When asked why she chose to attend Vanier College, Liberal Arts’ Genevieve Zimantas, the 2010-2011 Vanier College Valedictorian, doesn’t hesitate to exclaim, “Because of the sense of community! I visited several Cegeps but when I came to the Vanier Open House the teachers were so welcoming, it made me want to come here!”
All of Montreal in one place
And she has never regretted her choice. “I love the atmosphere at Vanier. I love how different it is from Pointe Claire where I grew up and where I attended St Thomas High School. I love the diversity and the mix of people at Vanier. I feel that all of Montreal is located right here in this one spot.”
Making friends for life
“I found people with the same interests me and I made a lot of great friends here. They come from all over Montreal, from Laval, from Saint Leonard – these are people I would never have met in the past. Vanier opened my eyes to the rest of Montreal!”
Teachers who care
It’s also the teachers who made Vanier so special for her. “I really loved my teachers! They are amazing! I was in a small program and the teachers knew us well. They knew our names, they knew about our lives, and they really cared about where we were going. I never thought it would be that way.”
Starting a United Nations Club
At Vanier, Genevieve also got involved in student activities. In 2009, aiming to create a community of people from different programs at the college, she started the United Nations club at Vanier, with a new constitution and an open welcoming attitude. As president of the club, Genevieve twice attended the international Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium hosted by McGill University. This year the club brought twelve Vanier students whom Genevieve mentored during the symposium.
While studying in the Liberal Arts Program, Genevieve has also pursued a certificate in Women’s Studies. During International Women’s Week activities at Vanier in March, she participated in a panel on “Feminism in the eyes of college students” where she gave a talk on how she defines feminism and why it is still important to be passionate about equality in all its forms.
Breaking out of her shell
How has Vanier changed her? “I learned how to assert myself. I used to be painfully shy, but in running the U.N. Club and speaking at meetings I had to assert myself. As well, I didn’t know anyone when I arrived at Vanier and this forced me to make friends both inside and outside my program. Imagine, in high school I was terrified to approach people.”
A great future ahead of her
Next year, Genevieve will pursue a double major in English and History at McGill University. Her dream for the future is to complete graduate studies abroad and ultimately teach English literature at the university level.