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.
Loran scholar, non-profit founder, law grad: How Simone Cavanaugh came so far, so fast.
You might know Simone Cavanaugh as a recipient of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award. Or from her time serving on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Youth Council.
Or maybe you saw her name on the list of prestigious Loran Scholars, recipient of the largest undergraduate scholarship in Canada. Maybe you even watched her Ted Talk about the nonprofit she founded to help children with disabilities in developing countries.
Cavanaugh (Liberal Arts, 2013), now the Manager of Strategy and Operations for the Social, Healthcare and Public Entities Practice at McKinsey & Company, has managed to accomplish a great deal in the last decade.
Diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of six, Cavanaugh has overcome struggles of her own to pursue the advocacy work she’s always been passionate about.
“I was really interested in activism and setting myself up for a career that would make a difference in the lives of people,” she said.
Cavanaugh said she chose to attend Champlain for Cegep because she “wanted to have a learning experience where the teachers would know [her] and build relationships.”
While at Champlain, Cavanaugh was involved with the Amnesty International Club and won a Forces Avenir prize for student engagement.
It was during a volunteer trip to Nicaragua that Cavanaugh was inspired to start Pivot International, a non-profit organization whose aim was to provide adapted equipment and sustainable access to medical services for children with special needs.
In her Ted Talk, Cavanaugh describes a friendship she forged with a young boy and how it drove her to take action to improve his quality of life.
As a child with disabilities herself who used a wheelchair for seven years before finding a treatment that would manage her pain, Cavanaugh felt a deep personal connection to the cause.
She began working on the non-profit while finishing her time at Cegep and launched the organization officially in 2014 when she started law school at McGill.
Cavanaugh chose to pursue law so she would be equipped with the concrete skills and tools she needed to make an impact in the human rights sector.
She ran Pivot International for almost five years while completing her law degree with a major in International Human Rights and Development.
Now working at McKinsey, Cavanaugh works with a team advising governments, NGOs, and charitable organizations, “helping them solve the biggest problems that they have.”
Cavanaugh said she’s been able to accomplish so much because she feels the work is so important and aligned with her values.
“When you feel like you’re working toward something bigger and you really believe in it, you find skills and strength you didn’t know you had.”
Cavanaugh’s advice for current students and recent grads: “There’s this debate all the time, ‘should you follow your passion or do something practical?’ I think really the goal is to find that sweet spot where you do feel you’re contributing something while being practical. We aren’t really in an era anymore where you have one job and you keep it for life. You float around and try new things. Staying flexible and always keeping in mind that you don’t know what that next door is going to be.”