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June 7, 2001 Great Grads (page 1)



Ali Mohammadi

Ali Mohammadi

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Ali Mohammadi made international students feel at home

When Ali Mohammadi looks at his Concordia ID card from 1996, he sees another person.

“I see I am so different. My way of thinking has changed, and I have grown so much,” said Mohammadi, who has just earned his BComm in Management and Information Services.

Mohammadi, now 25, had studied away from Iran, his home country and the place where his family still lives, for about 10 years, in such places as the U.S., Malaysia and Turkey. At Concordia, he distinguished himself as a leader particularly among international students.

Soon after arriving in Montreal, Mohammadi joined and reinvigorated Concordia’s International Students Association, which was not particularly active at the time. He suggested a structure with elected officials to coordinate activities, and outreach to international students would become the group’s focus. He was elected CISA president for 1999-2000.

CISA runs a newsletter, and has organized trips to Quebec and the Thousand Islands. Many of their events help students experience local culture that they might not discover on their own. And the Friday before Labour Day, the CISA holds an orientation for new students with speakers and returning international students to share experiences and advice about Concordia and Montreal.

“I think only students can tell other students how it is,” he said. Tips about which long-distance plan is the cheapest and suggestions about renting an apartment seem really simple, but they are just two examples.

“Ali has really done a lot to integrate international students,” said Pat Hardt, assistant coordinator of the International Students Office. “He is a delight, and has been a great ambassador for the university.”

Mohammadi has been nominated for the Malone Medal, which recognizes a student for effort and dedication within Concordia. The winner will be announced at convocation. Last year, he won a CCSL Outstanding Contribution award.

As president, Mohammadi helped secure space for the association, and commissioned a huge painting of the world on the back wall of the office.

Students use the map to mark their birthplaces, and the push-pins span the globe. As Mohammadi pointed at the pin representing his homeland, he stepped back and paused, a confident smile crossing his face. It is a striking image, and light years away from the photo on his ’96 ID.

—Jane Shulman

Jessica Greenberg

Jessica Greenberg

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Engineer Jessica Greenberg got involved—and enjoyed it

During her final and busiest year in Concordia’s Mechanical Engineering program, Jessica Greenberg served as vice-president internal for the Engineering and Computer Science Student Association.

She was also a founding member of Concordia’s Golden Key Society chapter, helped organize National Engineering Week, career fairs and blood drives, and did charity work with the Royal Order of Buffalo, a group of community-oriented engineers recognizable by their large, furry buffalo hats.

“I’m not happy when I’m bored,” she said simply. “I didn’t plan to take on so much, but all these things kept coming along.”

Originally from Calgary, Greenberg was part of the Engineering Co-op program. The work terms helped her land a job with a Montreal-area engineering firm months before convocation.

She will work as a junior engineer specializing in heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems, starting in September, when she returns from a three-month trip in Europe.

“Work terms helped me decide what I wanted my specialty to be. It allowed me to figure out what I liked best, and I was also able to connect with companies .”

Her activities outside the classroom also made a difference to potential employers. “At ECA, I learned about responsibility, organization and working with people,” she said. “Extra-curricular skills are what helps you in the real world, and that’s what companies are looking for. I learned that there are lots of different people in the world, and you have to get along with them all.”

Unlike many student groups, the ECA is apolitical. It’s focused on helping students by setting up exam banks, newsletters, activities outside school, and helping the community with fundraisers for local charities.









Sandra Alfody: A long, long way from Martha Stewart

In the popular imagination, “craft” conjures such images as beeswax candles shaped like world leaders, or pressed-pansy drink coasters with lace trim. Hear the word “craft” and... “You’re immediately thinking Martha Stewart, aren’t you?” suggests Sandra Alfody, giggling.

Fresh from defending her PhD thesis, “An Intricate Web(b): American Influences on Professional Craft in Canada, 1964-1974,” Alfody’s take on “craft” doesn’t involve picking wildflowers at dawn or harvesting a personal supply of honeybees.

Her study of craft history concerns ceramics, metal, wood, and fibre arts. Having full-time artists for parents, and growing up near craft hotbeds like Nelson, B.C., Alfody admits, “I just couldn’t help myself.”

Alfody graduated from the University of Victoria’s undergraduate painting program in 1992, and was surprised to find a rigid division between “art” and “craft.” Painters, she was told, are expected to simply paint.

“I was curious about why those distinctions were drawn,” she recalls. Craft history is an emerging academic area, and Alfody praises Concordia’s emphasis on interdisciplinary study, and the guiding influence of instructors such as Lydia Sharman and Catherine MacKenzie.

She is set to start a post-doctoral fellowship on “Race and Ethnicity in North American Craft” at the University of Rochester, and has an “über-goal” of teaching craft history topics.

“Within art history departments, there’s a growing interest in craft and craft history. Craft is coming into its own.”

As a certain zillionaire multi-media mogul might say, “It’s a good thing.”

—James Martin


Megan Bochner

Megan Bochner

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Megan Bochner: Turned on to learning — by living

Megan Bochner took her time before settling at Concordia three years ago, and her experiences along the way have enriched her life in school and beyond.

Bochner, originally from Toronto, struggled in an alternative high school and graduated at 20. Then she worked, and travelled through Europe and Israel for a year.

At 26, Bochner is about to receive her BA in women’s studies.

Despite her academic achievements, including being nominated for valedictorian at this year’s convocation, Bochner is quick to say that she doesn’t think of herself as a scholar.

“I had a hard time for my first two years, and I came really close to dropping out,” she said. “I have always struggled with being in the system. But I have always liked learning and I was always curious.”

Much of Bochner’s learning happened outside the classroom, when she started to work at Chez Doris, a shelter for homeless women in downtown Montreal, in 1999.

She began interning as part of her course-work for Concordia’s HIV/AIDS: Aspects of the Pandemic class.

She was hired as a weekend worker then made permanent about a year ago. Her job incorporates all aspects of keeping the shelter running, including crisis intervention and helping women find resources.

“The HIV course helped me find my purpose. That year, I finished my work on time for the first time ever. I started finding more meaning to what I was learning.” Internships should be part of every program, because they help students put their learning into practice, she added.

“People in the arts have something to offer, too, and community organizations could really use them. We have structures set up to place commerce and engineering students in big business, but what about [placing arts students in] community organizations?”

This winter, Bochner was accepted in McGill’s social work program. She recently began the 14-month intensive program.

Lillian Robinson, principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, said that Bochner is exceptional because she is using her women’s studies degree as it is intended. “She’s a brilliant student who found through her specialization in women’s studies and her internship a career connected to women’s studies.”


Two Silver Medallists again this year, both ‘perfect’

For the second year in a row, Huguette Albert, of the Office of the Registrar, has to phone Rideau Hall for another medal.

Two students have tied for the top undergraduate marks, Marie-Andrée Boucher and Marleigh Greaney. Last year, the two winners had a GPA of 4.26, but this year, Boucher and Greaney have perfect grad-point averages of 4.3.

Boucher has been a Co-op student in Actuarial Mathematics, and was awarded the Gilles-Joncas Bursary for being the best university co-op student in Quebec.

An early winner of scholarships going back to her high-school days, she won several scholarships at Concordia, and has put in four work terms while earning her perfect grades. She has also been writing the nine gruelling exams set by the professional actuarial society, in which she has also excelled.

Her first two work terms were with Ernst and Young in Toronto, where she perfected her English, and she subsequently worked at Standard Life and Axa Insurance here in Montreal. She launched her career with Ernst and Young in Montreal in January.

Marleigh Greaney, who also got perfect marks, is a spring graduate in Economics. Unfortunately, she could not be reached for an interview, but we extend our hearty congratulations.


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