Class President for the Faculty of Arts spring 2019 convocation
The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute is proud to learn that Abigail Roche has been selected as Class President for the Faculty of Arts spring 2019 convocation. Abigail has distinguished herself throughout her academic career at uOttawa, as shown by her many scholarships and awards, namely the CIBC Mentorship Scholarship. Abigail is a global citizen and loves to experience other cultures through travel to destinations such as France, where she did her summer exchange, as well as East Timor and Australia, where she volunteered for five months. In addition to Canada’s two official languages, she fluently speaks Spanish and has begun learning German. She believes that languages are essential to serving the community and helping others. Her openness, generosity and idealism shine through her volunteer engagement with Ottawa’s Inuit community.
What does the role of class president represent for you?
When I found out I was chosen to be class president, it reaffirmed to me that I am studying what I am meant to study. Having accomplished so much and been given this incredible opportunity makes me feel like I am on the right path. It’s also a great honour to represent the Faculty of Arts’ graduating class of 2019.
Did you go on exchange while pursuing your bachelor’s degree at uOttawa?
Yes, I went to Saint-Étienne, France, for a summer exchange in 2017. It gave me the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the French culture and develop my French language skills. Following this experience, I became an international uOCoach: a voluntary position that I held for about a year and half, during which I used my experiences to give advice to other students who were interested in going on an international exchange. I am truly thankful for the mobility scholarship that the university gave me to pursue this international opportunity.
What is your best memory from your exchange?
I’d say it was eating a baguette every day, which is certainly less expensive than in Canada! In fact, they have baguette vending machines. I also loved exploring France and some of its beautiful, historic castles!
You have done a lot of volunteering. What did you gain from that?
I have really learned what it is to serve a community and help others. Particularly, I have seen the difficulties that arise when you can’t communicate because of language barriers, which is what really led me to uOttawa to study languages. Consequently, I will be more capable of communicating in the future, which is crucial to reaching out to those who need it.
In which ways do you think the University of Ottawa prepared you for the future?
Not only did I learn a lot academically, but I also gained professional skills such as time management, effective reading, analytical skills and other important skills that have helped me to become an independent adult. The University has also afforded me great job opportunities. First, for one year, I was a mentor at the Faculty of Arts Mentoring Centre, where I helped other students acquire these skills as well. Then, through FSWEP (Federal Student Work Experience Program), I obtained a student position with the government as an editor, which turned into a permanent position. Had I not been a uOttawa student, I wouldn’t have had these professional experiences. Additionally, studying in a bilingual environment has been beneficial to my career. Its diverse and bilingual community has helped me continue to be inclusive and open-minded and practise my second language in a non-judgmental environment.
What does the future hold for you?
Big question! The government hired me for a full-time, permanent position as an editor and writer in French and English, and I love it so far! I will also be returning to uOttawa in the fall to begin a Master of Arts in Spanish. I think that if I’m doing what I love, even if it doesn’t fit the standards of a typical career path in the eyes of our society, it will open doors and make me happy. My biggest goal is to be able to use French, English, Spanish and German to help others internationally and continue to volunteer in Canada as well.