Jean-Paul Acco: From Neuro orderly to medical illustrator

Neuro employee wins Principal's Award for Administrative and Support Staff – Clerical category
From orderly to medical illustrator to winner of the 2020 Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff – Clerical category : Jean-Paul Acco feels “lucky because I get to be creative and I’m always learning new things.”

In 1993, Jean-Paul Acco, was struggling somewhat. It had been three years since he earned his Bachelor of Administration and he was having trouble finding steady work. “I tried my best to land the impressive Mad Men job I was promised with my degree form Concordia – at the height of a recession,” he says. Instead, he was selling magazines for minimum wage.

By chance, Acco ran into an old classmate who was working at the Neuro. She remembered Acco had taken studio art elective classes, so she suggested he apply for a maternity leave position as a medical illustrator in the Department of Neurophotography.

“I never heard of such a job,” he admits. Still, he applied. To his surprise, he landed it.

In a strange twist of fate, Acco had already been employed by The Neuro a few years prior as an orderly, making it one of the odder career changes in Hospital history.

Graphics guru

Acco worked as The Neuro’s medical illustrator until 2014, when he moved over to the Communications team as Communications and Publications Coordinator. As the keeper of all things graphical, Acco is considered the custodian of The Neuro’s new logo and branding.

He is renowned for his helpful nature, often working extra hours to help students and principal investigators with the figures and illustrations they require for dissertations, thesis defenses, grant proposals or publications. When people from The Neuro head off to international conferences, Acco makes sure they are armed with only the most professional-looking posters.

“I’m lucky because I get to be creative and I’m always learning new things,” says Acco. “Working at McGill, you get to meet and work with so many people coming from a diversity of backgrounds. I am grateful for this academic atmosphere of students, professors, researchers and support staff, because it heightens my curious nature and wanderlust. It inspires me, along with my partner Rémi, to travel worldwide.”

COVID-19 complications

Unfortunately, it looks like COVID-19 has clipped Acco’s wings for the time being. And it’s not the only way the pandemic has impacted his life.

“I’m a very social person,” Acco says. “Completing tasks via several email threads or Zoom meetings has been very difficult. I miss being able to physically go see a co-worker with a printout (or have them sit with me at my computer) to collaborate on how I should design graphics. Not being able to present ideas at a physical meeting where participants weigh in on edits and suggestions, has slowed things down greatly.”

“As for my daily routine, my home used to be my sanctuary; but now it is also my office. I miss going to lunch and the outside commute of biking or walking, which served as a means to decompress. This has been hard to replace.”

Still, Acco understands things could be significantly worse.

“My heart goes out to those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by COVID-19,” he says. “Despite the challenges of working from home, the pandemic really put in perspective how lucky I am to be a McGill employee. I’m very grateful that I’m taking home a salary and capable of providing for my family, at an institution that prioritizes my physical and emotional health and safety.”

Also nominated in the Clerical category of this year’s Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff were the following McGill employees:

  • Susan Kirichu
  • Francine Lacelle
  • Rosanna Lento
  • Heather Macdougall
  • Juliet-Ann McArthur
  • Andrea Nguyen
  • Efstathia Papadopoulos
  • Libby Parker
  • Brandy Phillips
  • Elisabetta Valente
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Ken Carriere
3 years ago

Jean Paul Acco is my nephew. I always knew him as a thoughtful person. His mother Anne Carriere-Acco my sister is a Cree woman from Cumberland House Saskatchewan and his late father Joseph Acco was from Trinidad. Both parents met in Winnipeg when they were studying medicine at U. of M. Good to know JP is excelling within the medical field. His curious nature comes from both North and South America. The vastness of these continents can make you wonder.
Uncle Ken
AirRonge, Saskatchewan