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After an 11-year journey, SFU grad dedicates his degree to late grandfather
By Vivien Lee
After 11 years, Alexandre Paré’s graduation from Simon Fraser University’s French and business programs marks the end to a difficult, but rewarding journey. He suffered a life-altering car accident, started a successful business and marched on to complete his degree. More than anything, Paré hopes he will continue his late grandfather’s entrepreneurial legacy and to make him proud.
“I started at SFU when I was 18 and I’m just graduating this year as I turn 30, but I’ve been able to accomplish so much. I believe education is a lifelong pursuit and I’ll never stop,” says Paré.
Born and raised in Québec, Paré grew up an athlete and wanted to become an athletic director one day. He spent many hours training on the track at his high school in Sherbrooke, a sports-focused school with Olympic-calibre alumni.
In 2009, when Paré was deciding on where to go to university, SFU was approved as the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the world’s largest college sports organization. In addition to sports, he was interested in business school and saw how well-ranked the Beedie School of Business was in Canada. As well, his grandfather always encouraged him to immerse in a new culture and to learn a new language.
So in 2010, 18-year-old Paré who didn’t speak any English, moved to Vancouver armed with his love for track and field and his family’s support. He began taking a variety of courses and worked towards his goal of becoming a teacher and an athletic director.
But in 2013, as Paré wrapped up his third year, he got into a major car accident in Québec. His body was fractured in 14 places and he sustained brain injury. Over the next few years Paré would undergo eight surgeries. However, he never stopped learning and completed courses between surgeries.
In the summer of 2016, when Paré was ready to return to SFU to finish his last few courses he faced another setback. His doctors recommended another round of rehabilitation because his brain injury wasn’t healing as well as they had hoped.
Despite not being able to return to SFU for another two years, Paré didn’t waste any time and worked towards his goal of becoming an athletic director by completing his coach certification with Athletics Canada. He also started helping student athletes get recruited by colleges because track and field was such a big part of his life. He worked on this project with his friend Brett Montrose, whom he met in first year at SFU in track and field.
At first, he didn’t think it would be possible to balance his studies and the project, which would eventually turn into a company called Streamline Athletes. Then he learned about entrepreneurship co-op (eCoop) through Janice OBriain, director at Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection. In January 2019, Paré received a $10,000 grant from the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship to work on his company full-time in SFU’s incubator program while also receiving co-op credits. By April 2021, he completed four co-op terms to build the company and finished the last four classes of his bachelor’s degree. Today Streamline Athletes is a team of 26 people employing 16 SFU alumni and co-op students.
“SFU made it possible for me to graduate. The people were so understanding about my situation with the accident and my studies,” says Paré.
“My instructors Clay Braziller and Kamal Masri encouraged me to continue school. The doctors at SFU and the Centre for Accessible Learning helped me through. eCoop with Venture Connection allowed me to simultaneously finish school and pursue my startup. I’m probably one of the luckiest humans to be able to receive this much support.”
As Paré walks across the virtual convocation stage in June, he hopes that he made his grandfather, Norman Paré proud. His grandfather was a successful entrepreneur who championed the importance of education. “He’s the reason why SFU was possible for me. This year I’m finishing the degree that he invested so much into,” shares Paré. “The biggest thing he wanted me to do was to get out of Québec and to learn a new culture and language. I think I’ve done that.”
This story was originally published in SFU News.