Joining the Family: My Student Placement Experience, Part 1

The Vanier Institute of the Family engages post-secondary undergraduates to post-doctoral students through academic placements, internships and projects. The Institute recently welcomed Algonquin College Professional Writing student Monique Veselovsky, who will be putting her skills and knowledge into practice by becoming a member of the Institute team for the duration her six-week placement. This is the first of a two-part blog post in which Monique describes her experience, goals, objectives and achievements as a student on placement.

Monique Veselovsky

To begin the orientation for my six-week student placement, I was given a tour of the office and introduced to various staff members, including my team members: Nora Spinks, CEO of the Institute; Sara MacNaull, Program Director; and Nathan Battams, responsible for Publications and Social Media. A fellow graduate of Algonquin College’s Professional Writing Program, Nathan will be providing me with insight on how to adapt my skills to write in the organization’s voice.

I was given my own office and set up with a computer to access the shared drive and a Vanier email account. I received an orientation to the organization’s vast library of resources on families and family life in Canada, which I will be using for reference while I am on placement.

The professional writing program has given me confidence and helped me develop skills in an area I am passionate about. I also hold an undergraduate degree in Social Justice and Peace Studies from Western University as well as a diploma in Social Service Work from George Brown College. I appreciate how the material I am currently immersing myself in is the logical next step in my professional growth and development.

The material I have read here so far has already sparked a passion in me for the work of the Institute. National Book Award-winning author Andrew Solomon explores the importance of diversity and highlights the dichotomies of difference while presenting the realities of intersectional oppression across family ties in Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (2012). The public lecture by internationally renowned peace activist and sociologist Dr. Elise Boulding on “The Place of the Family in Times of Social Transition” (1981) provides a timeless expression of multiple definitions of family beyond the traditional family structure while also highlighting the family’s unique role in the expansion of personhood. According to Boulding, family is essential in times of social transition.

While both authors take a qualitative approach in understanding family, the Vanier Institute applies both a qualitative and quantitative approach in analyzing data. The mixed methodology used is essential to our collective understanding of families in Canada, family life and family experience, expectations and aspirations.

Over the next few weeks, I look forward to participating in the writing, copy editing and production of publications. I value the flexibility to take on projects of interest while I further develop my skills and contribute to the work of the Institute. I am excited to expand my learning in an organization that aligns with both my personal and professional aspirations – and to work for an organization dedicated to a dynamic and ever-changing social institution: the family.


Monique Veselovsky is a professional writer living in Ottawa. She is putting her skills and knowledge into practice during her six-week internship at the Institute.


Suggested Reading

Joining the Family: My Student Placement Experience, Part 2, by Monique Veselovsky

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