2 (March 27, 2013) – “Visit Number One with Gaby”

Well, visiting with Gaby was an absolute joy! As soon as we sat down together, I knew we would get along swimmingly – and I was right. Honestly, I think she is as excited about this project as I am! So what did we accomplish in our meeting? A whole lot, I think!

Gaby gave me the Concordia University Health Services handbook entitled "How to EFFECTIVELY Set, Achieve and Maintain Health Goals," and we started together right away. As a pretty healthy person who wasn't looking to lose weight or make drastic lifestyle changes, we agreed the best thing for me to do was try to follow the Canada Food Guide and make sure what I was eating was supporting my lifeBreanna eating healthy style. This should help with the lack of energy and irregular sleep I’ve been struggling with! Also, I'm going to face up to the fact that I am lactose intolerant, add a "dairy alternative" to my diet, and stop myself from cheating and eating real dairy! Breanna Harvey

Breanna’s Blog: Preamble

Post #3 (March 29, 2013) – “How Important is this Goal?”

A goal is great and all, but you have to really, really want it in order to achieve it. So how can you make sure your health goal becomes something you honestly, truly want? You tie it to your existing values and goals. What are my top three goals? Education, Health and Fitness, Adventure and Travel How can eating healthy make these goals come true? Well, eating well will keep me rested and therefore help me to do well in school. It obviously is connected to my love of health and fitness and eating a diet that reacts well with my body will allow me to be more adjusted to foreign food climates when I travel! Hmm… that was pretty easy so far.

Post #4 (April 2, 2013) – “Strengths, Skills and Priorities”

Once again, we need to make sure that we stick to our health goals and make them count! How do we do that? Make our health goal feed off of our strengths, skills, and priorities in life!

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 29

So what are my strengths? For one, I am good at finding information and using the knowledge to foster change. So for me, researching resources to write this blog, and realizing how these resources will help me on my journey towards a healthier life, is enjoyable and motivating.

And how do I make sure to do that? I make a grocery list, one that is realistic, and I stick to it. And I don't skip out on cooking simply because I’m tired! Here’s a tip: Save complicated meals for nights when you have extra time and make simpler meals when you’re in a rush. Check out today’s post on my online blog and join me as I prepare a healthy meal!

And what are my priorities? 99% of my priorities at this point in my life revolve around school: I need to keep my grades up, finish my undergraduate degree and get into the Grad school of my dreams! I simply cannot do this if I spend most of my time either sleeping or absolutely exhausted. Maybe changing these habits really can change my life…

Post #10 (April 18, 2013) – “This isn’t So Bad!”

Post #6 (April 8, 2013) – “Making the Plan”

Oooooh onto my favourite part! But what’s this? I also have to make sure I’m doing everything I should to stick to this goal long-term?! What does that mean? There are things I may have to change?! Well, I learned that lying in bed for any reason other sleeping actually is pretty bad for your health and can cause you to have trouble falling asleep and waking up. Hmm… sounds like me. Definitely going to start using my desk to study more and my bed to study less. The other thing, which kind of goes hand in hand with staying out of bed, is getting up just a tad earlier to prepare a lunch for the day and make sure there will be food that I can cook easily at night.

Post #8 (April 12, 2013) – Visit Number Three with Gaby

Had a chance to sit down with Gaby, talk about my progress and discuss my blog! I reflected back to my experience as a first year student living in residence, and how hard I had found it to eat healthy. After this meeting, I posted some insights and pointers for new students living in residence, on a meal plan. Check them out on my online blog.

Post #9 (April 16, 2013) – “On the Right Track”

Now that I have all of my goals and priorities straightened out, I have to make an effort to ensure that each of these goals actually comes to light. How do I do that? By grocery shopping smartly and cooking meals at home so I know exactly what I am eating. 30 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Well, we have been at this for 3 1/2 weeks now and let me tell you, I feel great. Keeping up with the Food Guide has really given me a lot more energy –no more extra-large coffees to

It is never too late to make changes (even the tiniest ones) to create a better you.

get through my night classes. It is absolutely incredible how much easier it is not only to wake up in the morning, but to fall asleep at night! Honestly, overall, I just feel like a healthier version of myself. Check out my online blog for links to healthy, easy recipes.

Post #11 (April 22, 2013) – “Reflection”

photos left and above: America Blasco

One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is that even the smallest of changes makes a huge difference. I was never an ‘unhealthy’ person, but by adjusting my diet and taking care to know exactly what I’m putting into my body has truly changed the way I feel on an everyday basis! Most of all, however, I have learned that no matter what, there is always more to learn: There will always be a new way to approach things, and a healthier way to live my life. And, so, although my contribution to this blog is now complete, my health journey has only begun. I hope you all have learned something from my journey, as well, and are inspired to make the small changes in your life that will create a “better” you. Thank you for joining me on this journey, Breanna 

Concordia Health Services health.concordia.ca

Health Services is an on-campus clinic and health promotion centre. The staff, which includes nurses, doctors, consulting psychiatrists, support staff, and Health Promotion Specialists, work collaboratively to provide students with high-quality, personalized health care and health education. Students can make an appointment with a Health Promotion Specialist, who will work with the student to set, achieve, and maintain personal health goals. Students can get help to develop an individualized plan to: • Eat better • Become more physically active • Quit smoking • Manage stress • and more BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 31

YesOui Can - And so CanYou! By Chanel Bourdon, Coordinator, Oui Can Help!

As an international student, leaving home and moving to a new city is not an easy thing to do, but when your destination is Montreal, there is so much to look forward to. As Canada’s second-largest city, Montreal provides a safe, clean, urban environment with a lot of “joie de vivre.” Living in Montreal, like any new city, will take some adjustment, particularly for students who don’t speak French. Fortunately, Concordia recently launched “Oui Can Help!” This initiative connects students with French-language resources on campus and throughout the city, helping them really enjoy their experience here and increasing their chances of securing employment once they graduate. The program also offers bursaries for international students who want to learn French. In my role as coordinator of the Oui Can Help! program, I have met many international students who have been recipients of the Oui Can Help! French-language bursary. Three of those students share their stories here.


on’t be afraid to “lose face” when trying to eople are speak french. kind and learning is what’s



Yuxuan Zhang Yuxuan is a biochemistry student from China. He has been living and studying here for three years. Montreal was an obvious choice for Yuxuan because he had relatives already living here. Furthermore, Concordia’s undergraduate program in biochemistry came highly recommended and is well ranked. Yuxuan is planning to immigrate to Quebec and understands the importance of learning French. “Integration [into the local community] is important,” he says. “Learning the language is the most basic way to adapt to Montreal.” Some of the local culture which he has enjoyed since moving here includes downhill skiing and those great summer street festivals. For Yuxuan, receiving a Oui Can Help bursary has meant less reliance on his parents, who are helping to pay for his studies, and a step toward financial independence, a goal he has set for himself. He also finds the bursary has been a motivational factor in his desire to learn French.

32 | BRIDGE 2013/2014



ind a rench partner! ake new friends and “fake it till you make it!”


Sima Nabavizadehrafsanjani Sima is working on a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, specifically, chemicals and composites. Sima studied French back home, in Iran, and she loved the language, but that was not the main motivation behind her decision to live and study here. When her boyfriend decided come to Montreal, she decided to follow. Sima is certainly using all the opportunities at Concordia to enhance her French-language skills. “French is the official language and I believe that learning a home language is respecting the city and its population,” she says. She participated in the free French conversation groups offered through Counselling and Development as well as those available through GradProSkills. She also took part in the “Explorons” group, discovering Montreal while practising French.


F rench music. W atch kid’s shows in F rench. G et involved.V olunteer. [A l l these things] help you practise and learn. isten to

Eileen Mora Eileen, a student in Anthropology from the United States, has been in Montreal for eight months. She chose Montreal even before choosing a university. For her, diversity was very important and she found this city to be the perfect location to establish herself. She is planning to live and work in Quebec following her graduation. As a mature student, Eileen majored in anthropology with hopes of later studying forensics. Her dream career is to work for a French forensic artist who she holds in high regard but she’d also be interested in police forensics; therefore, speaking French is a must. “I am learning French to better myself and I am taking the opportunity as a personal challenge,” she states. “To help me, I have flashcards all over my home with French vocabulary staring at me when I open any cupboard!” Eileen finds Montreal to be very vibrant and strongly recommends the free shows and festivals such as the Jazz Festival and les Francofolies. For Eileen, who describes herself as a “people person,” it’s all about fitting in, “living the Montreal experience – getting the city under your belt.”

Oui Can Help Bursaries Support French-language Study

For all three students, finding a job has been the biggest challenge so far. All three students reiterated the importance of learning French in order to increase their chances of finding full or part-time employment in Montreal. Applying for a bursary was a way to encourage them to continue studying French and take advantage of all the resources offered to them by Concordia and in the city. This year, Concordia will be offering 300 French-language bursaries to international students. The application process is not complicated and the benefits are well worth it – just ask Yuxuan, Eileen or Sima! 

Oui Can Help

Chanel Bourdon (second from left) with students

All photos: America Blasco


BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 33

The 2013-2014 Student Success Mentor team

The Student Success Mentors are successful upper-year students. Some are undergraduate students and others are studying at the graduate level. There is at least one mentor from each Faculty. As experienced Concordia students, they know the university well – where things are, how things work, what contributes to a positive university experience and student success. Make the mentors a part of your support network on campus! They can be reached at the Student Success Centre (LOY-AD 101 and SGW-H 481), as well as by phone, email and via facebook.

A Little Advice from the Mentors Aaisha Malik BComm (Accountancy) Volunteer! It’s a great way to meet people and feel more involved in university life – and there are so many interesting places on campus where you can volunteer. Bassam Geagea BEng (Civil Engineering) Don’t ever miss an opportunity, even if you feel you’re not qualified or there is someone better than you; just show up and give it a try. You’ll gain so much from it! 34 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Duy Bach Nguyen BComm (Accountancy) Get familiar with the university campus (take a tour!) Connect with a Student Success Mentor. (I did in my first year and it really helped.) Visit the Student Success Centre, where you will find a lot of interesting and useful tips. Genevieve Salendres BA (Majors: Psychology and Political Science; Minor: Modern Arabic Language & Culture) Network! Get involved in activities on campus and meet a lot of people. Involvement and connections contribute to success, but be sure to balance academic and social activities.

Guillermo Boccagni BA (Political Science) Students are busy, often living on their own, so relying on fast food seems an easy fix – but that’s not good. It’s important to eat nutritious, balanced meals (which don’t need to be expensive) and drink water (it’s free!) so you can stay healthy and concentrate. Jane Ogbonna MA (Economics) Be open and willing to learn. Know what resources are available on campus and use them. Make friends, network. Classmates and other people are a resource, too!

All photos: America Blasco


Jenna Myers MFA (Studio Arts) Do things you are afraid of – take the challenge to learn and meet people. Developing relationships at university improves the educational experience. Jose Restrepo BA (Specialization: Psychology; Minor: Music) Have goals. Obstacles look different and your attitude changes when you have a clear goal. Also, find some extracurricular activities that fit with your interests and get involved. Lin Xu MCompSc (Computer Science) Stay active and have fun. Concordia has great sports facilities with lots of options, so there’s no reason not to be active. You’ll keep fit, meet new people, and be able to cope with stress better. Mohammed Abdullah BEng (Civil Engineering) Academics are important and you should work hard, but manage your time effectively and get involved in activities and societies, too. That way, you can get the full experience at Concordia.

Nathalia Ribeiro Ariza BComm (Major: Marketing; Minor: Management) Learn to manage your time well and if you are having difficulty, get help. Take a workshop or ask friends. Be realistic and adjust your schedule when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Stephanie Adler BSc (Specialization: Psychology; Minor: Canadian Irish Studies) Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks. That, combined with hard work and perseverance, will help get any job done.

Prabhjot Kaur Sekhon MEng (Software Engineering) Think about scheduling as an important part of university success. If you organize your schedule and time well, it will make things go more smoothly. Also, have a mentor, someone experienced who can help and guide you.

Urmi Hossain BComm (Major: International Business; Minor: Finance) Accept when things go wrong (sometimes they will!) and get back on track (without delay). Ask for help! Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate – keep your body in shape and your mind fresh so you can absorb all the information in class.

Rafael Sordili BA (Honours: Western Society & Culture; Major: Political Science) Take advantage of the diversity in the Concordia community. I’ve made friends from places I knew little about and they’ve taught me things and made me question some of the preconceived ideas I had about the world – now that’s education.

Student Success Centre

Yuxuan Zhang BSc (Biochemistry) Attend class and communicate with your classmates. Making friends on campus can add a lot to your success. Having a good relationship with your professors doesn’t harm either! Who's Who? To learn more about the mentors – their backgrounds and interests – check out their profiles on the Student Success Centre website. 

studentsuccess.concordia.ca facebook.com/studentsucccesscentre

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 35

By Rafael Sordili, BA (Western Society & Culture / Political Science) and Student Success Mentor

What is the first image that comes to mind when you think about university? Is it crowded lecture halls, stuffy libraries and daring all-nighters on the eve of finals? No? How about unsupervised freedom, pub crawls or parties? Well, while these two stereotypes are, in a sense, part of the famous college years, university is really so much more than just textbooks and festivities. University is the time for broadening your horizons, exploring your potential and laying the foundations of your future.

One of the main challenges we face in university is to devise a way to stand out from the crowd. You know how there are some students who just do the necessary? Every day, they do the same thing: go to class, go home, do the homework. That is absolutely all they do: class, home, homework – and nothing else. They are not hard to find, we all have classmates like that. These are not necessarily bad students; on the contrary, many people with high GPAs focus solely on excelling in their courses. The problem, however, is that by doing so, they miss out on so much of what higher education is all about. One of the main challenges we face in university is to devise a way to stand out from the crowd. The good news for Concordia students is that our university offers many opportunities for us to do that. All we need is to reach out and grab them. Let me tell you a bit about my personal experience and how I have tried to make myself unique. Maybe my story will inspire you to think about ways to develop your own unique identity and consequently, make your university education even more meaningful.

36 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

Rafael presenting at a conference in Syracuse, New York

Rafael and fellow mentors (2012-2013 team) – “We love helping other students and we love our job, too!” All photos: Rafael Sordili

Setting Personal Goals

I am pursuing an honours degree in western society & culture and a major in political science. My plan after graduation is to get into a PhD program, and possibly to become a university professor. In order to do that, I must fulfill two basic requirements: I need both good grades and an attractive academic CV. To achieve good grades, I make an effort to study hard, be actively engaged with all my classes and develop positive relationships with my profs. But marks are only one part of the necessary, right? What about the other half of the equation, that is, the kind of CV which shows who I really am, what kind of soft skills I have and what I might offer a prospective employer besides the requisite knowledge in my field? How will I make myself stand out?

Putting those Term Papers to Good Use

All my courses require me to write a final essay at the end of term. Being in my third year, I had many of these essays lying around, so I decided to put them to good use. I chose the best and submitted them to all the undergraduate academic conferences that I could find online. As a result of this effort, last year I presented papers at four different conferences, including two in the US. One of my essays even got accepted for publication in an academic journal! My strategy paid off – my academic CV is slowly gaining more and more entries.

University is the time for broadening your horizons, exploring your potential, and laying the foundations of your future. I enjoyed my experience at conferences so much that I decided to gather a group of friends in my program and organize one at Concordia. This idea gave rise to the 2013 Liberal Arts College Student Academic Conference, which enabled many students to add professional experience to their own academic CVs, be it with the presentation of a paper or as part of the administrative committee.

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 37

Getting Involved for Myself and for Others

I also complement my CV with Rafael enjoys assisting other students extra-curricular activities. For two years in his role as a Student Success Mentor now, I have been a Student Success Mentor. My job is to help first-year students make a successful transition into university life. I am responsible for a number of mentees with whom I communicate on a regular basis, answering their questions, addressing their concerns and helping them find a place for themselves within Concordia. As a mentor, I am also responsible for presenting workshops to other students. One of them is the International Opportunities workshop, aimed at students who wish to complement their university education with an experience abroad. Last year I also spearheaded the Student Success Centre’s “Movember” Campaign, geared to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research and male mental health. Since I moved to Montreal, I have made an effort to regularly do volunteer work. For example, every year I help out at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. I absolutely love volunteering there! Nowhere else can I get to contribute to the advancement of culture at the same time that I have the opportunity to listen to some very beautiful music. This year, I applied for membership in the 56th Garnet Key Society. The “Keys” are a group of students selected to be ambassadors of Concordia in official ceremonies, as well as to promote a positive image of the university to the community at large.

Enriching my Experience and my Education

Academic conferences, mentoring, the Garnet Key Society – they have all enriched my experience and my education at Concordia, and all are part of a strategy to make my CV interesting and help me stand out from the crowd. These activities reflect my personality and my tastes more than any GPA ever could. Ultimately, they illustrate the way in which I took charge of my own education.

Now, How about You?

You also have particular tastes and an individual personality that makes you unique. How will you use them to take charge of your education? Concordia has a wealth of opportunities for you. Just find out what’s out there and go for it – and if you need help exploring those opportunities, the Student Success Centre (LOY-AD 101 or SGW-H 440) is a great place to start. 

38 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

EXPERIENCING A BEHAVIOUR-BASED CONFLICT WITH A STUDENT, FACULTY OR STAFF MEMBER? We can help. The Office of Rights and Responsibilities Promoting a respectful campus concordia.ca/rights



The Ombuds Office Promoting fairness at Concordia concordia.ca/ombuds

BRIDGE 2013/2014 | 39

CAMPUS TOURS Take this opportunity to learn more about Concordia University! Student-guided tours on both the Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses are offered year-round. For more information, contact: Welcome Centre Tel: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4779

40 | BRIDGE 2013/2014

T14 -13827


Profile for Moonbark Studio

Bridge Magazine 2013-2014 Edition  

Bridge Magazine 2013-2014 Edition