From France to uOttawa

Read how Mélanie, an international student, grew her skills from volunteer placements.

It all began when Mélanie  Do was accepted into the University of Ottawa from France. She’d always devoted herself to being 100% prepared for anything, so she dove into researching the University. 

During Mélanie’s research, she discovered the Community Engagement Navigator and thought to herself that this would be a great opportunity to gain the work experience she needed and wouldn’t be able to get at universities in France. Student life in that country is very different. It’s not common for students there to do extracurricular activities such as volunteering, interning, or working part time during their secondary and postsecondary education. 

Mélanie Sitting on a ledge

Mélanie is currently in third year in health sciences and hopes to continue to medical school once she graduates. She saw her volunteering opportunity as a gateway to acclimatizing herself to Canadian culture and developing skills she would need for a career as a family doctor.  

Through her volunteer placements as a teaching and research assistant, Mélanie was able to enhance her leadership skills, set boundaries and learn to meet deadlines in a non-academic setting. 

Practical life skills weren’t the only things she gained from her volunteer work. Her teaching assistant position and her service placement with a local food bank helped her build lasting relationships. One of her more memorable moments as a volunteer was with the Coopérative Ami Jeunesse, the food bank. Mélanie fell in love with the work and the people she was helping. She continued to volunteer regularly even though the official placement was just for the one day. She created a strong bond with the food bank manager, who has repeatedly assured Mélanie that she will always be there to help her if needed. 
Volunteering helped Mélanie figure out what she wants to do with her life. She was able to involve herself in the things she’s interested in, health sciences and people. She also became more aware of how privileged she is and was able to give back to the community before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteering helped her realize how much she gained from helping others. 


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