By Renée Hartleib |
Meet some of Saint Mary's newest alumni. All six of these featured grads have made a big impact in their time at Saint Mary's and will continue to be bright lights in their chosen fields.
Another thing these outstanding individuals have in common is their belief that attending university is about more than just sitting in a classroom. Everyone in this small group gave of themselves as peer mentors, as representatives in student government, as business collaborators, as innovative agents for change, and as leaders and role models for the next generation.
And as each one attests, their gifts of time and energy were returned to them, times ten. Friendships, fun, travel opportunities, expanded networks, and confidence top the list of positive experiences these grads gained when they gave back during their years at Saint Mary's.
Each and every one of them make a direct link between the extent of their campus involvement and their personal levels of happiness and success. Read on for an inspiring glimpse of how these extraordinary new alumni will make their own unique waves in the world.
Less than three years in Canada and Xijie (Doris) Wu’s personal and professional networks are likely more extensive than yours or mine. It’s a far cry from June of 2013 when she moved to Halifax without knowing a soul. How did she do it? Quite simply, by becoming involved.
After two years of credit hours in China, Doris chose Saint Mary's for its excellent reputation and transferred for her third and fourth years of business study. Once here, she jumped in with both feet, immediately taking advantage of the career workshops hosted by Career Services and participating in myriad networking events.
Add to that her involvement in a host of volunteer opportunities, and Doris quickly became one of Saint Mary’s most recognizable faces on campus. Student journalist, Safe at SMU facilitator, Here for Peers Project Coordinator, and group leader for the Speak Up Society, Doris did it all.
“The most important thing I learned at SMU was that being involved does pay off,” she says. “People often complain about not having enough time or motivation to stay involved with campus activities with a full-time course load. If I had just focused on my academics instead of participating in any activities, I would have missed out on a lot of opportunities to grow my skillset and reach my potential. I would not have made as many friends, and I would have less confidence.”
The 25-year-old graduated in January with a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing Major). Her keen interest in digital marketing and learning programming will drive further learning and Doris looks forward possibly starting her own business or joining a marketing organization.
One thing is certain: she is definitely staying connected to the place she got her start in Canada. “Being a SMU alumni is an honour and I am excited to stay connected with the SMU community and continue to give back.”
After three years of junior hockey following high school, Brad Greene was offered a SMU hockey scholarship. He has spent the last four years proving himself on the ice and in the classroom, and learning the fine arts of time management and work-life balance along the way.
Juggling sports and books is never an easy feat. This modest 25-year-old, originally from Tilting, Newfoundland—a rural community on the northeast coast (population 150!) —is quick to credit the support of his professors, coaches, and the Saint Mary’s community for helping him achieve both academic and athletic success.
“Being a student athlete requires a lot of sacrifice, but also a lot of support from professors, who gave a lot of their own time to accommodate me. I learned how important it was to put the extra effort in when they were so willing to help me. It seemed like the only appropriate way to show them how much I appreciated what they were doing for me.”
Brad also took the time to be involved in various campus activities including hockey schools, tutoring, peer mentoring, soup kitchens, and a trip to rural Africa. But in terms of ‘giving back,’ Brad likes to think that his biggest impact has been as a role model for future student athletes who are interested in both athletics and academics. “I hope I showed them that if you are willing to put the time and effort in, then you can succeed in both areas.”
Graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Chemistry, Brad is going on to attend Memorial University Medical School next fall. “SMU has taught me so much. It has definitely helped me grow as a person.”
“When you are inspired by the people around you, you know that you are in the right place.” And 25-year-old Ali Algermozi has certainly had an inspiring year. As the Co-President of Saint Mary’s Enactus team, he was heartily involved in the lead-up to their huge national win last May that saw their “Startup 100” earn best First Project Partnership in Canada.
The Startup 100 provided over 125 youth from 50 communities across Nova Scotia with the opportunity to design, plan, and implement business ideas that would reenergize their local economies - all over the course of 100 days. Working under this kind of pressure, Ali and his colleagues quickly saw what they were made of. “Meeting constant deadlines allowed me to build my organizational, time management, and interpersonal skills.” Three things that have been constantly needed during his five-year school career with a triple major in Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations.
Born in Yemen and raised in Halifax, Ali pursued other avenues of work before coming to Saint Mary's, including a career in networking systems and a stint as a yoga studio operator. But, when he joined the Sobey School of Business, it felt like a match made in heaven. “I have been welcomed with open arms and I see myself really striving and growing, not only on a professional level but on a personal level as well.”
It’s Saint Mary’s culture of giving back that has most resonated with Ali. He challenged himself to become as engaged as possible in both extracurricular activities and community involvement. In addition to his commitment to Enactus, he also worked at the Sobey School of Business Development Centre, served on SMUSA’s Board of Directors, and acted as VP External for the Sobey School of Business Commerce Society.
“My experience at SMU has allowed me to drive change by giving back and helping others.”
Not only has Laura Langille excelled on the basketball court, but she made the Dean’s list every year of her last five in psychology at Saint Mary’s and achieved Academic All-Canadian status every one of those years. In 2014, she was also honoured with the prestigious President’s Award for academic and athletic excellence.
Having been recruited by Saint Mary’s to play basketball, the Labrador native feels proud of the fact that as team captain, she has led the Huskies through several successful seasons, winning three Atlantic University Sport championship titles and netting two bronze and one silver medal at the CIS National Championships.
But the 22-year-old didn’t stop at success in the classroom and on the court. With a deep interest in helping people and with a special passion for igniting resiliency in others, she became a LEAP peer mentor for first year students and was a lead facilitator for Safe at SMU about sexual consent. In addition, having sensed a void for first year athletes, Laura also created a student athlete peer-mentoring program called Here for Peers.
“SMU helped me uncover my passion for mental well-being and resiliency, which led to me studying psychology,” she says. “It was exciting for me to be able to give back to the university community that brought all of this to light for me.”
Laura has been accepted to the Masters of Counselling Psychology program at McGill University for this upcoming school year. Her area of specialty will focus on individuals who have experienced traumatic setbacks in their lives, helping them achieve a sense of resiliency and accomplishment.
Amali Armony’s first year at Saint Mary’s was rough. The 26-year-old, originally from St. Kitts & Nevis in the eastern Caribbean, had trouble fitting in. Connecting with the Caribbean Society helped, but it was during his third year, when he became involved in SMUSA, that things really clicked into place.
Originally hired as their marketing coordinator, Amali quickly grew his aspirations, becoming the Associate VP of Promotions and then VP of University Affairs. It seemed only natural that he would run for President next, and after a “humbling” win, took office in May of 2015.
According to Amali, the last few years have really helped him define his life purpose: being of service to others. And he is extraordinarily proud of the work he has accomplished on behalf of the student body. From increases to financial aid to improved bus shelters to the construction of gender neutral bathrooms, the SMUSA President fulfilled his desire to give back to the Saint Mary’s community.
“Community values are what I hold dear, so SMU was an excellent fit. Not only did the university’s solid community and family values resonate with me, but I feel I significantly added to the lifeblood of this great institution.” Amali was well known for his support of individual students and also a diverse array of Saint Mary’s societies. Bangladeshi Night, Saudi Night, and Africa Night are now important and funded Saint Mary’s events because of Amali’s support.
After his formal graduation in October from the political science program, Amali hopes to return to St. Kitts & Nevis and find employment with an NGO working to improve communities and eradicate poverty. He is also passionate about the quality of education that young people receive and plans to get involved with the Ministry of Education.
Tristan Brow knows that the opportunity to travel internationally would not have been possible without Saint Mary’s unique programming and her own willingness to be involved. In 2013, just after receiving Saint Mary’s Student Leadership Recognition Award, she volunteered to travel to Florida with the Saint Mary’s Habitat for Humanity Society to help build homes in an area affected by a recent hurricane. Then, in 2015, Tristan had a chance to travel again—this time to the Gambia in West Africa where a Geography Field Course touched on such topics as community forestry, climate change issues, waste management, ecotourism and environmental education.
This experience was directly in line with Tristan’s education and career trajectory. She graduated in January with a Bachelor of Science, double major in Environmental Science and Geography, and has been accepted at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland to take an Advanced Diploma in Water Quality starting in September.
Originally from the small fishing village of Havre Boucher, Tristan hopes to find international work ensuring safe drinking water for those in need. No small feat! But the 24-year-old isn’t afraid of hard work. She held two jobs during her full-time studies at Saint Mary’s, as a Residence Assistant and an Alumni Assistant, and also served as Vice-President of the Saint Mary’s University Environmental Society.
“The most important thing I learned at SMU was that there is more to the university experience then what you learn in the classroom,” says Tristan. “If I hadn’t put myself out there, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I got to meet some amazing people along the way.”