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Career-Driven Canadians With Surprisingly Captivating Hobbies

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Asia Laviolette, Speech Pathologist + Aerialist

Asia Laviolette is fuelled by creative pursuits. Her career as a speech pathologist might not appear traditionally creative until you delve a little deeper into her day-to-day life. Laviolette always loved languages and that led her to a profession where she works with children. She thrives on the challenge of finding creative ways to help her young students improve their communication skills.

Her free time is spent at the gym elegantly scaling aerial silks, a hobby that feeds her soul in a different way. The activity boosts her confidence which she applies directly to her full-time job.

“My job allows me to think that I’m contributing and making a difference while my [aerial work] is an outlet for my self-expression as well as the fact that it makes me feel like I can create something,” she explains.

Laviolette loves the physical and mental challenge of being an aerialist and would love nothing more than to combine her two cherished disciplines. Speech pathology circus camp, anyone?

Jana Hashim, HR Specialist + Model

Born in Bangladesh and raised in Toronto, Jana Hashim excelled in both academics and athletics through the support from her military father. Her unwavering dedication and belief in the benefits of “building human capital” led her to major in Human Resource Management and minor in Corporate Law.

Outside the office walls where she works as a Human Resources Specialist, Jana has taken up a hobby far from corporate: modelling. Just as she’s genuinely fascinated in people’s backgrounds and well-being, clients were fascinated with Jana and booked her for runway shows. She soon signed with an agency, allowing her to travel the world on various commercial and print shoots. Having grown up in a busy household with two brothers, she never takes the glamorous moments for granted. She also credits her alluring position in HR for helping her come out of her shell and ace modelling assignments.

“I started out [modelling] shy, but I got better and better just through all the presentations I had to do at work and being in front of people all the time,” she says. “It surprised me in a good way.”

Through her astonishing versatility, Jana proves ‘corporate’ does not preclude ‘creative’, and we can be both sides of the coin.

Mikael Staer Nathan, Graphic Designer + Triathlete

An average day for Mikael Staer Nathan is not average for anyone else. That’s because the elite triathlete also balances a full-time career as a graphic designer. His physical and mental strength is pushed to the limits every single day and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part of the reason he’s able to juggle both aspects of his life with such grace is due to his rock solid support system and mental fortitude. Staer Nathan is a strong advocate for mental health, especially for professional athletes who are often deterred from asking for help.

Given his very full plate, it’s hard not to label him superman but Staer Nathan promises that the road to success wasn’t easy. Like any mere mortal with big dreams, he’s had to deal with disappointments and self doubt and it was his willingness to ask for help that he credits for keeping his head firmly in the game.

Danny Tseng, Architect + Home Chef

Danny Tseng prides himself on being a social connector and is grateful that his career and passion allow him to bring people together.

The architect turned home chef didn’t anticipate falling in love with cooking. His career took him to the hustle and bustle of Toronto where he found himself attending networking events every night. On weekends, he recalls recovering from his busy life by watching TV chefs whip up tantalizing dishes and started trying his own hand at recipes.

It wasn’t long before a hobby turned into a full blown passion and his career has stayed right along pace. Today, Tseng is the co-founder of an architecture firm and he hasn’t let the increased responsibility put a damper on his gastronomic endeavors.

Andrew Forde, Data Strategist + Violinist

If people are either left brain or right brain oriented, Andrew Forde is an anomaly. His success is proof that he utilizes the analytical and creative sides of his brain 50-50. Even as a child, Forde showed a strong aptitude for math and science but also for music. His father was a talented musician who introduced him to the violin. To date, the virtuoso has been nominated for a Juno award and has worked with bonafide R&B stars all while maintaining a full-time career as a business consultant.

He loves using technology to collect and disseminate information for his clients and believes the creative side of his brain plays a huge role in his professional success. At the end of the day, Forde hopes to use his skills to make a difference in the world.

“I believe that technology is the real driving force for social change and that those who understand it best should also lead in solving key social problems.”

Antoine Alavo, Internship Coordinator + DJ

Community has always been at the heart of Antoine Alavo’s motivations. Working in international development was a natural trajectory for the cause-oriented family man. Early in his career, Alavo travelled to Peru and Brazil building educational centers in underrepresented communities and it was during this time that he started collecting albums. His interest in music evolved into regular DJ gigs where he shared a rich tapestry of the musical influences collected from around the world.

Today, Alavo works as a university internship coordinator, helping students contribute to communities around the world. As a father of two, his priorities have shifted but his passion for community remains strong.

“I’m busy with work and my family these days, so I’m only spinning if there is a meaning behind it,” he says. Alavo’s musical ambitions are now focused on producing for local musicians and supporting Montreal’s artistic community.

Bojan Vejin, Barber + Music Producer

The first time you hear Bojan Vejin’s success story of cutting hair for affluent clients and producing music for artists around the world, it might seem like he was just at the right place at the right time, but it takes more than serendipity to work with a-list stars. The music producer and barber has always had an insatiable thirst for learning and he’d like to think that’s what got him to where he is today.

“Seriously, it was all just trial and error and kind of just being inquisitive and wanting to try it out,” he says. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

What happened was Vejin fell into the career of his dreams. He’s travelled the world pursuing his passions and while he’s already established in the barbering and music world, he refuses to limit himself. Vejin has also dabbled in social media, creative writing and content creation.

Find a hobby that unexpectedly captivates you, just like the 2019 Toyota Camry.

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