Past Recipients

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2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Dr. Bruce DamerDr. Bruce Damer | Undergraduate studies ‘82

Dr. Bruce Damer

Dr. Bruce Damer | Undergraduate studies ‘82

Distinguished Alumni: Research Award

TRU alumnus and multidisciplinary scientist Dr. Bruce Damer has dedicated his career to the exploration of two fundamental questions: how the first living cells originated; and how to provide a viable path for expansion of human civilization beyond Earth. His curiosity in how life originated has led him to study diverse disciplines from computer science and physics to biology and chemistry.

Damer is an associate researcher in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz; Associate of the NASA Astrobiology Centre; Member of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life; founding director of the Contact Consortium; Principal Scientist at Digital Space; and served as Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington.

Damer's childhood in Kamloops served as a catalyst for his interest in life's origins and its viability in space — and how both can be studied via computer simulations. Damer was born and raised in Kamloops, and began undergraduate studies in computing science at Cariboo College in 1979 before graduating from the University of Victoria with a degree in computer science in 1984. A teenaged Damer wrote a regular column for the Kamloops Daily News that explored ideas like man's future beyond the space shuttle — theories for which he has developed as an associate researcher in biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

He began his career in the 1980s developing some of the earliest user interfaces for personal computers and, since 2000, has supported NASA with numerous simulations. Damer's company DigitalSpace was awarded contracts by NASA to build an open source 3D modeling platform for the simulation and design of space missions. He also co-developed a concept spacecraft capable of harvesting resources from asteroids in order to create biospheres to sustain human life in space.

Damer received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California and a PhD from the University College Dublin, where his thesis focused on using computers to simulate emergent lifelike phenomena.

Damer's PhD research ultimately led him and his colleagues to co-author a new hypothesis for life’s origins in hot spring pools on land, contrary to the deep-sea vent theory that life originated at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. As a computer scientist, Damer's work focused on finding a mathematical algorithm that would explain how more complex compounds were built up from simpler atoms — ultimately concluding that the common ancestor was not a competing individual cell, but a collaborative, symbiotic community.

This terrestrial origin of life theory is now undergoing testing by scientific teams worldwide and has a ripple effect through chemistry, physics, geology, evolutionary biology and philosophy.

Armed with this hypothesis for life’s origins, Damer is now part of a site-selection team advising NASA where to land the next rover on Mars, hoping to convince them to examine rocks at an ancient hot spring in hopes of finding evidence for life.

Damer ties his work on our deepest ancestry to his personal philosophy on humankind’s interaction with the cosmos through probability, interconnection and memory. His significant contributions to the study of life is said to have implications for humanity in scientific, philosophical and spiritual realms.

Damer considers his continued research in RNA-protocell the highlight of his career thus far.

“We (the research team) carried out our RNA-protocell experiments again (to repeat the results) in the hot springs at Rotorua, New Zealand in February 2020. Our hypothesis article for an origin of life appeared in the journal Astrobiology in April 2020 and a number of stories came out in the remainder of the year, with a feature article mentioning our work in the journal Nature in December.”

Damer's advice for current students is to never give up on your dreams.

 “Keep to your dream, your passion and follow all signs that may come your way as to your next steps. “

"The Hot Spring Hypothesis for an Origin of Life published in Astrobiology":

Nature feature story: "How the first life on Earth survived its biggest threat — water"

Personal website:

LMG Finance Inc.LMG Finance Inc.

LMG Finance Inc.

LMG Finance Inc.

Distinguished Alumni: Milestone Achievement Award

The Milestone Achievement Award recognizes the accomplishments of LMG Finance Inc., whose collective efforts have created an institutional milestone and made a unique contribution to the life and goals of TRU, the students and alumni.

LMG Finance Inc. has been an epitome of innovation and entrepreneurship since its inception 17 years ago. The three TRU partners, Rob Williamson BBA'00, Clayton Burkatsky CSOM Dip '05 and Mike MacPhee BBA '01 all understand firsthand the value of an education from TRU and the power of the co-op educational experience and continue to turn to local talent to facilitate the company’s growth, which has expanded nationwide.

As LMG Finance Inc. continues to grow, so does the impact it has on the lives of TRU students, alumni and community members. Positive hiring practices, scholarship support, committee participation and board leadership include some of the many ways LMG Finance Inc. staff continues to support TRU.

Hiring practices reflect a commitment to the university and community with over TRU alumni making up over 60% of their employees creating a family culture. As a valued co-op partner, TRU students continue to reap the benefits from the experiential learning and mentorship LMG Finance Inc. provides.

As an organization LMG is proud to have built a successful business that add to the dynamics of the Kamloops community and they continue to impact student success by staying involved in scholarship fundraising activities as participants, donors and sponsors.

The TRU Milestone Achievement Award is presented to LMG Finance for the accumulated impact their entire staff has made in the lives of TRU students, alumni and the community.

Adil HosenbocusAdil Hosenbocus | Bachelor of Business Administration '11

Adil Hosenbocus

Adil Hosenbocus | Bachelor of Business Administration '11

Distinguished Alumni: Career Mentor of the Year Award

Adil is recognized for his exceptional engagement in the student career development and support of student success. He has shared countless hours of industry expertise to assist TRU students with their transition from classroom to career. Over the past seven years, Adil has enthusiastically accepted every invitation to support student career development. In addition to participating in the scheduled career mentoring series of events; 1-on-1 connections, speed networking and meal with a mentor events, Adil has set aside time to meet students outside of these events to answer additional industry related questions.

Adil Hosenbocus is an integral voice in providing industry feedback to support students in their career knowledge acquisition and career development. This includes providing information on industry skills, recruiting practices, education requirements, resume building and providing advice on how to leverage these skills in the current labour market. He has set the bar high and has certainly exceeded expectations.

Kaitlin LomasKaitlin Lomas | Bachelor of Arts '18

Kaitlin Lomas

Kaitlin Lomas | Bachelor of Arts '18

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award- 2018 recipient

Throughout university, Kaitlin Lomas' has demonstrated the ability to reach far beyond herself. She has been involved in many academic, volunteer, leadership, and athletic endeavors.

As the 2018 Neil Russell Student Leadership recipient, Kaitlin is recognized for her many volunteer roles, all with the hope of positively impacting the lives of others. She had roles in events such as SPCA Paws for a Cause, TRUly United, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Toys for Kids Breakfast, Terry Fox Runs, and coaching youth volleyball. As a student athlete Kaitlin also became a Pack Academic Edge (PACE) Leader providing one-to-one academic instruction for a variety of student athletes.

Kaitlin has affected the lives and actions of others through the demonstration of caring, compassion and kindness. She maintained an excellent academic record and took on many awareness initiatives including a collaboration with Kamloops Sexual Assault Centre on a public service message, #ibelieveyou video in support of survivors of sexualized violence.

Kaitlin inspires others through examples of hard work, taking initiative, and demonstrating respect. Her hope is that she has been successful in instilling these values in both the team culture and the campus communities she had the privilege of serving.

Payton ComazettoPayton Comazzetto | Bachelor of Arts '18

Payton Comazetto

Payton Comazzetto | Bachelor of Arts '18

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award- 2019 recipient

Payton Comazzetto has distinguished herself as an exceptional student role model throughout her university career.

One of Payton's proudest and most celebrated accomplishments came when she organized a fundraising event for the Boys and Girls Club - 'Brennan's Ugly Sweater Run'. This event idea was inspired by the memory of her brother who was killed by a drunk driver in 1999. This event has raised over $13 500, since 2017, for the Power Start Program.

As team leader and member of the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, she was an integral part of a TRU research team working with the City of Kamloops, mapping the impacts of the opioid crisis on citizens and health service providers. Payton’s depth of character and her ability to transform personal challenge into a platform for public service and advocacy truly sets her apart.

As Vice president of the AdventureU Club. Payton's is part of a team of students that have created a club with the ultimate goal to ensure healthy living and outdoor activities are accessible to all. These projects highlight the initiative, respect, and genuine excitement Payton has for helping others and she continues to be committed to the process of lifelong learning.

Shae-Lynn ForseilleShae-Lynn Forseille | Bachelor of Tourism Management '19

Shae-Lynn Forseille

Shae-Lynn Forseille | Bachelor of Tourism Management '19

TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Scholarship

Shae-Lynn Forseille demonstrates exceptional leadership in coordinating, promoting and engaging herself and other students in career related activities such as extensive volunteering, career mentoring, workshops and club leadership.

Shae-Lynn actively sits as the PCMA president. She is guided by the philosophy that it’s not what happens inside the classroom that’s most important, it’s what you do outside of the class. She leans into this in her role as president as she has selflessly assisted in the coordination of various Career Mentoring Events throughout her university career. Shae-Lynn’s volunteer experience includes organizing workshops for students giving them the opportunity to network in preparation for entering the workforce and sitting as the Job Fair Volunteer Coordinator. She is truly an ambassador for the value of learning networking skills outside of the classroom.

She is the embodiment of strong leadership skills that prove to be beneficial to herself and her fellow students. She demonstrates this through her tireless fundraising efforts, which she plans to continue post-graduation, to provide students with the opportunity to attend conferences.

Shae-Lynn’s accomplishments and leadership in career development, both inside and outside the classroom have garnered her the TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development.

2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Pat O'BrienPat O'Brien | TRU Athletics and Sports Task Force Founder

Pat O'Brien

Pat O'Brien | TRU Athletics and Sports Task Force Founder

Distinguished Alumni: Honourary Alumnus

Recognized as a member of TRU's and Kamloops community who has gone above and beyond in contributing to the success of TRU students.

Pat O'Brien has been a name synonymous with TRU Athletics since the inception of Cariboo College in 1970, when he was hired as one of the original staff members. As the first ever athletic director, he was the driving force behind building the TRU Gym - a facility that would serve as the stage for campus and community events for many years.

His belief in TRU and Kamloops resulted in the growth of a successful athletic program. Challenged to remain competitive despite limited resources, O'Brien mobilized a group of community volunteers to form what is perhaps his greatest gift to TRU athletics today - the Sports Task Force.

Phyllis WebstadPhyllis Webstad | Accounting Technician Diploma '97

Phyllis Webstad

Phyllis Webstad | Accounting Technician Diploma '97

Distinguished Alumni: Community Impact Award

Recognzed for her unprecendented impact on local, provincial, national and international communities through the sharing of her Orange Shirt Day story.

Phyllis Webstad's extraordinary strength and resiliency has mobilized her community, and her work as the catalyst behind the movement known as Orange Shirt Day has had far-reaching impacts.

On Sept. 30, 2013, Webstad organized the first Orange Shirt Day in Williams Lake to acknowledge the damage that Canada's residential school system left on generations of Aboriginal families. The event spread across BC and Canada, and now many communities have declared Orange Shirt Day to honour the First Nations people who have survived residential schools, remember the ones who did not and provide awareness to the younger generation.

Greg LehouxGreg Lehoux | Engineering University Transfer '93

Greg Lehoux

Greg Lehoux | Engineering University Transfer '93

Distinguished Alumni: Innovative Partnership Award

Honoured for his impact on sustainable energy management through innovative partnerships. He is recognized for supporting curriculum expansion, and advancing sustainability practices.

Greg Lehoux grew up in Armstrong, BC before enrolling in the Engineering Transfer Program at Cariboo College. Now a senior program manager at BC Hydro, Lehoux works with BC's largest industrial companies to integrate energy-management principles into everyday operations in order to reduce waste, improve productivity, and boost profits.

His passion lies in creating community-driven partnerships and improving energy efficiency for industrial companies in smaller cities like Kamloops. He strongly believes that these partnerships help keep industries viable and healthy, resulting in economic growth and opportunities for graduates to live and work close to home.

David PaulDavid Paul | Bachelor of General Studies OL '16

David Paul

David Paul | Bachelor of General Studies OL '16

Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Recognized for his outstanding professional accomplishments, advocacy for local law practice, and his commitment to fostering a successful environment for TRU Law Graduates.

David Paul grew up in Kamloops and completed his law degree at the University of Victoria in 1986. Called to the BC bar in 1987, he is the founding partner of the Kamloops legal firm Paul and Company. He was appointed Queen's Council in 2003, and was the first Kamloops lawyer to be elected vice-president and subsequently, president of the Canadian Bar Association, BC branch. An experienced mediator, he has successfully conducted over 300 family law and 50 personal injury mediations.

In 2016, while working full-time as a family law arbitrator, mediator and dispute resolution professional as well as lecturing in TRU's Faculty of Law, he completed a Bachelor of General Studies through TRU Open Learning. He is currently obtaining his master's (LLM) at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Jenny Green DAA 2017 BSWJenny Green | Bachelor of Social Work '08

Jenny Green DAA 2017 BSW

Jenny Green | Bachelor of Social Work '08

Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister, BSW Award

This award recognizes outstanding achievements of TRU BSW Alumni whose work has made a significant contribution in one or more of the following areas: adocacy, community development, education, policy development, research, service delivery, or other areas of importance to the profession.

From her time as a Bachelor of Social Work student and throughout her career, Jenny Green has consistently demonstrated excellence in the field. During her final year at TRU, Green completed a three-month field placement in Botswana, Africa as a clinical social worker at the Maun General Hospital. During that time she demonstrated tremendous resourcefulness in community development.

Working since 2008 for the Interior Health Authority, she has continually confirmed her commitment toward creating a more vibrant, healthy and inclusive community. Green spends much of her time engaging communities across the region to find solution to prevent youth suicide.

BCLC LogoBC Lottery Corporation


BC Lottery Corporation

Distinguished Alumni: Milestone Achievement Award

Honoured for their unique relationship with TRU. Their collective efforts and contribution, through mentorship, philanthropy, volunteerism and hiring practices have positively affected the lives and goals of TRU student's and Alumni

BCLC has played an integral role at TRU in providing learning opportunities beyond the classroom that ultimately impact the career success of students and alumni. BCLC's hiring practices reflect a commitment to the university and the community at large. BCLC also provides invaluable co-operative education expereinces for students, and offers many employment and training opportunities.

In addition, BCLC provides support in the form of corporate and employee contributions, supporting students' career development and volunteering countless hours as career mentors to students.

Lino CaputoPaolino Caputo | Bachelor of Fine Arts '17

Lino Caputo

Paolino Caputo | Bachelor of Fine Arts '17

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

This award is given to the student leader(s) whose commitment to academic excellence and significant involvement in university affairs inspires and improves the community on and/or off campus.

A student who tirelessly seeks opportunities to learn beyond the classroom, Paolino Caputon's leadership revolves around building something that has equal benefits for all - he is a shining example of what it means to be a student leader.

Paolino (Lino) quickly gained the respect and admiration of faculty with his ability to maintain a high grade point average while also engaging in a political push for LGBTQ representation within the TRU Student Union Governance and successfully running for  Club President of the TRUSU Pride Club.

Lino is also a founding member of the Mosaic Fashion Show, a participant in the Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP), serves as President of the BFA Society of Fourth Year Visual Arts Students, and has presented and received accolades at various conferences in Canada and the United States.

Ashlee HudieAshlee Hudie | Masters of Business Administration '17

Ashlee Hudie

Ashlee Hudie | Masters of Business Administration '17

TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development

Honours a student who impacts the career development success of TRU students through the coordinating, promoting, and engaging of career building activities such as volunteering, career mentoring, workshops, clubs, and student engagement.

Through her time at TRU as an undergraduate student and current graduate student, Ashlee has tirelessly assisted in the coordination of various Career Mentoring Events and acted as an ambassador for the value of learning networking skills outside of the clasroom. Her accomplishments and leadership in career development both inside and outside of the classroom have made her a worthy recipient of the TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Dean NelsonDean Nelson | Resort and Hotel Management Diploma, '92

Dean Nelson

Dean Nelson | Resort and Hotel Management Diploma, '92

Distinguished Alumni: Human Rights Leadership Award

Dean Nelson has pushed innovation in the LGBTQ community through many years in the hospitality industry as a champion of LGBTQ tourism.

An event producer, activist and philanthropist, he is best known as the face and personality of Whistler Pride, the annual Whistler Gay Ski Week. He was the founder and executive producer of the first Olympic LGBTQ pavillion called Pride House during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Pride House became the third most talked about news story of the Olympics, bringing to the forefront homophobia within sport. Nelson continues to sit on the advisory committee with Pride House International.

Nelson's experience and connections within the hospitality industry have allowed him to successfully break down barriers that were previously unimaginable. He was chosen to lead the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade as Grand Marshal. Grand Marshals are local, national, or international heroes who have done great things to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and create safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ Community.

Nelson has been recognized for his advocacy efforts worldwide and has also been widely acknowledged in the tourism industry, winning the Pride Toronto Award for Excellence in Sport and the Vancouver Pride Sports Legacy Award for his work reducing homophobia and breaking down barriers within sport and at large.

Linda JulesLinda Jules | BA '07

Linda Jules

Linda Jules | BA '07

Distinguished Alumni: Arts & Culture Award

Linda Jules has an exceptional ability to mobilize stakeholders and transform ideas into reality, impacting youth, artists and communities. She is a renowned Kamloops visual artist and passionate advocate for arts and education. She is also a founding director of the Kamloops Printmakers Society, a co-operative print artists' studio.

She was the recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Kamloops Art Gallery, serving as a past president, board member, donor and mentor. She also received the City of Kamloops Centennial Medal for distinguished service to the community. Jules played a prominent role in the development and sustainability of the Beattie School of the Arts.

It's largely because of Jules' work as an advocate, mentor and philanthropist that Kamloops has a vibrant alternative visual arts community.

Girbur SandhuGurbir Sandhu | BSW '02

Girbur Sandhu

Gurbir Sandhu | BSW '02

Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister, BSW Award

Gurbir Sandhu is a human services professional with extensive experience in various aspects of the practice including direct service delivery, policy analysis, research and non-profit leadership.

With more than ten years of experience teaching human services and humanities in a university setting she is an advocate of social justice who has made powerful impacts on policy in Canada and abroad.Her passion and dedication within her field has created effective change in the lives of marginalized populations by mobilizing stakeholders and building advocates through education and policy development.

Sandhu worked closely with the Calgary Peace Prize selection committee, a major undertaking where they award the Peace Prize to an exceptional global citizen.

She has also worked collaboratively with various levels of government, tirelessly advocating for fair labour legislation and policy. She is an expert in the development of peoples' capacities to act as responsive global citizens, furthering the cross-cultural sensitivity for everyone she works with.

Arrow TransportArrow Transport

Arrow Transport

Arrow Transport

Distinguished Alumni: Milestone Achievement Award

Arrow Transportation Systems Inc.has played an integral part of providing learning opportunities outside the classroom that ultimately impact the career success of students and alumni.

Growth, entrepreneurial thinking and striving for high-quality solutions have been the catalyst for this mutually beneficial and unique relationship. Expanding markets and the need to build new and innovative software have generated research partnerships with students and alumni from the Faculty of Science.

Arrow's hiring practices reflect their commitment to TRU and the community at large, hiring alumni and students from trades and technology, business, IT and arts programs. They also provide co-operative education experiences for students and offer employment and training opportunities.

In addition, Arrow Transportation provides financial support in the form of both corporate and employee contributions as well as scholarship development valued at over $77,000. They are dedicated to providing support through mentorship and volunteerism. Their staff has volunteered upwards of 400 hours as career mentors to support student success.

The company gives back to the community on a multitude of levels and TRU is just one of the benefactors.

Connie GeorgetConnie Georget

Connie Georget

Connie Georget

Career Mentor of the Year Award

Connie Georget is being recognized for her exceptional support and engagement in the career development of TRU students. Over the past seven years, she has exceeded expectations in her collaboration with the Career Mentoring Program. She has shared countless hours of her time and expertise to provide career information to students.

Georget has been essential in providing information on industry standards, recruiting practices and education requirements. She has been able to help countless students increase career success by providing advice on how to leverage skills in the current labour market.

Since 2009, Georget has attended Networking 411 events, accepted one on one mentor connections. made classroom presentations and invited students for coffee. Her notable contributions have been paramount to the success of the Career Mentoring Program and the lives of TRU students.

Suvadeep HaldarSuvadeep Haldar | Post Baccalaureate, Finance

Suvadeep Haldar

Suvadeep Haldar | Post Baccalaureate, Finance

TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Scholarship

Suvadeep Haldar demonstrates excellence in leadership by coordinating, promoting, and engaging students in career development-related activities.

Through extensive volunteer work, career mentoring and classroom presentations, he is an ambassador for career education and demonstrates leadership both on and off campus.

Highly motivated with a passion for helping others, Haldar uses leadership positions within campus clubs to influence and impact the career development of fellow students. He has held various positions within the Finance Club and was instrumental in organizing a trip to Toronto's finance district for students to meet with career mentors and industry professionals.

Haldar's accomplishments and leadership in career development, both inside and outside the classroom have garnered him the TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development.

Carlee PoleschukCarlee Poleschuk | Bachelor of Science

Carlee Poleschuk

Carlee Poleschuk | Bachelor of Science

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

Carlee Poleschuk distinguished herself as an exceptional student role model at TRU, excelling both inside and outside the classroom.

Poleschuk spent two co-op work terms at TRIUMF, which is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Located at UBC, the facility attracts top students and talented people from around the world as they work towards finding answers to tough questions in physics, material science and nuclear medicine.

Collaborating with TRIUMF's nuclear medicine team and the BC Cancer Agency, she helped efforts to unlock the question: How does a physician image a cancer that does not respond to common techniques?

Poleschuk was also an Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP) recipient. Her project title was "Capillary Electrophoresis Study of Interaction Between Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Epigallocatechtin Gallate."

A student who uses her scholarly achievements, remarkable character and natural talents to make such a positive difference in society - she is a shining example of what it means to be a student leader.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Kevin LoringKevin Loring

Kevin Loring

Kevin Loring

Arts & Culture Award

Honoured for his significant regional, national and international impact on Canadian arts and culture as a playwright, actor, instructor and mentor.

Kevin Loring is from the Lytton First Nation, a member of the Nlaka’pamux (Thompson) Nation Tribal Council. As an actor he has performed in numerous plays across Canada including Marie Clements’s Burning Vision and Copper Thunderbird, and in the NAC’s 40th anniversary production of George Ryga’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. He was the recipient of the 2005 City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Theatre Artist, Artist in Residence at The Playhouse Theatre Company in 2006, and Playwright in Residence at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, in 2010.

His first play Where the Blood Mixes won the Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Script; the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright; and the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. Where the Blood Mixes premiered at the 2008 Luminato Festival in Toronto. Presented at the 2008 Magnetic North Festival in Vancouver, it opened on the same day of the House of Commons apology for the legacy of suffering generations of aboriginal people continue to endure as a result of their experiences at residential schools. Kevin also participated in the closing ceremonies of the Aboriginal Pavilion at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Kevin’s career in the arts has been flourishing since his award in 2015. He has become the Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre of Canada.

“In 2019 we launched the very first season of Indigenous Theatre at the NAC to much acclaim. My play Thanks For Giving published by Talon Books was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary award for Drama. I also completed the final draft of my latest play Little Red Warrior and his Lawyer and am in the final stages of having it published as well.”

Kevin also relayed his proudest moments to us during his interview.

“My proudest moment since 2015 was when I lead a canoe procession with representatives of the Algonquin Nation down the Rideau Canal to the National Arts Centre for the opening ceremonies of the NAC Indigenous Theatre department and our Inaugural Festival Móshkamo: Indigenous Arts Rising.”

Kevin’s advice to current students is to pursue their interests.

“If you love what you do and you do what you love, there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your dreams.”

You can read more about Kevin and his career at Savage Society and NAC websites.

Jokull Bergmann (Thorarinsson)

Young Alumni Award

Honoured for his significant regional, national and international impact made within the Adventure Tourism field as young entrepreneur, guide, instructor and mentor.

Jokull Bergmann (aka JB), whose name aptly translates as Glacier Mountain Man, is founder and lead guide for Bergmenn Mountain Guides. As Iceland's first and only International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations certified mountain guide, Jokull (pronounced “Yekutl”) leads adventures in Iceland, Greenland and around the globe.  He specializes in ski touring, ski mountaineering, heli-skiing, ice and alpine climbing in those regions. Through each course of Jokull’s time at TRU, he approached all with the same determination as the last. This determination is what moved Jokull so quickly through the process with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.

Jokull's experience in the Canadian heli-skiing industry gave him the know-how and skills to set up an operation in Iceland. The Troll peninsula was an obvious choice as it is by far the best terrain in Iceland and a world-class destination for backcountry skiing. Bergmann’s heli-ski operation was originally run out of the old family farmhouse, which still contains the kitchen and dining room where meals feature locally sourced organic lamb, fish and goose are served. Alongside sit a separate sauna hut and four detached wood-clad cottages for most of the guests.

Daley & Company

Milestone Achievement Award

Honoured for their collective efforts and unique relationship with TRU which have created an institutional milestone and made a unique contribution through mentorship, philanthropy, volunteerism and hiring practices, and positively affected the lives and goals of TRU students and alumni.

Three of five Daley & Co partners are TRU Alumni, all of their senior management team are TRU Alumni, and 75 percent of their staff are TRU Alumni! The firm has actively supported Thompson Rivers University for more than 20 years, annually providing funds for student financial awards, mentoring students, hiring graduates, sponsoring events, and participating on boards and committees. The TRU Milestone Achievement Award is being presented to Daley & Company for the accumulated impact that the entire staff has made on the lives of TRU students and Alumni. This organization is led by five partners that certainly walk the walk and have impacted TRU decision-making with over 21 years of participating in a variety of committees. Daley & Company is the largest independent accounting and business advisory firm in Kamloops, specializing in tax services, business advisory and consultation, retirement and estate planning, First Nations services, accounting and auditing.

The partnership of the firm is comprised of Norman Daley, Maureen McCurdy, Paul Mumford, Michael Parker and Sean Wandler. Paul Mumford spent 6 years on the Sports Task Force and was a member of the  Cariboo College Cheifs hockey team. Sean Wandler among other things has been the volunteer coach of the Kamloops Riverdogs for the past 16 seasons and was recognized as BC Minor Baseballs Coach of the Year for 2014. Maureen McCurdy who is a tireless volunteer has been involved in some of our communities biggest events including the Western Canada Games, BC Seniors Games and the Tim Hortons Brier.  She was a winner of a 2013 Community Service Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC. In addition, senior manager and tax specialist, Sandra Blair, is a TRU alumna and was an All-Canadian star in TRU basketball and soccer, a two-sport phenomenon.  Sandra also contributed ten years of her time and talent to many activities of the TRU Sports Task Force.

Norman Daley is well known throughout the business community as not only a CA, but also a community advocate volunteering on many committees to enhance the city for visitors and residents alike. As a partner of the company since 1991, Norm appreciates the opportunities the firm provides to students looking for their first start in an accounting firm as well as to seasoned professionals who can further the great reputation of the company.  He has been a member of the TRU Foundation board for four years and states, “it is a part if our DNA at Daley and Company to give back to the community. We encourage and support our staff in community involvement and find the results very rewarding for all concerned.”

Dylan Robinson

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

This award is presented to a Student Leader whose commitment to academic excellence and significant involvement in university affairs inspires others and improves the campus community.

Dylan Robinson has been very active in the TRU Students’ Union executive since coming to TRU five years ago. After serving in various executive positions, he was elected President for the past two years, making TRUSU a force to be reckoned with and one which plays a much more concerted role in TRU governance. Dylan has served on the University Senate, Budget Committee of Senate, Arts Faculty Council, and has been a leader in the Annual Philosophy, History, and Politics (PHP) Conference. He is well informed on issues under discussion, and demonstrates a deep concern for a diversity of student needs.

His ability to identify the key points of an issue allow him to contribute with clarity and brevity to discussions. When he speaks, he commands attention. Ultimately, however, what truly sets Dylan apart is his drive to use his education, critical thinking skills and leadership to create change for the benefit of others, namely for the student body that has elected him. Dylan is quoted as saying, “I believe that students have elected me to three terms on the TRU Senate, two terms as President and one term as Vice President External of the TRU Students’ Union because I’ve been able to make small, positive changes for our campus community.  For me, leadership is not about working in isolation or serving your own interests, but is about working together with as many folks as you can fit around the table to make your community better.”

Blessing Chiduuro

TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development

Blessing Chiduuro is a 4th year BBA student majoring in finance and marketing and currently sits on the TRU Board of Governors as a student representative. He is a highly motivated with a passion for helping others and uses leadership positons in campus clubs to influence and impact the career development of fellow students. As the President of the TRU Finance club, Blessing has a goal to improve students’ employment opportunities after graduation. In his role as president he initiated a career development trip with members of the club to meet and network with industry professionals in the Financial District of Toronto.  The group of students met with over 10 professionals in a three day period.

Blessing is the Director of Entrepreneurship with Enactus, a student run club with the focus of using entrepreneurship to improve the lives of others; he also supported other numerous career development activities to TRU students across campus. His critical thinking and management skills have made him very attractive to many employers but Blessing has accepted a job offer with a Zimbabwean steel company to achieve his lifelong goal of alleviating poverty in Africa.

It’s Blessing’s accomplishments and leadership in career development, both inside and outside the classroom, that have garnered him the TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship for Career Development.

Career Mentor of the Year

The goals of the Career Mentor Program are to enhance student graduate outcomes and engage alumni and friends in being co-career educators. This program directly impacts student success by increasing their career knowledge which in turn increases their ability to secure meaningful work upon graduation.

We would like to thank all mentors for sharing their stories, giving back to TRU and learning the true strength of our student body. We have many testimonials where connections have been made, careers have been started and career decisions have been influenced. Alumni and Friends have responded with  increased generosity of their time and expertise to give our students an edge as they transition to the workforce. Mentor participation has increase from 18 to over 175 mentors per year since 2009.

Corey Darling, CIBC, branch manager and Rob Maciak KGHM, Environmental Scientist. These two mentors have shared countless hours of their time and expertise to provide career information for TRU students.

Corey and Rob are being recognized for their exceptional support and engagement in the career development of TRU students.

They have been essential in providing industry feedback to support students in their career knowledge acquisition and career development, including providing information on industry skills, recruiting practices, education requirements to increase career success and by providing advice on how to leverage these skills in the current labour market.

Over the past four years, they have attended Networking 411 events, accepted 1 on 1 mentor connections, spoke in the classroom and invited students for coffee for informational meetings. They are our Mentors of the Year. Thank you for being available wherever and whenever.

2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

daa2014_L MerrifieldLane Merrifield | Club Penguin * 2014 Keynote Speaker *

daa2014_L Merrifield

Lane Merrifield | Club Penguin

Lane Merrifield is co-founder of Club Penguin and former executive vice president of Disney Online Studios.

Lane helped create and launch Club Penguin in 2005, and as CEO played an integral role in its phenomenal growth and continued success as one of the largest digital brands for children. This success led to a partnership with the Walt Disney Company which acquired Club Penguin in August of 2007.

Lane left his role at Disney Online Studios last year to return to his entrepreneurial roots, pursue new ventures, and find ways of giving back to the community. Inspired to focus on the challenges facing teachers in the 21st century classroom, Lane co-founded a startup in the field of education called FreshGrade. FreshGrade is a cloud-based educational assessment tool that teachers, parents and students can use for insight into how a child learns.

Prior to his work with Club Penguin, Lane held various technical and marketing roles with a range of companies in Canada and the United States. His first job was at Disneyland. Lane has always maintained a passion for using technology to connect people in new and innovative ways. He and the Club Penguin team have been recipients of a BAFTA Award, several People’s Choice Awards, Parents’ Choice Awards, and a Webby Award. Lane has received an Honorary Fellows Award from Okanagan College and several leadership awards.

daa2014_Jason paigeJason Paige | Computer Automated Systems Technician, 2005

daa2014_Jason paige

Jason Paige | Computer Automated Systems Technician, 2005

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

This award recognizes alumni whose outstanding achievements have earned them regional, national or international prominence.

Jason Paige, President and CEO of Acres Enterprises Ltd., started his career in the construction industry when he was only 16 years old. During university, he spent his summers working as a pipe layer with Acres Enterprises. Graduating from the Computer Automated Systems Technician program at University College of the Cariboo in 2005, he made the decision to pursue the opportunity he saw in the construction industry. With his work ethic, determination and drive he worked his way to the top very quickly. Over a six year period, he continued to take courses and certifications while working his way up through the ranks of the company quickly entering into management as a Project Manager, Estimator and Safety Officer. In 2012 the goal he had pursued was achieved when he purchased Acres Enterprises and become the President and CEO. He currently strives to lead the company in their mission statement: Constructing Pride. Through his time at Acres, he has worked on numerous key industry projects and has been a key contributor to the trades industry on many levels. Jason has been involved in developing curriculum for secondary and post -secondary education courses, he provides apprentice opportunities, funds industry courses, and is a TRU career mentor. He also sponsors more than a dozen non-profit organization projects and events.

daa2014_Ken SalterKen Salter | Bachelor of Social Work, 2000

daa2014_Ken Salter

Ken Salter | Bachelor of Social Work, 2000

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister BSW Award

This award recognizes outstanding achievements of TRU Bachelor of Social Work alumni whose endeavours in the community have brought honour to the social work program at TRU and the profession of social work.

Ken Salter is remembered during his time in the BSW program for his commitment to inclusion, equality and participation for all members of society, and for his desire to work at the front lines of the social work profession with severely disadvantaged people.

Immediately following graduation, Ken joined the Aids Society of Kamloops (ASK) becoming the fourth employee at, what was then, a small grass roots social service agency. Ken is now the longest serving ASK employee and has assisted with the growth of the agency to the 65 full-time and 35 part-time employees now working for social justice for many of Kamloops’ most disadvantaged residents. While primarily responsible for outreach services, Ken consults and works in every service area including housing, health, harm reduction, services to people exiting the sex trade, mental health, and life skills.

Ken is a past member of the board of the Kamloops Food Bank and is also a founding member of the P.I.T. Stop food program at the Kamloops United Church.

Ken has served for many years as a field instructor for BSW students completing practicum internships at ASK and has given invited lectures in many BSW classes throughout the last decade. He has provided education and information to social workers at local events sponsored by the Thompson Nicola BC Association of Social Workers.

Ken is well known as a passionate golfer and spends much of his free time on the golf course. He also finds time to create beautiful landscapes on canvass with oil paint. He is also an amateur prospector and spends a lot of time in the creeks around Kamloops. Ken’s best friend is his dog, Max.

daa2014_Larissa PepperLarissa Pepper | Bachelor of Business Administration

daa2014_Larissa Pepper

Larissa Pepper | Bachelor of Business Administration

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

This award honours current TRU students whose leadership has contributed to the university and the community.

Throughout her studies at TRU, Larissa has demonstrated her passion, enthusiasm, organizational skills and a desire to positively influence those around her.

The third year business student worked two co-operative education work terms coordinating TRU’s Career Mentoring programs; a term at an exploration company in the Yukon, and most recently has held an HR position at Arrow Transportation Systems. Larissa has also volunteered her time giving presentations in classrooms and organizing many student events.

Larissa is President and founding member of the TRU Students’ Union Human Resource Management Club. After the club was founded they organized and hosted the TRU HR Industry night, along with taking groups of students to tour HR departments around Kamloops. Now they are planning a Conference and Case Competition in conjunction with the BC Human Resource Management Association, an organization she sits on the Advisory Council for. With Larissa’s leadership, this student club is creating an environment where members are able to gain practical experience in their fields.

If previous award winners are an indication, co-operative education has set her on a path to success.

daa2014_Skye BuckSkye Buck | Bachelor of Education, 2010

daa2014_Skye Buck

Skye Buck | Bachelor of Education, 2010

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded posthumously)

This award recognizes an extraordinary individual, who through a lifetime of outstanding service reflects the spirit of the TRU Alumni & Friends Association and is a role model for those who follow.

The late Skye Buck was a teacher in Clearwater before his tragic passing in December of 2012. He graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science and in 2010 from the TRU Bachelor of Education program. Skye then returned to teach in his home town of Clearwater. Not only an impressive educator and mentor, Skye was an exceptional athlete. In 2004 he was the UCC Male Athlete of the Year, BCCAA Player of the Year, CCAA College Player of the Year, CCAA All-Canadian, and was part of the bronze medal winning team at Nationals. During his time in a UCC uniform he won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. After completing his eligibility with UCC he went on to play professional basketball in London for the Essex Leopards.

After some time spent travelling Skye went back to his home town of Clearwater where he worked and coached volleyball and basketball for both men's and women's teams – he wanted to make sure that every athlete at every level was given a chance. He was a community leader in Clearwater where he ran an after school program for at-risk students and made every student feel accepted. It was his life goal to be as good as he could be in every aspect of his life and he will be dearly missed by all those whose lives he touched and his legacy lives on as the community of Clearwater was recently the Grand Prize winner in the Aviva Community Fund – Courtney and Skye Buck Memorial Courtyard at Raft River Elementary.




TRU Distinguished Alumni: Milestone Achievement Award

This award recognizes the accomplishments of a group (business, association or service club) whose collective efforts have created an institutional milestone and made a unique contribution to the life and goals of TRU students and alumni.

CIBC has supported Thompson Rivers University for many years. CIBC’s contribution has been by way of philanthropy in the form of student financial awards, providing co-operative education experiences for students, and offering employment and training positions within its branches. CIBC staff have also volunteered their time as mentors to TRU students, accepting speaking engagements at the university, and providing advice on curriculum development in the School of Business and Economics.

Rick Sallis is District Vice-President for CIBC and resides in Kamloops. Rick currently sits as Chairperson of the TRU School of Business Advisory Board. He has solid footing in his community through CIBC Run for the Cure and the TRU Foundation. A passionate supporter of Thompson Rivers University, Rick has three children who have graduated from, or are currently attending TRU.

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Fred Phelps | Bachelor of Social Work, 2003

TRU Distinguished Alumni: 2013 DAA Grace Chronister BSW Award

Fred Phelps graduated from TRU’s Bachelor of Social Work program in 2003. Three years later he obtained a Master of Social Work from Carlton University. In addition to casework, Fred has held positions as Chief of Staff to the Saskatchewan Minister of Culture, Youth and Recreation as well as Legislative Assistant to a Member of Parliament in Welland, Ontario. Currently, he is Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Social Workers. CASW promotes the profession of social work in Canada and advances social justice by working with social workers and consulting government and professional groups to improve social policy.

Richard Cane | Bachelor of Nature Resource Science

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Co-Recipient of the Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

In addition to achieving an excellent grade point average in TRU’s Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program, Richard Cane is credited with resurrecting the Natural Resource Science club at TRU and mentoring students who might otherwise struggle to pass their course. Richard was nominated by the faculty chair of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences who praises Richard’s leadership abilities—for example, encouraging student involvement in community events such as cleaning up of local parks and organizing social events. Richard himself acknowledges that thanks to his student leadership experiences he is confident to enter the workforce as a leader “who is ready to advocate for sustainable solutions needed to make this region, province and country leaders in their own rights.”

Amy Berard | Bachelor of Business Administration

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Co-Recipient of the Neil Russell Student Leadership Award

Amy Berard was nominated by the Business Co-operative Education coordinator and was recognized as TRU Co-op Student of the Year in 2010 for her work with the United Way. In her role with the United Way, Amy facilitated the Youth Day of Caring and organized the Annual Community Carnival. She was also a part-time research assistant for the Homelessness Action Plan. Amy is credited for the partnership she forged between TRU’s former Students in Free Enterprise club and the United Way’s Youth Advisory which was the platform for the development of the United Way student club at TRU.

Donna Munroe Lasser | Animal Health Technology Diploma, 1996

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Donna Munroe Lasser graduated from TRU’s Animal Health Technology program in 1996 and shortly after joined the staff at a Vancouver veterinary hospital. In 2005, Donna was moved to assist animals in New Orleans needing care after Hurricane Katrina. She mobilized teams of Canadian veterinary technicians and solicited donations of medical supplies to go to New Orleans. In nominating Donna for the Distinguished Alumni Award, the faculty coordinator of TRU’s Animal Health Technology program says that after Katrina, Donna single-handedly formed the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT), a non-profit organization that provides veterinary care to animals in rural and remote communities within Canada and internationally as well as educating children about responsible pet ownership. Donna is the BC representative on the Canadian Animal Health Technologists and Technicians board and in 2008 she was named one of 15 Canadian Heroes, Volunteers for Change by Outpost magazine.

Tom Williamson | University Transfer, 1976

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Tom Williamson was a student of Cariboo College taking university transfer courses until 1976. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, B.C.. Recently retired as the Chief Financial Officer of BCLC, Tom was nominated by TRU’s School of Business and Economics for his accomplishments in academic, personal and professional activities. BCLC supporters of his nomination speak to his team building focus and his impressive legacy at the corporation by strengthening relationships with residents, businesses and organizations. He played for the Cariboo College hockey team in 1976-77 and former Cariboo College athletic director, Pat O’Brien, has followed Tom’s athletic accomplishments and notes that Tom excelled in everything he tried and has displayed great leadership in his community while being dedicated to family and work.

Christopher Flett | Bachelor of Arts, 1999

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Even before Christopher Flett graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1999, he was showing his leadership abilities as a board member on the students’ union. One of his former classmates who supports Christopher’s nomination, says it dawned on her how successful he had become when she saw him being interviewed on the Today Show sitting beside Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs talking about his newly published book “What Men Don’t Tell Women about Business” (Wiley, 2007). Christopher has founded 32 companies, including Think Tank Communications in Kamloops which grew into a multi-national research firm operating in 16 markets. Among his accomplishments, he has been a guest lecturer on Entrepreneurial Pursuit and Gender in the Workplace at UBC, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Northwestern and UCLA. Christopher was named to “Top 40 Under 40” by Business in Vancouver, 2011.

Highland Valley Copper

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Milestone Achievement Award

This award recognizes the accomplishments of a group – for example, business, association or service clubs – whose collective efforts have created an institutional milestone and made a unique contribution to the lives and goals of TRU students and Alumni.

Highland Valley Copper has a diverse range of opportunities for TRU students and Alumni. Students often train on equipment donated by Highland Valley Copper and several TRU Alumni are employed in trades and professional fields.

2012 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Paul Houle

James McCreath


Amanda Jones

Raj Chahal

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

alex_parkerAlex Parker | Bachelor of Social Work, 2003


Alex Parker | Bachelor of Social Work, 2003

TRU Distinguished Alumni: 2011 Scientific Research Award

Dr. Alex Parker is using garden-variety worms as part of the path to preventing neurodegenerative diseases the likes Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

Still in the early stages of his research at the University of Montreal, Dr. Parker says the creatures are proving to be a great starting point before moving to tests on mice. That could be a year away, with clinical trials perhaps five years away.

Why worms? The reason is two-fold. First, they’re a cost-friendlier alternative to mice and second, there’s less chance of disease and infection because worms are a non-parasitic nematode (called Caenorhabditis elegans). Cost and non-parasitic combine to make worms “a practical shortcut,” says Dr. Parker, on the road to doing clinical trials on humans.

“C. elegans is a great genetic system. It is fast, inexpensive and a lot of the findings from worm studies are relevant to human biology, even disease.,” explains Dr. Parker. “Worm models are like scout systems we use to find things not possible in more complex systems. However, they are just that, models.”

A combination of factors led to where Dr. Parker is today, but he identifies hands-on research during a semester of Directed Studies at TRU that changed his path forever. Medical genetics became the new interest and was further pursued while completing his PhD at UBC.

While his work with worms is turning some heads, this isn’t the first time he’s attracted attention. During his post-doctoral research at the Pasteur Institute in France, Dr. Parker sent the wine-crazy French into a flutter when he identified an antioxidant in red wine called resveratrol. Because antioxidants can have therapeutic qualities, this was seen as great news and made Dr. Parker something of a minor celebrity. The story even landed on the front page of Le Monde newspaper.

shima_iuchiShima Iuchi | Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2003


Shima Iuchi | Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2003

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Arts and Culture Award

Moving to Canada in 1998 from her homeland of Japan, Shima Iuchi has made the most of her short time here.

Shima has exhibited her interdisciplinary works in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the US, and Japan and in 2003, was awarded first-place in the international college art competition, Beyond Boarders, in Washington; the Visual Arts Development Award, in Vancouver in 2005; and the Alberta Creative Development Initiative by Canada Council for the Arts in 2008.

Born in Kobe, Japan and raised in Kyoto, Shima’s art inspiration draws on themes of relationships between travel, mapping, memory, and a sense of place. Handmade paper, artificial light, photography, sketches, audio, and video are just some of the mediums she uses to bring her thoughts and musings to life. Further inspiration rises from the ecosystems of British Columbia’s west coast and one of its most majestic and lauded characters—the Orca. Shima has made repeated visits in recent years to the Orca whale research station on Hanson Island, located off Northern Vancouver Island. The Orca image and its sounds have found their way into her work, notably a body of work called Transient’s Voice. This series of pieces explores the mammal’s movements between California and Alaska.

A member of the Lab Faculty member in Visual Arts department at Thompson Rivers University, Shima has also worked at The Banff Centre, University of Lethbridge as a Fine Arts Technician, and taught drawing classes for youth and adults in Alberta and B.C.

Her fine arts education includes a Diploma of Art Management at Seian University of Art and Design in Japan, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at TRU, courses at Maine Photographic Workshops, and the Artist Residency Programs in Photography at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York; and in the Banff New Media Institute at The Banff Centre.

“As a practicing visual artist, I am intrigued with the idea of transience, of constant travel, and with the fleeting qualities of living and finding home,” says Shima.

chelsey_tennantChelsey Tennant | Bachelor of Business Administration, 2011


Chelsey Tennant | Bachelor of Business Administration, 2011

TRU Distinguished Alumni: TRU Rising Star Student Leadership Award

Chelsey Tennant is a star example of how great things can arise from complementing book smarts with applicable hands-on learning.

A high-achieving student in the Bachelor of Business Administration program (major in marketing), she has pushed her GPA close to 4.0, and since coming to TRU in 2007 from Sardis Secondary School in Chilliwack, has made the Dean’s Honour Roll while maintaining her standing in the Ambassador’s Entrance Scholarship program.

How is Chelsey applying the textbook learning of her classes? By enthusiastically engaging herself in the campus club run by students called Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE). Mostly made up of business students with a keen interest in putting to work the theories learned from their proffs and books, these highly-energetic students typically lean towards helping not-for-profits and entering business competitions testing their entrepreneurship, financial literacy, marketing, team building, and other skills important in today’s business world. She is also the club’s current President and has served as VP Finance.

With SIFE’s community projects, Chelsey has been a great motivator, helping the group raise 30,000 pounds of food for the Kamloops Food Bank through the Campbell’s Can Hunger campaign, helping inspire at-risk youth through the Inspiring Young Minds project, and helping Kamloops Brain Injury members with literacy and financial matters through the Live Free project.

In addition to SIFE politics, Chelsey continues to intern in the office of Cathy McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. She was named one of the Conservative Party of Canada’s top interns for 2009 and earned a garden-party meet-and-greet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the other top interns. Earlier this year, she helped Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty during the Kamloops stop of his budget consultation tour of the country.

“I’m involved outside the classroom because there are so many experiences that you can’t get in the classroom,” Tennant says.” In this city, there are so many amazing people with so many amazing causes and together — with our young energy — it’s a win-win.”

marcia_julianMarcia Juliam | Bachelor of Social Work, 1998


Marcia Juliam | Bachelor of Social Work, 1998

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

The word community isn’t one Marcia Julian throws around lightly. It defines a better way of living and is a signpost as she walks the path of effecting change not only in the Interior where she lives, but also thousands of miles away in developing countries as a co-founding member of Developing World Connections.

Since 1986, Marcia has been building communities through a career in social change and social justice, initially as a social worker from 1986-92 then building on a series of managerial and administrative positions with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Today she is Director of Practice for MCFD’s Interior region.

Marcia enrolled at TRU in 1996 to acquire a BSW and it was those courses which gave her a greater understanding of how she could effect change through involvement in planning and implementation of policies and programs. In 2002 she completed a MSW through a unique partnership with UBC, TRU, and MCFD—a partnership whose aim was to boost the credentials of MCFD managers and administrators showing great promise.

Of her many involvements with MCFD, a highlight is the Early Years Partnership, which not only set out ways to give children the best possible start to their lives, brought together a number of parties, including Interior Health Authority, Public Health Agency of Canada, Aboriginal services, Interior school districts, and MCFD. The agreement earned a Premier’s Award in 2008. In her current role, Marcia is working on another multi-partner initiative called CAPP (Child and Family Assessment, Planning and Practice). CAPP will provide better coordination of services for families.

But Marcia’s community building doesn’t end in the Interior of British Columbia. As a co-founding member and current chair of the not-for-profit organization Developing World Connections, she’s been helping organize overseas volunteer work holidays to more than 10 countries. The first trip was to Thailand after a tsunami caused massive devastation to that country. Since, projects have been arranged for Sri Lanka, India, Swaziland, Kenya, Rwanda, Cambodia, Peru, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti, and the Philippines.

canadian_home_buildersCanadian Home Builders Association - Central Interior


Canadian Home Builders Association - Central Interior

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Milestone Achievement Award

The Central Interior chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association is a shining example of great leadership inside and out.

The member-driven, not-for-profit tirelessly lobbies governments at all levels in a bid to keep construction costs down for the health of the industry and savings for the consumer. Issues at heart can range from requesting municipalities lower development charges to working federally to address the shortage of skilled trades workers across the country.

CHBA CI has about 200 members.

Leadership also means forging strong and strategic partnerships like the one created some 20 years ago with TRU’s School of Trades & Technology. This friendship has provided hundreds of TRU students the invaluable opportunity to earn course credits while working on real construction sites. Among those opportunities is helping build the Y Dream Home each year. The latest Dream Home is an initiative through the CMHC Equilibrium™ Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative. Finished inside and out with green cost-saving innovations, this house has received praise and awards from a variety of groups. The project won third place at the 6th annual Insulated Concrete Forms Builder Awards in Las Vegas in January and in September at CMHC’s Built Green™ Awards held in Vancouver, won Visionary Achievement in Sustainable Construction. In both cases, TRU was a joint recipient.

Not part of the public spotlight but equally important to CHBA CI members is the educational, networking, and social opportunities created by CHBA CI over the years. The speaker series and special speaker series not only brings members up to speed on anything from best practices, government regulations, trends, and the green movement, but also provides members the opportunity to meet, get to know each other, and even strike up their own partnerships. The annual golf tournament is another informal networking opportunity.

Public outreach is accomplished in part through the bringing to town of special guest speakers like Trevor Linden, retired Vancouver Canucks player and now real estate developer, in January of this year and Rex Murphy, commentator for CBC Radio and Television, in 2010. The staging of multi-day home shows act as fundraiser and opportunity for members to interact with a few thousand visitors from town and the region.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

daa_loriannaLorianna Bennett | BSC Animal Biology, 1994


Lorianna Bennett | BSC Animal Biology, 1994

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

daa_deanDean Fortin | TRU UT, 1979


Dean Fortin | TRU UT, 1979

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Public and Community Service Award

Dean Fortin became the 51st Mayor of Victoria on December 2, 2008.

Prior to being elected as Mayor, he served as a Victoria City Councillor for two terms, from 2002 to 2008. For 17 years he was Executive Director of the Burnside Gorge Community Centre, before taking on full time mayoral duties. He practiced family and criminal law, worked with the Victoria Association for Street Kids (now known as the Youth Empowerment Society) before his political and executive roles. Dean also coached Senior Girls' basketball at Esquimalt and Oak Bay Senior Secondary Schools along with helping out with the Boys' and Girls' Rugby program at Burnside Elementary School.

daa_nickNick DeCicco | Horticulture Management Diploma, 1991


Nick DeCicco | Horticulture Management Diploma, 1991

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Lifetime Achievement Award

Over the past 30 years Nick has taken his passion for horticulture and helped create a parks system in Kamloops that is one of the best in Canada. Although he already had started as a labourer in the city’s parks department, Nick enrolled in Cariboo College’s fledgling horticulture program earning a certificate in 1980 that he laddered into a diploma in 1991. He steadily moved through the ranks from Gardener to Crew Leader in Horticulture and Turf and finally to his current position as Parks Operations Supervisor in 2004. Since then Kamloops has won the Communities in Bloom Best Turf Program in Canada twice. Throughout his career he has stayed connected to students of the horticulture program, either endorsing practicum opportunities for students in the city’s parks program, supervising their work experience, giving guest lectures and teaching courses in the horticulture program. Nick also played soccer on the varsity team and came back to help coach with Errol Wilde.

daa_twylaTwyla Russell | Bachelor of Social Work, 1998


Twyla Russell | Bachelor of Social Work, 1998

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

As the Regional Field Placement Coordinator for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Twyla has coordinated training for new employees, coordinated the Aboriginal Youth Work Exchange program, and provided support to the TRU BSW field education program. Her name is synonymous with student development, placement, mentoring and staff education. Her extensive work within the Ministry includes working promoting learning opportunities, reviewing procedures, developing provincial social work exams, and developing better policy to facilitate the adoption of foster children. She exemplifies the profession by her valued support and mentoring of social workers and social work students and her active involvement in the community promoting social justice.

daa_shannShannon Brooks | BSC Cellular Molecular and Microbiology, 2009


Shannon Brooks | BSC Cellular Molecular and Microbiology, 2009

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Student Leadership Award

Currently completing her MSc degree at TRU, Shannon is an excellent leader through example, not ego. She is able to give thought provoking and passionate discussions on her graduate research on the biodegradation of hazardous organic pollutants, and has translated he love for animals into helping people in the community by becoming a trained therapy dog handler with St. John’s Ambulance, spending time each week at Hillside Psychiatric and Berwick Park. She also volunteers her time to be a judge at the Cariboo Regional Mainline Science Fair, and spurs her fellow graduate students, as well as undergraduates to be involved in the Canadian Society for Microbiologists, encouraging them to get involved with outside organizations through membership, participation, and presentations at conferences.

daa_ihaInterior Health Authority


Interior Health Authority

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Award

Interior Health is one of five geographically based health authorities in British Columbia, providing such services as Acute & Community Care, Mental Health & Addictions and Public Health. Interior Health strives to set new standards of excellence in the delivery of health services, to deliver those services in a timely, caring and efficient manner, and to promote healthy lifestyles.

Since the inception of TRU’s Nursing Program in 1974 and its Respiratory therapy program Interior Health and Royal Inland Hospital have contributed to the expansion and growth of health education programs at the university by helping students fulfill their education practice requirements. Education is a lifelong journey that is essential not only for professional development but for individual growth as well. An environment of continual learning needs to be encouraged so that both organizations maintain the highest level of professional excellence and continue to meet the needs of clients, patients, residents, students, faculty and staff. It has been In the interest of encouraging and enabling professional clinical education that Interior Health and Royal Inland Hospital is recognized for striving to facilitate education programs that reflect a commitment to quality learning.

2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Sharon SimpsonSharon Simpson RN | TRU Nursing Faculty, 1983-2008

Sharon Simpson

Sharon Simpson RN | TRU Nursing Faculty, 1983-2008

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Honourary Distinguished Alumni Award

Sharon Simpson is one of the pillars of TRU, a model professor and community leader. Without her dedication to teaching, the Nursing Program at TRU world not be as enriching and enjoyable as it is.

Sharon pioneered the development and implementation of the first nursing program at Cariboo College (now Thompson Rivers University). Since then she has been an active participant and leader in curriculum revisions and program transitions that spans 35 years in nursing education including a post-RN BSN program, a generic BSN program, and now coordinating the implementation of a Master's program. In the classroom, she effectively and appropriately integrates real life experience to ensure the educational experience is interesting and meaningful for her students. She has demonstrated effective design and development of educational materials to enhance the learners’ experience. She is a friendly leader that naturally attracts individuals to follow her.

On the global stage, Sharon was actively involved in the development and implementation of two international education projects in Asia and Africa. Closer to home, Sharon has volunteered with several organizations, including the Kamloops Hospice Associations and the Aids Society of Kamloops.

Jo BerryJo Berry | Bachelor of Social Work, 2000

Jo Berry

Jo Berry | Bachelor of Social Work, 2000

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

“Movement is Change.” This is the slogan of Jo Berry’s RunClub and since completing her Bachelor of Social Work in 2000, Jo has never stopped moving.

In 1999, Jo Berry started RunClub which is about more than just exercise; it incorporates the ideas of feminism, play and movement. Runclub took the pain and competition out of running and replaced them with fun, cooperation, and working together for personal growth and self actualization. By fostering a “no one gets left behind” attitude, runners can enjoy a relaxing and joyful experience every time they run. Jo teaches members how to balance their personal, professional, and family life while making new friends and getting fit. Needless to say, the club has been joined by people who never did sports in their lives but have now found a perfect fit with RunClub.

Also the co-founder of the Daily News Boogie the Bridge, Jo is an inspiration to everyone she meets and an outstanding individual. Her enthusiasm and compassion have helped countless people change their lives for the better. She is not only concerned with people’s physical well-being, but also their emotional and spiritual wellness. Jo has been the recipient of the Woman of Distinction for Community Contribution award in 2004 and the BC Community Achievement Award in 2008. She is a credit not only to TRU, but to the city of Kamloops and BC.

Katherine SutherlandDr. Katherine Sutherland | TRU Department of English and Modern Languages, 1981

Katherine Sutherland

Dr. Katherine Sutherland | TRU Department of English and Modern Languages, 1981

TRU Distinguished Alumni Award

Since joining the faculty at TRU’s Department of English and Modern Languages over a decade ago, Dr. Katherine Sutherland has been an inspiration to her students and colleagues.

Her fervour for English and teaching has made her a perennial favourite among students. Just reading the comments from students says it all:

“Kate is the best prof I’ve had at UCC – she makes me want to work hard, to please her. She also makes my mind ache at least once a class. I love it!”

“My favourite English class ever.”

“Her knowledge of English is unreal! Her enthusiasm is addictive and is the reason I have to come to every class. She is approachable, supportive and helpful.”

She has further enhanced the learning environment for her students by taking on administrative services including; chairing her Department, accepting the duties of Vice-Chair of University Council and has also been influential in developing new curriculum, such as a new Bachelor of Applied and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Craig JonesCraig Jones | Open Learning Bachelor of General Studies, 1995

Craig Jones

Craig Jones | Open Learning Bachelor of General Studies, 1995

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Open Learning Award

Attaining a Masters of Law from Harvard University is a great accomplishment which for Craig Jones, grew from a general beginning. In 1995, Jones graduated from Thompson Rivers University (formerly the British Columbia Open University) with a Bachelor of General Studies degree. “It’s (his TRU-OL degree) the foundation of everything I’ve done since,” he said. Everything Jones has done since graduating from TRU-OL is no small feat. Working full-time throughout his Open Learning studies, Jones gathered the necessary credits to gain admission into law school at the University of British Columbia, his stepping stone to a Masters in law at Harvard. Currently, Jones is the Supervising Counsel of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Group of the Ministry of the Attorney General in Victoria. “I supervise 20 lawyers who conduct litigation at all levels of court, and we get to be involved in some of the most interesting issues of the day,” Jones said. In addition to authoring two books and numerous articles, Jones has been involved in litigations surrounding powers of the government and the application of the Charter of Rights. Craig Jones is the 2008 recipient of TRU’s Distinguished Open Learning Alumni award, which recognizes his professional achievement as well as public service through the practice of law and his recognition of the Charter of Rights.

Nikita VizniakDr. Nikita Vizniak | BSC Animal Biology, 1998

Nikita Vizniak

Dr. Nikita Vizniak | BSC Animal Biology, 1998

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Young Alumni Award

Since graduating from TRU in 1998 with a B.Sc. in Animal Biology, Dr. Nikita Vizniak has become not only an excellent physician but also a world renowned author.

After completing a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree with honours (Cum Laude) from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland OR in 2001, Dr. Vizniak went on to write Clinical Chiropractic Handbook, published in 2003. This handbook was his first success and his subsequent books; Muscle Manual, Physical Assessment and Conditions Manual have all been best sellers in the field, selling over 20,000 copies in 11 different countries. They are not only required texts for classes, but have been on demand from clinics and other professionals as valuable reference guides. He began his own publishing and educational company, Professional Health Systems Inc., to further aid students and colleagues across the globe. True to his company motto “Dedicated to Clinical Excellence”, the site offers easy access to valuable clinical information for students, doctors and therapists.

Dr. Vizniak has also worked as a standardized patient trainer, national board exam clinical scenario developer and proctor. Currently he is also a part-time instructor for the West Coast College of Massage Therapy and the Boucher Naturopathic Institute of Medicine, both in New Westminster BC.

2007 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left to right: Mark Zuehlke, Dr. Jette Elsebeth Ashlee, Coryn Smith, Dr. Andre Le Dressay.

On Saturday October 20, four alumni were honoured at the Thompson Rivers University Distinguished Alumni Awards. Dr. Jette Elsebeth Ashlee, an anthropologist; Coryn (Cogi) Smith, a social worker; Mark Zuehlke, a military historian; and Dr. Andre LeDressay, an economist were all recognized for their outstanding achievements in their careers. Over 120 guests enjoyed a wonderful evening, including a three course dinner, awards presentations with videos of each award recipient and a spectacular dessert buffet. The door prize, a two night stay at the Delta Sun Peaks hotel was won by Ian McSpadyen.

jeashleeDr. Jette Elsebeth Ashlee


Dr. Jette Elsebeth Ashlee

Jette is an anthropologist and author that has worked extensively researching northern indigenous people. She prepared "Four Generations of an Artic Family set in Four Historical Periods" for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and has had numerous articles published in academic journals. Her book, "An Artic Epic: The Story of How an Idea Influenced a Family" is about to be published. She brings her wealth of writing and research experience to "Explorations in Life Writing," the course she designed and teaches at TRU Williams Lake. Watch video.

csmithCoryn Smith


Coryn Smith

Coryn is a social worker who works tirelessly to support people struggling with addictions in Kamloops, Meritt and Clearwater. Cogi, as she is known to her friends and family, is an active advocate for the improvement of life and well-being of families, community and society at large, and is described as a true role model and mentor to others. Watch video.

mzuehlkeMark Zuehlke


Mark Zuehlke

Mark is a former community news reporter that was inspired by a Remembrance Day interview with a WWI veteran to change careers. Zuehlke is considered to be one of Canada's pre-eminent writers of military history. On May 1 this year, he was recognized by the Canadian Authors' Association with the Lela Common Award for Canadian History for 2007 for his excellence in writing, "For Honours's Sake; The War of 1912 and Brokering of an Uneasy Peace". Watch video.

aledressayDr. Andre LeDressay


Dr. Andre LeDressay

Andre, from TRU's Department of Economics is being recognized as this year's Honourary Alumnus. The founder and director of the local firm, Fiscal Realities Inc., LeDressay and his company have established an annual award to TRU's top economic student and regularly hires alumni to work as research economists to help First Nation's peoples realize self-governance through tax systems, investments and finance. He has assisted with the development of the federal legislation creating the First Nations Statistical Group, creating a land title system, and provides valuable information about First Nation labour statistics. Watch video.

2006 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Five past graduates of Thompson Rivers University were honoured October 13, 2006 for their outstanding professional and personal achievements, public service and service to the community at the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony.

A capacity crowd was on hand to acknowledge each award recipient and to share in their special evening. The guests were served a delicious four course dinner which was prepared by the students of the Culinary Arts program. Following the dinner the five honourees were presented with awards and citations by friends and colleagues from their university days.

The evening ended with a performance by Distinguished Alumni and internationally known baritone Alan Corbishley who both moved and delighted his audience.

Don Avison | TRU Graduate, 1977

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Public Service Award

Don Avison completed two years of university transfer studies at TRU in 1977. Avison is a creative and innovative leader whose record of excellence in public administration, program implementation and strategic planning is highly respected.

Sue Carpenter | TRU BSC Nursing, 2001

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Sue Carpenter is an exemplary nurse who received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from TRU in 2001. Carpenter’s innovations and initiatives have been instrumental in bettering health care and nursing education in a significant way.

Alan Corbishley | TRU Bachelor of Arts, 1994

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Arts & Culture Award

Alan Corbishley is an accomplished baritone who received a Bachelor of Arts degree from TRU in 1994. Corbishley’s vocal ability, exciting stage presence and innovations in the performing arts have brought him international success.

Deanna Howell | TRU Social Service Work Diploma, 2006

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Deanna Howell graduated from TRU with a Social Service Worker diploma in 2006. She has contributed greatly to her community, particularly in the areas of the development, education and well-being of children.

Shelly Johnson | TRU Bachelor of Social Work, 1998

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

Shelly Johnson graduated from TRU with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1998. She has made a significant contribution to the profession of social work through her employment and her involvement in community service. She is presently the Executive Director of Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services in Victoria.

The evening was made possible by a number of sponsors including award sponsors Paul Wright - Evergreen Development Corporation (Don Avison), the School of Nursing (Sue Carpenter), Nick Rinaldi & Ryan Dunn - BMO Nesbitt Burns (Alan Corbishley), TRU Open Learning (Deanna Howell) and TRU School of Social Work (Shelly Johnson). Event sponsors included BMO - Bank of Montreal, B-100, 98.3 CIFM, CFJC TV7, Kamloops Daily News, Wayside Press and Mitchell Press.

2005 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left: (back) Denise Harper, Board Chair, Larry Read, Dr. Timothy Kieffer, The Honourable Mr. Justice Joel Groves, TRU President & Vice-Chancellor, Roger Barnsley.
(front) Indigo Sweetwater, Dr. Hasnat Dewan, Helen Kormendy

hasnatdDr. Hasnat Dewan | TRU School of Business & Economics Faculty


Dr. Hasnat Dewan | TRU School of Business & Economics Faculty

TRU Distinguished Alumni:Teaching Excellence Award

Before joining the TRU faculty in the fall of 2000, Dr. Hasnat Dewan taught Economics at the University of Texas, Jahangirnagar University and Malaspina University College.

Dr. Dewan got his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998 and earned his MA in International & Development Economics from Yale. An exceptional student, Dr. Dewan was a Fulbright scholar, was awarded The University Gold Medal for his outstanding results in the BSc (Honors) exam, and he ranked first among 32,000 students in the Secondary School Certificate exam.

Dr. Dewan specializes in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Urban and Regional Economics, International Economics, and Sustainable Development. This year, he also received the TRU School of Business and Economics Teaching Excellence Award after being nominated by 51 of his students. His students consistently characterize him as caring, encouraging, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and one of the best instructors they have had.

joelgThe Honorable Mr. Justice Jowl Groves | Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Law


The Honorable Mr. Justice Jowl Groves | Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Law

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Public Service Award

After completing one year of University Transfer courses at Cariboo College, Justice Groves completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Law at UBC.

Since being called to the bar, Justice Groves has contributed to the community through his involvement with a number of organizations, including the United Way and the Phoenix Centre, as well as serving as president for both the Kamloops Bar Association and the Kamloops Family Bar Association. He was the pro bono Legal Counsel for the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre for 15 years, taking an important case on their behalf through to the Court of Appeal and setting a valuable legal precedent for all Sexual Assault Centres. Justice Groves was involved with politics and was able to add his support to projects benefiting the local area. He also frequently appeared on local cable, providing educational information on the law to the public.

Justice Groves was appointed Master of the Supreme Court of BC in 2000 and was recently appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Prior to that he was a partner with Gillespie Rekema Barnett Broadway, where he practised in the areas of family law and general litigation.

timkDr. Timothy Kieffer | Cariboo College Associate of Science Diploma, 1987


Dr. Timothy Kieffer | Cariboo College Associate of Science Diploma, 1987

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Academic and Professional Achievement Award

Dr. Kieffer completed an Associate of Science Diploma at Cariboo College in 1987 before transferring to UBC to complete a BSc and PhD. In 1994, he started a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kieffer is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Medicine in UBC’s Departments of Physiology and Surgery.

Dr. Kieffer is an exceptional young scientist who is making outstanding contributions in the field of diabetes research. His research is currently supported by multiple agencies and he has also maintained full external salary support for his entire independent career. His innovative research is highly regarded and formed the basis for several patent applications and a University spin-off company, enGene Inc., of which Dr. Kieffer is a co-founder. He has been invited to give presentations on his work at institutions and scientific conferences around the world, has published numerous works in scientific journals and is also highly sought after to participate on grant review panels.

In addition to his research, Dr. Kieffer also excels in teaching, consistently ranked by his students amongst the top of the department’s faculty. He also serves as a mentor to those working in his laboratory, currently consisting of 16 undergrads, graduate students, technicians and postdoctoral fellows. In fact, most of his trainees have been successful in obtaining their own funding.

Dr. Kieffer is married to Stephanie and has 3 children.

helenkHelen Kormendy | Masters of Social Work


Helen Kormendy | Masters of Social Work

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister BSW Award

Helen Kormendy completed a Bachelors of Social Work at UCC in 1999 and also holds a BA in Political Science from SFU, a Masters of Social Work from UBC, a Public Relations and Communications Diploma from Kwantlen College and certificates from the Justice Institute of BC.

Helen is a Registered Social Worker and currently works as a Child and Youth Mental Health Clinician in the rural communities of Ashcroft and Lillooet. She has previously worked as a Youth and Family Mediator, an Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Surrey, a Youth Program Supervisor, and, in her early twenties, in many non-traditional roles for CN Rail.

Helen is a strong advocate for her profession and community. She is currently Vice-President of the BC Association of Social Workers, she is active with the BC Government Employees Union and is also the Communications Director for the NDP Cariboo-South Riding.

Helen lives in Ashcroft with her partner, Andy, and is an avid world traveller.

larryrLarry Read | Marketing Management Diploma, 1993


Larry Read | Marketing Management Diploma, 1993

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Larry Read studied Business at the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan, as well as Broadcast Journalism at BCIT, before completing the Marketing Management Diploma at UCC in 1993.

He is a well-know local broadcaster with CFJC-TV, hosting the Midday program as well as Week in Review and Sports on the Evening News. He has been voted the “Favourite TV Broadcaster” in the Kamloops Daily News poll for the last four years.

Larry is also a committed volunteer in the local community, with varied volunteer interests. He has been involved with the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association and is currently a coach with the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association, honorary chair of Habitat for Humanity, and a board member of the Kamloops Hospice Association. Larry often contributes his talents as an emcee of community events, such as the Miss Kamloops Pageant and TRU Alumni Association Homecoming events and sings in the Beattie School of the Arts Parents Choir.

He is married to Bonnie (a UCC alumna) and has three children, Max, 12, Kayla, 9, and April, 6.

indgiosIndigo Sweetwater | Cariboo College Nursing Diploma, 1988


Indigo Sweetwater | Cariboo College Nursing Diploma, 1988

TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Indigo Sweetwater completed a Nursing Diploma at Cariboo College in 1988 and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1991 at the University College of the Cariboo. She is currently enrolled in graduate studies in Advanced Nursing Practice at Athabasca University and has also completed graduate courses in Transcultural Nursing at Wayne State. A life-long learner, she has also completed many professional courses and certifications and she plans to continue her studies to earn a Doctorate.

Indigo’s professional focus has been in the area of Indigenous Health Care and she has spent the majority of her career working in the North. She has worked as a Community Health Nurse, Nurse Educator and a Nurse Manager in remote locations such as Grise Fiord, Iqaluit, Cape Dorset, Rankin Inlet and Fort Resolution. Indigo also does consulting work through her business Winterbeach Indigenous Health Care and has conducted projects on Hepatitis C, Home Care Needs, and Respiratory Illness in Inuit Children. She is a Registered Nurse in both BC and the Northwest Territories & Nunavut and is a member of several organizations, including Aboriginal Nurses of Canada. Indigo is a regular contributor to The Aboriginal Nurse and has made many conference presentations on issues related to Inuit and Aboriginal health.

2004 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left: Kris Stewart, Karla Mundle-Guido, Hamish Plommer.
Missing: Ying Kong

karladaveKarla Mundle-Guido | Events & Conventions Diploma, 1999


Karla Mundle-Guido | Events & Conventions Diploma, 1999

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Mrs. Karla Mundle-Guido (pictured with presenter Dave Twynam) was presented the 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Community. This award is given to a graduate who demonstrates significant services and/or contributions to the welfare and advancement of local, national or international communities.

Karla is very involved in the Kamloops community through her job and volunteer work. Karla is described as a person with a caring attitude, a person who puts her heart and soul into everything she does. After graduating from the Events & Conventions Management Diploma in 1999, she worked for the Kamloops City RCMP Detachment in a variety of roles that have lead to her current position as Community Policing Coordinator. Part of her work on the North Shore is with the Kamloops Community Action team. The team looks at ways to address a number of important issues on the North Shore including public safety issues, sex trade issues and vandalism.

For many years, Karla was a Life Guard and Red Cross swimming instructor for the City of Kamloops Recreation Department. She delivered the Red Cross Child Abuse Education program to students in junior and senior high schools, as well as provided water & safety programs and information to the community.

Karla is an excellent role model for youth. She has developed recreation leadership workshops that train youth to become effective program leaders. Karla and her husband Deno, volunteer their time at drop in programs for youth on the North Shore, holding teen nights called TGIF.

Karla has raised funds for many non-profits in the community including the Annual Golf Tournament fundraiser for the Kamloops Community Crime Prevention Society, the Mountie Stomp, a fundraiser for the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society, the Red Cross Child Abuse Education program, the Josh Guido and Mike Young Memorial Bursary and the Heart & Stroke Foundation

hammishjeannetteHamish Plommer | Bachelor of Social Work


Hamish Plommer | Bachelor of Social Work

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

Mr. Hamish Plommer (pictured with presenter Jeannette Robertson) was presented the 2004 Grace Chronister UCC BSW Distinguished Alumni Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievements of a UCC Bachelor of Social Work graduate whose endeavours in the community have brought honour to the UCC School of Social Work and Human Services and the profession of social work.

Hamish graduated from UCC in 2001 with a Bachelor of Social Work. Hamish completed UCC's Community Mental Health Certificate in 2002 and has completed most of the requirements for the Registered Horticulture Therapist certification.

After graduation, Hamish began work for THEO BC (BC Society of Training for Health and Employment Opportunities); a non-profit organization dedicated to offering a selection of exemplary employment-related programs. Gardengate, is an innovative horticulture project developed initially by THEO BC and Kamloops Food Policy Council. Hamish was responsible for the development of the overall program at Gardengate. This project provides social and educational opportunities for persons with mental disabilities while encouraging healthy living through food production. Hamish teaches horticultural skills, coordinates staff, volunteers and program participants and coordinates the distribution of approximately 8,000 pounds of produce annually to agencies such as the Kamloops Food Bank.

Hamish's community involvement is extensive. In the past he has been a director and volunteer with the Kamloops Film Society, a director and vice-president of the Kamloops Farmers' Market Society, an outreach volunteer for the John Howard Society, the New Life Mission and a member of the Kamloops Multicultural Mental Health Advisory Committee. Currently, Hamish is a member of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, the Kamloops Food Policy Council, and the BC Chapter of the Canadian Horticulture/Interior Health Authority Healthy Living Network.

Hamish exemplifies and demonstrates on a daily basis the values of equality, compassion, life-long learning, social justice and humanitarianism upon which the profession of social work is based.

yingstudentsDr. Ying Kong | Faculty of Business: Economics & Statistics


Dr. Ying Kong | Faculty of Business: Economics & Statistics

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Dr. Ying Kong (pictured are his students nominators) was presented the UCC Alumni Association 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence. This award recognizes either a current or retired instructor who has demonstrated exceptional student teacher involvement and demonstrates qualities of leadership, knowledge, inspiration, enthusiasm and excellence in their field of teaching.

Over twenty students from Dr. Kong's Economics and Statistics class submitted his nomination for Teaching Excellence Award. They indicated that Dr. Kong's teaching methods made the topics of Economics and Statistics easy to understand and learn.

Dr. Ying Kong is currently on leave from his position as an Associate Professor of Economics at UCC, a position held since 1999. Dr. Kong has a PhD in Economics and a Masters in Public Administration from Carleton University. He has a Bachelor Degree in Science from Peking University in China. Prior to teaching at UCC, Dr. Kong worked as a visiting professor at both the University of Victoria and Carlton University.

Dr. Kong has worked extensively on Economic and Statistical analysis for the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation, for the Patented Medicine Price Review Board with Health Canada, and with the Division of Investment and Capital Stock for Statistics Canada. In Beijing, China, Dr. Kong was the Senior Economics Analyst for the State Science and Technology Commission. He is a member of the Canadian Economic Association and the Industrial Organization Society. Dr. Kong has published in many industry related journals.

krisrogerKris Stewart | Nursing Diploma, 1988


Kris Stewart | Nursing Diploma, 1988

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Ms. Kris Stewart (pictured with presenter Roger Barnsley) was presented the UCC Alumni Association's 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement. This award recognizes a graduate who has made significant achievements in the graduate's field of professional or career endeavours.

Kris graduated from UCC in 1988 from the Nursing Diploma Program. Kris moved to North Carolina and lived there for 8 years working as an RN in all Acute Care areas. She opened state certified Home Health Agency and became a Occupational Health Nurse after completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1994. Shortly after, Kris moved back to Canada and took a position in an Arctic First Nations Community as a defacto nurse practioner for 2 years, which included being a medical officer on a Canadian Coast Guard ship in the Eastern Arctic for 3 months. In 1997, Kris moved to Kelowna and became a corporate health nurse for Telus.

In July 2002, Kris saw a need in her community and ventured out on her own. In a field dominated by male doctors, she found the investment capital and established a private MRI clinic in Kelowna called Image One. Kris is responsible for the administration, public relations, marketing, clinical governance, business development and nursing duties. Kris has made a significant advancement professionally by blending her profession in nursing with the field of business.

2003 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left: Jo Rothenburger, Bill Frymire, Lisa Allgaier, Sukh Heer, Roland Cobb

In 2003, the UCC Alumni Association honoured 4 graduates of the university and one retired instructor with the Distinguished Alumni Awards. The recipients were presented their awards at the President's Reception on October 17th before a crowd of fellow alumni, faculty, family and friends. Honoured were Sukh Heer Matonovich, Bill Frymire, Jo Rothenburger, Lisa Allgaier, and Dr. Roland Cobb. These five individuals were added to the growing list of UCC's finest.

Sukh Heer Matonovich | Bachelor of Social Work Degree, 1999

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Athletic Achievement Award

Sukh Heer Matonovich, a graduate in 1999 with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree, received the UCC Distinguished Alumni Award for Athletic Achievement for her accomplishments as an athlete, a coach and a sports administrator. Nominated by alumna Carolynn Boomer, her colleague at Pacific Sport Regional Centre, Sukh works to provide incentives for athletes to remain in Kamloops for their education and training, as well to provide education and certification to coaches.

Sukh was an honour roll student at Norkam High School and attended UCC with a basketball scholarship. Overcoming many cultural obstacles to participate in sports, Sukh excelled in basketball. Not only was she a star player on the basketball team, Sukh had many roles on the team including captain, assistant coach and head coach. She contributed to the development of the UCC Sun Demons Sports Camps, was a student member of UCC's Board of Governors and was president of UCC Sports Council. Upon receiving her award from UCC's president Dr Roger Barnsley, Sukh was delighted, stating, "I am flattered, honoured and shocked to receive the award. UCC Athletics provided me with the most growth in the four years I played basketball. My years there helped me be the person I am today; it challenged my values and made me grow personally and professionally. The friends I made while I was at UCC are life-long friends - UCC is a place I will always call home."

Bill Frymire, Digital Arts and Design Diploma, 1985

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Bill Frymire, a graduate of the Digital Arts and Design Diploma in 1985, was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement. Nominated by his proud mother, Marguerite Frymire, Bill was honoured for his outstanding accomplishments in his field of computer graphic design.

As one of the first graduates from the Digital Arts and Design program, Bill was quickly employed as a graphic designer with one of Vancouver's largest design firms. His work was often used in computer graphics publications as examples of then leading-edge technology. His next endeavour was as art director for Showmakers Productions Inc., one of Vancouver's top corporate graphic design agencies. While working there Bill was awarded a "Top Illustrator" award by the Corel Corporation.

Today, Bill runs his own business in Kamloops as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, producing imagery for corporate use worldwide.

Bill has been a proud supporter of the DAAD program, contributing his time as a guest lecturer and providing equipment and financial support. David DiFrancesco, a former instructor of his, presented Bill the award. Bill's comments on receiving the award were, "UCC gave me a start in my business and I haven't looked back since. If you have talent and ambition, there is a place for you in the advertising and graphics industry."

Jo Rothenburger, Human Service Worker Certificate, 1987

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement and Service to the Community Award

Jo Rothenburger, a graduate of the Human Service Worker Certificate in 1987, was the recipient of a combined Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement and Service to the Community. She was nominated by alumna Denise Harper for her accomplishments in her profession and for her work in the community.

After graduating from the Human Service Worker program at UCC, Jo was hired as a counsellor with the Thompson Valley Family Services Association.

In 1997, Jo chose to branch out on her own and began consulting work with a variety of clients including Ministry of Children and Family Development, Kamloops Community Advocacy Council, Kamloops Food Bank and Outreach Society, and the City of Kamloops. In 2003, Jo was hired as the Executive Director for the AIDS Society of Kamloops.

As a volunteer Jo has served on a number of community committees and boards. She is a well recognized individual in Kamloops for her professional and volunteer activities that have resulted in the delivery of high quality social services to marginalized and disadvantaged people in our community.

Jo was delighted to be presented her award by former instructor, Ena Fraser. Jo commented on her award saying, "It's a great honour to receive this award, but the real credit should go to instructors in The Human Services worker program. They took a greenhorn like me, let me loose in the community with the right tools and skills and I was able to make a difference with what I had learned."

Lisa Allgaier, Bachelor of Social Work, 1993

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Grace Chronister Award

The Grace Chronister UCC BSW Distinguished Alumni Award was developed by faculty and alumni of the Department of Social Work to recognize outstanding achievements of UCC BSW alumni whose endeavours in the community have brought honour to the UCC School of Social Work & Human Service and to the profession of social work.

Lisa Allgaier, a 1993 graduate of the Bachelor of Social Work Degree, is the recipient of this year's award. Lisa was nominated by faculty members Michael Crawford and Grant Larson and is being honoured for her professional accomplishments in the field of social work.

Lisa is the Director General of Aboriginal Services for Corrections Canada. In her role she is responsible for correctional and parole programs for male and female Aboriginal offenders. The goal of the program is to reduce recidivism and promote successful reintegration of Aboriginal offenders in the community.

Prior to her work at Corrections Canada, Lisa had several roles with the Provincial Government, including Director of Aboriginal Health and Assistant Treaty Negotiator. She has held many volunteer positions on local, provincial and national boards, from the John Howard Society of Kamloops to the BC Association of Social Workers.

Helen Allen, Dean of the School of Social Work and Human Services, presented Lisa Allgaier with the first Grace Chronister UCC BSW Distinguished Alumni Award. Lisa flew from Ottawa to receive her award and was thrilled about being the first recipient of this prestigious award. Lisa says, "I am honoured to be the first person to receive this award. The education I received at UCC got me to where I am today. Taking the Bachelor of Social Work degree, allowed me to have a diversity of career choices"

Dr. Roland Cobb, PhD Physics & Astronomy, 1967

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Teaching Excellence Award

Another new category this year, the Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, recognizes current and retired instructors who represent the best qualities of teachers at UCC: leadership, knowledge, inspiration, enthusiasm, and excellence in their field.

This year's award recipient was Dr. Roland Cobb, a retired Physics and Astronomy instructor, nominated by alumna Marilyn Poncelet.

A graduate of UBC in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science, Roland went on to receive his Masters degree in 1961 and his PhD in 1967 from the University of Rochester in New York. His work at Rochester involved research on cosmic rays from space using satellites and high altitude balloons. It was because of this research that he was invited to work with a Cosmic Ray group in the development of a telescope to search for primary gamma rays deep in space. These experiences lead to Roland's interest in the study of Astronomy.

After teaching at UBC, the University of Rochester, and the University of Victoria, Roland took a position at UCC in 1970 and taught Physics and Astronomy until 1999. Roland built the observatory at the university with the help of students and faculty. The observatory was used for teaching and astronomy lovers. As part of his community service work, Roland hosted many lectures on astronomy and conducted tours of the observatory hosting groups like the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.

Over the years, Roland has been an active volunteer in the community, from volunteer firefighter with the Kamloops Fire Department in the '70s to his recent involvement with the Habitat for Humanity society.

Upon being presented the award by UCC President Dr. Roger Barnsley, Roland commented, "Education should be fun. UCC gave me the opportunity to practice what I like doing - that's teaching."

2002 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

charlene02Charlene Yow | Nursing


Charlene Yow | Nursing

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award

Charlene Yow, the recipient for the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Community, is a Community Health Nurse at the Native Health Centre in Kamloops, a division of the Interior Indian Friendship Society.

Charlene has made significant professional and volunteer contributions to community health for aboriginal people and the welfare of women in Kamloops. Charlene's work at the health centre has exceeded the scope of a RN. She initiated a project that resulted in 45 at-risk youth being accompanied to the Vancouver Eastside to attend a series of workshops. She has gone beyond the call of duty by fundraising to help individuals and by accompanying clients to appointments because they were afraid or upset.

Charlene is known for her non-judgmental manner and her compassionate treatment of others. Beyond the Native Health Centre Charlene has served as board member for the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counseling Centre, as a participant in the Thompson Regional HIV/AIDS planning committee and as an advisor to both the Kamloops Street Clinic and the "In the hands of Women" project.

phogan02Patrick Hogan | Respiratory Therapy


Patrick Hogan | Respiratory Therapy

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Patrick Hogan, the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, owns and operates his own company - Ford's Allcare Home Health Centre in New Brunswick. He is the clinical specialist in respiratory therapy and employs seven full-time staff.

Patrick was selected for his contribution in time and energy to the betterment of his chosen profession. In 1991 Patrick received the clinical award for top student in his program and has continued to provide leadership in his field, serving as president in both the provincial and national Association of Respiratory Therapists. He has also served as a board member on both the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association and the Canadian Board of Respiratory Care, holding two portfolios at once.

Patrick was born and raised in Newfoundland and only lived in Kamloops for a short time while attending UCC. Patrick, moved his family from Newfoundland to accept a position in New Brunswick as a Clinical Coordinator with the Ford's Allcare Home Health Centre. After working there for a year, Patrick decided to purchase the company.

2001 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Jane Rowe | Bachelor of Social Work, 1994

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Service To The Community Award

Jane Rowe was recognized as a UCC Distinguished Alumna for her Service to the Community. This award recognizes significant service and contributions to the welfare and advancement of local, national or international communities.

Jane serves as a resource for the less fortunate in our community, providing them with information while fighting for their rights. She works at the Legal Service Society in Kamloops, giving access to the justice system to anyone who requests the service.

Working for Legal Services allows Jane to advocate for people in areas such as housing, income assistance, disability pensions and employment insurance. Jane taught a series of Advocacy Skills Training workshops in 2000 for community advocates to assist income assistance recipients, and this year is training more people to help with disability benefit recipients.

Among her many volunteer activities, Jane also gives her time to UCC as a volunteer mentor for the UCC Alumni Association, as a member of the UCC/BSW Field Education Advisory Committee, and giving classroom talks to second, third and fourth years students on various topics in social work.

Roland Neave | University Transfer, 1972

TRU (UCC) Distinguished Alumni: Professional Achievement Award

Roland Neave, owner of Wells Gray Tours Ltd., was recognized by the UCC Alumni Association as a UCC Distinguished Alumnus for Professional Achievement in business.

Post-secondary education for Roland started in 1970 at Cariboo College where he studied geography and history. After two years at Cariboo, Roland transferred to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, where he completed a BA in Geography in 1975.

Roland and some friends from SFU organized small groups to tour Wells Gray Park during the summers of 1972 through 1975. Roland didn’t think this job would last, but the business grew into Wells Gray Tours. The company, in 29 years, has become one of the largest tour operators in British Columbia.

Roland has written a wealth of information over the years. He was first published when he was 17 years old. The book was entitled: Hiking the High Points. After encouragement from his instructors at Cariboo College, he wrote another book, Wells Gray Park: A Visitor’s Guide to the Park and Environs, the new edition of this book is called Exploring Wells Gray Park. In 1997, he edited and published a second edition of Rain People: The Story of Ocean Falls, authored by Bruce Ramsey.

Roland never forgot the education he received at Cariboo College. Roland, his family and friends, and Wells Gray Tours Ltd., have contributed over $110,000 to support UCC students in three different programs.

2000 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Carolyn Vossler | BSN, 1992

Service to the Community Award

Carrie Vossler is truly a deserving recipient of this award, which recognizes local, national and international community service. Carrie works on the front lines of health care as a Public Health Nurse in Merritt, BC, where she helps seniors, children, new parents and immigrants to Canada who may not be familiar with our health care system.

Carrie's humanitarian work extends to Africa, where she has twice volunteered in Zaire. Her first trip was for three months in 1988 while a student nurse at UCC. Her second trip in 1994 was with World Relief Canada when she went to help Rwandan refugees who had fled their civil war. Carrie worked in a refugee camp of 300,000 just outside of Goma for 14 weeks. "Every day, every hour what we did changed. There were 20,000 people an hour crossing the border from Rwanda. People were dying on the road," explains Carrie. "About 40,000 people died the first week I was there. It was very overwhelming."

Carrie and her husband Darryl are hoping to work overseas again in a developing country and have expressed a desire to go to a country where the people are in the greatest need.

Patricia Sellmer | BA '92, FAD '93, BFA '02

Arts and Culture Achievement

A fine example of life-long learning, Tricia is a graduate of 3 credentials from UCC, as well as a Bachelor of Education from UBC, and has completed two summer sessions at Emily Carr and an art residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Tricia has become an artist of international renown and she is actively involved in the Kamloops arts community, serving on numerous committees. In 2003, because of her commitment and contributions to the Kamloops Art Gallery, she was honoured with the dedication of a studio in her name, The Tricia Sellmer Studio.

Trica believes that, "An artistic community is a healthy community. A healthy community is a stable community." Her recent work includes spearheading The Forget Me Not Project, a project of collected public writings and her New York drawings, based on the subject of Alzheimer's and a Catalyst for Change legacy project for A.E. Perry School. Her work is found in collections across North America and England.

In recognition of her many accomplishments, Tricia was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for Arts and Culture Achievement in 2002

1999 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Cathy Ferguson, Michael Meeks. Missing is Ralph Tedder

Cathy Ferguson | BSN, 1991

Public Service Award

Cathy Ferguson was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service for her former role as the President of the BC Union of Nurses.

Cathy changed the public image of the BC Nurses Union in this province during her tenure as President as she frequently appeared in the media to clearly explain the value of nurses' work and the need to reinvest in provincial health care. During her term, her name became synonymous with nursing and with health care issues that are affecting all provinces in Canada. Cathy's philosophy is leadership by consensus and that nurses can be, and are, leaders in the health care system.

Ralph Tedder | UT 1976

Athletic Achievement Award

Ralph Tedder, UT '76 and recipient of the Athletic Achievement Award, is the UCC Sun Demon's men's soccer coach. A volunteer position he has held for 9 years. In the fall of 1998 Ralph led the men's team to a national championship, a first for UCC.

Everyone who speaks of Ralph's coaching abilities says he is a "players coach and technically he is superb." Ralph's exceptional volunteer service to UCC and its athletic program, and to athletics in Kamloops over the past 26 years have been recognized in the past by the Kamloops Sports Council when he won the Coach of the Year, and his national championship men's team won Team of the Year last year.

Michael Meeks | CSOM, 1985

Professional Achievement

Michael Meeks, recipient of the Professional Achievement Award, is founder, president and principal shareholder of Riptide Technologies Inc. in Surrey, BC, a company that is just three and half years old. What began as three people in a cramped office has grown to 65 employees and over $8 million in revenue.

Michael came to Cariboo College after high school to study Computer Systems Operation Management. After graduating in 1985, he worked for BC Lotteries for a year, then moved to the States and worked for GTECH Corporation, the world's largest supplier of online lotteries. After moving back to BC, Michael started Riptide Technologies, a company that develops software for on-line lotteries, such as 6/49, and on-line business systems software. Last year Riptide won the BC Technology Industry Association's New Venture of the Year award, and won Enterprise Magazine's Business of the Year Award for companies with over 51 employees.

1998 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Ross Spina, Alan Hay, Mark Madryga, Doug Baleshta, Robert Holden. Missing is Ross Boulanger.

Doug Baleshta | UT 1974

Service to the University

Doug received the Service to the University award because of his considerable service and dedication to UCC, its faculty and its students.

He is an Assistant Professor as well as the Web Process Coordinator in the Technology Advancement Group at TRU. Doug provides numerous sessions and hours of assistance to faculty, staff, and students on using technology.

Doug's involvement with community extends from being a past Board member of the Kamloops Symphony Society to serving on the Canada Summer Games committee, as well as having served on the first Board of Directors for the UCC Alumni Association. Doug's personal and professional interests are a credit to not only himself, but to the University locally, provincially and internationally.

Robert Holden | UT 1975

Service to the Community

Bob is a Chartered Accountant and a partner in the accounting firm KPMG in Kamloops. He graduated from UBC in 1978, and returned to Kamloops to complete his requirements to become a CA in 1980. Bob has been a very active member of the Kamloops community.

He was on the executive of the Kamloops Curling Club for many years and actively encouraged the Club to seek international bonspiel opportunities. He played important roles in organizing the Canadian Mixed Championships, the Four West Intercollegiate Championship, the Labatt Briar in 1996, where he was the Vice Chair of the organizing committee, and the 1997 World Curling Championship. Bob was the Finance Chair of the Canada Summer Games, held in Kamloops in 1993, a four year volunteer commitment on his part. Bob also served on the inaugural UCC Alumni Board and was instrumental in establishing the Association.

Holden continues to serve the community of Kamloops with his volunteer work coaching curling and most recently was a founding member and Board member of the North Thompson Relief Fund, which helped raise and distribute over $6,500,000 to the forest fire victims of the North Thompson.

Dr. Ross Boulanger | UT 1983

Academic Achievement

Dr. Ross Boulanger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California at Davis. When Ross attended UCC he was the winner of the Governor General's Silver Medal for the top college student in British Columbia. He went on to UBC where he received his Engineering degree and then received his Master's and PhD in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ross was awarded this year's Academic Achievement award because of his extensive work in fundamental and applied research in geotechnical earthquake engineering, with research in dynamic centrifuge modeling of soil-structure-foundation systems, testing of soils in the laboratory, and field work at earthquake damaged sites. Ross is the recent recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award in the United States.

Alan Hay | UT 1977

Athletic Achievement

While attending Cariboo College in the mid-70's, Alan played on the hockey team. When he transferred to UBC to complete his Bachelor of Secondary Education he switched from skating on water to diving into it with the UBC Varsity Springboard Diving team. Since 1987, Alan has been an official with the Canadian National Diving team which allows him to judge men's and women's diving at all Canadian levels and internationally.

As a volunteer with the Canadian National team, Alan has been the team leader at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, at the World University Games in Japan in 1995, and was the team manager for the Canadian team that competed in the World Aquatic Championships in Perth, Australia in January, 1998. Alan volunteered 3 weeks of his time to accompany the team to Perth.

Mark Madryga | UT 1984

Professional Achievement

Mark completed his Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography with specialization in Urban, Synoptic and Air Pollution Meteorology at UBC, followed by a fifth year in Science studying Physics, Meteorology and Oceanography. After attending the Meteorologist Operational course for 8 months, Mark began working as a meteorologist. He has been a Meteorologist with Environment Canada at the Pacific Weather Centre in Vancouver since 1987 and has been the weekend Meteorologist at Global Television (BCTV News) since 1994.

Ross Spina | UT 1971

Professional Achievement

After receiving his Professional Teacher's Certificate, Ross began teaching at John Peterson Junior High. Since then, he has continually upgraded his academic credentials, receiving his Masters of Education from the University of Victoria in 1988. Ross has gained the respect of the Education community in Kamloops, provincially and nationally for his leadership role in developing programming for special needs students.

His career in education has continually advanced and he is now the Director of Secondary Education for School District # 73. Ross has participated in the development of joint partnerships with TRU, most recently working on the Career Technical Centre which allows secondary students to complete Grade 11 and 12 core courses along with up to one year of post-secondary instruction at TRU.

He is the President of the Board of the Phoenix Centre, serves as a director for the McQueen Lake Society, and is a longtime volunteer and member of the Colombo Lodge. Ross’s key role in the development of School District-TRU partnerships led to an invitation to visit China last fall as a guest of the Chinese government to share ideas and strategies with middle school districts and universities

1996 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left: Ken Christian, Kathleen Hinter, Jeevyn Dhaliwal, Carlyle Matthew

Ken Christian

Public Service Award

Kathleen Hinter

Professional Achievement

Jeevyn Dhaliwal

Service to the Community

Carlyle Matthew

Arts and Culture Award

1995 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


From left: Karl DeBruijn, Marilyn Poncelet, John O'Fee, Kelly Uren, Carolynn Boomer, Merrilyn Pennanen

Karl DeBruijn

Service to the University

Marilyn Poncelet

Service to the Community

John O'Fee

Public Service Award

Dr. Kelly Uren

Professional Achievement

Carolynn Boomer

Athletic Achievement Award

Merrilyn Pennanen

Academic Achievement Award