We’re incredibly proud of the more than 2,200 people who earned the privilege of walking across the stage at the university’s Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 21, 22 and 23 at the Winspear Centre, including 473 from the Faculty of Health and Community Studies. Here, we share some of their stories.

Iris Baguinon

Early Learning and Child Care Diploma

MacEwan is my second home – I have been studying here since 2016. I began with an Arts and Cultural Management diploma, took open studies for a while, then enrolled in Early Learning and Child Care. I thought I was finally ready to move on but recently decided to stay and finish the Bachelor of Early Learning and Child Care (BECCS) program. 

I have always wanted to work with children and I’ve had some great experiences at MacEwan. During one of my field placements, I worked with a diverse group of children, building relationships with families from all walks of life. That experience made me want to work in a multicultural child care centre that embraces inclusivity and interculturality. And last December, I was invited to participate in a collaborative project with the university’s theatre department to look at how young children participate in theatre. It was a chance to blend my love of children with my love of the arts. 

This term, a fourth-year BECCS student came to talk to our class about her two decades as an early childhood educator. She spoke about the importance of advocating for quality child care in Alberta and how that led her to come back to pursue the degree. Her passion inspired me to do the same – I am looking forward to coming back to the campus in the fall with bigger dreams!

Fifi Bereket

Bachelor of Child and Youth Care

While I was growing up, I never truly had a mentor or someone to look up to. So when it came to sharing my thoughts, struggles and hardships, I didn’t have anyone to lean on. Only myself. I realized that I wanted to be a mentor for that little girl – the one who had to do stuff and learn on her own. 

I’m not going to say I loved every moment of the child and youth care program – it was often difficult – but every one of those moments helped me become the person I am today. Getting to spend time with the kids I work with and seeing how the investments we make in their lives affect them has become so fulfilling in ways I can’t even express. The children are our future. Everything we invest in them will make the future a better place. 

I am currently working with Edmonton Catholic Schools as a therapeutic assistant/behavioural therapist in an elementary setting. I get to help kiddos with day-to-day coping methods. My experience in this role inspired me to continue my journey. Eventually, I want to take a master’s in counselling. 

One thing I learned is that you will never know what interests you until you take that first class and that first step. This opens a door for mistakes, lessons and hardships but that is where you learn and grow. It is in this midst of this that your passions are revealed. I was pushed by one of my friends to enter this program and little did I realize that it would be a big part of my academic journey. Taking the first step is always the hardest but also the most crucial aspect of anything you do in life. So take that first step, the answers will come along the way.

Jimmy Buaba

Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration

I enrolled in this program a couple of years after our second child’s birth. As she was growing, she would always ask when I was going to graduate. She has been my motivation. I did not want to disappoint her. But combining full-time work, family life, volunteering in the community and school was very challenging. In early 2020, I almost quit school due to an undiagnosed illness. It was my family’s support that allowed me to take care of myself, get better, pull through and reach the finish line. 

I am passionate about helping people, building community and improving people’s quality of life, and I hope that this program will equip me to work at a management level doing humanitarian work abroad in developing countries. 

Next, I am planning to complete a master’s degree in community development. 

Logan Farr

Bachelor of Physical Education Transfer, Inclusive Post-Secondary Education

I’ve always been active with swimming, Nordic skiing, hiking and outdoor activities. After high school, I took a gap year and completed a Mountains 101 course online and audited a wildlife course. I really enjoyed those classes and wanted to continue studying and learning. MacEwan was a great campus for me with my visual impairment, because it was easy to find my way around, and the instructors were very supportive and helped me to fully participate in their classes. I expanded my passion for the outdoors, learned about coaching and how to help others improve their skills and fitness. 

I really enjoyed the adaptive physical activities course and was inspired by many of the guest speakers who shared stories about living with their disability. My term paper was on a program called “Push to Open Nature,” which works to help people with disabilities explore the outdoors and parks. I think everyone should have an opportunity to spend time in our parks and natural areas and I found this program very inspirational.

After my first year, I applied for a summer job with Parks Canada. Getting that first summer dream job inspired me to work even harder. At the end of my second year, I completed a triathlon which was challenging, but lots of fun. I enjoyed training with classmates and completing the event was a great sense of accomplishment.

This summer, I’m back working in Banff National Park with the Visitor Experience and Heritage Interpretation teams. In the fall, I will be continuing my studies at the University of Alberta where I hope to learn more about recreation, tourism and parks. I will also continue to teach Nordic ski lessons this winter to kids in the Jack Rabbit program, and I’m hoping to get a guide dog in the near future.

David Kasingarirwi

Therapist Assistant Diploma, Speech Language Pathologist Assistant

I was an educational assistant in a school when I started working alongside a speech pathologist. I enjoyed the work and the Speech Language Pathologist Assistant diploma felt like a natural progression for me. 

Being in school and having a family isn’t easy. My wife Yvonne made a big difference during my time at MacEwan. She allowed me to have the extra space and time to study and write assignments, and she carried the weight of some of those family things I could not devote time to because I was in school. That helped me focus and be successful. 

I’m excited to continue to grow in my role with Edmonton Catholic Schools and, maybe one day, pursue a master’s degree in speech pathology.

Hannah Mahon

Correctional Services Diploma

I truly believe that we are all more than our poor choices. It’s why I love corrections. The criminal justice system can be stigmatizing and debilitating for individuals of all ages, genders and ethnicities, but with corrections we can work to help improve the lives of those who walk through it. Our goal is to help people feel that they are valuable members of the community. 

I was drawn to gang-exit programming and strategies during my second year in the program.  There is so much more we can be doing to help young people entrenched in the gang lifestyle find the sense of belonging they long for. 

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to develop and facilitate a two-day workshop on goal setting and planning for four young gang associates between the ages of 14 and 18 at the Calgary Young Offender Centre. These young men are some of the most resilient, self-motivated and passionate people I have ever encountered. Listening to their stories, learning about who they are and leaving them strategies they can use was amazing.

I am currently working at the Edmonton John Howard Society while I continue my education at Royal Roads University doing the blended Bachelor of Arts Justice Studies program. I would love to eventually work in a gang-exit program. To help show individuals that they already have the skills to do what they truly want, and how to use them in a more law-abiding way.

Mackenzie Newhook

Bachelor of Early Childhood Curriculum Studies 

Early learning is about play, but play is so much more than it appears to be on the surface. During play, children’s brains are developing, they are learning language and they are beginning to see themselves as part of a community. I knew it was very complex, but I don’t think I fully appreciated just how complex it is until I started the Bachelor of Early Childhood Curriculum Studies. 

Now I feel like I have the skills to nurture educators, to support them in being playful with children and to be a good advocate for early learning. Just like our view of children changes when we see them as capable and resilient rather than innocent and vulnerable, so too does our view of early childhood educators when we see them as professionals with specialized knowledge. 

So during my senior internship, I focused on how educators can use simple materials like paper or fabric or clay to provoke children to think deeply about their ideas. I organized professional development opportunities for educators to engage with materials in different ways. Seeing them bring those experiences back into the playroom with children blew my mind. I even had the chance to write up my findings and share them at Pedagogical Pathways, a biannual symposium. Hearing that people were inspired by the possibilities of materials was definitely a highlight of my time at MacEwan. 

Eventually, I would like to do a master’s degree, but for now I want to take some time to put into practice what I’ve learned here at Early Learning at MacEwan. In September, I’ll be taking on the role of curriculum facilitator, supporting educators with their planning and documentation. And I hope to form a community of practice with the other first graduates of this program. Together, we’re paving the way for what is possible.

Angela Schroeder

Child and Youth Care Diploma
Governor General’s Bronze Medal

The first time I had to step in front of a lecture hall full of students to deliver a presentation, I was overcome by a genuine sense of calm. Never in my academic career had I felt so comfortable being in front of my peers. It was a defining moment because it confirmed I chose the right program after years of searching. 

I found child and youth care after having to drop out of another program at a different university just four weeks shy of completing my third year. I loved learning, but that experience brought me to one of the lowest points of my life. I decided to take a leap of faith and am incredibly grateful that it was the right decision. 

I am passionate about our role as child and youth care practitioners. We are entrusted with the demanding and critical task of believing in the children, youth and families we work with as they fulfill their goals and achieve their potential. We celebrate humanity in little or big ways and focus on recovery, healing and growth – even when achieving those things is against the odds. It is a field filled with opportunity, compassion and hope. 

I was pleasantly surprised that students in our program have a say in where our field placements are. My first choice was Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. I learned so much from the youth and staff at the group home – lessons that will stay with me for life. 

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