Convocation 2023: Healing oneself in order to help heal others

Compiled by Erin GuiltenaneMount Royal University | Posted: May 29, 2023 | Lasted updated: June 1, 2023

Danny Dufresne
Bachelor of Child Studies — Child and Youth Care Counsellor


Danny Dufresne


Danny Dufresne is reshaping adversity into a career assisting others. Her sincere desire to help young adults, and passion for understanding how childhood experiences shape our future selves, drive her motivation to make a positive impact on the lives of children and youth.

Dufresne graduated with a Bachelor of Child Studies — Child and Youth Care Counsellor during MRU’s 2023 Convocation ceremonies.

What was your most memorable MRU experience?

One of my most memorable experiences at MRU was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during my first year in child- and youth-care counselling (CYCC). I vividly recall the sudden and unprecedented shift in our daily routines. Just a day prior, everything seemed normal, with classes, a practicum and work to keep us occupied. However, with the declaration of a pandemic, we were all asked to stay home.

I can distinctly remember waiting to attend one of my classes, completely oblivious to the fact that it would be the last time I would be doing so until my third year of CYCC. Initially, we all thought it would only be a two-week break, but we did not return to class for quite some time. In fact, it was only in August 2021 that I experienced a classroom setting again, and my practicum placements didn't resume in-person until 2022.

Why did you choose to study CYCC?

There are several reasons why I chose to pursue child- and youth-care counselling as my field of study.

Firstly, I have always had a deep interest in psychology and understanding the complexities of human behaviour. I am also passionate about exploring ways in which we can heal ourselves and others and be a part of the healing process.

Additionally, I was drawn to CYCC because of my desire to learn more about the various stages of development and psychology throughout different stages of life. To further my knowledge in this area, I also chose to minor in psychology.

My personal background and upbringing played a significant role in my decision to pursue CYCC. Having faced several adversities during my formative years, I am acutely aware of the impact that positive adult role models can have on a child's life. I am motivated to make a positive and helpful impact on the lives of children and youth who may be going through similar experiences. All I really needed when I was growing up was one positive adult role model, and now I have the opportunity to be that person for others.

Which on-campus groups or programs should more students know about?

As a naturally shy person, I did not participate in any on-campus groups or programs during my time at school. However, as I near graduation and reflect on my experiences, I do feel that I may have missed out on some opportunities. While I don't regret not participating in anything specific, I do believe that getting more involved would have allowed me to create more university memories and experiences.

As many students may have experienced, a large portion of my time at MRU was online, which limited my participation in on-campus events. Despite this, I still managed to have a positive experience. However, there are a few events that I wish I had attended, such as the terrarium-building event that was held a few times on campus by Sustainable MRU.

If I had to recommend any on-campus groups or programs to students, I would suggest attending the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University’s Sex Toy Bingo at least once. It's a fun and unique experience that is sure to provide a memorable night!

Overall, I encourage students to step outside of their comfort zones and try new things to fully experience all that MRU has to offer.

Was there someone specific who made an impact on you during your studies?

Undoubtedly, the person who made the biggest impact on me during my studies at MRU was my counsellor, Jennifer McCormick, who works at the Wellness Services on campus. I have been seeing her regularly for a few years now and her support has been invaluable in helping me navigate the challenges of student life.

Jennifer provided me with a safe and non-judgmental space to process my emotions and work through difficult issues. With her help, I have been able to develop coping strategies and gain a deeper understanding of psychology and mental health. Moreover, Jennifer has consistently validated, educated and supported me in all areas of my life, both past and present. Without her guidance, I don't think I would have been able to graduate this year with the skills and knowledge I have gained. I am incredibly grateful for her unwavering support and would highly recommend Wellness Services to anyone in need.


"Sometimes, even when things are tough, it is important to keep going, because it will always get better."

Danny Dufresne


How were the scholarships and awards you received helpful to you during your studies?

During my studies at MRU, I was fortunate enough to receive the Jason Lang Scholarship on a few occasions. These awards were incredibly helpful since I work part time and rely heavily on student loans and grants to cover my expenses. As any student knows, managing finances can be a significant source of stress, and this scholarship provided some much-needed financial security. Knowing that I had the support of the scholarship allowed me to focus more on my studies and worry less about finances.

It is worth noting that the Jason Lang Scholarship is contingent on maintaining a high GPA, which added some academic pressure to my already demanding workload. Overall, I am grateful for the financial assistance that this scholarship provided and it has played a significant role in helping me achieve academic success while managing the financial realities of being a student.

What advice would you give to a student who might be struggling?

As someone who puts a lot of pressure on myself to have good grades and attendance, on top of other work and life tasks, I surely understand being burnt out and overwhelmed. I have realized and accepted that it is okay to ask for help, for extensions, and to not go some days. We are all human: me, you and your professor.

In addition, definitely take advantage of the free resources here at the University. I highly recommend the counselling services, especially if you are going through a hard time.

Throughout my years at MRU and in my program, it unquestionably got better because I became pretty good at time management, writing, studying and more.

So sometimes, even when things are tough, it is important to keep going, because it will always get better. I want to emphasize that everyone's journey is different, and it's okay to take extra time to finish your degree or to take a break if you need it. Ultimately, it's important to be kind to yourself and to seek support when you need it.

What are your plans for the future?

As I approach graduation, I'm eagerly considering my future plans. I have a few ideas in mind that I'll be exploring, including pursuing further education, starting a program evaluation business, or even exploring my creative side for a while. I have just started a podcast — The Uninformed Adult — about emerging young adulthood and figuring it out together.

I am currently enrolled in psychology at MRU for the fall semester, which will help me reach my goal of getting my master’s in counselling psychology at either the University of Victoria or the University of Calgary. I hope to eventually specialize in grief and loss and/or emotional maltreatment among young adults in the future.

There are many paths that interest me and I am confident that whatever route I choose will allow me to fulfill my potential.


MRU grads are helping shape the future here in Calgary and across the country. We invite you to join us in celebrating the unique combination of confidence, vulnerability and boldness that goes into the university student experience and read our profiles of exceptional students from the Class of 2023.

A note for soon-to-be MRU alumni! As you prepare to transition from student life, we encourage you to check out our Alumni Hub — custom-built to inform you about the programs, benefits and services available to you as a member of the MRU alumni community.