When students of the 2017 graduating class of Vanier College gather at Place des Arts on June 21st to receive their graduation certificates, the student chosen to be the 2017 Valedictorian and bid farewell to the College and to Cegep studies on behalf of all graduates, is Alexander Mattias, a graduate of Special Care Counselling.
Alexander impressed the selection committee with his empathy and deep appreciation of the privilege students enjoy in being able to attend Cegep and graduate. His positive outlook and his commitment to helping others using the skills and knowledge he acquired in his program inspired the members of the selection committee.
“I believe my generation has a great potential to make the world a better place and it all begins with kindness and empathy, which I have seen regularly at Vanier College,” says Alexander.
At one time in his life, Alexander, who started writing songs when he was ten and had travelled and performed around Europe, thought he would pursue his passion for music. But two people changed his mind and his goals. Both people were coworkers Alexander befriended: one had special needs and the other was autistic. In them, he saw interesting people and not disabilities, and he discovered he had a gift for communicating with them. When Alexander wondered what he might study when he applied to Cegep, one of these co-workers suggested Alexander might help people like him. It set Alexander to thinking and led him to apply to the Special Care Counselling program at Vanier College.
Throughout his studies, Alexander was very involved in his program. During his first year, he was the runner-up for the Barbara Keitz award. Then for two years, he was part of the “Activities Intensive Dream Team”, which meant that he mentored and helped first-year students in his program. This year, Alexander won the Tom McGrath Award given to the student who has successfully completed their Special Care Counselling program courses and who has had a positive impact on both the clients and the setting in which he completed his third year internship.
In his final semester, Alexander worked on a special project with other students looking at the impacts of long-term care on responsive behaviours in older adults with dementia. Based on the results of this research, the students developed a training program to help staff use appropriate intervention techniques with people with dementia.
“Being a Vanier College student has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am thrilled to share my passion with the graduating class of 2017,” says Alexander.
Next year, Alexander will be attending McGill University in the very prestigious School of Social Work. One of his many goals is to someday become a Special Care Counselling teacher at Vanier College.
Congratulations to Alexander Mattias and best of luck to him in all his future studies and endeavors.