Student Profiles

Jingyi (Claire) Hou

Jingyi Hou knows all about going the distance. After graduating from China’s Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai with a Bachelor of International Economics, she travelled more than 10,000 kilometres from her home in Northern China to attend the Sobey School of Business. Now in her 3rd year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree, the Accounting major is making a world of difference as the founder and organizer of Speak Up, a public speaking and community building program for international and Canadian students.

“The idea came from an assignment in one of my courses,” says Hou. “Speaking in front of a group is a good way to become more competent and confident in a new language.”

In addition to running bi-weekly workshops for about 80 Speak Up! participants, and recruiting and organizing more than 20 volunteers, Hou is Treasurer of the Saint Mary’s University Accounting Society, an active member of the University’s Enactus Team, and a Research Associate with the Sobey School’s IMPACT Program, a student-run investment fund.

Articulate and poised, Claire looks forward to further honing her leadership skills in her future career. 

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Class Project Turns Green Crabs into Green Business


The Biomer Innovations team
The Biomer Innovations team

Aspiring entrepreneurs Jessica Herron, Kirsten Osmond, Patrick Mitchell and Danny Williams turned an assignment in Dr. Ellen’s Farrell’s New Venture Opportunities class into an investor-ready business plan.

“We came up with the idea to use the shells of an invasive species of destructive green crabs to make chitosan, a non-toxic, biodegradable alternative to synthetic polymers,” explains Jessica, an entrepreneurship major from Cole Harbour, NS.

With the global chitosan market projected to reach $21billion by 2015, and interest in the project expressed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Herron and her teammates are clearly onto a good thing. They’ve launched a company called BioMer Innovations and are presently testing the waters with a team of researchers and a chemical engineer.

“Interest in our company has been overwhelming so far,” she says. “I know a lobster fisherman who is very excited about this, and we’ve already had calls from fishing communities in all four Atlantic provinces.”

BioMer Innovations won first place at the Boyne Clark Innovative Ideas Competition and competed nationally to take second place in the BMO Apex Business Plan Competition at the University of New Brunswick.

Kathryn Buttle: From small town to big impact


There’s no place like home. But a new home can feel just as welcoming.

Kathryn Buttle is proof positive that you can find a ‘home away from home’ at Saint Mary’s University. A fourth-year BComm student majoring in accounting, Kathryn has been a Residence Assistant (RA) for three years now. She credits SMU residence life with making her feel comfortable while she settled in to university life.

“At first I was nervous about the idea of living away from home,” Kathryn says. “But the smaller, friendly campus, and living in residence, made the transition so much easier. Plus, the Sobey School of Business has such a great reputation, which will serve me well as I go on to pursue my CPA. After visiting Halifax and campus, Saint Mary’s University was my only choice.”

Kathryn explains that an RA is responsible for organizing floor events, helping students feel comfortable in their new home, and ensuring that students are making the most of their university experience. And she’s gotten as much out of it as them.

“I have grown so much as a person because of this job and the residence community —I’ve become a leader and helped others start that path as well.”