Look who’s going back to school this fall

Back to school story ideas

Universities Canada launches #ProudOfU2019 – Who are you proud of?

OTTAWA – AUGUST 26, 2019 – The people you find in a university classroom might surprise you:

  • a single mum returning to school after taking time away to raise a family
  • former hockey player concussed-out of his career now studying brain injuries
  • a husband and wife – both new Canadians – working to better their lives in Canada
  • a real-estate agent changing gears for the cybersecurity field
  • a young Indigenous student activist tackling the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • a successful Métis finance professional switching career paths toward science and medicine to better his community (more details below)

Whatever their reasons for going back to campus, these students see university as a path to positive change. More than a million students are headed to Canada’s universities this fall.

  • More than 25% of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology in the coming decade.
  • Half of Canadian jobs will require significantly different skills in the next 10 years as technology evolves and the way we work changes.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 employed Canadians agree that lifelong learning is crucial for career success, and essential to personal and societal needs.

A university education prepares Canadians for these changes. And whether it is for four weeks, four months or four years – Canadians at all ages and all career stages recognize that a university course, certificate or degree can enhance their career options competitiveness and family life for the better.


Today Universities Canada is launching the #ProudOfU2019 campaign, encouraging families, friends and communities to use social media to share messages of support for students headed to university this fall.

Here is a snapshot of the diverse and inspirational stories of students headed to campus this fall and a roster of subject matter experts who can discuss trends in continuing education and skills development for today’s workforce needs. We would love to connect you with them for an interview.


Brandon Craig, University of Calgary – after a string of head injuries this former hockey player hung up his skates and a career in the Edmonton Oilers’ back offices for medical school to study long-term patient care and head injury management.

Mohammed Alqassab and Fatimah Alsadiq, Dalhousie University – new Canadians Mohammed (engineering) and Fatimah (health promotion) enrolled at Dalhousie to follow their passion, improve their livelihood and inspire their three young children.

Andrea Vega, Mount Royal University – with changing technologies and a shifting economy, Andrea recognized the need for skilled experts in the cybersecurity field and decided to leave her job in real estate.

Tracie Léost, University of Regina – For Tracie, going to university is one way of breaking barriers and advocating for Indigenous peoples. As a student activist, she has already raised thousands of dollars to tackle the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Josh Swain, University of Winnipeg – proud Métis with a successful career in finance is studying to become a physician’s assistant as a way to give back to his community.

Younes Boukala, Université du Québec à Montréalat 22, Montreal’s youngest-ever elected city councillor is looking to finish what he started – a degree in political science – and develop the knowledge and skills he needs to succeed as an elected official.  

Betsy Thomas, Concordia University – 61-year-old Betsy is a life-long learner who will return to school this fall to explore a new career after 30 years running a successful business.


Wendy Therrien, Director, External Relations and Research at Universities Canada – Ottawa, Ontario
Topics: What universities are doing to develop Canadian skills and talent to meet workforce needs and drive our global competitiveness.

Max FineDay, Co-Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange
Topics: Indigenous education as a tool for reconciliation, youth skills development and global study

Dr. Sheila LeBlanc, Director, Continuing Education, University of Calgary – Calgary, Alberta
Topics: Trends in continuing education, university-business partnerships in continuing education

Andrea Ross, Director of Work-integrated Learning, Business/Higher Education Roundtable – Ottawa, Ontario
Topics: Transitioning from postsecondary education to the workforce, business-university collaboration, adapting to the economy and jobs of the future


Twitter: @univcan                  Instagram: @univcanada        Facebook: univcanada

About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Media contact

To speak with one of these students or experts or to have them as a guest on your show, please contact:

Hussain Shorish [email protected] c: 613- 581-4106 or

Lauren Kutchaw [email protected] c: (613)614-3987

Universities Canada