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REF NO.: 196

SUBJECT: Memorial University’s spring convocation 2008: student success stories

DATE: May 26

Note to editors:
            It’s the biggest week of the year for students completing their degrees at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
            More than 2,000 degrees will be awarded this week from May 27-30, during spring convocation 2008 on the St. John’s campus.
            In total, there will be eight sessions of convocation.
            Convocation is the highlight of a university career for students and heralds the end of an important life stage and the beginning of something new.
            While every student has a worthy story, the following students could make for interesting feature stories.
            For convocation ceremonies on Tuesday, May 27, 2008:
           Olivia Heaney, bachelor of arts (honours)
Olivia Heaney is a true whirlwind of activity. The Mount Pearl native already has a six-page-long CV of accomplishments and honours. With a GPA average of 3.97, Ms. Heaney has graced the Faculty of Arts Dean’s List twice and has received a range of academic awards. She is also an avid volunteer. At the moment, Ms. Heaney’s pet project is Nurture for Natuashish, a partnership between the Labrador Friendship Centre and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation to establish an art camp in June 2008 for the children of Natuashish. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
           Adriana Castano, bachelor of arts
Five years ago, Adriana Castano fled the violence and political instability in Columbia with her two children, now ages 12 and 13. She didn’t know then the bright future she would make for her family in Newfoundland. Ms. Castano will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree majoring in sociology and classics. This complements her degree in languages from Columbia and her previous experience as a high school languages teacher in Columbia. She is fluent in Spanish, English and French. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
           Andy Turnbull, bachelor of arts
Despite some of Andy Turnbull’s freshmen classes being nearly the same size as his hometown of Charlottetown, Labrador, the energetic Arts student still managed to navigate his way through those hectic first semesters. Indeed, he not only adjusted to university life, but quickly embraced it and a language he had never studied before – French. Today, the proud member of the Labrador Métis Nation is business development officer with the Métis Business Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He graduates at the 3 p.m. session.
For convocation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 28, 2008:
           Heather Comerford, bachelor of commerce honours (co-operative)
Managing 86 people. Working with senior government officials to change legislation and develop new programming. Starting new programs that help seniors, immigrants, people with disabilities and at-risk youth. Representing Canada twice in a global competition. It sounds like a story about an exceptional grad until you find out that Heather Comerford did it all while completing a university career that took her around the world and back through ACE Memorial, a student group dedicated to entrepreneurship. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
           Frank Worley, bachelor of commerce (co-operative)
The record-breaking snowfalls that ushered in the winter of 2001 weren’t the warmest welcome to this province, but Frank Worley and his family were quick to embrace St. John’s. Canada’s east coast was a safe haven from the violence and conflict he experienced growing up in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa. Now, in spite of those hardships and challenges, Mr. Worley is set to graduate from Memorial’s bachelor of commerce (co-op) program and chart a new course in life. He graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
           Chantelle Burke, master of science
Chantelle Burke has finally found her life’s passion. She may have taken a circuitous route to get there, but the Long Harbour native is thrilled to finally be graduating with a M.Sc. in cognitive and behavioural ecology. While completing her degree, she worked with Dr. Bill Montevecchi, Memorial University’s renowned bird researcher, travelling to Funk Island to study the region’s bird colonies. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
For convocation ceremonies on Thursday, May 29, 2008:
           Luke Maddigan, bachelor of science (honours)
Luke Maddigan always wanted to study geology, but after graduating from high school he discovered his grades weren’t quite good enough to get him into Memorial University. Rather than give up on his dream, the St. John’s student decided to enrol in MUN’s bridging program, a second chance for students who missed the admission requirements by five per cent or less. Offered by the Division of Lifelong Learning, the program allows students who pass the 10-day intensive program to register for courses in the fall semester. He graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
           Monica Kidd, doctor of medicine
Monica Kidd had a well-established career as a CBC radio reporter when she decided to become a doctor in order to have a more direct impact on people’s lives. It took three tries, but she was finally accepted as a medical student at Memorial. In July 2006, while canoeing in British Columbia a thunderstorm knocked a 500 pound tree onto Ms. Kidd, breaking her back. She recovered fully from the accident and will continue at Memorial in a family medicine residency. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
For convocation ceremonies on Friday, May 30, 2008:
           Kimberly Young, bachelor of nursing
Kimberly Young decided to go back to university to study nursing when her son was in Grade 1. She had already completed three years towards a science degree, and after the experience of childbirth became interested in pursing a career in nursing. Despite the demands of raising a child and studying, Ms. Young managed to volunteer as president of the Nursing Society last year and co-ordinate the Nursing Charity Ball. This year she is vice-president of her graduating class. She graduates at the 10 a.m. session.
To read more about these stories, and others, visit Memorial University’s Gazette

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For further information, please contact Ivan Muzychka, associate director (communications), Memorial University, (709) 737-8665, cell (709) 687-9433.  


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