by Eleanor Brown
Samar Musallam will
never forget her worst moment at Concordia. Despite disastrous marks,
she wanted to transfer into commerce. They essentially told me I
shouldnt even be in school, she said. But the tough response
turned her academic life around.
Shes graduating this month with a grade-point average of 4.19 (it
may go up as a late mark works its way through) in her chosen program,
womens studies, and shes on her way to law school.
I was very young when I started 17, Musallam said.
She is now 26. If I look back at who I was, I was just very confused,
I didnt have a focus on what was important to me. I had no idea
what I was doing [and] I didnt like it.
Much of Musallams childhood was spent travelling. Her parents fled
Lebanon as the civil war percolated, ending up in Saudi Arabia, but foreigners
cant get citizenship, and the family wanted a real home. In 1987
they tried Montreal, but couldnt find work. Finally, they settled
in Greece. She later came back alone to study at Concordia.
Musallam started in economics, then took a couple of years off to get
a college diploma in hotel and restaurant management and do an internship
in Washington, D.C. She came back and took random courses to find something
that would open my mind.
Womens studies turned out to be it.
She has also represented Concordia out in the world, appearing in Macleans
magazine to trumpet Concordia in the annual university rankings issue,
and in The Gazette for International Womens Day.
She told the Gazette reporter one of her heroes is Palestinian
doctor, academic and spokesperson Hannan Ashrawi. In response, I
got an anonymous call from someone saying, You should have chosen
Hitler, it would have been the same thing.
The camaraderie at Concordia is something she will cherish. No matter
where I end up, it will never be as open as here. Its so accepting
and open to discussion; I learned so much from my peers. I hope thats
something Ill experience again, but I doubt it.