Alumni in the Field

Matt Cormier
STU Degree: BA '06
Major: English and History
Job Title: Director of Communications and Engagement for Partners for Youth
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
Partners For Youth is a non-profit organization that develops innovative programs for at-risk youth throughout New Brunswick and beyond. Our programs help young people make healthy lifestyle choices, find and grow their strengths, and build important leadership skills. In my role as Director of Communications and Engagement, I maintain PFY’s web presence and develop all of the organization’s communications materials, from regular e-bulletins and newsletters, to managing twitter chats about important youth issues like healthy relationships and lowering the voter age. I use these tools to raise awareness about important issues facing youth in New Brunswick in hopes of inspiring change. I also assist other PFY staff with the promotion and development of their programs. We have programs for youth dealing with career development, relationship violence prevention, adventure learning, youth-in-care, homelessness, and mental health.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Become a Big Brother or Big Sister.  Get involved with programs like Peer Mentoring at STU. Get a job working in a summer camp. Volunteer with youth centres. Working with youth often means being a mentor, and in some cases, you might be the only role model they have. Remember that at-risk youth are not broken; they often just need a stable influence to help them make healthy choices. Many of the youth we have worked with at PFY have become community leaders themselves. In many cases, they just needed someone to help them recognize their own potential.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
On a day-to-day basis, I would say my arts degree helps me tremendously. I spend a lot of my time writing – press releases, reports, newsletters – and my writing skills were definitely honed at STU. I had great professors who took the time to review my work and give me constructive criticism that helped me improve.

More generally, I would say the versatility of an arts degree helped me land this job. Because I wasn’t trained to do one specific task, I was able to gain work experience in a variety of fields after graduating. I knew I wanted to help youth, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity, so I worked as a teacher and then as a policy analyst for the department of education. When a job posting at Partners for Youth came up, I knew it was a right fit for me.

Norm Bossé
STU Degree: BA ’76, BEd ’77
Major: Education
Job Title: Child and Youth Advocate for the Province of New Brunswick
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I’m the Child and Youth Advocate for the Province of New Brunswick and as such I’m an independent Legislative Officer of the Province.  I manage two offices (Fredericton and Dieppe) composed of 10 professionals who have degrees in Social Work and Law for the most part.  I’m also a member of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA).  The CCCYA meets 3-4 times per year in various cities across Canada and has a mandate to represent the interests of children and youth of this country in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). I’m also responsible for protecting and promoting the rights of children and youth in New Brunswick in keeping with the tenets of the UNCRC.  The CYA is also responsible for providing children and youth with necessary and appropriate case and systemic advocacy and writing and releasing systemic reports with recommendations to Government when required.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I would recommend students at STU obtain a good, general academic experience but specifically that they obtain degrees in Social Work, Education and Media Studies, which are fields that are complimentary to the professional training required to work in the field of children’s rights and the CYA Office. As well, any and all volunteer work with children and youth, youth serving agencies, or organizations would be tremendously valuable experience and an asset in pursuing a career in children’s rights.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
I’ve always felt and believed that a liberal arts education (especially at STU) was an asset in the development of my academic and personal careers.  It led to an advanced degree in education and a degree in law.  These academic degrees are sometimes seen as papers in frames that certify one’s academic milestones, but they are much more.  My BA and BED degrees from STU allowed me to participate in many life experiences and activities such as acting with Theatre St. Thomas, playing trumpet for Harry Rigby and “The Thomists”, as well as receiving mentoring from Professors Ted Daigle, Bob Monterio, and many others.  All of these experiences have led me where I am today—a husband to Moira, a father of four daughters, a grandfather to 10 grandchildren and the Child and Youth Advocate for New Brunswick.