Campus News

Each year Lethbridge College recognizes and celebrates employees who go above and beyond to promote our core values of people, excellence and success. Winners are nominated by their colleagues for Service and Innovation, Leadership and Creating Community and Lifelong Learning awards to acknowledge their phenomenal contributions to the college and commitment to the community. This year’s 14 recipients will be honoured at the college’s annual Employee Recognition Event on March 30.

Ashley Cesar, Interim chair, instructor and practice coordinator for Allied Health and Health Sciences, Centre for Health and Wellness

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

"a woman sits at a desk"Ashley Cesar’s determination and enthusiasm in advancing education knows no boundaries. She is never satisfied with status quo and is always looking at ways to improve programs within the Centre for Health and Wellness. Cesar has worked at the college for 10 years and is the interim chair, instructor and practice coordinator for Allied Health and the Health Sciences programs.

“I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Ashley as a student, supervisor and colleague, and she has supported and encouraged me always,” says one of her colleagues. “Her strong leadership style drives her ability to create new partnerships with external stakeholders and partners. She is always respectful and shows dignity and compassion in all relationships.”  

This was evident through her assistance in planning the 15th annual Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators conference in Lethbridge in 2018. This conference aims to enhance the quality, effectiveness and consistency of education for unregulated personal care providers in Canada, and Cesar encouraged and support seven of her colleagues to present.

When the Medical Device Reprocessing program needed to facilitate a lab setting for students, Cesar came up with the creative idea to make the instruments with the 3D printer at the college. This allowed the students to still simulate real working experiences while using resources available within the college.

Cesar is knowledgeable, accountable, genuine and honest, and her colleagues praise her student-centred approach to teaching. She leads by example and gets involved to ensure all members of the team are clear on the direction. Cesar has a passion for connecting with people to inspire them to see the value and unique gifts they possess to make a positive impact within themselves and the world.

Brad Keim, Instructor, Practical Nursing, Centre for Health and Wellness

Appreciation Award for Lifelong Learning

Brad Keim embodies lifelong learning in everything he touches, from class experiences to curriculum to research to staff mentoring. An alum of Lethbridge College, Keim works as instructor in the Practical Nurse program where he affects his students in meaningful ways through his curriculum and course materials. He aligns his educational materials with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta, something that was an asset when he took a lead role in demonstrating how the Practical Nurse program was meeting standards for accreditation.

Keim is one of the only Practical Nurse instructors to achieve his Master of Nursing, something that is far above the requirement for his role but was important to him in his quest for lifelong learning and to make a difference in his students and the world around him. His students tell stories of Keim’s humorous teaching methods that help challenging concepts stick. Keim is not an instructor who relies on his comfort zone; rather he is always pushing himself outside the box to make material come alive.

“Brad is an inspiration to all who cross his path. He quietly leads and provides mentorship in our program and to the faculty,” says one of his colleagues. “Brad always takes opportunities to participate in research projects and professional development courses to enhance his leadership and professional attributes. Students voice how Keim encourages them to engage in the classroom and is the perfect role model for them. With all his college involvement professionally and academically, he is walking evidence of lifelong learning.”

On top of his regular courses, Keim dove headfirst into taking on a theory course on pharmacology. This course required a heavy workload, but Keim spent hours preparing for this class while continuing to look for ways to improve, grow and understand each of his student’s needs.  

Brian Sorensen, Instructor, Crooks School of Transportation, Centre for Trades

Appreciation Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Brian Sorensen works hard to provide a constructive contribution to every project he works on, jumping in to assist with events and functions, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects, exploratory programming and even department yoga. He has been at the college for four years as an instructor in the Crooks School of Transportation and brings three Journeyman licenses with him in welding, automotive service technician and heavy equipment technician.

Sorensen has embraced his role as an instructor and works directly with another instructor, Ryan Kaupp, to rewrite the program they share and develop new presentation tools. His dedication to teaching has been praised by his students who say he makes himself available after hours to ensure every student received the support they needed, while also creating resources and assignments that allowed students to easily grasp difficult concepts.

“The way Brian teaches makes a person excited to attend class the next day; it’s something to look forward to,” says one of his students. “You can tell that he has a passion for teaching by the effort he puts in after hours. He is a genuine person who was willing to walk the extra mile for each and every student who attended this course.”

Sorensen also taught in the Women Building Futures 12-week Journeywomen Start program in 2021. Although the Trades can be a male-dominated industry, Sorensen made sure his students were encouraged and knew they were just as capable.

Dave McMurray, Manager, Applied Research

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Dave McMurray has played an important role in developing applied research capacity at Lethbridge College. Beginning with the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE), where he helped the team develop and receive its first Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants, through to securing the college’s current NSERC-funded Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre (IATC), McMurray has supported researchers by finding the resources they require. Over the past three years, he has primarily focused on building out the research themes of Business and Technology; Justice and Public Safety; Health and Wellness; and Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Key areas he has helped develop are the Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) Centre and the newly formed Centre for Public Safety Applied Research (CPSAR).

“I have worked with Dave for the past 10 years and he was instrumental in assisting me to enter the world of research,” says an instructor. “He freely provided his time and knowledge which allowed us to successfully submit research applications over a three-year period. Recently the School of Justice Studies was awarded a five-year, $1 million Mobilize grant, which is the largest in the history of the program to date and was McMurray’s vision. McMurray’s leadership skills and ability to bring people together for a common purpose are at the forefront of LC’s growing reputation as an applied research institution.”

In addition to Lethbridge College, McMurray is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge. His research interests focus on the history of sport and recreation in Canada, in particular, gender and the sport of angling prior to the mid-20th century. He also has an interest in the development of sports such as lacrosse and anything to do with the history of mountains.

Emmerson Reyes, Senior systems analyst, Enterprise Application Systems

Excellence Award for Service and Innovation

In the seven years he’s been at the college, Emmerson Reyes has become a key player in several Lethbridge College systems projects, demonstrating his creative approach to problem solving and his willingness to put forward ideas. As a senior systems analyst in Information Technology Services (ITS), he always finds new and innovative ways to solve technical issues that not only benefit students but inspire other college employees.

This past year, Reyes helped with the launch of the student portal, MyLC, to serve as a hub for student activity on campus - a digital one-stop shop for students to access course registration, pay tuition, see their Canvas courses, deadlines and even scores from that weekend’s Kodiaks games. He was instrumental in the launch of a beta version last fall and continues to work as part of the team to continue to expand the capacity of MyLC.

“Emmerson clearly sees the right thing to do and seeks out ways to pursue it,” says one of his colleagues. “He is courageous in his actions and often puts himself out there for all the world to see. His strong moral compass and excellent technical skills see him through to a successful outcome. He has a high level of integrity, and his strong work ethic has made him a trustworthy colleague to many. He is one of the most dependable employees I have and if there is a crisis, he is one of the first I seek out. He is a lifelong learner, not afraid to put in the hours to learn what he needs to do.”

On top of his work, Reyes can be found in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium taking photos of the Kodiaks in action. He has taken athletes’ portraits and covered multiple Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship tournaments.

Gillian Comchi, Instructor, Nursing, Centre for Health and Wellness

Excellence Award for Service and Innovation

Gillian Comchi has been at the college for nine years, working as an instructor in the Centre for Health and Wellness in both the Health Care Aide (HCA) program and the Nursing Education in Southern Alberta (NESA) four-year degree program.

Through her teaching within the HCA program, Comchi found a need to increase student knowledge and competency in working with clients with dementia and end-of-life care due to the rising number of individuals living with dementia in Canada and the HCAs’ roles in caring for these individuals. Comchi saw the need for a stronger emphasis on HCAs’ competencies in dementia and end-of-life care as well as a need for educators to understand how to support student readiness and facilitate translating theoretical and conceptual knowledge into practice. 

From this initial assessment, Comchi created the Journey through Dementia initiative, a high-fidelity simulation experience for students designed to enhance their ability to provide care with a person-centred approach to dementia and end of life care. This initiative, which started as a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) research project, has directly and positively affected students while challenging them to integrate their course knowledge into practical skills in a safe learning environment.

“While completing her master’s, she worked diligently on this SOTL project, bringing many new active learning experiences to students across the college,” says one of her colleagues. “She also mentored several faculty members in the process of SOTL research. She not only supports her colleagues and the college community, but she is also an asset to the student experience. She teaches from a human-centred approach that makes each student feel respected and cared for.” 

Karl Rejman, Instructor, General Studies

Appreciation Award for Lifelong Learning

Karl Rejman is a champion of lifelong learning, beginning his time at Lethbridge College in Accessibility Services 13 years ago, before making the transition to teaching. He began teaching as a sessional instructor for the Centre for Business, Arts and Sciences and has been in a term certain/full-time continuing position for the past three years. Rejman has developed, co-developed and taught courses for the Centre for Justice and Human Services and worked in several capacities within the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation.

Rejman influences his colleagues and students with his passion for learning and teaching by sharing information in unique and often humorous ways. From bringing a ukulele to class to writing a rap in a day for an American History class, Rejman creates a sense of fun and community with his students while also inspiring his colleagues. He credits his success to the mentors he had when he first started at the college, and he now gives back as a mentor for the New Instructor Orientation Program.

“Karl deserves this award for his unwavering dedication to his students and colleagues, both formally and informally,” says one of his colleagues. “Every conversation with him is an opportunity for collaboration and learning. His curiosity is limitless, his interests diverse and his excitement for teaching and learning is contagious.”

Karla Wolsky, Instructor, Allied Health

Excellence Award for Lifelong Learning

Karla Wolsky embodies the definition of advancing learning and achievement, not only within herself, but also within others. Wolsky has held numerous positions within the Centre for Health and Wellness over the past 15 years and prides herself on the ability to mentor and grow her peers, support staff and students. Wolsky has served as the chair for the School of Health Sciences and Allied Health programs, the chair for the Nursing Education in Southern Alberta (NESA) as well as an instructor for NESA and the Health Care Aide program.

Through the constant pursuit of her own education, paired with the support she offers, Wolsky champions a vision to never stop learning. She has had a massive impact on many individuals and is an advocate for herself, peers and students. She has a regular “tea and chat” where she invites students individually to come in for tea and spends time learning about each of them and how she can provide them the best support.

“Karla is a fierce advocate for academic standards, expecting her students to bring their best to their learning,” says one of her colleagues. “She has also been a passionate advocate for her colleagues. She provides counsel, encouragement and champions the advancement of individuals.”

This past year she has been accepted into a graduate certification in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), been published, invited to the Academic Integrity Inter-Institutional Meeting and attended the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference.

Kim Pregernig, Program coordinator, Lakeshore Campus

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Kim Pregernig is a considerate and thoughtful leader who generates trust in an inclusive environment as an educational coordinator and academic upgrading instructor at the college’s Lakeshore campus at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. She previously worked as a funding specialist in Financial Aid for five years and an academic upgrading instructor on the Claresholm campus for two years. She has been in her current role for six years.

Her vision and creativity shone during the COVID pandemic. When faced with a ban on face-to-face classroom teaching, she designed correspondence-type packages for every course, which allowed teaching to carry on uninterrupted. Lethbridge was the only correctional centre in Alberta to continue teaching during the pandemic lockdown, an approach that has been commended by the government and adopted throughout the province.

Her colleagues say she has cultivated a community of camaraderie for them at the Lakeshore campus, saying “she has made our workplace a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment. She is Lakeshore campus’s biggest cheerleader, and she truly believes in everyone’s ability to achieve their goals.”

Additionally, Pregernig represents the campus and the college at the provincial level through membership in committees with Alberta Advanced Education and the solicitor general’s office. She volunteers and participates in many initiatives within the correctional centre, the college and the community. 

Laura Morden, Consultant, Human Resources

Excellence Award for Service and Innovation

Laura Morden is a terrific collaborator who demonstrates her ability to listen intently, push herself out of her comfort zone and build partnerships every day. She has worked as the Occupational Health and Safety coordinator for five years, health promotions coordinator in Wellness Services for one year and has been a consultant in Human Resources for the past three years.

Two years ago, she championed a wellness challenge to help inject a dose of fun into the summer for employees still on campus. Thanks to her efforts, the college had 220 participants in the challenge – more than the University of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat College. Lethbridge College won the challenge, tracking more than 80 million steps. Throughout it all, Morden ensured this challenge was inclusive so all manner of activities could be tracked. 

“It’s clear to see that Laura loves her work and this is reflected in all she does for employee well-being,” says one of her colleagues. “She always goes beyond what is expected and doesn’t hesitate to put into action new ideas and programs. Her involvement in supporting mental health, collaborating on wellness challenges and facilitating workshops has made such a positive impact.” 

Morden has also played a key role in creating and promoting the new Conflict Resolution program at the college and is the driving force behind the college’s Employee Core Competency Canvas course, which made the competency framework digestible and meaningful to employees. She’s a lifelong learner and uses her newly learned skills for the benefit of others through pursuing development in Strengths Finder, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability, conflict resolution, equity, diversity and inclusion and mental health.

Lowell Yellow Horn, Manager, Indigenous Services

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Lowell Yellow Horn has been making a difference at Lethbridge College since his arrival in December 2018. In a relatively short time, Yellow Horn has become one of the most recognized members of the campus community, in part because of his willingness to serve as emcee of campus events. From teepee raisings to helping develop the coulee plant walk to moccasin making, pow wow planning and Blackfoot language teaching, Yellow Horn is constantly helping the college community learn and grow.

He has been instrumental in helping instructors learn more about Blackfoot knowledge and traditions, making connections with the community and bringing Indigenous knowledge and experience to classrooms. One instructor shared their experiences working with Yellow Horn on the Indigenization of their course content, noting the time Yellow Horn took to help him and other instructors understand and develop ideas from an Indigenous perspective.

“Recently, Lowell and I decided that true integration involves changing ceremonies, and there is no greater ceremony than graduation at Lethbridge College,” says Provost and Vice President Academic Dr. Samantha Lenci. “For so long, graduation has remained unchanged, where hierarchy and tradition stand, but not here. Lowell and I now co-emcee graduation in English and Blackfoot. We do not merely repeat what the other says, but we speak about the students and education. We have recreated how we celebrate the ultimate moment of student success. Lowell continues to wait for us to learn more every day. He walks just enough ahead and sometimes beside us to make sure we all make the effort to learn Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”

Marda Schindeler, Associate dean, Centre for Applied Arts and Sciences

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Marda Schindeler inspires everyone she meets, always going beyond the expectations of her job to mentor, encourage and innovate by positively influencing and engaging faculty. She has brought her leadership and empathetic approach to several roles at the college, including 18 years as a faculty member, four years as service-learning coordinator and has served as the chair of the School of Academic Upgrading and the School of General Arts and Science. Schindeler is now the Associate Dean for the Centre for Business, Arts and Sciences (CBAS).

Schindeler single-handedly designed and introduced the Work Integrated Learning component into CBAS and continually inspires her fellow associate deans by identifying areas for collaboration. She’s recognized for fostering an inclusive college community through her commitment to promoting and celebrating accessibility, equity, diversity and inclusion. Her time as chair and associate dean have shown a marked enhancement to recruitment, recognition and retention of diverse community members and those who have historically been underrepresented.

“We are a large centre and an incredibly diverse group, and Marda has fostered community within this group seamlessly,” says one of her colleagues. “She listens intentionally and then plans accordingly. She is keenly aware of everyone’s unique passions and goals and sees this individuality as an opportunity.”

Sarah Norgard, Generalist, Human Resources

Appreciation Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Sarah Norgard builds community one hire at a time. As a generalist in Human Resources, she is often the first person who new employees meet at Lethbridge College, and she is the smiling face who greets interviewees and new hires. Norgard began working at the college as a switchboard operator in 2001 for two years before moving to the Registrar’s Office to work as a distributed learning service specialist for six years. She has also worked as an administrative assistant in Facilities for five years before taking on her current role in Human Resources.

As part of her work with the Learning and Development Framework and Learning and Development Team, Norgard stepped out of her comfort zone and created a Canvas course in Employee Onboarding, working in a platform she hadn’t worked in before. This course guides employees through their first year at the college and is a huge undertaking to think of all the information employees need and sharing it in a way that reinforces the college’s values.

“Sarah represents what it is to be great leader the college. She is always keen to offer her expertise and has made recruiting and hiring good staff easy and less daunting,” says one of her colleagues. “Sarah leads by example and truly walks the talk. Working with HR on a regular basis, it is easy to see she is trusted colleague within her own department as she is often looked to as the expert in many areas.”

Stephanie Savage, Manager, Alumni Engagement

Excellence Award for Leadership and Creating Community

Stephanie Savage understands leadership as creating a culture of trust and respect that will naturally encourage people to follow. Savage is a proud Lethbridge College alum of the Digital Communications and Media program and has worked at the college since 2018. She has worked in International Recruitment, as an alumni coordinator and has been the Alumni Engagement manager since 2020.

Savage brings an inspiring level of energy to any situation that encourages involvement and collaboration, and she goes out of her way to ensure everyone on her team feels welcomed and included. Her accomplishments include launching the LC Alumni Perks program in 2020, which now includes 51 unique alumni discount offers, seeing a record number of people at the 2022 Coulee Fest and being an integral part of the 2022 Clayton Allan Wine Auction, which raised more than $200,000. Her dedication to the success of Lethbridge College shines through everything she does as she never fails to create community wherever she goes. Her colleagues recognize her as someone who always jumps in headfirst, saying “one of her most impressive traits is that she is a doer. If she sees an opportunity, personally or professionally, to make a difference, she doesn’t hesitate to act.”

During the pandemic Savage took it upon herself to organize the You Are Remarkable event, which recognized employees on campus who had earned credentials from other institutions but were unable to attend their convocation ceremonies. She is recognized across the campus for her impact on the community through the events she has spearheaded and her dedication to creating a strong relationship between the community and the college.