Michelle LaVigne: Write 4-U Communications

Taylor Conrad

Michelle LaVigne, BPR’ 83, today owns Write 4 – U Communications, a company that specializes in association management and communications. Write 4-U Communications began out of a desire for her to find work and life balance. LaVigne was working long hours, full time at the Red Cross communications department, with two young children at home. “I was really finding it challenging to manage my profession while focusing on my family. Anyone who works for a not- for- profit knows that work is not a 9 to 5 proposition.”

LaVigne loved her time at the Red Cross, and worked on many emergency relief efforts– however, the position was demanding and required flexibility. “The turning point for me was when Swiss Air occurred. I was called in on my first day of vacation to work with the communication disaster team. The next two weeks were just absorbed with getting through the disaster and helping the families. Needless to say, that vacation never really happened.” She made the decision to find something that would offer her the rewards of a career and the satisfaction of family. “I would never take back the years I spent at the Red Cross, but felt a need to be more in charge of my career and family.”

LaVigne ’s journey into post-secondary education began with her brother, Chris. He organized a meeting for his sister with Sister Elizabeth Bellefontaine, who was chair of the religious studies department at Mount Saint Vincent University. She encouraged LaVigne to apply for a BA degree with the idea to later move into social work. Shortly into her studies, one of her professors, made her conscious of her academic strengths. “Professor Schwenger made me feel for the first time in my life that I had the ability to communicate. I wrote a paper in his children’s literature class, and I remember he commented on my writing style and said it was ‘downright prophetic.’ His comment inspired me; gave me insight into my own capabilities and talents.”

The next year, LaVigne’s academic advisor, Jon White, suggested she consider the public relations (PR) program. “I didn’t know a lot about it, but he said it would be a good fit for me, so I applied, got accepted and began that the next semester.” LaVigne says, she feels lucky to have found several mentors who helped to support her decision to transfer into public relations, saying she received lots of counseling at home. Her father was a lieutenant naval commander and was in charge of public relations for CFB Stadacona. He also was chair of PR for their Church and recognized the importance and the value of public relations. “Dad put me to work on many projects and he and my brother, Chris, helped guide me through those first few years at the Mount. I discovered many creative sides of my personality and was constantly challenged by the curriculum and my professors.”

Upon graduation, LaVigne found herself at a crossroad. “I was offered an interview with a local television network and was also approved for a grant to study French for six weeks in Trois-Rivières, Que. I wasn’t ready to work full-time and really wanted to back pack for a year in Europe. So, I took the grant with a view to travelling after the course was over. It didn’t quite work out the way I planned,” she says.  It was at that time that she found out that her sister had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and six months later her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Selflessly, she postponed her dream to travel and remained in Halifax to care for her mother. LaVigne says, that because she didn’t follow that path at that time, it offered her other opportunities. “I did finally get to travel Europe, and then went on to live in the North, for almost two years. That was totally unexpected.” At age 53, she says she is doing exactly what she was meant to do. “Life is a journey, with every stage offering us with an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.”