Top five Portraits of MacEwan of 2016

December 20, 2016

A snapshot of the stories that resonated with our followers

The best stories are told in one’s own words. Throughout the year, MacEwan University features short profiles of our community on its Facebook page. These are sometimes unique, sometimes unusual, but always impactful stories of the people who walk through our halls. To close out 2016, we rounded up this year’s top five favourites.

5. Not many kids ask their parents to send them to boarding school…

After Grade 11, I begged my dad to send me to boarding school. In junior high and high school, my grades were consistently around 51 per cent. When I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to apply for university, it hit me hard. I wanted to do better. I wanted to be successful and make something of myself. But I knew I needed to play catch up.

The year I spent in a boarding school in Saskatchewan changed my life. I worked hard and my average went from 50 to 90 in one semester.

I just finished my second year in the Bachelor of Commerce program and I’ve already completed an independent research project, and am presenting it as a case study at a national conference in June. In September, I’m off to Switzerland to spend a year studying international business and marketing.

I think it’s important for students to know that even if you’re not a good student yet, you can be. That number on a piece of paper isn’t who you are. If you want to do better, don’t let anything hold you back.

—Courtney, 3rd year Bachelor of Commerce student 

4. There’s nothing like a support network to help you through university


When I left the Saddle Lake Cree Nation 13 years ago, the idea of university was so distant to me. A few years later going to university felt more like an attainable goal, so I enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce program. When I applied for funding support, I quickly learned just how intimidating that process could be.

Today, I get to help make that process easier for other students. In my part-time job, I travel to First Nations communities and help Grade 12 students work through the scholarship and bursary application process. I talk them through all the steps, and give them the tools and knowledge they need to access post-secondary funding.

I also tell them my story and experiences as a student. When I first started at MacEwan, I wasn’t sure how I would find my place in this new community. But then I discovered a great support network on campus at the Aboriginal Education Centre—a place I can turn to when I’m having a tough time, where I can smudge, reset and be surrounded by supportive people.

Sharing makes me feel like I’m giving back and helping make things easier for youth who are in the same situation that I once was.

—Mallory, 4th year, Bachelor of Commerce student 

3. Every single day matters

I spent 14 years working in child protection. I loved that job, but I also saw social workers struggle with the trauma they worked alongside every day.

If you’re going to be a social worker, then you’re going to be exposed to trauma. It’s inevitable. My research is about preparing students to work beside that trauma. And it affects everyone differently, in both positive and negative ways.

If we know that people are going to struggle at times, then we need to look at how we can prepare and support people in building vicarious resilience, finding satisfaction in their work and learning to seek out help when they need it.

Social work is difficult, but it’s also incredibly important. When you’re in this field, every single day matters. There’s nothing vague about it.

I love practicing social work and teaching it. There’s something about being connected to the beginning of someone's journey—watching them realize that this is their world, that social work is who they are, that they’re not a lone voice. It’s a really heartfelt thing.

—Faye Hamilton, Social Work faculty member

2. Coach leads Team Canada to the Paralympic Games

As a coach with the Team Canada’s Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, I sat down from day one. Playing taught me how to move the way my players moved, helped me answer their questions and showed me of exactly how difficult this game is to play.

Many members of my sitting team never played volleyball before joining the team. They have to learn all these new skills AND figure out how to move around on their butts while doing them. That’s not easy, but they are playing a game they love and representing their country—things some of them may never have thought of doing before.

It has been incredible to watch their growth over the past two years. Seeing athletes reach their peak performance and be happy and successful in what they’re doing is the best part of being a coach.

In March, we went to China for an intercontinental cup and played against other teams that had qualified for the Paralympic Games. Our very first match was against Brazil, who we had played six months earlier at the Parapan Am Games. Afterwards, the Brazilian coach asked his assistant coach to translate so he could tell us how amazed he was at how far we had come in that short time. Hearing how an opponent coach noticed the difference made me so proud.

—Nicole Ban, head coach of Team Canada Women’s Sitting Volleyball and assistant coach of the Griffins Women’s Volleyball team

Nicole went to Rio to coach Canada’s Women’s Sitting Volleyball team at the Paralympic Games. This was the first time Canada qualified for volleyball at the Paralympics in 16 years, and the first time ever it qualified for sitting volleyball.

1. It takes a moment to realize you’ve made hockey history


I’m the lucky guy who scored the first-ever goal in Rogers Place. If you had told me even a few weeks ago that I was going to be the one to do it, I never would have believed you.

The game happened days before the Rogers Place opened to the public, so it was a big secret—we couldn’t tell anyone. Our bus pulled up underneath the arena and we walked past the Oilers’ dressing room before setting up in one of the visitors’ rooms.

The moment we stepped onto the ice was just unreal—I can’t even really explain the feeling. The arena is towering—it’s huge—and even though the seats were empty, it was such a cool experience.

During the first period, my line mates were working hard down low and I was sitting in the slot in front of the goal. I picked up a pass and just kind of slid the puck in on the blocker side. It was a lucky shot—the goal itself wasn’t really anything special, but it’s one I’ll never forget.

At first, I was just excited to get the goal and the lead in the game. It took a little while for it to sink in that it was the first goal ever scored in Rogers Place.

I hear that the puck might be going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That’s something that would stick with me forever—that my team has a puck in the Hall of Fame and that I’m the guy who put it in the net. It’s one of the best experience I’ve ever had, and a story I’ll be telling my kids and grandkids years from now.

—Taylor Mulder, 1st year student, Police and Investigations – Police Studies, and left wing, Griffins Men’s Hockey


Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. 

Interested in more stories and photos of our people? Check out:

Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter