Keeping balanced: Fanny Berthiaume 

By Karen Herland

Fanny Berthiaume has earned Concordia’s first Provost Medal. Magnifying glass

Fanny Berthiaume has earned Concordia’s first Provost Medal.

“I’m an artist on one side, and an athlete on the other,” says Film Animation graduate Fanny Berthiaume, the winner of the inaugural Provost Medal. “I can’t imagine not doing both, they keep me balanced.”

Her balance would send most of us spinning.

Berthiaume’s dizzying list of achievements has thrice given her the President’s Shield for Academic and Athletic Excellence, and an Athletic Tuition Award each of her four years here for her exceptional goaltending skills with the Concordia Stingers Soccer Team.

Despite spending 20 hours a week training as team captain, Berthiaume is no slouch on the academic side. Her transcript does not include a single grade below A and she’s earned the Pierre-Jasmin Award for Excellence in Animation and the Transfilm Scholarship for Film Animation.

Her animation abilities earned her a place in Spike Jonze’s Higglety Pigglety Pop (see Journal, May 13, 2010) and her stop-motion film Lea won a Jury Award at the Chinh Kids Film Festival in India, along with an invitation to teach animation workshops there later this summer.

“She’s incredibly hard-working and talented and versatile,” said Film Animation Professor Shira Avni who nominated Berthiaume for the award. “She’s a wonderful student, I’m impressed by her ability to hold it all together,” especially in a field as labour-intensive as animation. “It’s an art of precision and patience,” acknowledged Berthiaume.

The Provost Medal is being awarded for the first time at Convocation. Provost David Graham developed an endowment for the award with Advancement with a particular goal in mind.

“I was interested in doing something that might, in an indirect way, help the university acquire more Rhodes Scholars,” explained Graham. Like the Rhodes Scholarship, the award recognizes all-around outstanding achievement: academic, athletic, social, extra-curricular and leadership ability.

Graham hopes establishing an award with similar criteria would “help identify students who could be cultivated, promoted and encouraged to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship because there is no doubt in my mind that we have students who are every bit as good as those from other universities who get the scholarship.”

Establishing endowments to recognize stellar students is a family tradition for Graham. His mother has supported endowments at a series of institutions across the country where his family members have studied, taught or worked in various capacities.

“Impressed by her example, I decided that it would be appropriate for me to create a scholarship at Memorial while I was there, “ said Graham. When his mother found out about it, she participated as well, and the Graham Family Scholarship for students in French and Spanish was established.

Each year, the family goes to St. John’s to hold a luncheon for the current and previous winners (about a dozen so far) and their parents, another tradition Graham’s mother had established.

While Graham was keen to have the endowment recognize overall excellence, he chose to remain at arm’s-length from the selection process.

Instead, the Provost Medal, along with the Concordia Medal, the Malone Medal and a handful of others awarded not strictly on academic merit are evaluated through the Dean of Students Office.

“It’s inspiring to find students who are combining academic achievement with giving back,” said Dean of Students Beth Morey.

As for Berthiaume, she’s exploring a few options before eventually returning to graduate work. She’d like to move out on her own, both literally from her parent’s home, and figuratively from an academic context. She may get involved in a feature-length documentary set to shoot in Israel later this year.

“I have so many great memories from the last four years. I’m kind of sad to leave.”


Concordia University