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.

Nathalie Tufenkji

‘I love my job’: McGill professor Nathalie Tufenkji is a leading researcher and devoted teacher.

Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji (Science, 1995) is a Yale-educated professor of chemical engineering and a Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces.

She teaches in the Chemical Engineering department at McGill University – the same place she completed her undergraduate degree.

“It was really such a blessing to be teaching at McGill, back in my alma mater,” she said.

But before all that, Tufenkji was in her first semester at Champlain, studying Commerce and not having a very good time of it.

Tufenkji remembers studying between practices with her teammates on the Champlain soccer team and thinking that she was much more interested in their homework than her own.

“It really wasn’t the right fit for me,” she said. But looking at the science texts, she thought: “That looks like so much fun!”

After the first semester, Tufenkji switched into the Science program and never looked back.

She said looking back, “Cegep was some of the best years of my life.”

“I loved my time at Champlain. My time on the soccer team was such a wonderful experience for me. I am so grateful for that opportunity, the friends that I made. I am still friends with some of the girls I met on the team to this day.”

Tufenkji said she’d always had the idea of becoming a professor in the back of her mind.

“I always loved to teach,” she said. “After my first year of Cegep, I was coaching the local soccer team in my community. I was also teaching karate for many years.”

It was on the advice of a professor at McGill that Tufenkji applied to doctoral programs in the U.S.

“He said I should aim for some of the best ivy league schools in the U.S.,” she said. “I had no idea where to even start. No one in my family went to graduate school. I’m so grateful to this professor who really made me realize what kind of opportunities were there in front of me.”

Tufenkji was accepted to Yale with a full scholarship where she conducted research on water filtration.

“I always had a passion for water and the environment. I was really lucky to get this position working with a world-leading group.”

Now a professor herself, Tufenkji said she balances her time between teaching and research.

“I love my work and I love my job,” she said. “I never feel like I’m going to work.”

Tufenkji’s advice for current students and recent grads: “There are so many people who are willing to give advice or give information or give you a tour. Reach out to people. It could be students in the program or professors or people who work in that field. If you’re interested in law, talk to a few different lawyers and find out what their job is like. Don’t try to make these decisions in a vacuum.”

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