Glendon School of Translation student wins one of 15 top academic prizes

Fourth-year Glendon School of Translation student Gina Létourneau is the winner of this year’s York University Faculty Association (YUFA) Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship worth $3,000, one of 15 awards given out each year at York University to the top student in each Faculty. Létourneau won based on her academic achievement for the 2007-2008 school year.

Outstanding scholarship is not new to Létourneau. A native of the lower Saint-Laurent region of eastern Quebec, she attended high school in Rimouski, where she won the Governor General’s Medal for the highest marks in the final year of high school. She went on to earn a college diploma in Techniques of Documentation from Cégep Collège François-Xavier-Garneau in Quebec City.

Typical of translation students, Létourneau is a mature student with a substantial work history. After several years as a library technician in an elementary school, she was looking for a new career path, something with better prospects for growth and with more intellectual challenges. “I had always liked to read, to write and to learn about language in general, so I thought that translation would be a good choice to suit my interests and my goals for the future,” says Létourneau. As a result, she started her translation studies part time at Glendon, while continuing to work at the school.

Left: Gina Létourneau

Létourneau completed volunteer translation assignments for non-profit organizations during her first year of studies, confirming in her mind that translation was the right choice. After just one year of part-time studies, Létourneau was successful in obtaining a bilingual writer position with the Ontario government, from which she was soon promoted to the position of legislative translator, while still studying part time at Glendon.

“Working full time and studying part time does require discipline, commitment and energy, but for me the payoffs have been immediate and well worth the effort,” says Létourneau, who continues to accept some freelance translation contracts. And as if she wasn’t busy enough, Létourneau also writes short stories, three of which have been published in Virages magazine.

To date, Létourneau has just a few courses left before earning her bachelor’s degree from Glendon along with a Certificate of Technical & Professional Writing.

“I still very much enjoy my Glendon experience,” says Létourneau. ”The professors are talented professional translators in a wide array of fields and the small classes really foster the productive exchange of ideas with professors and other students.” She is also an enthusiastic traveller, who has visited South America, Europe and Atlantic Canada, and is looking forward to seeing Antarctica in the near future.

Létourneau confirms that studying translation opens up many possibilities. "I also found that really good translators can actually do much more than just translate,” says Létourneau. “There is always a demand out there for talented individuals with excellent writing, analytical and communication skills in both French and English to work as writers, editors, in communications, even in policy.”

As for the award and what it means for Létourneau, “….getting high marks is a personal goal for me. This scholarship represents a wonderful recognition of my efforts and of the care and commitment I put into reaching my goals. I plan to keep working as a translator and keep improving my craft. And who knows where life can take you? I am always open to new experiences and new opportunities.”

More about the YUFA Undergraduate Scholarship Award

A significant donation by the York University Faculty Association has made possible these annual awards to the top students in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Environmental Studies, Fine Arts, Health, Science & Engineering, and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, Glendon, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business. The recipients will have completed between 60 and 90 credits at York, achieved the best cumulative grade point average in their Faculty, and will subsequently re-register at York to complete their undergraduate degree program.

Submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny