Celebrating exemplary alumni

Aug 17th, 2023

Heidi Wicks


From a leader in finance, to a dedicated volunteer, to a wizard entrepreneur, to a wooden boat enthusiast, Memorial University’s 2023 Alumni Tribute Awards recipients are outstanding in every way.

The awards recognize alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen fields, are committed to their alma mater and have made outstanding contributions to their communities.

Tashia Batstone will receive this year’s Alumni of the Year Award, celebrating alongside Luke O’Brien (J.D. Eaton Award), Adam Keating (Horizon Award, for alumni under 35-years-old) and the late Wallace Pinhorn (Outstanding Community Service Award). The annual awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus in St. John’s.

Alumni of the Year: Tashia Batstone, B.Comm.(Hons.) (Co-op.) ’91, MBA’07

Tashia Batstone is credited by her peers as being an agent of change in the accounting profession.

With a passion for the advancement and development of professional education, she has held senior leadership roles throughout her career. In May 2021, she was appointed president and CEO of FP Canada™, the leading certification and oversight body for the financial planning profession in Canada. Some of her biggest priorities have included promoting financial wellness for all Canadians, improving access to financial planning services, and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within the profession.

In her previous role as senior vice-president of external relations and business development at the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA), she led transformational change initiatives both in Canada and internationally and played a significant role in the unification of the accounting profession, leading the development of the CPA Certification Program. As a result of her work, she was awarded the Fellow CPA designation from both CPA Newfoundland and Labrador and CPA Ontario.

As one nominator noted, “I have met countless talented professionals, but only a small few I would describe as visionaries. Tashia is one of them. She has built stakeholder relationships domestically and internationally, strengthened accounting education in Canada, furthered industry-leading research and thought leadership and worked with other professionals to forge a new, responsive direction for the accounting profession.”

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Ms. Batstone is a faithful supporter of Girl Guides, to prepare girls and young women to be courageous and empowered to create a more equal world.  Over the past 30 years she has served as a unit guider, held board positions at Girl Guides of Canada and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). In August 2023, she was awarded the WAGGGS Medal of Service, the highest recognition that guiding can bestow in recognition of those who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting at a national and global level.

Tashia represents the Canadian accounting profession on the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Accountants, the global body responsible for enhancing the relevance, reputation, and value of the global accountancy profession.

In June 2023, she was appointed by the Government of Canada as a public director for the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation.

As an undergraduate and graduate alumna, past guest and volunteer, she has a close connection to Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration. She served as a member of the faculty’s Advisory Board, providing high-level, strategic advice to the dean and senior executive regarding business developments and faculty activities.

J.D. Eaton Award: Luke O’Brien, B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’97

Luke O’Brien has served Memorial University in many capacities over the years, including as a guest lecturer, volunteer, mentor, advocate and major donor.

Of special note is his impact with The Fund – Memorial’s first and only student-managed investment fund. The Fund is open to any student at Memorial, and provides high quality training, education and experiential learning to ensure the competitiveness of Memorial graduates entering the finance sector, regardless of discipline, for generations to come.

Luke currently holds securities, options, futures and insurance licenses along with a Financial Planning designation. He is past chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador District Council of Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

As a local investment professional, he offers his service on The Fund’s mentoring group and provides strategic input and feedback to students, ranging from individual stock pitches, to market trends, to career advice.

In 2018 he made a major gift to establish the program (a donation he subsequently doubled). Not long after, the Faculty of Business Administration secured another major donation for The Fund, meaning today the portfolio is valued at more than $325,000.

Luke has positively represented Memorial not only through his volunteer service to The Fund and to the Faculty of Business Administration, but also through actively endorsing the university at events, in the media and on panels. As an executive-in-residence in applied finance in the business faculty from 2014-17, he is an important link between Memorial and the business community.

Horizon Award: Adam Keating, B.Eng.’17

Silicon Valley’s loss was Newfoundland and Labrador’s gain.

When Adam Keating and Jeremy Andrews decided to reject the flood of offers from the famed tech region of California in favour of co-founding CoLab Software, a new wave of the Newfoundland and Labrador tech industry began. CoLab is a Design Engagement System that accelerates the pace of engineering innovation by helping engineering teams deliver better products, faster.

Since its start in 2017, CoLab has grown exponentially. In 2019, CoLab became the first Atlantic Canadian company accepted into the Y Combinator, one of the most competitive accelerator programs in the world. Fast forward to today, CoLab has grown to a team of 80, raised a world class $21 Million CAD Series A, led by one of the top ten investors globally, and landed Fortune 500 companies like Ford, Lockheed Martin, Johnson Controls and Komatsu.

Adam has been a natural born leader and innovator since his days as a Memorial student. He was a founding member and lead of the Paradigm Hyperloop team when they won second place in the worldwide SpaceX Hyperloop Competition in California in 2017. Aside from being the only team from North America invited to compete, their team made history by being the first to use an air-bearing system on their pod, proving its viability to the world.

He made the Dean’s List every year, earned numerous scholarships and awards, led several other team projects, and is still actively involved today as chair of the Student Design Hub.

“The early hyperloop days hooked me on building technology to solve global problems and gave me the confidence that I could do it from N.L. This award is a true honor and reflection of the world class team we’ve created at CoLab. There are no limits to what can be achieved here in N.L. and I’m excited for the next chapter!”

Outstanding Community Service Award: Wallace Pinhorn, Dipl.Eng.’62

Wallace Pinhorn’s contributions to Newfoundland and Labrador and to Memorial University is one that won’t soon be forgotten after he passed away peacefully in July of 2023.

His outstanding community volunteer service began in his hometown with the Winterton Heritage Advisory Board in 2004 and evolved into two decades of passionate volunteer work as a board member at the Provincial Wooden Boat Museum (WBMNL), a historically vital and vibrant non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage associated with the historical design, construction and working life of Newfoundland and Labrador’s traditional wooden boats. In 2019, WBMNL won the Canadian Tourism Award, and it’s widely agreed that many museum initiatives were only possible with Mr. Pinhorn’s involvement and financial direction.

His tenacity and heart led passion for the museum, and the town of Winterton, helped save a vital part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s history. WBMNL is more than a tourist attraction; it also offers a place of employment for many community members.

In 2008, WBMNL started with just $85 in the bank. From 2008 – 22, Wallace helped secure over $3 million. The current financial outlook of WBMNL and future programs would not have been possible without his selfless dedication, attention to detail, vision and endless persistence.

When Wallace was in his best health, he divided his time between St. John’s and Winterton with his wife of 58 years, Rosanne. His happiest days were on the water in Trinity Bay, fishing with family and friends in his boat – his children, Jeffrey, Laurie, Lisa, Matthew and a wide circle of family and friends.

The 2023 Alumni Tribute Awards will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. NST. The awards will be livestreamed from the Memorial University Alumni YouTube channel. Tickets will be available in September.

For further information on the Alumni Tribute Awards, visit the Alumni Engagement website.