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Vol 38  No 14
May 18, 2006



In Brief

Letters to the Editor

News & Notes



Out and About

Papers & Presentations


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June 8, 2006

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Student stages

Memorial’s spring convocation is the highlight of a university career for more than 2,000 students for whom graduation heralds the end of an important life stage and the beginning of something new. While every student has a worthy story, the Gazette is highlighting the students on these pages as representatives of every student’s journey.


Loving support

Susan Lidster set a goal for herself ­ to walk across the stage at convocation. She also promised herself that she would complete her degree in five years. On May 24, she will be doing both.

“My husband Kevin has been a huge part of my journey at Memorial,” said Ms. Lidster. “We commuted from Cupids, which is an hours drive each way. Kevin seen to it that I made it to every class and attended them with me! Because he has been so supportive, Kevin will walk across the stage with me at convocation.”

Ms. Lidster was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1973 and for the last 10 years she has been limited to a wheelchair; however, she sometimes uses a walker at home.

After she and her husband sold their business of 14 years, Ms. Lidster was sitting at home one day and saw an ad on TV for the WISE (Women Interested in Successful Employment) program, and it was through this program that she discovered her interest in pursuing a university career.

“One day I was chatting with a friend in the program and she was telling me about how she decided to apply to Memorial,” she said. “As she was talking the tears just started streaming down my face and when asked what was wrong, I said that I could never go to university.”

When pushed on why she felt she could never attend university, Ms. Lidster said it was because of her disability. She then realized that the only thing holding her back was herself, and not her disability at all.

“When I realized this, I got an application together and applied and got accepted! Now, five years later, I’m graduating with a bachelor of arts.”

Her husband added: “There were times when I thought that Susan wouldn’t be able to get through it, but no way was she going to give up. She was determined right from the beginning, and so was I.”

- By Jill Hunt


From basketball to medicine

You knew them as Sea-Hawks, now Kerri Highmore and Erika Stokes are about to be doctors. After four years of medical school, the two basketball stars will start postgraduate residency training. Ms. Highmore is pursuing radiology at Memorial; Ms. Stokes is matched to the University of British Columbia for radiation oncology.

In their first year of medical school, Ms. Highmore and Ms. Stokes played their fifth year of varsity basketball. “It was a constant balancing act between classes, studying, practicing and travelling,” said Ms. Stokes. “It was much easier to manage academics and basketball once varsity was over.”

Despite support from family, classmates and professors, it was still difficult to keep up basketball practice. “Med school it’s a big time commitment,” said Ms. Highmore. “We were in class all day, then we’d come home and practise basketball for two hours a day. I found it kept me in shape and helped to relief stress from school.”

Ms. Stokes said that their class and the medical school generally have been supportive of their involvement with basketball. “Right from the beginning our classmates would watch and cheer. They’d help us catch up on school work if we were on road trips and missed classes.”

- By Sharon Gray


Graduate praises staff member’s help

Tracy Beales knows exactly why she’s stuck with it and has finally completed her degree after six years. Ms. Beales, who graduated from Grenfell College on May 12 with a bachelor of arts in social/cultural studies, began her post-secondary journey as a single mother. Her two children are now seven and nine.

She attributes much of her success to Kathleen Snow, a lab instructor with Grenfell’s math department.

“When I started Math 1090 with Dr. Georg Gunther, Kathleen was the lab instructor,” said Ms. Beales, a native of Corner Brook. “She took extra time out constantly for me and many others to help us outside the classroom setting.”

Now that she has graduated, she’s planning to take a bit of a break then apply to Western Regional School of Nursing. She points out that her youngest has only ever known Mommy to be a student. And Ms. Snow has a lot to do with that.

“I wanted to do this to tell Kathleen what a difference she’s made to me,” said Ms. Beales with some emotion. “I can tell her ‘I love you and you’ve made a real difference to me.’”

- By Pamela Gill


Grenfell’s Belize connection

Shanda Williams of Belize received her bachelor of arts in psychology at Grenfell College’s spring 2006 convocation May 12 in Corner Brook. Ms. Williams is one of a group of nine Belizeans who have attended or are attending Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.

The close-knit group has had a major influence on the campus. They’ve become the backbone of Grenfell’s annual International Night, for instance. They have completely integrated themselves on campus and have brought diversity to the campus that is enjoyed by everyone.

Two other Belizeans have graduated as well ­ Nataliah Cardona joins Ms. Williams as a 2006 graduate (she was unable to attend the ceremony) and Tamara Alpulche graduated in absentia during fall convocation 2005 in St. John’s.

Ms. Williams (R) is seen in this photo with Maria Burn, who is still attending Grenfell, as they prepare for International Night at Grenfell College.

- by Pamela Gill


Engineering grad bound for Stanford

New graduate Steve Cranford sounds excited. Although he’s has enjoyed his experience at Memorial, when asked, he also has no problem listing off the many things he’s looking forward to at his new university. Mr. Cranford has received a full scholarship to do a master’s in engineering at Stanford University.

He recently made a trip to Stanford and describes the campus as “a dichotomy of old and new with grounds and buildings that are architecturally beautiful, with mosaics and art pieces throughout campus.” But the campus also has a very modern vibe, which includes a library with no books; only computer resources where students can check out the latest PlayStation or X-Box games.

Qualifying for the scholarship was not an easy task so he says he was extremely surprised. “This fellowship is allowing me to pursue one of my dreams, and I am looking forward to the challenges and experiences that lie ahead.”

The award is valued at $55,700, covering three-quarters of tuition, as well as a monthly stipend of $2,275. Mr. Cranford has received 12 scholarships during his undergraduate degree here at Memorial, totalling approximately $25,000.

- By Michelle Osmond


Gold medal performance

Dr. Chandrika Liyanapathirana has some sound advice for students walking across the stage at this year’s convocation and contemplating grad studies. “Nothing comes from nothing,” she said with a smile. “Hard work, time management, patience and dedication are keys to success. One has to be ready to make sacrifices in their life.”

And, she should know.

As this year’s winner of the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence at the graduate level, Dr. Liyanapathirana has had to make some tough decisions and has spent countless hours away from her husband and young daughter to complete her PhD in biology.

“I worked hard both day and night on my research,” she said recently. “There were some days I stayed all night in the lab doing my experiments. My plan was to finish everything within three years.” She completed it within three-and-a half-years.

Dr. Liyanapathirana actually graduated during last fall’s convocation but will officially receive her medal at next week’s ceremonies in St. John’s.

She said winning the prestigious Governor General’s Award is satisfying and gives her motivation for future research.

“In the beginning I even was not aware that my supervisor, Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi, has nominated me,” she said. “With this one, there is some special feeling in the corner of my heart that made me very proud. I feel like I have been rewarded for something useful in my research career.

- By Jeff Green


A passion for history

Forty years after he started his last year of law school, Edward Roberts, lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, sat down in a Memorial University classroom to begin work on his MA in history.

He may not have been following a syllabus in the decades between his courses of study, but he says he fed his passion for history ­ particularly the history of this province ­ by reading voraciously. Lt.-Gov. Roberts estimates his personal library holds about 3,500 books on Newfoundland. When he moved to Government House in 2002, the former chair of

Memorial’s Board of Regents, posing above with replicas of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment colours, determined to fit the master’s program he’d long considered doing around the obligations of his office.

He says he enjoyed the experience immensely, and found both classmates and professors knowledgeable and always prepared to discuss or argue. After a long career in private and public roles, Lt.-Gov. Roberts had a great deal to add to the discussion himself. “It was a bit of fun, to be able to say ‘I was there, and I can tell you that’s not quite how it happened’ or ‘There’s another way to look at this.’”

For his final project, he completed a 40,000 word examination of the fishing regulations imposed by Sir William Coaker, founder of the Fishermen’s Protective Union who joined the liberal government in 1919. “Coaker had a highly ambitious plan to reform the salt fishery ... but it fell apart very quickly. Many of the issues he addressed and the problems he tried to resolve are still with us today.”

- By Leslie Vryenhoek


A dream come true

For one MUN nursing graduate, her career is working out exactly the way she dreamed it would. Pam LeDrew, who grew up in Springdale, entered the School of Nursing directly from high school.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, ever since I was a little girl. My mom is a nurse, so that influenced me.”

During her four years of study at Memorial, the goal of becoming a nurse expanded into a desire to be a member of a health care team. Ms. LeDrew was involved in the Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education (CCHPE) and the development of an interprofessional education curriculum for students in the health professions. She was the Nursing student representative in public and an advocate within the School of Nursing for interprofessional activities.

Ms. LeDrew can now speak knowledgeably about interprofessional education. “Interprofessionalism enables health care team members to work together in order to achieve the highest possible outcome for the patient. It cuts down on repetition and can save health care dollars. Most importantly, it keeps the patient at the centre of care while covering all of the needs of the patient.”

Ms. LeDrew is now employed in a permanent full-time position at the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia. She is delighted with the job. “They have a wonderful interprofessional approach and health care team members work together on a regular basis.”

- By Sharon Gray


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