Conversations with the Class of Fall 2020: Catherine Rousseau, Faculty of Engineering

Whether it’s in-person or, as was the case this year, held virtually, Fall Convocation is a celebration of our graduating students’ hard work, talents and determination. In honour of this special day, the Reporter interviewed three particularly outstanding new grads, as chosen by the Deans of their Faculties. In the final installment of the series, we feature Catherine Rousseau, who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering with a B.Eng.


What is your hometown?
I was born in Longueuil, a town just outside of Montreal. Growing up, I mostly lived in Quebec City and Vancouver, two cities I also consider home.

Why did you choose McGill?
I chose McGill for its excellent academic reputation and all the research opportunities. Also, I wanted to experience living in Montreal, a place I still believe to be an amazing city to explore as a student and to start a career as a young professional.

What were some of your impressions when walking onto campus for the first time?
As I was moving from Vancouver, I did not visit the campus before my first day as a student. I remember being in awe with the gorgeous architecture and all the history it held. I remember exploring the Arts Building between my first two classes feeling like I was touring a museum.

What are some of the highlights of your time as a McGill student?
I would say getting involved in different clubs such as Engineers without Borders and Engineers in Action definitely enhanced my experience at McGill and allowed me to build lifelong friendships. It was also great to use the knowledge from various courses to have a meaningful impact on society.

Three favourite places on campus?

  1. McConnell Atrium
  2. Birks Reading Room
  3. Dispatch Coffee Shop for the well-needed afternoon energy boost!

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during your time here and how did you overcome them?
I would say the biggest challenge through out my degree was managing everything on my plate without burning out. I was juggling work, school, and my social implications. Needless to say that I could have used a few extra hours to my days… But having my classmates’ support was a huge must: the long hours studying as a team made it definitely more bearable and gave me the motivation to push through the busier and harder times.

What’s next for you, both short and long term?
I recently started my career as a financial advisor for construction projects. It is a great opportunity as it combines both my interest for business and engineering. In the future, I would love to deepen my knowledge in either the engineering or the business field by pursuing a master’s degree. However, I will always keep my mind open to new opportunities!

Tell me about your Faculty and your classmates. How important have they been to your overall McGill experience?

I do not think I would have made it through without my amazing classmates. Engineering is well known to be a very time-demanding program, but being surrounded with a smart, devoted, and fun student body definitely made the long hours go by faster. Also, the Faculty members are always available to help us make the best out of our McGill experience. They are always on the look out to provide us with the best tools to start our career and also to support us in any way possible.

Who or what will you miss most?
I will miss everything and everyone with the exception of the grueling final seasons…

What advice do you have for new students to McGill?
Explore and do not be afraid to deviate from the traditional set path! Whether you want to take on a minor in a totally different field, or get involved in a multi-faculty club, these experiences will make you grow and shape you in a well-rounded professional and person! It is also a good way to avoid falling in a routine.

What are your plans for virtual Convocation?
In good 2020 fashion, I will be watching it with my extended family on FaceTime. Unfortunately, living in different cities through this pandemic makes it impossible to gather.

What was your experience with the pandemic? How did it impact your “homestretch” at McGill?
I was definitely not expecting to be graduating under these circumstances. Although it was challenging to adapt to the situation, I feel so fortunate that the pandemic did not affect the health of my loved ones and that I was still able to start my career in a field that I am passionate about.

Have you been on campus at all since the spring?
Yes, I love going for walks through campus. I feel like I can enjoy it even more now that I do not have to rush from class to class!


This article was originally published in the McGill Reporter.

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