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Emmanuelle Toohey Carignan

BA English-Philosophy (3rd year)

Only in her early 20s, Emmanuelle Toohey Carignan is ready to dive full force into the world of literature. With the powerful storytelling and innate essence of a teacher, Carignan is the kind of Ryerson English student who makes every class impactful. Double majoring in both English and Philosophy, Carignan is overflowing with passion. Arts is lucky to have her in every capacity.

When I asked Carignan why she chose English as one of her majors, she said, “I decided to become an English major because communication is my passion. I think literature is such an influential art and skill.” Being an English major at Ryerson offers many streams of possibilities for careers and disciplinary interests. Carignan “wanted to learn how others express themselves and grow as writers, [and] also want[ed] to use this degree to explore teaching opportunities.”

Certainly, Carignan chose the right institution to set her on that path. With such incredible, inspiring, and thrilling professors at her reach, it's not difficult to see why Carignan cherishes her program so dearly.

With two years under her belt, Carignan’s experience at Ryerson has been “amazing” so far. Carignan specifically expressed her appreciation for Ryerson’s English professors: “I've been surprised by the generosity of the teachers.” She says, “I have been struggling with mental healthfor as long as I've been writing (a long time), and the teachers seem to understand and go above and beyond to accommodate me. Sending me slides, meeting with me after class, giving me extensions and words of encouragement. I want to specifically mention Dale Smith and Lauren Kirshner as especially shining examples of kindness and understanding in my experience.”

Carignan took her second-year practicum with Professor Kirshner, studying fiction writing and perfecting her own. Carignan cited Kishner’s class as one of her favourites, describing her as an “incredible role model for me, and someone I hope to honour through my writing, teaching, and learning.” Summing up her relationship with Rye English and it’s profs, Carignan expressed how she is “very appreciative of this program and the profundity and individuality of the Professors. They genuinely seem to respect their students as individuals.”

Another element of Ryerson English that has provided Carignan with such a positive experience is the “atmosphere of respect” replicated throughout the department. And this transfers down to the students. While discussing her peers, Carignan noted that “other students come to me for editing advice and so on, which inflates my ego a bit.” As a witness to Carignan’s work, it’s not difficult to see why so many of her peers entrust their own writing with her. Carignan is a brightly lit talent, and watching the worlds she creates in her work unfold is always such an experience. And the talent that Carignan possesses is a gift spread across the board for many English students at Ryerson.

As many of us know, one of the greatest elements of being an English student is   recognizing the immense talent of fellow students. Carignan shares this same amazement, noting that “witnessing the creativity and depth of the people in my program is such an inspiration; it leaves me in awe.”

As with many of us, university has fallen into the background as COVID-19 and other uncertainties of the future occupy more and more space in our lives. For Emmanuelle  Carignan, how she is doing “depends on the day. In her vulnerability, Carignan’s experience with isolation and sobering new realities reflects a truth in many of our lives. It’s clear now more than ever that centring wellness in our lives is one way to combat the complexity of a pandemic. But for Carignan, she says ”the stripped-down version of my life I am living right now has made me somewhat happier.”

For many of us English students, reading and creating has been our healthy escapes. Carignan has been reading “short stories "Chess" by Zweig and "No exit" by Sartre.” As well as preparing to go live with her blog, “The Anoxic Zone!”

We are in unprecedented times and the global pandemic has left many questions unanswered, and it has created even more. But one consistency is that with a global pandemic or not, beginning university is nerve-wracking. And we want to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

Carignan has some advice for incoming first-years: “I had (and still have) a hard time completing my readings; you can practice by reading 20-40 pages a day, which is the most that will be required of you (probably). Also, The Toronto Public Library has free writing groups at each location. And most importantly, there are so many communities who would be thrilled to have you as a member! Check out Poetic Exchange, external link, opens in new window as well as the Ryerson Writers Collective, external link, opens in new window!”

Thank you Emmanuelle Toohey Carignan for being a wonderful student spotlight! We can’t wait to share your blog, The Anoxic Zone and support you in all your endeavours.

(by Zanele Chisholm, Department of English Social Media and Web Content Coordinator)