Rugby player wins national service award 

By Barbara Black

Alexandra “Ali” Olshefsky has a busy, busy life. She’s a communications student, a rugby player, an activist and a community volunteer.

As soon as she turned 18, she pestered the director at Le Bon Dieu Dans La Rue to let her work in the vans as they cruise downtown Montreal, handing out warmth and nourishment to homeless teens. Three months after she started, she was offered the post of assistant to the volunteer coordinator.

“I was lucky to be able to work in such a well-established volunteer service. I did it for two and a half years, and it was such an amazing experience.”

Ali Olshevsky (left) celebrates a victory on the field. Magnifying glass

Ali Olshevsky (left) celebrates a victory on the field.

Her work with marginalized youth made her conscious of the need to narrow the gap that defines them as “others”, she said. “I’ve learned so much from the youth — their capacity to be positive in dire situations, their strength in what they’re facing.”

When she took Concordia’s HIV/AIDS course, her internship led to ongoing volunteer work, doing a lot of active listening at a drop-in centre. Her activist side finds expression with the group Students Taking Action in Chiapas, and, closer to home, the Montreal West Environmental Action Committee.

Olshefsky has played rugby for 10 of her 21 years, and this is her third with the Stingers women’s rugby team. Her positive involvement in the lives of others was recognized on Nov. 2 when she was presented with the inaugural CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) Student-Athlete Community Service Award on the eve of the national championships in London, Ont.

While it makes her the first Stinger to win a CIS major award in women’s rugby, it’s by no means the first award she has won. She received the Women's Leadership Award from the Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence and the Concordia Student Union Bursary for community involvement (2005-06). She was a CIS Academic All-Canadian in 2006-07 and 2005-06.

She currently works for Concordia as a mentor in the Athletics Department, helping fellow athletes students with academic, planning, time management, registration, and other practical challenges.

An excellent student, she has maintained a 3.8 GPA in her Communications Studies program, has been on the Dean’s List, and is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

She would like to pursue her master’s after she graduates this year, and make documentaries about marginalized populations. Before that, though, she’s going to spend her last semester on exchange at a university in Hertfordshire, England.


Concordia University