50 Grads, 50 Years

In honour of Champlain College Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, we followed up with 50 of our graduates to highlight their achievements.


In honour of the Champlain Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, the college has followed up with 50 of its alumni to see where their paths have led after their time in Cegep. These 50 former students have gone on to accomplish amazing things and their paths show just how much is possible for a Champlain grad.

Émilie Campbell-Renaud

This grad found a career in environmental activism, and the freedom to truly be herself

Émilie Campbell-Renaud is proof that sometimes “failure can be a blessing.”

Campbell-Renaud, (Social Science Commerce Option, 2007), had an entirely different plan for her life as a young adult, but said in retrospect she’s grateful things ended up the way they did.

“I feel like my life panned out in an opposite direction than I was imagining,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I realize this is such a better fit for me.”

Now the Director of Operations at Climate Reality Canada, Campbell-Renaud has found her true calling, working with citizens and grassroots organizing for climate action.

But at the time, finding out she didn’t get into business school after Cegep was devastating.

“You feel like your future is crumbling in front of you when you receive that letter of refusal.”

Despite the disappointment, Campbell-Renaud pivoted and decided to study Political Science and International Relations at McGill. She said this was the first time she was exposed to issues of climate injustice and the pressing need for change on a global scale.

Campbell-Renaud completed a master’s in Environmental Studies at Unversite de Sherbrooke and started thinking about how she could build a future in the environmental sector.

When she landed a part-time job at Climate Reality Canada, the Canadian branch of an international organization with 11 branches in 10 countries, everything changed.

“It really opened my eyes to this whole new world of non-profit work,” she said.

Campbell-Renaud said she felt she had finally found the right place for her, where she could do important work and feel free to be herself.

“For several years, when I worked in more rigid fields such as engineering, I felt that I was leading a double life. Putting on that mask, hiding my tattoos, my sense of humour, my quirks, my colourful hair, my eccentric style,” she said.

“Looking back, I realize how draining and unhealthy it was. For fear of judgment or rejection, I was stifling my creativity and my bubbly personality.”

She said the non-profit sector felt much more welcoming and allowed her to feel more comfortable expressing her authentic self.

“Now that I can be myself, I feel like my growth journey has truly begun,” she said.

Campbell-Renaud’s advice for current students and recent grads: “Failures can be blessings in disguise. Trust the process. Things tend to pan out even if they feel disastrous in the moment. One regret I have is I focused too much on grades during my bachelor’s degree and too little on living that experience and savouring it and making connections. So don’t forget to have fun!”

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