As part of our Spring Convocation 2022 coverage, we asked a graduate from each of our six Schools to share their unique experiences – the ups and the downs – of completing their degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we meet Class of 2022 member and Health Sciences Valedictorian Emmanuella Auguste, from the School of Physical and Occupational Health, who completed her MSc (Applied) in Occupational Therapy degree, conferred on May 26. Congratulations Emmanuella!

Your name:
Emmanuella Auguste
Your degree: Master of Science (Applied) in Occupational Therapy
Your School: Physical and Occupational Therapy
Your hometown: Montreal
What year did you begin your degree? 2019

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 health care 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 I areas love in OT, since we did not get to experience all facets of this fabulous profession due to the pandemic.


Watch the May 26 Convocation ceremony (including Emmanuella’s Valediction) and check out the Health Sciences Convocation program.

Read the Q&As from the students from the other Schools.

(Photo: Monica Slanik)