We love hearing from Lethbridge College alumni, and our readers do too! While we do receive more updates and news items about alumni than we have space for, you can always find those additional updates online. To submit your news to share with your classmates and the college community, drop us a note at WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca.
Distinguished Alumna Award
Kathy Veres Sassa (Nursing 1991)
Kathy Veres Sassa is the recipient of this year’s highest alumni honour. Since graduating from the college in 1991, she has continued her education and has spent the past 25 years as a leader and innovator in health care in southern Alberta. Working for Alberta Health Services (AHS) at the Chinook Regional Hospital, Veres Sassa has held positions as a surgical clinical educator and as the highly-specialized intensive care unit clinical educator. She has a passion for educating health care professionals and has collaboratively developed, implemented, reviewed and maintained many advanced clinical education tools and strategies. Through her highly-specialized Advanced Cardiac Life Support Instructor and Coordinator certification, she has provided training to a wide range of professionals including physicians, nurses and paramedics. She continues to give back to her alma mater in a wide variety of ways, including by helping to create the college’s Simulated Patient Health Environment for Research and Education (SPHERE) and playing an instrumental role in getting it operational. She has donated countless hours to college faculty, staff and students through consultations, committee work and providing opportunities for job shadows, and she was an essential advocate in helping the Nursing Education in Southwestern Alberta program flip its clinical model. Veres Sassa routinely gives her time to provide additional support to students and programs at the college, as well as her colleagues at AHS.
The Distinguished Alumnus award recognizes college graduates who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers, made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrated service to the college and its students.
Career Virtuoso Award
Barbara Duckworth Thompson (Journalism 1974)
Barbara Duckworth Thompson has spent her illustrious journalism career developing a reputation as an expert in agriculture and specifically livestock production. As the Calgary bureau chief for the Western Producer for 28 years, Duckworth Thompson has developed a deep network of connections throughout the agriculture industry, government and media that allows her to shed light on the stories important to producers. Her expertise has been sought by other media members looking for insight into the industry and issues, specifically she was often sought out as a source during Canada’s BSE crisis in 2003. She is the recipient of numerous national and international industry awards and has worked for multiple media outlets, contributed to countless freelance projects and is a sought-after public speaker. Her specialization has led her to travel the globe, including stories where she has examined the impact of BSE on British farmers, analyzed the competitiveness of the Australian beef industry and was invited by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture to study farm animal welfare practices. Her career shows no signs of slowing down as she traveled to the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2017 to study the agricultural effects of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Career Virtuoso award is presented to alumni who have made significant contributions to their professional fields through their diligence, talent and dedication. Nominations for these awards are accepted year round. More information and nomination forms are available at lethbridgecollege.ca/alumni/nominate.
Community Leader Award
Chelsey De Groot (Child and Youth Care 2010; General Studies 2012; Bachelor of Applied Arts – Justice Studies 2015)
Chelsey De Groot is a three-time graduate of Lethbridge College who has used all of her studies to support her career, which is focused on helping people. She is currently the cultural program coordinator with ARCHES, a not-for-profit, community outreach group that provides resources and support for those affected by AIDS and Hepatitis C, while also focusing on prevention. She has a long history of working with groups that help those in need, including the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Housing First team and the Family Ties Association.
While with the Family Ties organization, De Groot worked with children with disabilities and collaborated with a Métis Elder to facilitate programming for Indigenous children in care. Beyond her professional career, De Groot continues to help her community in a variety of capacities, including the creation of I’taamohkanoohsin, which is a Blackfoot word for “everyone comes together.”
Partnering with the Lethbridge Police Service and Blood Tribe Department of Health, the program provides cultural supports for Indigenous people living within the City of Lethbridge. De Groot also works with the Lethbridge Area Search and Rescue group and has been an active supporter of the college, presenting in classes, attending on-campus community health initiatives and taking practicum students from the Child and Youth Care program.
The Community Leader award is presented to alumni who have made contributions to their communities through their work or personal interests. Nominations for these awards are accepted year round. More information and nomination forms are available at lethbridgecollege.ca/alumni/nominate.
Rising Star Award
Cornelius Mans (Business Administration – Management 2013)
In just five years, Corne Mans has gone from employee to co-owner of Galimax Trading Inc. The company originally brought high-end European food items into Alberta and marketed them to restaurants, but the company has switched its focus to marketing top quality Alberta-grown produce to local restaurants. The expansion of the company included building a new, Canadian Food Inspection Agency-approved warehouse in Nobleford, as Galimax has grown from occupying a single commercial lot to owning four lots. The operation has created stable, well-paying and productive jobs in the Nobleford community.
Galimax fosters a culture that supports entrepreneurs, mostly from small farm businesses, lending its expertise to help them achieve their dreams. Galimax’s philosophy is based around marketing the uniqueness of a product or making it better than anyone else and “if you can do both, then you stand a better chance of success.” Mans believes in the value of teamwork and taking care of Galimax employees as his top priority, sharing the credit for Galimax’s success with his entire team.
The Rising Star award is presented to alumni who, within 10 years of graduation from Lethbridge College, have become driven innovators in their professions. Nominations for these awards are accepted year round. More information and nomination forms are available at lethbridgecollege.ca/alumni/nominate.
Civil Engineering Technology
Kaitlyn said she’s been doing “lots of work and lots of travelling!” since her graduation.
General Studies student
Nathan told the Alumni office: “I recently got married and started a career as an electrician. I’m living in Lethbridge and love it here. I played two years on the men’s basketball team and I am looking forward to coming back to watch the different athletic teams at the college in the upcoming years.”
Diandra Bruised Head
Renewable Resource Management
Diandra was recently appointed as in-tribe climate change coordinator for the Kainai First Nation. Her role will support a partnership between the Government of Alberta, The Rockies Institute and the Kainai First Nation to study climate change and how it affects the Indigenous population within the Blackfoot Confederacy. “This partnership is an exciting opportunity to increase networks between the Kainai Nation and climate change experts,” Diandra said. “I am encouraged by the opportunity to use and develop my skills and knowledge to positively impact my community for a successful future in the face of uncertain and unprecedented change.”
Fashion Design and Sustainable Production
Noelle showed her new fashion line at Vancouver Fashion Week in March. This is an extremely prestigious event that is attended and promoted worldwide.
Rae-Lynn was featured in an article in the Keremeos Review about the B.C. corrections system. She works as a correctional officer at the Okanagan Correctional Centre, a regional centre that holds inmates of all levels of security who are either serving a sentence or are being held in custody while awaiting court appearances. “BC Corrections is very welcoming to all walks of life. There are all different types of inmates and everyone reacts differently to different people,” she said in the article, also pointing to the progressive training, with ongoing education and training opportunities that BC Corrections provides.
Sarah attended the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as a spectator as she continues to chase her own Olympic dream. The former Kodiaks soccer standout and sprinter was identified as a potential future Olympian, a “diamond in the rough” needing a push to a next level of competition. She won an intensive provincial competition called RBC Training Ground and joined four other top young talents at the Winter Olympics where they attended competitions with CBC Sports and RBC representatives. To get there, she emerged as the top female athlete at a qualifier event to earn a spot in the final with 100 other top athletes between ages 14 and 25. From that elite group, she triumphed as the winner of all the male and female athletes. Not only did she win a trip to the Olympics, but she now is in Cycling Canada’s development program. 2013
Business Administration – Accounting
Michael, the owner of The Number Guys, an accounting and business consultancy firm that was founded to help small businesses grow and succeed, has been named one of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 under 40. After spending a decade working for a local construction company, Michael realized he wanted more of a challenge and started his own construction company, Refresh Construction, and at the same time applied to go back to school at the age of 27. After graduating from the college, he transferred to the University of Lethbridge and graduated with a Bachelor of Management in Accounting and Finance and began to work on his CPA designation. During this time he noticed that small business owners in Lethbridge needed accounting services that were action oriented and cost friendly. The result was the creation of The Number Guys, a company focused on helping small business owners.
Suzanne told the Alumni office that after graduation, “I started working as the shipper’s assistant at Motion Canada, just to get my foot in the door. I went on to work as the receiver, then I worked on the order desk. I worked hard to learn about the parts and inventory. I then moved on to work inside sales, and then was offered the operations management position in 2015.
Nicole, the human resources manager at North and Co. in Lethbridge, was featured in a Q&A in “The Talent Pool Blog” in January. The Talent Pool Society was formed in 2003 and provides businesses with information, resources and links to pools of talent that are often overlooked. These pools of talent are youth, mature workers, immigrants, Aboriginal people, women and people with disabilities. The article about Nicole focused on her professional experiences, the challenges she sees for the HR industry in Alberta and more. When asked what’s next for HR, she said: “I think strategic partnership for HR is important. There is a need, want and desire for HR to be less administrative and to become this strategic resource for whatever the company needs. The workforce is changing and you need HR people to make sure you keep up with these changes.”
Renewable Resource Management
Andrew sent the Alumni office this update: “After graduating, I managed to get hired right away with an environmental consulting company as a wildlife technician. Unfortunately, due to circumstance and other life priorities, I had to reluctantly leave the position. The next five years or so were not as smooth as I had hoped. The job market related to my studies was less than ideal. The available jobs seemed small, infrequent and often required relocation, which was not an option for me. Just as I was about to settle for a career in electronics repair, I applied for, interviewed and secured a position with the MD of Bighorn as the assistant environmental fieldman. It certainly took me longer than I ever anticipated to find a position related to my studies that I can see myself growing with and becoming a career rather than just another job. I feel that my studies at Lethbridge College helped lay a lasting foundation that is definitely helping me succeed.”
Criminal Justice – Policing
Sarah was one of 15 new recruits sworn in at the Vancouver Police Department in January. Sarah was born in Saskatoon and raised in Prince Albert, Sask., as a member of the Lake Cree Nation Band. She moved to Vancouver in 2012 and worked as a loss prevention officer. In 2016, she was hired as a VPD special municipal constable, and has worked in the jail, in community safety, and in traffic authority. She has volunteered at Coast Mental Health – Watson House, as an activity coordinator, working with residents living with mild to moderate mental illness.
Exercise Science, Business Management student
Jordan, the president and personal trainer at Twisted Steel Fitness, a fitness centre located in Coaldale, has been named one of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 under 40. Jordan developed a passion for fitness at a young age and started training at age 15. In June 2015, Jordan acquired two pieces of commercial real estate and converted one of the buildings into a community fitness centre and leased out the second. His favourite thing about his job is seeing the results of his clients and how their attitude and confidence grows at the same time. Since opening the gym, Jordan has been extremely dedicated to giving back to the community in every way possible and plans to continue to do so as the business grows.
Fashion Design and Merchandising 2003, General Studies 2005
Deana, a full-time math teacher, girls’ basketball coach, and owner and operator of ArtBeat Lethbridge, was named one of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 under 40. Deana was captain of the Kodiaks women’s basketball team from 2003-05 and part of the group that won the 2004 CCAA Women’s National Championship. After graduation, she travelled the world playing for OutWest Canada. During this time, Deana enrolled in art classes, reviving a passion from high school. She continued with art and earned her combined Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of Education degree in 2009. As a full-time math teacher and basketball coach, Deana was missing her involvement with the arts. That’s when she found a business partner and created ArtBeat Lethbridge, a non-profit organization that engages with Lethbridge’s vibrant artist community and exists as a platform to allow local artists to showcase and sell their work.
Recreation Facility Operation
J.J., who drove the ice resurfacer for the gold medal hockey game in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, has moved from his job as head ice technician for the Arizona Coyotes and is now the manager of engineering and ice operations for the Oilers Entertainment Group in Edmonton.
Shaun is head of FX (special effects) at Double Negative Visual Effects in Vancouver. DNEG was the lead visual effects partner on Blade Runner 2049, which won the Academy Award for Visual Effects in March. The film has been called “one of the most beautiful films to have been made in recent years” (The Verge). DNEG also worked on Academy Award-winning films Inception, Interstellar and Ex Machina.
Andrea was profiled in a Canadian Cattleman magazine article focusing on her work as the manager of Shipwheel Cattle Feeders near Taber. She is the fourth generation to run the business, taking over in 2015 after her father’s retirement. “I was worried what would happen to everything he had worked so hard for – the productive grassland and riparian areas, the habitat for wildlife – and the memories – the row of trees I had walked through every day from the house to the feedlot, my treehouse,” she said in the article. “It would probably all be plowed under for crops. I decided to go back to my roots and begin a new journey at Shipwheel. I didn’t want to get 20 years down my path in life and regret not taking this opportunity.”
General Studies and Civil Engineering Technology
Jonathan, the chief operating officer at Tollestrup Construction, was named one of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 under 40. Two years after graduating from the college, Jonathan started with Tollestrup Construction as a concrete labourer. Through that work, he found himself back at the college earning his second diploma with honours. Jonathan gained his accreditation as a certified engineering technologist with ASET and currently sits as a member of the advisory committee at Lethbridge College for the Civil Engineering Technologies program. Jonathan has volunteered to coach basketball at Coalhurst Elementary School and has run multiple basketball camps for players aged 7-17 at both beginner and elite levels. He sits on the ARHCA Board of Directors at a provincial level, a position that provides him the opportunity to help improve the road building and heavy construction industry.
Child and Youth Care
Chelsea told the Alumni office that she is looking at continuing her undergraduate studies and is considering programs in psychology and graphic information technology. Her goal is to go into law.
Child and Youth Care
“I have been working at the YWCA Lethbridge and District for 14 years and I have been in different positions,” Maritza wrote to the Alumni office. “I work directly with the women’s shelter as a transition and outreach worker. Abused women with and without children are my clients and I help them to find housing, funding and referrals to other community agencies and resources. I also work at Quest Support Services as a direct services worker since 2013. I really enjoy working with people with disabilities and making a difference in their lives. Doug and I bought our first home in May 2016 and he retired the same year in September. We have three grandchildren: Michael, 8; Elijah, 5; and Amelia, 2.5. Last year I decided to go back to school and enrolled at University of Victoria in the Social Work program.”
Jason Lee Waine
Recreation and Leisure Services
Jason started work as the Grande Prairie branch manager of On Side Restoration in December. “This is a meaningful new role for me as branch manager for On Side,” said Jason, who is a carpenter by trade and has more than 25 years of commercial and civil construction experience. “I love the Grande Prairie area and I am looking forward to growing our local team within the restoration and insurance domains. With experience running my own company and managing projects in high security and environmentally sensitive settings, I feel our local branch will be able to evolve into new project sectors, strengthening our overall portfolio and client offerings.”
Automotive Service Technology
“I was on the student council [and was] also a referee for hockey and softball while at college,” Rob told the Alumni office. “I have been with the Alberta Motor Association for over 10 years now. I carried the torch as an official torch bearer for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I also write for the Rat Creek Press here in Edmonton, and have written columns for the Pincher Creek Voice as well. I am a community volunteer and have participated in the Easter Seals Drop Zone here in Edmonton. I love to kayak and canoe. I also enjoy cycling throughout the summer.”
Wayne was sworn in as chief of the Brandon Police Service on Dec. 5 in Brandon, Man. Aside from his time at Lethbridge College and at the Canadian Police College, Wayne has spent his life in Brandon. He was hired by the Brandon Police Service in the fall of 1990, and during his career, he worked in patrol, community policing, vice/intelligence and the criminal investigations unit, and he held various roles within the support services sections. He is the 19th chief to have served in the organization’s 135-year history. Wayne is married and has two adult children, both living in Brandon.
Edward told the Alumni office: “I am happily married to my wife Roxy and have three grown children, Nick, Ally and Ciana. I am an employee of ConocoPhillips Canada working as a security, accommodations and transportation supervisor at a SAGD facility south of Fort McMurray. “
Annalise Van Ham
Annalise was appointed vice-president, finance and administration, at Mount Royal University on Jan. 1. She joined Mount Royal in 2003 as a business analyst and, in 2012, became the associate vice-president, financial services and risk management. For 13 years, she held financial and leadership roles with school boards, education councils and government in the Northwest Territories. She also worked at the Calgary Zoological Society and Shell Canada.