Imagine the difference your actions could make

March 1, 2015


Activist. Leader. Social justice champion.

In school, Jessica Corbeil was the girl who befriended everyone. She was a social butterfly—never one to bully others, and not the one to get picked on. Except that one time.

That day, when she came across a group of girls attacking someone, Jessica decided to do something bold. She stepped in and stood up for the girl taking the hit, someone she says was often the target of childish, bullying behaviour. “I told them to leave her alone. So instead of beating her up, the three of them beat me up.”

The beating only happened once, but it was a turning point. Her fight to stand up for others was just beginning.

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In university, she led the charge against human trafficking. In a presentation to the board of governors, one of the board members recommended she become a lawyer. Jessica was in the midst of her political science degree at MacEwan University—her third post-secondary credential—so the decision to go to law school was one she felt angst over.

By pursuing a political science degree, she says her goal was to become a lawmaker, helping draft and change laws for her country. Halfway through her degree, she realized that becoming a lawyer might be the best way to do that.

“ My passion for social justice is going to be at play no matter where I end up working.” 

“I cried so hard because the thought of signing up for three more years of schooling was very daunting,” she says. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret the decision at all.”

If anything, she feels like becoming a lawyer is what she is meant to do. “You know when you find something that you love and are naturally good at? I get to help make a difference in people’s lives. All the hard work and everything I sacrificed to get here was completely worth it.”

In spring 2014, Jessica graduated with honours from the University of Ottawa. As she waits to be called to the bar in June 2015, she is articling for the Department of Justice, where she hopes she will be able to continuing working, creating change from the inside. Though her ultimate dream would be to find a way to fight human trafficking full time, she says she will always be part of the fight—it’s just going to look different depending on which point she is at in her career.

“If you’re doing criminal law of any sort, you end up dealing with social justice issues,” says Jessica. “My passion for social justice is going to be at play no matter where I end up working.”

Being a lawyer is not Jessica’s career; it’s her calling. Her unique skills and personality give her a purpose that, she says, allows her to work toward being part of something incredible.

“I want to live a life that inspires others, I want to live a life that cheers others on, I want to live a life that helps others realize that they have a purpose as well.”

Just like she did for her classmate years ago, Jessica is ready to stand up for those who may not be able to for themselves.

“I always say I want to be a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless, because for so many people, the law can be daunting and our situations can be daunting,” she says. “And I want to be a heart for the heartless, just to show people that someone in the world cares about them.”

Jessica Corbeil is a political science alumna of the Bachelor of Arts program. Learn more at

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