Unexpected opportunities

October 05, 2006, volume 37, no. 3
By Stuart Colcleugh

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A bachelor of arts degree in four years followed by a career in journalism. That was the game plan, says John Grant, one of four students speaking at convocation ceremonies this month. But plans change. It took Grant six years to get his degree and now he most definitely does not want to be a journalist.

Grant, who speaks at the afternoon ceremony on Oct. 5, attributes the changes to SFU's co-op program, which "gave me the most out of my university experience."

Following terms with the White Rock Arts Council and the Canada Research Chairs program in Ottawa, Grant completed a "disheartening" stint in Greece as a journalist at the 2004 summer Olympics. So, journalism was out. But his last term was with SFU's co-op program itself, where he's now working on contract with hopes for a fulltime gig as marketing and communications coordinator. Not surprisingly, Grant intends to relay the message that "plans don't always unfold as you expect, so capture opportunities when they come along."

Sarah Lubik, another co-op alumna who graduates with an honours bachelor of business administration degree and speaks at the morning ceremony on Oct. 6, also expects to address the merits of jumping at unexpected opportunities. "You can always go back to the road you started on," she says, "but you can't always go back to the opportunities that came up along the way."

Although originally thinking of a law career, Lubik is now focused on international business. A co-op research project with SFU's business faculty led her last summer to a related project at Cambridge University. That led to her most recent position at Cambridge as a project coordinator with ACHIEVE, one of the Europe-Innova initiatives devoted to increasing the success rate of European high-tech startup companies. Lubik intends to return to work with Europe-Innova, become fluent in French and continue travelling throughout Europe.

On the other hand, Melanie Roth, who graduates with a bachelor of education degree, is already doing exactly what she planned: teaching at Mount Crescent elementary school in Maple Ridge.

"I was pretty lucky," says Roth, who speaks at the afternoon ceremony on Oct. 6. The married mother of two taught pre-school for 10 years and took a hiatus to raise her kids before returning as a mature student to finish her degree. "I think the theme for my speech will be about journeys," she says. "We all think we're coming to the end of something here, but really it's just a beginning."

Hasan Alam's academic career is also going according to plan. "I'm writing the law school admission test this weekend and hope to start law school next year," says Alam, who graduates with a bachelor of arts degree and speaks at the morning ceremony on Oct. 5.

Alam is the west zone representative for Muslim Students Association National, a past president of the Muslim Students Association on campus, a board member with Creative Peace Networks and a founding member of the campus Palestinian Human Rights Committee.

For his address, he says, "I'll probably speak about the value of a B.A. and the importance of retaining in the real world the critical thinking skills we've acquired while obtaining our degrees."

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