Meet the Class of 2018

June 6, 2018 | Business, Arts & Culture, Health, Science, Society

Walking across the stage at convocation is a major life moment. But graduation is really a celebration of many small moments – late nights studying in the library, the day you met your best friend in class, and even the time spent in line waiting for much-needed morning coffee.

Here, members of the Class of 2018 walk us through some of those moments, reflect on valuable lessons learned, offer some bittersweet goodbyes and look to the future. 


Lexi Kellington, Bachelor of Science, Biology I remember reading 400-level course descriptions in my first year and thinking that I would never be able to make it through those. Things like presenting or conducting independent research sounded terrifying, but now I’ve done it all. I have grown so much in knowledge, ability and confidence thanks to the extremely supportive, passionate and dedicated professors I’ve worked with. An introductory genetics course made me realize that molecular biology was for me. Now, I’m looking forward to grad school. Katlin Handel, Bachelor of Commerce, Human Resources Management I’m really proud of how I stepped out of my comfort zone over the past four years. At first I really didn’t like networking, but in second year, I sent an email to a professional I had a mutual connection with. I asked to go for coffee and pick their brain – I was nervous, shy and had no idea what I was getting into. That one email led me to great opportunities during school, and a permanent job after graduation. The experience taught me that people are eager and willing to help students – as long as you’re willing to take a chance. Sydney Pickering, Fine Art I had been drawing my whole life, so at first I thought graphite and paint were going to be my main mediums. Then I took an intermedia class in my second year and fell in love with installation and video. I was terrified of performing – let alone actually speaking in front of people – but the performance project we were assigned in that class turned out to be one of my strongest pieces. I’m so proud of the progress everyone in my class has made in the last two years. The changes in our work between first year and graduation is mind-blowing to me. Caitlin Wiltshire, Bachelor of Science in Nursing I was part of the Canadian Nursing Students Association. We were trying to run a by-election but kept encountering issues. Another member had a really good idea for how to make it work, but I was so convinced that it was against our bylaws that I didn’t hear her out.

It turned out she was right, and I should have been listening to what she was saying. Fortunately she accepted my apology. Since then, I have learned to step back and invest my time and words into trusting my team. Teamwork is such an important part of nursing, so it was a valuable lesson. Janelle Huhtala, Child and Youth Care Near the end of my first semester we had a class where 12 or 13 of us got together to check in on how we were feeling about our practicums. We were supposed to reach our instructor through a video chat, but we weren't able to connect right away. Instead of just heading home, we all wanted to stay and chat because we enjoyed supporting each other. That was a great moment! Marc Yegani, Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy Creating and running the Idea and Social Club was probably one of the most enriching experiences of my university career. I developed new leadership and managerial skills, and built new friendships and contacts inside and outside the university. It was a lot of work, but there were several small moments that made me feel it was all worthwhile. One was during our Aesthetics Against Violence event, when a young student who I didn't know exchanged contact information with one of the speakers after the event. I never had a chance to speak to that student, but creating that opportunity made me feel very proud. Martina Faitakis, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone during my degree. I knew I hated giving oral presentations, so I signed myself up for some. I was afraid of doing research, so I approached my professors and asked to help with theirs. It made for an amazing undergraduate experience and a more well-rounded me. I realized about halfway through my program that people didn’t take psychology seriously as a science or a discipline. It is. I’m currently working as a research assistant reviewing police files and threat assessments. The goal of the project is to look at how well current threat assessment tools work in helping police make accurate predictions about the risk of re-offending among domestic violence offenders. And I’m applying to start a masters in forensic psychology in 2019. Darryl Rada, Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting For the first two years of my degree, university felt like a mystery. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I wasn’t sure what career to pursue. Then, in my third year, a student came into my class and presented on a sustainable business club, oikos Edmonton. I decided to join, and through oikos, I met students, faculty and business professionals who mentored me. They offered advice on career choices and taught me invaluable skills. I would have never experienced those things by simply sitting in the classroom. I thought joining oikos was a small decision at the time, but it ended up being one of the greatest choices I ever made. Lula Adam, Bachelor of Social Work It’s challenging to know that our world is full of systemic oppression and inequality that we, as social workers, need to help people navigate. Issues such as hunger, poverty, discrimination, injustice and homelessness are the realities that we have to fight against. It’s a daunting task.

But I knew this program was the right one for me from the moment we started talking about supporting people respectfully and ethically. The profession of social work exemplifies the person who I always aspired to be: helpful, respectful, resourceful, genuine, ethical and humble. Sierra Bilton, Bachelor of Communication Studies, Journalism I knew I was in the right program when one of my professors stood up in front of the class and made a joke about how none of us go into this for the money. Beneath that joke I found an idealism and yearning for positive social change that I truly identified with.

I think I’m most proud of the academic, professional and personal growth I’ve seen in myself during my time at MacEwan. I pushed myself beyond what I thought possible by taking on challenges like professional internships and an international research mission. It’s incredible what can be achieved with persistence and a little humility. Jackie Kent, Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting As a student from out of province, I was worried it would be difficult to make friends at a smaller university. I soon found that was the furthest thing from the truth. I vividly remember walking into MacEwan Ambassador training alone in Fall 2015. It was daunting for all of 10 seconds, until the first person came up and introduced themselves. I left that training weekend with so many new friends. The next year, I made sure to introduce myself to someone who walked in alone. My advice? Be bold enough to make the first move. Jacqueline Bruno, Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing As a First Nations person, and one of the few First Nations psychiatric nurses, I am proud of overcoming adversity, for incorporating my culture into the work I do, and learning ways I can be a mental health advocate for both First Nations and non-First Nations people. Diversity is so important in this field. Anyone can face mental health struggles, and it’s important that people see themselves represented in care settings, so they can feel understood when they seek help. Marlisa Brown, Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology I had classes with amazing anthropology professors who highlighted the importance of Indigenous knowledge, narratives, voices and aspects of decolonization in their courses. This fuelled my passion to continue my education so that I can work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments to continue to pursue self-determination and implement self-governance. As a student, I found my most rewarding experiences by simply being active in the student body. On a whim in my second year, I mustered up the courage to join the executive team of the Indigenous Student Club as president. Although it was a very stressful job, I walked away with experience as a leader, public speaker and problem-solver, and I developed confidence within myself that I did not know was possible. Chariz Faulmino, Theatre Arts Spending long days and nights at school six days a week can really wear you down. I put my heart – and a lot of sweat – into the things I did. It taught me that the process is just as important as the product. I learned a lot about myself – both strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the world around me, the human condition, and to see obstacles as gifts. I learned that our fears are actually where we show our most authentic selves. And I learned that if you choose to see your fear and obstacles that way, a lot of good can come from it. Chenoa Roberts, Bachelor of Arts, English There have been a few surprises since I started my degree in 2011, including a pregnancy that resulted in my brilliant three-year-old daughter. Tiny humans are my favourite humans and I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was seven years old, so I’m planning to do an after degree in elementary education. I want to help nurture curiosity, to be able to show children that there aren’t “things for boys” and “things for girls.” Studying English and anthropology has shaped my worldview. It has opened my mind, and taught me to look at every child – and every person – differently. Erikk Opinio, Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting Math was my worst subject in high school, but I excelled in the accounting and finance program and attribute a lot of my success to the inspiring professors here. The faculty pushed me academically, but also supported my extracurricular pursuits. My professors allowed me to present ideas to my peers, and were understanding if I had to miss class to represent MacEwan at case competitions or conferences. A highlight was being invited to attend a curriculum planning session for my program. I was in a room with individuals I admire and look up to, and it was a privilege to share my experience to enhance the curriculum for future students. Dawn Hodder, Early Learning and Child Care Before I came to MacEwan, I spent five years at the University of Alberta getting my science degree. Three years in, I started struggling. I didn’t feel confident in where my career was heading, but I decided to see it through.

When I found the Early Learning and Child Care program, I knew it was the right fit. I really enjoy working with children, and I still get to use things I learned in my Bachelor of Science – developmental science and psychology – but in a way that I’m passionate about. After all that uncertainty, I’m so happy with how everything fell into place. Anjali Pathak, Bachelor of Science, Mathematics I’ve taken a full course load every semester with tons of math and stats courses, managed to get As and several scholarships, and worked 20 hours a week to pay for my tuition. It was hard, but I had constant motivation from my mom and dad back home in India. They knew I could do it and I knew that if something fell apart, they were standing there behind me. I’m so happy that my parents are going to be here for the convocation ceremony. I know when I walk across the stage, I’ll be thinking about them. Nour Abuhsan, Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy I had never actually heard anyone talk seriously about human virtue in an academic setting – I had almost lost hope in the idea of virtue – until we started reading Plato’s Republic a couple of weeks into my first philosophy course. We talked about what it means to lead a meaningful life, and that was something I really needed at the time. It left me sparkly-eyed and excited, and I clung to it. I’ve probably read that book a million times. Adam Epp, Bachelor of Arts, Mathematical Sciences The highlights of my six years at MacEwan have to be the 2013 provincial cross-country championships where I was part of the team that won gold, and being part of the first team from MacEwan to compete in the 2017 Bank of Canada’s Governor’s Challenge. That challenge was a great way to use the blend of mathematics, statistics, computer science and economics that I’ve pursued in my two degrees. It took a while for me to figure out which program was right, but the extra education has also given me plenty of opportunities, including a research assistant position at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa. Christie Noble, Bachelor of Social Work I am proud that I was able to adapt and grow academically, professionally and personally to complete the social work program. I learned to reflect on my strengths, rather than focusing on faults, and to try to implement constructive feedback and suggestions so that I’m continuously improving and learning. I challenged myself and put the time in, and now I’m on my way to becoming a professional social worker. Jessica Ritchie, Bachelor of Commerce, Human Resources Management Honestly, I didn’t know how much I loved human resources until I was working as a summer student, and started to connect what I learned in the classroom with real-life situations. I realized what a crucial role HR professionals play in professional and personal development. I’m very excited to begin my career helping others achieve their goals. Micheal Bouchard, Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing I initially wanted to pursue dentistry, but the business program kept calling me. Once I switched to business, I teamed up with three other MacEwan students, and we incorporated a company called Run for Stuff – an app that rewards you for being physically active. In July, our business will have 10 employees. I’d do this journey all over again – if it wasn’t for my failures, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Phillip Swallow, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science Attending a Model United Nations conference in New York made me realize that political science was right for me. I met people from all over the world who read the same news I did, had read many of the same books I had, and who were oriented toward solving global issues. When I think back on my time at MacEwan, I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built with several faculty members. They mentored me through almost every major decision and challenge that I faced in my undergraduate degree, and I attribute many of the successes I’ve had to their advice and counsel.

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