Alumni Profiles

Dr. Paul Poirier '85

Never one to complain, Dr. Paul Poirier ’85, a practising doctor of chiropractic for two decades now, has made lemonade from lemons one dream after another. In 1995, Dr. Poirier was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Since then, Paul has undergone four brain surgeries and has two years of chemotherapy under his belt. 

In 2010, Dr. Poirier founded Bikers Against Brain Cancer which began as a small fundraising motorcycle tour and has now become a coast to coast ride including musical entertainment. Dr. Paul has added this musical element to his fundraiser not only because of his love of music but as he says, “Not everyone has a motorcycle but everyone likes music.”

Always reaching higher and dreaming bigger, Dr. Poirier approached the one and only legendary bodybuilder, actor and former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dr. Poirier says, “I approached the former “Governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, to help me spread the word about brain tumor awareness on a broader scale. I chose him for several reasons - he likes motorbikes, his best friend, Dr. Franco Columbu, is a practising chiropractor just like me. Most importantly, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s uncle, by marriage to Maria Shriver, was the late Senator Ted Kennedy who died of a brain tumor in 2009.”

If it is possible to dream bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dr. Poirier has taken it to the next level once again. In order to achieve his goal of creating a film on the subject of brain cancer, he found a film production house interested in his idea. A trailer of his documentary, Test of a Man, a fitting title, can be seen at All of these accomplishments, and he’s not done yet! For Dr. Poirier’s latest adventure, he has followed his love of music and recently launched his own rock radio show about his favorite band, Black Sabbath on an upstate New York classic rock station.

The leadership shown by Dr. Poirier comes from his sheer determination, sacrifice and knowing that it is all worth it in the end in order to achieve your goal. His wife, Ginny, has been by his side since they met in 1996. They were married in Cornwall, Ontario in 2000. They have three children, Crystal, Zachary, and BJ. Dr. Poirier has had his life, dreams and goals put to the test several times and has persevered through it all making sweet lemonade from lemon after lemon.

Lewis Coughlin '87  

Lewis Coughlin ’87 graduated from Grade 13 at Albert and immediately moved to Ottawa to study at Carleton University. There he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economic History and Spanish, with distinction. Upon graduation from university in 1990, Lewis joined the Canadian federal government, where he has spent most of the last 25 years of his career. Continuing in his father's footsteps in the Department of Foreign Affairs (now named Global Affairs Canada), Lewis held various diplomatic assignments around the world, including Director of Operations in Taipei, Consul in Guangzhou, Counsellor (Commercial & Economic) in Caracas, and now Consul & Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate in Seattle. In his present capacity, Lewis manages the foreign direct investment and innovation program, and wears the hat of Mission Security Officer, responsible for the safety and well-being of the consulate's staff.  Life in the diplomatic corps is not always glamorous (though it often is!), but it is always an adventure and opportunity to represent Canada and all that our great country has to offer.  Lewis loves his job.

In 2013, Lewis received the Deputy Minister's Award for outstanding achievement in relation to work done on revamping the department's network of regional offices to streamline operations and reduce costs. Lewis says, “Albert College can take credit for its part in getting me geared for success in my post-secondary studies and ensuing career.”

Lewis is married to Julie-Frances and together they have four children - Rio, Milan, Sienna and Tristan, all of whom make him very proud. 

Brian Acton '03 

After graduating from the wonderful experience that was Albert College and then getting my BA from Acadia University, I wanted to experience new countries and cultures.  My curiosity led me to investigate teaching English in China. It was a foregone conclusion that China, with its vibrant economy and ancient culture, offered me the most opportunities for future career development.  I began teaching in the ancient city of Chengdu in 2008.  Chengdu is a culturally rich, rapidly growing city of relaxed winding rivers, hot-springs, Buddhist temples and tea-houses. I quickly embraced and loved my new ESL teaching role and school. The students in China are amazing! They're always eager to learn and have a great time! In my free time, I enjoyed studying Mandarin at the local tea-houses and making many new, exciting, multi-cultural foreign and Chinese friends. As an ESL teacher in China, I had lots of free time to travel and explore my new city. Also, with the cost of living being so inexpensive I could afford to save and have a semi-extravagant life-style (massages and cleaning lady included). Upon completion of my contract, I used my airfare reimbursement to go travelling around Southeast Asia for two months and then quickly decided to sign up again for another year. Teaching in China has been one of the best experiences of my life! I would encourage anyone to apply who has a sense of adventure and a desire to see new places.  It will be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences you will ever have. 

Written by Brian Acton ’03

Albert College alumnus Brian Acton ’03 has been living in China for the past eight years and is now Head Director of one of the leading ESL recruitment agencies for teaching English in China. 

Lara Hilmi ’04   

Lara moved to Sydney, Australia in September 2012 to complete her masters and continue her career in advertising. After attending an Australian Rules football game in Melbourne, she became captivated by the sport and decided to find a local women's club in Sydney. After her first season she was selected as rookie of the year and the club Most Valuable Player (MVP). She was also picked as a Sydney representative player. Her biggest achievement in the sport so far was being selected for the Canadian squad in the 2014 International Cup where the Canadian team won gold.