Giving back together
Couple can't forget their alma mater
Jason and Christa Humber.
By David Penney
When asked what he remembers most about his time at Memorial, Jason Humber grins and his response is automatic.
"Those first few days getting lost in the tunnels."
This graduate of Memorial's ocean and naval architectural engineering program has since found his way.
Together, he and his wife Christa are a true Memorial success story. On very different academic tracks when they met back in the late 1990's, with Christa pursuing music education, and he in engineering, they met through the Salvation Army Student Fellowship. This was back in the days when student groups and societies came together in the centre of campus, in the old Thomson Student Centre.
Christa fondly recalls her experience as an undergrad, in particular her time at the School of Music.
"The music school was relatively small compared to now, but there were still so many different people with different backgrounds. It was fascinating to be a part of that diversity," she said. "I enjoyed the coziness of the School of Music as well. You knew everyone – including the faculty – and it made it feel like an oversized family. I think that's a big part of why I stayed close to the university and continue to support Memorial."
When Jason graduated in 1999, some early work experience with one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world provided him with a unique perspective. With an opportunity to work on massive, world-class projects, Jason recognized a need for a specialized GIS skill set and applications that would build efficiencies into these complex systems. In 2002, he and Christa co-founded Integrated Informatics Inc. Almost 10 years later the business is thriving, with a Calgary office supported by another in Houston and, most recently, in St. John's.
"We have an incredible core group of people who have really pushed the boundaries for our company," Jason said. "We work at a high capacity, and that work is done by high performers with the same expectations. Combined with some good timing and a real boost being felt across the industry, our recent opportunity in St. John's is a by-product of all those things."
When Christa reflects on their approach to the business, it is clear they have developed a model for success.
"Being honest with yourself and with each other – that has helped us recognize the strengths and weaknesses that we both bring to the table. I think that's what makes us a great couple and business partners. I know the lingo related to our business but Jason can really make you understand and get excited about what we do. I take care of things behind the scenes."
That partnership and sense of purpose is a hallmark for their approach to giving, and paying success forward is important to both of them. As one of the youngest couples to ever create an endowed award at Memorial, they have made a significant commitment with the Integrated Informatics Award of Excellence.
Awarded annually to senior engineering students in the faculty's offshore oil and gas option, it will make a difference in many young lives for years to come.
"I think for both of us, it just seemed like the right thing to do," Jason said. "I was debt free when I finished at Memorial, and a big part of that was because of scholarships. When you're a student, every penny counts."
Christa agrees, noting that their intention is to go beyond having a positive impact on just the individual students who receive this award. Their support has also extended to the School of Music and to the university in general.
"I know there are going to be a lot of fantastic graduates coming out that may need help, and that is a real priority. But we also want to support the university in its efforts to foster and grow new programs, programs that might not have a chance without a little extra help," she said. "We're proud graduates of Memorial. It's important to both of us to show our appreciation for the years we spent there."