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October 24, 2002 Great grads



Manon Daisomont

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Manon Daisomont's son fuelled her ambition

Manon Daisomont, an honours psychology graduate, is one of 20 people who has been accepted into McGill’s speech therapy program. She hopes to work in the school system as a speech therapist.

“I’ve always liked working with languages,” she said, “but I always thought I’d have to be an interpreter to do so.” When her son was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, Daisomont got to see an entirely different side of language work: speech therapy. The more sessions she and her child attended at hospitals, private practices and schools, the more fascinated she became.

“I grew up perfectly bilingual and never thought much about knowing two languages,” she said. “Watching my son struggling with one language, I realized that there really is a science to this.”

She received little encouragement from the first universities she called. Then she called Concordia. “The support was incredible,” she said. “Every time I had an obstacle, Brigeen [Badour, Mature Student Advisor] had a solution.”

Since Concordia does not have a speech therapy program, Badour recommended taking a psychology degree as a precursor to a master’s at another university. Daisomont agreed. She quit the computer and finance-related job she had held for 17 years, and started a daily commute to Concordia from the Eastern Townships.

She found the transition to school hard and lonely. “That first September, I took a stats course. I can remember walking in and thinking, there’s no one in this room more than 21 years old.”

Since then, Daisomont has bonded with her fellow students and professors, especially this last year, when the rigours and intimacy of the honours psychology program forged the 14 students into a tight, supportive group.

“I’m really sad to be leaving Concordia,” she said. “I’ll miss the personal aspect, but I’m excited about this coming year.”

- Scott McRae








Anna Sheftel

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Linguist Anna Sheftel is going to Oxford

When Anna Sheftel came to university, she knew she wanted to work with language, culture and people. She took on an honours linguistic program, then spread her energies — as a teaching assistant, working at a center for mentally disabled adults, working at two women’s shelters and, during her summer breaks, travelling.

She didn’t want just to backpack. She felt that backpacking was a superficial form of travel, so instead she volunteered with aid agencies and helped disabled children in Yorkshire and France, taught in Hungary and in a Thai jungle and, in the process, learned several languages.

Since she enjoys both the intellectual challenge of school and the hands-on experience of social work, she debated whether to pursue her practical or theoretical interests after graduation. She opted to combine the two. Next year she will take a master’s in refugee studies at Oxford, one of three universities in the world that offer such a program, and will specialize in Eastern Europe.

It’s a big switch from linguistics, she explained, but a natural one for her. “While I was travelling in Eastern Europe, I really got interested in the Roma people,” she said. “I was disgusted by what they are put through. They’re the last lepers.”

Although she admires Montreal’s multiculturalism, especially after seeing terrible examples of segregation while abroad, she finds helping immigrants and social work in Quebec frustrating. “There’s lack of money and lack of support. It makes me want to work at a higher level.”

She may well do so, though her future career is uncharted. Non-governmental organizations? Academia? The UN? Any of these is possible, but right now she’s focused on the next step, Oxford.

- Scott McRae


Cristina Juristo

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Cristina Juristo won top co-op translation award

Cristina Juristo had 10 years of experience as an administrative assistant in Montreal and her native Spain when she applied to Concordia’s translation program in 1999. Because she scored high in her entrance exam, she was also admitted to the co-op program, which allows students to alternate studying with career-related work terms.

Four years later, Juristo has been awarded the Mary-Coppin Award from OTTIAQ (the Ordre des Traducteurs, Terminologues et Interprètes aggrées du Québec). This prize is presented annually to the best graduating translation student in Quebec.

University-level translation programs are offered at five Quebec universities — McGill, Laval, Université de Montréal and Université de Québec en Outaouais. For the award, only one candidate is submitted from each university.

With her good marks and success in difficult work terms, Cristina was in every way the ideal candidate. Employers have commented on the excellence of her syntax, her rich vocabulary and the quality of her research.

Mary Coppin, a translator who gave the money for the prize, will present the award at the fall convocation ceremony, because Cristina had already made arrangements to travel and could not attend her graduation ceremony in June.

- Sabrina Crespi


Christina Hétu this spring.


Christina Hétu's BA is a personal triumph

In the spring of 2000, Christina Hétu was poised to graduate with a bachelor of arts in economics. She and her brother Edmond Jr., who graduated from Concordia at the same time, even had photos taken in caps and gowns.

However, flu-like symptoms prevented her from writing her final exams. Several months later, a biopsy revealed a tumour in her chest. After three exhausting years, Hétu will have her BA in hand next week at spring convocation.

“When I start something, I want to finish it,” Hétu said, flanked by her parents.

Hétu, now wearing her wavy dark hair tied back, said that her parents inspired her to persevere. Father Edmond Sr. retired early to care for her and the lives of mother Lena and Edmond Jr. revolved around her. A practising Catholic, she also found solace in her faith.

Before falling ill, Hétu had volunteered in several local hospitals. In the past three years, she got to know hospitals from a patient’s perspective. She attempted to complete her two missing courses during a period of remission in 2001, but the cancer returned. The illness made her drowsy and she had difficulty concentrating. Subsequently, she endured the strongest treatment yet and lost her hair.

She passed her two final courses in the 2003 winter semester, a feat that she said was facilitated by her professors and the staff in the Economics Department and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Professor Frank Müller taught Hétu Advanced Environmental Economics last semester. Müller said that he was touched by Hétu’s determination, especially because many of his students are apathetic towards their studies.
Now in remission, Hétu focuses on what was gained. “I tried not to dwell on [the illness], but to used it to make me stronger,” she said.

Hétu is currently applying for jobs as an economics researcher or editor. She talked excitedly about beginning salsa lessons, painting and getting her driver’s license. She also hopes to start a private counselling service on the side.

Her enthusiasm is remarkable given that her prognosis is poor. “‘There are so many things that I want to do that there’s not enough time,” she said. “I have to focus on one thing at a time.”

- Melanie Takefman


Photo by Dahlia Liwsze

Mission to Belize

As soon as their exams were over, Edward Joseph (left) and Kristopher Gibbs (right) went with 10 other students from Concordia and McGill on a Christian mission to Belize. The small Central American country is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Iris, which left 15,000 people homeless in October 2001.  
While they were there, the students did some manual relief work, and provided spiritual support for residents, including young people.

- Dahlia Liwsze 



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