Vivian Abboud


Vivian Abboud’s remarkable journey from Canadian immigrant to doctor of education graduate

June 15, 2016

Vivian Abboud’s passion for learning and community engagement drives her many life accomplishments. This spring she  reached a key milestone when she graduated from Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education with a doctor of education (Ed.D.)  in educational leadership.

In her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Abboud is already well known for the passion and aspirations she has carried with her since coming to Canada from Lebanon as a young bride. Throughout her life, she has challenged cultural expectations, particularly those relating to female immigrants, while also promoting education and giving back to her community.

When Abboud was ready to start on her doctoral journey, she knew she needed to find an education-focused program that would embody everything she was seeking: a global perspective; a focus on leadership pluralingualism; a backdrop of education in minority settings; conducted in French; with high academic rigour. After an exhaustive search, she found the only program with these qualities at SFU:  Educational Leadership - Gestion de la diversité, Ed.D..

Professor Cécile Sabatier, Abboud’s senior supervisor, offers high praise for Abboud and her doctoral work.

“Working with Vivian was an amazing journey as her passion for French is contagious. Her dissertation has provided a window in understanding the challenges, the expectations but also the dedication of French educators in minority settings."

For Abboud, the Ed.D. program has created an incredible network of peers whose paths are now beginning to cross professionally where they are in positions to collaborate and learn from different provincial practices.

“We delved into ethical dilemmas, social constructs, perspectives on governance, francophone and pluralingual contexts, inclusion and diversity issues, while building a platform for us to practice the theories presented. The impact of this program was not only on our professional careers, but on how it’s helped us to build a strong network as well.”

In order to complete her Ed.D. program in only five years, Abboud committed to writing at least one thesis page a day, even if she wouldn’t use it later. This relatively quick completion is a significant feat considering Abboud’s many competing responsibilities. These included a full-time job, mentoring immigrant women on management, and raising her family.

“I have the most loving and supportive husband and family. I could not have done this without their understanding and support,” she says.

Looking ahead, Abboud intends to continue to apply what she has learned from her doctoral experience at SFU to her work in Alberta’s Ministry of Education. She is also considering a foray into politics in the near future.

Here are some highlights of the recognition that Abboud received while at SFU for her extensive community engagement work in Edmonton and across Canada:

  • Nominated for YMCA Women of Distinction Awards
  • Celebrated as one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants
  • Recognized as one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40
  • Honoured as one of Canada Top 40 Women Change Makers by Canadian Living Magazine
  • Helped develop the Women of Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE)