Every Marianopolis College student has a unique story to tell. Below are the stories of these recent Commerce graduates:
Commerce student is first Quebec teen to sing at Carnegie Hall
She’s solving Calculus II problems and conducting a study on test anxiety among teenagers for her Research Methods course. She’s also working on getting her demo to über music producer David Foster. And she’s packing her bags for Carnegie Hall.
Anastasia Johnson – first-year Marianopolis College Commerce student, piano-player since age 3 and aspiring entertainment-law attorney – participated in the American High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, reserved for North America’s highest rated pre-university performers.
When she took the famed stage on February 19, 2011, she became the first student from Quebec to participate in the program’s 20-plus-year history. She was among 13 Canadians included in the year 2011’s 200 participants, who also hailed from 48 states, Korea and Taiwan.
“Whatever Anastasia is passionate about, she immerses herself in that endeavour and gives maximum effort,” says Biology Prof. Celestino Di Flumeri.
A month into her first semester at Marianopolis, she flew to California to perform in three concerts in the Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival.
The Outremont resident came to Marianopolis from The Study, where she co-founded The Study School Arts Celebration Awards Ceremony to support excellence in the arts. She started an intergenerational music program at several nursing homes in Montreal, in collaboration with mentors from the NDG Y and McGill University Health Center.
Shortly before graduating from The Study, she received the Quebec Lieutenant Governor’s Youth Medal in recognition of her outstanding academic, personal and community achievements. Her many efforts have also earned her the 2010 YMCA Community Service Prize; The Study’s inaugural 2010 Anna Squared Choice Award, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the arts; and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award. Jamaica’s Governor General presented her with an Award of Excellence for helping found an annual benefit concert in Kingston.
At Marianopolis, she is co-president of the College’s World Universities Services of Canada Committee, which fosters human-development education, training and international volunteer cooperation.
How is it that only into her first semester, she made her mark in the music field, a bit far from her parents’ field of dentistry and medicine? (Her father, Dexter Johnson, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon; her mother, Anita Brown-Johnson, is assistant professor of medicine at McGill University, as well as director of the MUHC Department of Family Medicine, Secondary Care Division, and medical director of MUHC’s Office of Post-Hospital Care and Community Support.)
“I love music, all aspects of it,” she says. “I hope to have a career in something related to entertainment, such as entertainment law. For now, Marianopolis is giving me a chance to learn about a variety of options.”
Tutor, Honours and more
What plans do you have for university? I want to study financial management or marketing, hopefully at Queens University.
What’s your favourite thing about Marianopolis? The blueberry muffins and working at Wayne’s Counter.
What do you do outside class at Marianopolis? When summer comes along, I like being outside on the front lawn getting some sun with my friends. Also, I tutor math in the Learning Resources Centre. My pre-calculus teacher, Prof. Louise Nobile, recommended me as a tutor. I get paid but even if I didn’t, I would still offer my services and help others. I enjoy math because it challenges me but that is also the reason why I dislike it sometimes. When I spend a lot of time trying to solve a certain question and finally solve it and get it right, I feel really happy.
What are you proudest of? My creativity, my artistic abilities.
What are the five things you can’t live without? Art, travelling, sugar, courage and laughter.
Favourite professor? Dr. Vanessa Sasson. She is so passionate about the material she teaches. She encourages us to be curious.
Favourite class? The humanities class Virtuous Bodies. It is built on the theme of renunciation. I have the privilege of learning about Hinduism and Buddhism. We get to explore another way of life that is, in a way, the complete opposite of what Western society believes. This class is also unique because we do not get to know our marks until the end of the semester.
Best Marianopolis memory to date? When I fell in the middle of the Cafeteria during my first year. A group of guys were joking around. I’m not sure what happened but one of them lost his balance and fell backwards and then fell on top of me. I was smooshed under him. I got up and laughed about it with my friends.
Why did you choose to come to Marianopolis? Because of the College’s dedication and commitment to excellence. I also liked that it is smaller than other schools.
What makes you a “Marianopolis student”? I work hard and I’m committed to striving for excellence. And I always wear my Marianopolis hoodie around my house!
The best part of being a Marianopolis student? ‘The teachers’
For Marguerite Yang, chess is the perfect complement to art. “The two are opposite yet complementary. With chess everything goes on inside; with art everything is expressed externally,” says Yang, who loves choir, piano, flute and painting – and who also happens to be Canada’s under-18 girls’ representative to the World Chess Federation’s Youth Chess Championship being held in Greece. She is also Canadian vice-champ in the under-18 girls category.
This won’t be the LaSalle resident’s first world chess championship. The summer after she graduated from Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine, she was part of the Canadian team that competed in an international event in Vietnam.
She started playing chess at age 12 somewhat by accident. “One of my mother’s friends is a chess teacher and I tried it and liked it.” Now, as president of Marianopolis’ Chess Club (which boasts 60-plus students), she promotes chess as an academic tool:
“I tell students that chess teaches you to stay at a certain place for a long period of time and think deeply. This is helpful when you need to focus, for example, to write a paper.”
Yang plans to study finance or international economics somewhere in North America.
What does she find the best part of being a Marianopolis student? “The teachers. They are very cool and they always have some special techniques or some ways to make you learn and to make class very interesting.”
‘Education is the necessary catalyst to promote change’
For a student with high marks, Zareen Ali has some surprising things to say about studying. “You have to have some kind of a distraction from school,” says the Dean’s list student. “You can’t focus on your academics 24/7. An important part of being a student is to be involved in the community.”
And involved she is, from representing Marianopolis College at a number of events as a Silver Key ambassador to participating in several student clubs, including the Muslim Students’ Association and Crayons.
Her inspiration to start Crayons came in Jaipur, India, where she met a woman named Shrimati Vimla Kumavah. “For the last eight years, she has single-handedly been running a school for over 80 underprivileged children,” explains Ali, a second-year Commerce student who grew up in Saint Laurent. “Aside from providing them with a formal education, she gives them uniforms, books and school supplies and she pays for the teacher salaries out of her own pocket. Meeting her solidified my belief that education is the necessary catalyst to promote socio-economic change in every strata of society.”
Through several campus events since the school year started, Ali has raised over $1,000 to create educational kits, including basic school supplies for children throughout the developing world.
The youngest of three sisters to attend Marianopolis, Ali hopes to study law or accounting next fall. Her sister Amena studied law at the University of Ottawa and her sister Maria graduated from medical school at the University of Montreal.
Zareen and Amena spent last summer at Abhilasha (“hope” in Hindi), a school for blind and handicapped children that their uncle Aruns in Rajanandgaon. “To watch someone help others receive an education is amazing,” she says of him and Kumavah – echoing what many would say of her.