Conversations with valedictorians: Emmanuella Auguste, Health Sciences

Emmanuella Auguste, who earned her MSc (Applied) in Occupational Therapy, talks about her time at McGill and adapting to the demands placed upon studies during the pandemic
Emmanuella Auguste delivers the valedictorian address for the Health Sciences Convocation ceremonyOwen Egan / Joni Dufour

A diverse, multitalented group, the Spring 2022 valedictorians are citizens of the world with remarkably varied backgrounds. Some hail from distant places – Quito, Ecuador; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and Rakh Bharoke Dhaki, Pakistan. Others were born nearby – Johnson, Vermont and Bolton Ontario. And some valedictorians come from right next door – Chambly, Quebec and Montreal’s West Island.

This year’s cohort, while coming from vastly different backgrounds, share enthusiasm, ambition and a well-rounded philosophy of life. These outstanding students have also earned the respect of the peers who they represent through their strong academic performance, leadership and commitment to making the University – and the world – a better place.

As part of our Spring 2022 Convocation coverage, the Reporter is conducting a series of Q&A interviews with some of our valedictorians.

In this instalment, we feature Emmanuella Auguste, who delivered the valedictorian address for the Health Science ceremony on May 26.

What is your hometown?


Your degree?

MSc (Applied) in Occupational Therapy.

Why did you choose McGill?

To improve my English.

Do you remember in March 2020 when McGill announced it was closing the campus?

The Monday before the shutdown, one of our professors was joking about this pandemic somewhere far away, but all was under control, here in Montreal we should be ok! The day I heard the news I was in class. Honestly I didn’t really realize it – I was sure we’d get back really soon.

What were your hopes, worries, fears during lockdown?

I was especially worried about my Mom who is a healthcare worker and who actually caught COVID. We had to completely reorganize the house so nobody else would catch it. Thankfully, we had a great support system, and we didn’t lack for food, groceries, etc. But I thought a lot about those who were less fortunate than us. I was really stressed about it. “Ça va bien aller” made no sense to me.

Did you have a lockdown hobby or undiscovered/rediscovered passion or talent?

I started drawing again! It became a pleasure again. And knitting.

What was it like to be learning at clinical sites during the pandemic?

During the first summer (2020) it was all online, but the second summer (2021) we were on site. It seems like a long time ago!

What did you learn about yourself during lockdown?

I learned to let go, and to go with the flow.

What would you tell your future biographer about being a university student during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I felt that McGill reacted well in terms of transparency, emails of encouragement. I saw a more human side to the professors and the staff. The hierarchy was partially dismantled – we are all facing the same challenge, let’s face it together.

What’s next after graduation?

Our program finishes in November, so I finished last fall and now I am discovering what areas I love in OT, since we did not get to experience all facets of this fabulous profession due to the pandemic.

Below is the video of the Health Sciences ceremony. You can view Emmanuella Auguste’s address at 3:28:20.