MacEwan University is reaching out to its alumni, including Edmonton City Councillor Scott McKeen, as it prepares for its 50th anniversary.

Celebrating alumni connections leading up to 50th anniversary

April 19, 2021 | Business, Arts & Culture, Society

Since MacEwan University’s first students walked through the doors of its original campus in Strathcona High School back in 1971, the university’s alumni community has grown to more than 80,000 members.

“Everyone knows a MacEwan alum,” says Myrna Khan, vice-president of university relations. “Our graduates are part of the fabric of our city and our province. They’re the social workers, nurses, entrepreneurs, journalists, musicians, scientists and the many other professionals that make our communities tick.”

Historically the university has been a bit quiet about its alumni, says Khan, but that’s about to change.

“As we’ve been growing into our role as a university, we recognize that our alumni truly are our greatest legacy, and MacEwan’s 50th anniversary is the perfect time to reconnect.”

It’s why the university is reaching out to its alumni community as it prepares to begin marking 50 years.

“We want to engage our alumni in ways that reflect the strong feelings so many of them have about their MacEwan experience.”

Scott McKeen’s MacEwan experience began in 1981 at the Cromdale Campus. Today McKeen is wrapping up his final term as a city councillor, but back then, he was selling cars after a few very isolating months at another post-secondary institution.

“Deciding to go to MacEwan and study journalism was the major turning point in my life,” he says. “I felt like I had joined a community right away – it was exactly what I needed, and the whole experience was integral to me finding focus, meaning and a career.”

That strong sense of community is something that stuck with McKeen throughout a career that spanned more than two decades with the Edmonton Journal and eight years at City Hall – roles that brought him back to MacEwan regularly over the years.

“The friends I made, the times I had, the things I learned and the feeling of community I experienced at MacEwan have affected me in many ways,” he says. “I see those things reflected in the initiatives I’ve been part of connected to mental health, urban isolation, housing and ending poverty.”

EndPoverty Edmonton is where McKeen first met fellow MacEwan alum Cheryl Whiskeyjack, executive director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.



Cheryl Whiskeyjack, executive director of the Bent Arrow Healing Traditional Healing Society, graduated from MacEwan in 1995 but stays connected by serving on the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program advisory council.


“In the culture I come from, relationships are everything,” says Whiskeyjack, who graduated from the Child and Youth Care program in 1995. “No person – or organization – is an island.”

Whiskeyjack’s passion is helping Indigenous youth and their families live simultaneously in two worlds – their own indigenous culture and an urban community with a different set of norms and processes. That has led her to build all kinds of partnerships and relationships that serve the Indigenous youth Bent Arrow supports, their families and the greater community. One of those relationships is with MacEwan, where Whiskeyjack has spent years as a Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program advisory board member.

“It just seemed natural for me to maintain the connection I had to MacEwan,” says Whiskeyjack, who received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. “I get to hear about the students’ needs and experiences in the program and help connect them with what is current and relevant in our field.”

Whiskeyjack shares a desire to support the next generation of students – and create social change – with Rebecca Nedelec, a 2018 graduate of MacEwan’s Bachelor of Commerce program and one of Edify magazine’s 2020 Top 40 Under 40.



Rebecca Nedelec, who graduated from MacEwan’s Bachelor of Commerce program in 2018, is also one of Edify magazine’s 2020 Top 40 Under 40. She wants to support other MacEwan students who aren’t traditionally academic and help them see that their university experience is about more than just grades.


During Nedelec’s four years at MacEwan, she focused on making an impact – working for a not-for-profit, starting her own consulting company, and honing her creative thinking and problem-solving skills at business case competitions across North America.

“I was an unconventional student,” says Nedelec. “I sometimes struggled academically, but I feel like MacEwan saw me as a whole person – how hard I was working and the other skills and talents I had.”

Those talents have led Nedelec down a path tied to community. She has helped shape partnerships and community investment both in the not-for-profit and corporate sectors with organizations including Ronald McDonald House, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the City of Edmonton and Alberta Blue Cross.

“I take my role as a MacEwan alum very seriously and want to support other students who aren’t traditionally academic,” she says. “To help them see that their MacEwan experience is about much more than grades – that it will shape their lives and who they are.”

Khan hopes that as alumni reflect on their MacEwan experiences over the coming months, that they will reach back and reconnect.

“We know that our alumni’s experiences were special and that they are part of what continues to make MacEwan such a unique place. It’s why we want to make sure we know how to connect and mark this major milestone together.”

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