Univ Dates: 2010-2012
Degree: MPhil Politics
Degree Level: Postgraduate
Occupation: Law student, McGill University, former Special Assistant in Communications to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Biography: Susan gained a Rhodes Scholarship from Canada to study at Oxford, where she rowed in the UCBC First VIII and served as President of the Cassandrians Society. After Oxford she went on to work as a Special Assistant in Communications to now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She has since taken up a place at McGill University in Montreal to study Common Law and Civil Law. During the course of her legal studies, Susan has served as a volunteer with the Legal Information Clinic at McGill, a service which provides free, bilingual legal information to marginalised populations. She has also completed an internship with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Canada’s oldest and most active civil liberties organisation, where she worked on issues such as the right to medical assistance in dying and a challenge to the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. Susan will soon be joining Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver as a summer articling student. She is bilingual in French and English.
What were your preconceptions of Oxford or Univ before you started here?
Coming from Canada, Oxford was the stuff of movies for me (maybe a little like Hogwarts?). I didn’t really know what to expect. I had, however, spoken to a Univ alumnus whom I knew from my undergraduate days and he absolutely sold me on applying to Univ. He assured me that while Univ had all the trappings of an old, historic, and prestigious college, it was also modern, social, and a whole lot of fun. I am so, so pleased that I got to spend my two years at Oxford as a Univite because he was right – while I got to enjoy all the old traditions and beautiful buildings, I also got to become a member of a diverse, energetic, and social community.
Looking back, being at Univ was really the best part of my time at Oxford and I can’t imagine having been anywhere else.
Was there anyone at Univ who really inspired you?
I’ve always really liked this quote from Ken Keyes, Jr.: ‘Everyone and everything around you is your teacher.’ This was so true for me at Univ – everyone I met was so inspiring and had something to teach me. I was inspired by how hard the undergrads worked and how intelligent they were; by how passionate and diverse the postgrads were and how they all seemed to be leading their fields in new and exciting directions; by the incredible achievements of the professors and their genuine passion for teaching and learning.
How do you think Univ shaped you?
My two years at Univ undoubtedly shaped me in a myriad of ways – as a scholar, leader, athlete, community member, and friend. While I will always be grateful for the many ways in which Univ has influenced my life, I will always be most grateful for the relationships that Univ gave me. These relationships have profoundly shaped my life; many of my closest friends are people I met at College and they continue to shape my development as a person, to challenge me as a thinker, and to encourage me to ask how I can best contribute to society.
Did you know what you wanted to do after Univ?
Professionally, no, I didn’t. I had been exposed to so many interesting possibilities while at Oxford and at Univ that I honestly didn’t know in what direction I wanted to go. However, having started my two-year Master’s immediately after my four-year undergraduate degree, what I wanted more than anything was a bit of down time to reflect on everything I had learned and experienced. So, I decided to move back to Canada and check something off my bucket list – I drove across the country and settled in the Rocky Mountains to live for a year in Banff, Alberta. I eventually followed my heart to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and then to law school in Montreal and have been enjoying every step of the adventure along the way.