Convocation Spotlight: Chanel Joncas

October 14, 2022

More than 12 years ago, Chanel Joncas began her post-secondary journey. She graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Ottawa. However, during her first year of studies she tragically lost her best friend. She left school, emotionally unable to face going back. In the decade that followed, Joncas travelled, eventually finding her way to Simon Fraser University, and ultimately realizing her dream of getting a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

After working as a nanny in Germany and backpacking through Central America, Joncas returned to Canada and became a WestJet flight attendant.

“I started when I was super young and I’ve been there ten years,” she says. “I’ve been doing that always intending to go back to school.”

Joncas credits her partner for helping her to return to university, as she found the process emotionally challenging.

“There was a lot of stigma associated with it because I had dropped out originally and I was afraid to go back,” she says. “I didn’t know if I could do it.”

After taking some courses at Langara College, Joncas applied and was accepted into SFU’s NATO Field School and Simulation Program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the field school took place online, rather than at SFU and in Europe. However, Joncas still benefitted from the program.

“It was incredible, even online,” she says. “It was really valuable academically. For example, the Russian academics who presented gave us a good understanding of how Russia sees the world. The simulations were also phenomenal. You gain a whole new respect for what diplomats do. You are immersed in the diplomatic world, and this is something that no other academic class could ever teach you.”

After the end of the field school, Joncas continued studying political science at SFU, and worked as a research assistant for Professor Radoslav Dimitrov. She enjoyed this experience and felt that it helped her to improve her own research skills.

“I tend to get so broad when I’m doing research and it takes me an incredible amount of time,” says Joncas. “As an RA, it was great that I learned how to look for keywords, be specific, and narrow things down.”

More research is in Joncas’ future, as she plans to go to graduate school after completing her BA. She won’t be giving up her work as a flight attendant, though.

“I’m looking at graduate school online either at King’s College London or the London School of Economics and Political Science,” says Joncas. “They have global culture and international relations programs that are being offered virtually. I know I will be losing a little bit of the experience of going to graduate school in person, but for me the online experience has always worked very well.”

After she finishes graduate school, Joncas does not have firm career plans, but she wants to give pursue another long-held dream: working for the United Nations.