Leaders of the Pack

In our annual Spring issue of Maroon & White, we like to shine a light on a few outstanding members of the graduating class. Their stories are all different, the subjects they’re passionate about and their experiences at Saint Mary’s are each their own. However, one common thread unites them and that is their ability to be great leaders and make a positive impact on their community.

By Krista Keough | spring 2020


Maddison Eisnor was interested in science in high school, but she credits the faculty at Saint Mary’s for helping her discover her passion for chemistry. “Every day in class our professors would showcase how chemistry is applicable to our daily lives and how it’s being used to solve some of the world’s biggest problems,” she says. “Dr. Christa Brosseau really influenced me. She’s just so inspiring, smart, kind, and supportive.” 

Within the Department of Chemistry, Maddison had access to instruments and equipment that fuelled her academic work in two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC) research on polyphenols. As a result of her efforts, Maddison received the 2020 Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) Analytical Chemistry Division Undergraduate Travel Award, giving her the opportunity to share her research at the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Winnipeg this year. 

In addition to her research projects, Maddison was involved in a number of activities at Saint Mary’s. She was the co-president of the SMU Chemistry Society, participated in the Chemistry Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, and was awarded a trip to attend the Leaders Overcoming Gender Inequality in Chemistry (LOGIC) retreat hosted by Canadian Women in Chemistry. 

Maddison completed her Bachelor of Science Honours research with Dr. Brosseau, and she has already applied to the Saint Mary’s Master’s program in Chemistry. After that, perhaps Maddison will pursue her PhD. At 22 years old, the end-goal for her time at the University may not end at all. “I realized, maybe I can be a professor or work in the lab,” she says with excitement. “I want to inspire others with my work, and my hope is that more people will appreciate chemistry.” 

As the first in her family to attend university, Maddison is celebrating her graduation with relatives and friends. Come September, she’ll be back in the lab again. 



Although she grew up in Ottawa, Sophie Slessor knew she wanted to go to university in Halifax. “It’s the ideal city to be a student. I think it’s one of the best student cities in Canada,” she says about her newfound home. Both of her parents are SMU alumni and her mother’s family is from Nova Scotia’s South Shore, where Sophie spent her summers. 

In her first year at Saint Mary’s, all it took was one class with Dr. Shelagh Crooks and Sophie was hooked on philosophy. “It shifted my perspective on almost everything. I had my major declared by the end of the semester.” 

Sophie’s passion for the subject easily applied to her various roles on campus during her three years at the University. She was the vice president of SMU Pride, a student ambassador, and a teaching assistant in the Philosophy Department. Most notably, she was the coordinator for the Saint Mary’s University Women’s Centre and sat on the Sexual Violence Prevention Education advisory committee. “I found a lot of what I’ve been studying has come in handy in terms of applying it to my own personal life, and it’s helped me in the community as well.” 

Now that Sophie has her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Philosophy and a minor in International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s, she's excited to dig deeper into her research for her Master’s degree in the Fall. Her experience directing a camp for two summers sparked her interest in exploring the ways in which camp is a mode and a medium for education. As Sophie describes it, “The inherent features of camp make it a sublime environment for kids to learn things, particularly in terms of moral education and social education.” 

“I might be an alum,” says the 20-year-old graduate, “but I’ll be coming back pretty quick.” 



“Coming to Canada was always a dream of mine,” says 24-year-old Mohammad Ashiq. After arriving in Halifax from Bangladesh to attend Saint Mary’s, it didn’t take long before he felt like the city was his second home. Mohammad has his brother, SMU alumnus Hasibur Abir, to thank for influencing his decision to make the move. 

Mohammad made a big impression on campus and finished his four years as President of the Grad Class Committee. During his time at Saint Mary’s, he was also president of the SMU Bangladeshi Students’ Society and helped to produce different cultural events, including Bangladeshi Night, the largest student-run event on campus. He worked as an alumni assistant in the SMU Alumni office for two years and says that experience made the biggest impression on him and his outlook for the future. Mohammad had the opportunity to meet many SMU alumni at the Golden Grads Luncheon, an annual event he helped plan that celebrates those who graduated 50 or more years ago. “Hearing about their life stories, their time at Saint Mary’s, and what they went on to achieve, is truly amazing.” 

The Sobeys School of Business is another big reason why Mohammad was attracted here. His father is an entrepreneur in the textile industry and his brother, Hasibur, started a manufacturing company in Bangladesh last year. Mohammad wants to join the family business and expand it to Canada. 

He hopes to give back to the community, too. “If someday I could start a scholarship for a student to go to SMU who might not be able to—that would be a great achievement.” Now that Mohammad has graduated with his Bachelor of Commerce and a major in management, he is looking forward to making many more of his dreams come true. 



When a friend of Maggie MacPhee’s decided to study Criminology at Saint Mary’s, that was enough for her to investigate the University for herself. Growing up in New Brunswick, Maggie excelled in her law classes in high school and considered applying to the RCMP during her gap year. Instead, she says, “I decided to come to SMU and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve loved every second of it.”  

Maggie followed her instincts and this Spring, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Psychology and Criminology. “I love Psychology—learning  about how people think and act—and that’s really helped me in my Criminology field,” says the 22-year-old. 

Taking part in extracurricular activities made a big impact on Maggie’s experience at Saint Mary’s. She played on the SMU Huskies Women’s Rugby team for four years (two of which she was captain) and received the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Community Service Award, along with a SMU Alumni Golf Tournament Bursary, for her outstanding contributions on and off the field. 

Her love for sports extended to her volunteer roles as President of the Athletic Council, the lead event director job for Motion Ball in support of Special Olympics, and her participation in several mentorship programs on campus. “I definitely developed some passions while at SMU, and one of them is giving back to my community,” she says. “Getting involved, whether it’s in residence, athletics or in class, I think that’s the best way to make experiences that will last a lifetime.” 

Maggie is looking forward to a career as a lawyer and is writing her Law School Administration Test (LSAT) over the summer. During her studies, she learned some startling statistics about the low percentage of sexual assault cases that are reported to the police, and that even fewer lead to court cases. “I want to change that,” she says, armed with conviction. 



Mary Navas had never been to Canada before, but it was not a difficult decision for her to move from her home in Honduras to Nova Scotia to attend St. Mary’s. “I Skype-called the international recruiter at SMU and asked so many questions,” says the 24-year-old with a laugh. “I was looking for a medium-size university, one that had national and international connections, and the Sobeys School of Business has a very good reputation for Commerce. SMU checked all my boxes, so I took that leap of faith, and here I am!” 

A natural-born leader, Mary was the captain of her varsity soccer team and a part of the student government in high school. She was determined to be a leader at Saint Mary’s, too. During her first week on campus, Mary applied for and was awarded the role of President for the Events and Engagement Residents Committee. She went on to be a pack leader and team leader for Welcome Week, and was elected Vice-President for Saint Mary’s University Student Affairs (SMUSA) and Chair of Student Nova Scotia (StudentsNS). She ended her tenure at SMUSA as the first female president & CEO in 18 years. 
Mary is passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of those less fortunate. She supports a number of non-profit organizations in Honduras to help poverty relief efforts, reduce barriers to accessing the public school system, and provide for children and their families who can’t afford education. “Being from an underdeveloped country, you always want to make a difference.” 

She plans to apply her learning from her Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in marketing toward entrepreneurial endeavours that have an element of community development. Mary wants to open a coffee shop and import coffee from Honduras to Halifax, “from my home to my new home,” she says, smiling. “I want to still make a change, as I did back home, from afar. That’s a goal of mine in the future.” 

Campus Notes: “I give because I believe in Saint Mary’s University.”

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