From near-drop out to honours: SFU professor inspires criminology student’s success
By Poonam Kant
School of Criminology student Madelaine Desaulniers might give the impression that she is an ideal student. Soon to complete her BA - Criminology with Honours in Spring, 2020 at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Desaulniers is well on her way to becoming a lawyer.
Despite surface appearances, Desaulniers’ seemingly picturesque journey was not always her reality. Working 30 hours a week, taking six classes a semester and struggling to maintain a steady GPA, Desaulniers was once ready to entirely drop out of school.
“At first, I wasn’t close to the student I have become today,” she says. I felt defeated and was sacrificing my self-care for a long time in order to make room for a strenuous schedule.”
After the passing of her mother—a prosecutor in Calgary who always encouraged her daughter to attend SFU—Desaulniers knew that a change would be necessary if she were ever to make her dreams come true. Using her mother’s strong work ethic as a model, she began to turn her life around.
By her second year at SFU, she saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Desaulniers’ inspiration was sparked when she enrolled in a forensic science course with Gail Anderson. Excited by the possibilities of merging science and law, she hustled her way out of an academic hole.
Showing up to class regularly, taking extensive notes and making it a habit to pay attention during lectures, Desaulniers saw a significant improvement in her grades, beating her class averages by entire letter grades. The generosity and support from SFU faculty helped to build her self-confidence.
With full belief in her ability to persevere and overcome any challenges thrown her way, Desaulniers is now developing her thesis within the field of neuro-criminology. She hopes to make several changes to Canada’s justice system and appreciates that SFU has allowed her to make her dreams a reality.
“SFU is a real treat,” Desaulniers says. “There are many, many opportunities to succeed and learn from some of the best in the field. I want to make a big difference in society, and the honours program has helped me overcome some of the self-doubts, such as my fear of public speaking.”
After facing numerous personal trials, she is ready for a new type of trial. Following in the footsteps of her late mother, Desaulniers aspires to see herself in court as crown prosecutor one day. It’s a goal that may seem daunting to some, but with her level of determination, should be no sweat.