Meet the Fall Class of 2019

November 18, 2019 | Sports, Society, Science, Health, Business, Arts & Culture


While the number of graduates at our Fall Convocation on November 20 may be smaller than ceremonies in the spring, their accomplishments certainly aren’t. Our newest grads have their sights set on everything from outer space and opera, to statistics and stopping the spread of infectious diseases. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

Here, members of the Fall Class of 2019 take us through some of the moments, memories and milestones that stand out most.

Tatiana Mijajlovic, Bachelor of Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences I grew up loving rocks and outer space, and wanted to be a scientist so I could study them when I got older. My parents would wake me up for meteor showers or northern lights displays, they helped me start a rock and mineral collection that I still have (and continue to grow) to this day, and they bought me every book they could find so I could always find the answers to my questions. The badlands, the mountains, the night sky are all places I escape to when life becomes too much. Not just because of their beauty, but because I want to know them on their deepest levels.

It only made sense to pursue a degree that provides me with the tools to study not just one of my passions, but a combination of both – geology and the solar system. Now, I’m applying to complete a Master of Science in Earth science where I hope to match lunar meteorites to their original craters on the moon’s surface, and completing a manuscript on the shock metamorphism and crystallization age of lunar meteorite NWA 032 with Dr. Erin Walton. Ashlee Rolheiser, Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing Being elected by my peers as the president of one of the most influential and largest clubs at MacEwan touched my soul and redefined my self-image in unimaginable ways. The opportunities awarded by the MacEwan University United Nations Club truly shaped my onward path, as I am currently studying a master of international affairs and diplomacy with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. My background in commerce certainly defined my presence in the club, and allowed me to advance to the position that I did. I am eternally grateful for those opportunities.

Juggling all of my responsibilities on and off campus was my biggest challenge. I was working 45 hours a week at my "part-time" job, enrolled in five courses, served as the president of the UN Club and the vice-president of events of the Jack.org chapter, volunteered with multiple charities, and was still trying to have some sort of social life. Looking back, I'm in awe. Looking forward, I know that I am prepared to handle anything. My time at MacEwan built a version of me that is a five-star multitasker, an administrator of change, a disciple of challenge, and a devotee to the MacEwan alumni community. Alex Mackie, Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Applied Statistics, President’s Medal recipient I had been acting for about 10 years when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I figured that if my body was going to slowly give out, then why not work on my brain instead? I was in rehearsals for a show in Fort McMurray called Proof that is about a mathematician and was trying to get into the character, when I pulled out a book about chaos theory my Grade 7 math teacher had given me. It was really neat to think about how little changes can have huge consequences down the road. I kept reading about things like math and the science behind dark matter and that reunited me with this passion I had for math when I was much younger. When I decided it was time for a new career path, I thought why not this?

It wasn’t long after I started at MacEwan that I got the proof I needed that I was where I should be. I had an extra space for a class and ended up in Stats 252. I’ve always been fascinated with how the world works, and statistics explains a lot. It turned out I was pretty good at it too. Now I’m working on my master’s degree at the University of Calgary studying spatial temporal processes and looking at the statistics of how things move in time and space. Basically, I’m trying to learn how to use data to help predict what could happen in the future.
Kristyn Smart, Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences I’m very competitive academically and in sport and that competitiveness pushes me to work hard in everything I do. But my first year at MacEwan was difficult. Adjusting to the faster pace and greater expectations of university on top of balancing the rigorous schedule of a student-athlete, left me frustrated and feeling like I wasn’t performing at my best. So I re-evaluated my study habits and fine-tuned my time management skills. My marks improved, and the hard work paid off. At the end of that academic year I received the USPORT Academic All-Canadian award for attaining a high GPA as a full-time student athlete, and that set the standard for the following years of my degree.

Having a close-knit group of teammates who continually supported and challenged me to do my best was essential to my success. They pushed me to work harder and helped me through any adversity I encountered. I think it’s prepared me well for my next challenge – I’m planning to pursue an occupational therapy degree next fall.
Carissa Fedoruk, Arts and Cultural Management, Dean’s Medal recipient Perseverance is key. Just don’t give up; finish what you start and be stubborn about it. It will be rewarding in the end. When you are struggling, don’t be afraid to get to know your professors and ask them for help. That’s what they are there for, and they want you to succeed. Be open, and doors will open for you.

The defining moment of my time at MacEwan was when I was given the opportunity to complete my end-of-program field placement with Scottish Opera, the national opera company of Scotland. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the opera industry, but never imagined that I would be invited overseas, to a world-class opera company, to begin that career journey. When the opportunity was offered to me, I realized the incredible amount of faith that my faculty had in me. It was a dream come true, and an experience that has defined me as an arts manager.
Mariam Giwa, Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences After my very first cell culture laboratory exercise, I knew for a fact that science would be the best way for me to affect meaningful change in people’s lives. It’s fascinating to think that studying microscopic cells and organisms might eventually lead to more informed treatment of infectious diseases in humans.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rigamarole of study, but it’s so important to never lose sight of your “why.” That goal – to one day save lives and make a difference – kept me going. Grabbing onto my passion, especially when things were challenging, is what fuelled me. Every year I studied at MacEwan, my love for the field grew, and that was, in part, due to the passion and excitement I observed in my professors.

After getting some work experience, my next step will be to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology and public health, and then on to save the world!


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