Cheers to the changemakers!

 UCalgary Alumni Association celebrates nine outstanding alumni

Let’s hear it for the changemakers, risk-takers and trail-blazers that have sparked change close to home and around the globe.

Please join us on Sept. 22 to celebrate nine awesome alumni whose work has notably improved their profession and their communities. These nine changemakers will be receiving the Distinguished Alumna Award, Alumni Achievement Award, Alumna of Distinction Awards, Management Alumni Excellence Award and the Alumni Leadership Excellence Award.

This year, the Arch Awards will kick off Alumni Weekend as its first signature event. This year’s ceremony features a red-carpet experience and a special performance from illFX Entertainment Inc., Ultra Volta, as well as live music throughout the evening. Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, best known for holding the Canadian Women’s Long Drive record at 350 yards, 2 feet, 2 inches, will host the presentation.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients! Let’s get to know a little more about them:

Distinguished Alumna Award

Hayley Wickenheiser, BKin’13, MSc’16

Five-time Olympic medallist, proud UCalgary Dino and champion for women in sport

Q: What does it mean to you to be recognized as a role model for women in sport?

A: Growing up, I never thought I’d be the face of breaking down anything, I just played hockey and was a female athlete. My parents instilled the belief in me that a girl could do anything a boy could do. I’m proud, especially knowing that I’ve made it easier for girls and women to play hockey and I am more than happy to take the mantle and be the role model for women in sport. I feel this responsibility to help the next generation keep the doors open and give young girls the opportunities, the confidence and a place to look when they doubt themselves. I want to take advantage of my platform as an athlete.

Q: You give your time to a lot of causes including developing programs alongside your alma mater. What has been the most rewarding opportunity?

A: One of the coolest programs that I’ve had the opportunity to develop is called Stepping Out. I worked with the Child Development Centre and Dr. Margaret Clarke to partner with the Faculty of Kinesiology and we were able to create this program to allow young autistic adults to be given an exercise intervention a few times a week and learn about goal-setting and lifestyle choices, which we later turned into a research project about how high-intensity exercise changes the blood flow in autistic adults. This project has been so cool to develop and very rewarding.

Alumni Achievement Award

Betty Bastien, BSW’80, MSW’86

Internationally recognized social work scholar and author whose work is on the leading edge of Indigenous scholarship and education

Q: Is this where you thought you would always end up?

A: I think it was my passion for providing services, and being of service to Indigenous populations is what guided me and got me to where I am today.

Q: What is your favourite part about what you do?

A: I think it is the fact that I am supported by something bigger. Whether that be a research grant, fellow UCalgary colleagues or the professors that taught me while I was in school — it was a combination of these things that have set me on this path.

Alumni Achievement Award

Aneel Singh Brar, BA’06, BSc’06

Champion for maternal and child health with Mata Jai Kaur in Rajasthan, India

Q: What keeps you going? What inspires you every day?

A: Pregnancy shouldn’t be an illness, and in parts of the world it can be treated as such. Ninety-nine per cent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, and there are bigger questions that need to be answered beyond just culture, habits and access to medicine. Those bigger questions have deep moral and existential implications to them, and that’s what I enjoy wading into.

 

Q: When did it click for you that this is what you were meant to do?

A: When you start this kind of work that I’m doing, with the uncertainties and the paralyzing lack of ability when you get here — the language and cultural barriers — and until you get better at it and start mobilizing people to your cause, it’s lonely and you’re not really sure if you’re doing it right. To meet someone like Dr. Paul Farmer … he’s a physician and anthropologist at Harvard; he gave me a role model to look up to and galvanized me to continue my work with less hesitation.

Alumni Achievement Award

David Eisenstadt, BA’66

Founding partner, tcgpr (The Communications Group Inc.), partner firm in The Mikey Network; UCalgary volunteer and award-winning public relations professional

Q: You’ve made a big impact in the public relations community through your volunteer activities. Why do you think it is important to give back?

A: To make the greatest impact, one should try to give back where and when you can.  The key for me has been to volunteer for fewer things, and do a better job to contribute in a more meaningful way,  A great example is our Firm’s involvement over the past 12 years with The Mikey Network, created as a result of a senior executive of a home builder client we represent dying of sudden cardiac arrest.  Our client, ad agency and our firm came together to establish this not-for profit charity to promote heart healthy living and to raise funds to place automated external defibrillators in public places.  We agreed to call the defibs “Mikeys” (in memory of our client’s deceased partner Mike Salem) and today you’ll find them in schools, rinks, swimming pools, seniors residences, and many other places. To date, “Mikeys” have saved 36 lives.  Being part of that team effort continues to be most gratifying and helping save lives is terrific life achievement for all involved, and a credit to the visionary leadership of our client, the Herity Group of companies.

 

Q: What does it mean you to be recognized by your peers?

A: Being recognized by my peers in the Public Relations profession is very satisfying.  To be recognized by my undergrad university, and nominated by a well-respected UofC professor, Dr. Tom Keenan, has been quite mind bending.  As a member of the last graduating class of UAC (1967), I’m honoured and grateful to join the UCalgary class of alumni that have been recognized by this wonderful institution.

Alumni Achievement Award

Andrew Mosker, MA’12

Visionary leader for Calgary’s cultural sector and founding president of the National Music Centre

Q: How did you get to where you are today?

A: There isn’t a straight path when it comes to getting into music. There many different opportunities and it’s up to you to figure out the pathway. Campus radio, in Montreal, was my first taste of what it was like to have a career in music and the opportunities opened up from there.

 

Q: Where did the vision for the National Music Centre come from?

A: It began with a desire to give the gift of music many years ago by a group of people from Calgary. Then, that idea evolved when I was given the opportunity to participate. Only then, did the appreciation of creating a stronger Canada through music become apparent as I was living here in Alberta and after growing up in Quebec. A few lights went on. The idea of diversity and inclusivity that exists, so many walks of life calling this city home. We realized that Canada did not have a place that told our national music story. We have award shows, artists and concert halls, but our history and contribution to music is not as prevalent or centre stage as it should be. The idea of doing something for music and for Canada was born. We agreed that this needed to change so put our music history front and centre. A place where our history is celebrated and new music is incubated.

Alumni Achievement Award

Anila Lee Yuen, BSc’06

Community connector, connecting diverse communities through the Centre for Newcomers

Q: What were you like as a student?

A: That was a really hard time for me, to be honest. I had a semester where I pretty much failed all of my classes. I didn’t enjoy school that much — but I had two professors who were really good to me and helped me through. They spent a lot of time with me, helping me because they recognized that potential that I had and (they) believed in me. That kindness and belief has made me better and (has had) a lasting impression on my life and it’s something I hope I can pay forward through the work that I am doing.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a new graduate?

A: Slow down, don’t be so hard on yourself, and know that you don’t have to achieve everything right away. Enjoy the journey; you have a lot of time to decide what you want to do. Take the time to really figure out what you love.

Alumna of Distinction Award – Cumming School of Medicine

Dr. Rupinder Toor Mangat, BSc’92, MD’96

Breaking down cultural barriers and creating safe, inclusive spaces for Calgary women

Q: How did the idea for the Northeast Calgary Women’s Clinic come to life?

A: When I was in medical school, I realized that, due to gender, language and cultural barriers, many immigrant women did not have a comfortable place to seek health care. That’s when I thought, what was I in the unique position to do and how can I make a difference? That’s where the idea to open a clinic for immigrant women came to life.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for someone looking to become an entrepreneur?

A: Don’t be afraid to go into uncharted territory. It can be scary and you may not have all the answers but, when you have that idea and you know that it can make a difference, it’s worth it. Sometimes, you just have to work outside the box.

Management Alumni Excellence Award – Haskayne School of Business

Shahauna Siddiqui, MBA’01

Shaping the next generation of leaders through volunteerism and community endeavours

Q: What is your favourite part of your job?

A: My favourite part of my job is placing amazing candidates with amazing clients. Which I couldn’t do without my amazing team that I built here. They are amazing and my greatest achievement.

 

Q: How would you describe someone dedicated to building up their community and willing to take risks to make a difference?

A: Sometimes, risk is a funny thing. I think sometimes we take risks because we don’t know any better — that would be me — but I think risk-takers and community builders are so passionate about what they are doing, that’s the one thing that gets them through the risk.

Alumni Leadership Excellence Award – Schulich School of Engineering

Ian Herring, BSc’72, MEng’79

Volunteer extraordinaire, giving his time and talent to help future generations of engineers

Q: What is your advice for those wanting to give back to the community?

A: I was never the front-line guy; I was always more of a supporting actor. Know that you don’t always have to be the face of change in order to create it. Understand what the big-picture objectives are and then make them happen by taking the steps in order to achieve it.

 

Q: Where did your passion for giving back to UCalgary develop?

A: When Ted Rhodes started up the Engineering Associates Program, my boss at the time said that I needed to get involved because it is for the downtown business folks to get involved with what’s going on at UCalgary. He was right, now I am still a member of the EAP 25 years later.