2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Lorianna Bennett | BSC Animal Biology, 1994
TRU Distinguished Alumni: Community Service Award
A family lawyer, mom and engaged community volunteer, Lorianna has inspired her peers and promoted a culture of change in many law firms, striving to create working environments that balance the needs of professionals, families and communities in her capacity as the Yale County representative of the Canadian Bar Association.
Work-life balance is important to Lorianna, who is an active volunteer in her sons’ school and sporting activities, teaches a commercial law course at TRU and fund-raises for the hospital and university foundations. She often takes time to speak as a career mentor and as an advocate for anaphylaxis education.
“My proudest accomplishment since 2010 is that I have been able to advance my career in a way that has enabled me to maintain a healthier work-life balance. I do not feel that I have sacrificed one for the other — well, for the most part at least!”
Lorianna also gave birth to a baby girl in 2012 — her youngest of three kids.
Lorianna’s personal accomplishments were followed by professional accomplishments in the years to follow.
“In 2013, I became a partner/co-owner of the firm where I have worked since graduating from law school, and just a few months into that new role I was recognized as one of Kamloops' Best Lawyers in a local Readers Choice poll. In 2016, I received that award a second time. Also, by 2016 I had received a ministerial appointment to the boards of the Provincial Health Services Authority and BC Emergency Health Services. [This was] a real honour for me because BC Children’s Hospital was instrumental in saving my daughter from a serious illness back in 2013, and it meant the world to me to be able to give back in some way. In 2017, I began instructing at the TRU Faculty of Law (you will actually hear me talk about wanting to do this one day in my 2010 distinguished alumni video, well before we even had a law school). In 2020, I was honoured to be recognized by the community again, this time as Kamloops' Best Lawyer.
My 2021 mission was to complete my mediation training. This is something I wanted for years, but the training involved at least a week of in-person professional education away from my family. On top of all of my other provincial board commitments (which regularly took me out of town), it was just too much to try to fit in additional absences, so I kept putting it off. However, everything changed with the pandemic, including that the 80-hour education credits were (for the first time ever) offered on a virtual platform. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and am now fully qualified.
Somewhere during the last 11 years, my husband and I also bought rural property, built a ranch, and converted our city lifestyle to a western one. Ranching is a tonne of hard work but also hugely rewarding. We feel extremely privileged to live where we live and do what we do, and most importantly our children love our lifestyle and could not be happier. I have no doubt that their best childhood memories will include travelling around with us to rodeos doing what they love the most!
It’s so fun to go through life, look back, and be able to check things like this off of your bucket list. I’m very excited to see where life will take me next.”
In 2021 Lorianna was appointed as a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia.
Lorianna’s advice to students is to appreciate all that TRU has to offer and take advantage of the knowledge of those around you.
“There is no need to fly the coop too soon. So many kids want to leave Kamloops right after high school graduation and overlook the value of TRU. TRU is an incredible post secondary institution. My advice is also to make use of the TRU career counsellors. They are invaluable and will ensure that you are taking the courses that you need in order to reach for your longer-term goals. I will never forget the one counsellor I had met back in the early '90s, “Bernie”. She was our hero. She knew us all by name, was always there to answer questions. She played a huge part in navigating me through my undergrad. She genuinely cared about the students, and you could tell.”
You can read more about Lorianna’s career on the Paul and Company website.
Awards and accolades (since 2010):
- 2013 and 2016: Recipient of Kamloops Readers Choice “One of the Best” Lawyers Award
- 2019: Legacy Society Member Recognition Award from Thompson Rivers University
- 2020: Recipient of Kamloops Readers Choice “Best Lawyer” Award
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.