We love hearing from Lethbridge College alumni! You can find additional updates online at widerhorizons.ca. To submit your news to share with your classmates and the college community, drop us a note at WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca.
Fashion Design and Sustainable Production
After graduating last spring, Samantha has been living in Lethbridge and working as a caregiver in Coaldale while she builds her fashion portfolio part-time with an eye on moving to a big city to pursue work in her field.
Ivan Djomegni Kouamou
Recent grad Ivan sent us this update: “A week after receiving my diploma in May 2019, I was fortunate to be offered a fulltime position as systems consultant at Long View Systems head office in Calgary. Since then, I have been working with this amazing company and learning a lot every day. What I have learned at Lethbridge College is giving me all the knowledge required to successfully fulfill my duties. After five months at this position, I was found by a recruiter at Google, who saw my resume on LinkedIn and invited me to apply for an opening at Google Waterloo. After making it through all four phases of the interview process, I was unfortunately not offered the position, but it was definitely a great experience to be invited to apply and make it to the last phase of the interview. I was SO CLOSE to being a Googler from Lethbridge College. I'm looking forward to applying again, but for now, I'm happy to continue to work with Long View Systems and develop my skills.”
Fresh off his stint as the 2019 Troy Reeb Intern, which took him from newsrooms in Toronto to Parliament Hill, Skylar was hired at Winnipeg news talk radio station 680 CJOB as a news anchor directly following graduation. He says he is thrilled to be so involved in the local news and really loves the city of Winnipeg.
Two months after graduation, Ryan was hired to work for Corrections Service Canada in Edmonton. He started his second stage of training in January and attended training at the CSC National Training Academy in Kingston, Ont. in February.
Daniel tells Wider Horizons, “I am currently working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a constable and living in Porcupine Plain, Sask. I’m currently studying for my Bachelor of Justice online, as well as working full time.”
Jessica Giles is the new youth leadership coordinator at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Jessica manages the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program and is also an alumnus of that program. She previously worked as an ag reporter with Golden West Radio.
Compassion, care and support for the people he met in his day-to-day duties are the attributes Curtis Sheck focused on every time he went to work – first as a health care aide, and then, after going back to school at the age of 29 and with a young family at home, in a career in justice. Returning to school as a mature student was intimidating, but he says the college community, his instructors and his classmates – even those who were younger than he was – helped him feel supported. After graduation, with two young children settled in their schools, Curtis and his wife didn’t want to leave Lethbridge. He chose to bide his time and wait for something that allowed him to stay in the city. That’s when he saw a posting for a Judicial Clerk position at the Lethbridge Courthouse. Curtis, who was one of five alumni featured in Lethbridge Herald articles celebrating 50 years of policing education at the college, says his Lethbridge College training provided him the tools he needed to succeed in a career he had never anticipated. “It would allow me to remain in the justice system, work one-on-one with a variety of police agencies and law firms, and best of all, have weekends off,” he says with a laugh.
In 2019, Patrick participated in a staff exchange through his employer, Calgary consulting and engineering firm Tetra Tech, that saw him trade places with a colleague from Australia for seven months. Patrick worked with Brisbanebased Tetra Tech-subsidiary Eco Logical Australia on various projects including walking through Toohey Forest to assess significant trees and spending three weeks on the Saraji mine in Bowen Basin. Patrick found the plant and animal species in Australia unlike anything he had ever seen before, proving challenging to identify and requiring him to continually seek assistance from his co-workers. Patrick also was astonished by his colleagues who thrive working in the heat. Patrick explains that he was the “sweatiest I have been in all my life." Beyond the secondment, Patrick is looking to further his career by continuing his employment with Tetra Tech and obtaining a bachelor’s degree and a professional agrologist certification. He intends to maintain the strong relationships he has built with the Brisbane ecology team and hopes to return to Australia one day.
Broek now works alongside his dad and brother managing JF Murray Farms Ltd., and he hopes to one day run the family farm full-time. He also works as a supervisor at Picture Butte Feeder Co-op.
Emily Ritchie Lowe
Emily is now the regional beef agrologist for Ducks Unlimited Canada. In September 2019, she married Virgil Lowe.
Jessica was named the recipient of the University of Lethbridge’s 2018 Michael Chan Prize in Asian Studies worth $1,000 for her writing on Buddhist ecology. Jessica started her studies at Lethbridge College, which helped inspire her to major in religious studies and minor in Asian studies and anthropology. “When I was at Lethbridge College, I took Introduction to World Religions and Buddhism,” she says. “When I was writing my papers and going to class, it came so naturally. Originally, I wanted to be a vet and now I want to teach religious studies.”
Melissa was one of six Canadian journalists selected to take part in the Independent News Challenge, a nine-week program launched by digital media organization The Discourse to help the next generation of entrepreneur journalists grow independent projects. The former Lethbridge Herald reporter and Lethbridge Living managing editor says she wants to diversify the news coverage available in southern Alberta and offer a different perspective on the news. As part of the Independent News Challenge, Melissa will be able to access training, technology and other resources through The Discourse, including micro-grants to build an editorial strategy, identify and grow an audience, and attract more funding.
Kasey reached out to share this update with Wider Horizons: “I have been a Correctional Officer in the province of Saskatchewan since 2014. I actually had to miss convocation because I was training for my new career. I currently work with seven other Lethbridge College alumni. It is a bond that we share and can reminisce about. We all have great memories from the course, the classes, the friends and the fun. I want to thank the CJ program and the professors that I had the pleasure of learning under for my career in Corrections.”
Angela was named one of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 under Forty, which recognizes individuals in business, entrepreneurship, arts, athletics or community building. A trained fabricator, welder and accomplished metal artist, Angela is the owner and sole operator of Dryland Custom Fabrication. Raised on a farm in central Alberta, Angela has been welding for almost as long as she can recall. She attended Lethbridge College to become a trained welder, and she later returned to earn a diploma in General Studies with a major in Sociology. She went on to earn a dual Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Lethbridge. After earning her BASc, Angela began working on her masters. Angela turned down the opportunity to work toward a PhD so she could stay in Lethbridge and open Dryland Custom Fabrication. Angela volunteers her time and resources to help those who are temporarily left without the means to provide for themselves. She has donated several pieces to local auctions, and she supports the woman’s shelter as well as the food bank. She also offers repair services free of charge to at-risk individuals.
Agricultural Technology – Plant and Soil Science
Erek and his family (father Dave, mother Mary and brother Clinton) received a 2019 Calgary Stampede BMO Farm Family Award for their farming operation in Barons. Erek, a marketing representative for Richardson Agriculture in Vulcan, helps operate the farm where the family grows barley, wheat, canola, rye, pulses and forages.
Wildlife officer saves lives of tangled deer with unbelievable shot
For most people, getting a moment of viral video fame is a either a blessing or a curse. For Scott Kallweit (Conservation Enforcement 2008), it was just another day in an interesting career protecting Alberta’s great outdoors and the creatures that call it home. The Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer’s moment came in early February when he was dispatched to the M.D. of Foothills, south of Calgary, after property owner Russ Wright spotted two deer entangled by their antlers in his field. In a video filmed by Wright, Scott waits patiently with his shotgun trained on the unfortunate ungulates as they struggle to free themselves. When the exhausted deer finally pause for a moment, Scott fires a single shot to break the deadlock and send the unharmed animals bounding to freedom across the snowy field. Scott’s marksmanship gathered attention from media and made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook.
"The shot was definitely dynamic but it is simply a matter of waiting for a good opportunity when both deer are still, and a safe shot can be made," he says. "This is not the first time this has been done, and officers have successfully freed deer using this method before. Every situation is different. In some cases, it may be safer to free the animals by cutting the antlers with a saw, but officers would have to get very close to the agitated animal. In this case, this was not an option. If the deer were unable to separate from one another, there was a risk one or both animals die from exhaustion or other injuries." To see the video and impressive shot that freed the deer, go to learn.lc/antlers.
Steve’s custom, handmade watch company, NOVO watches (as seen in the Spring 2018 issue of Wider Horizons), continues to grow. “If you would have told me last year that we'd be customizing watches for MLB players, NFL players, PGA golfers and amazing families all over the world, I would never have believed you,” Steve says.
After graduation, Kurtis worked as a drafter for seven years with QinetiQ Target Systems Canada, a world-leading provider of unmanned air, land and surface vehicles based in Medicine Hat. He went on to receive his professional licensee designation from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta and has since been working as a production engineer. His main role is to maintain and improve the existing unmanned vehicles. He has also taken on various project engineering roles including working in Linköping, Sweden. When he’s at home, Kurtis volunteers with the 670 collective mountain bike club in Medicine Hat, an organization that is committed to building and maintaining sustainable mountain bike trails in the region.
Cody shared this update with Alumni Office: “I am the owner of a photography media development company. Since getting back to being a photographer full time, I have become a sought after real estate photographer in the southern Alberta area, creating high-end photos for homes being sold, 3D virtual tours, and floor plans. I also help some businesses reach wider audiences and expand business with media creation and marketing.”
Maria Munson, who was one of five alumni featured in Lethbridge Herald articles celebrating 50 years of policing education at the college, says discussions with her high school’s resource officer led her to pursue a career in policing. She came to the college straight out of high school and thrived in the program, backed by a supportive faculty who left a lasting impression on her. She joined Lethbridge Police Service as a full-time police officer at 21 years old, when she was the only female in her recruitment class and was by far the youngest person. She says working for LPS gave her a strong foundation in a busy environment and allowed her to respond to a variety of calls. After two years with LPS, Maria decided to apply to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) to be closer to her family. It meant learning a whole new skill set, as EPS had more members and more specialized departments. But that also meant more opportunities. She says a highlight of her career is working in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit, doing forensics investigations. She took to the investigative side of policing naturally and began to specialize in forensics work. She became an expert in fingerprint identification and was promoted to the rank of detective/ sergeant in 2019. Now an experienced officer, Munson has a chance to be a role model to a new generation, just as her high school resource officer was to her as a young student.
Jamie Kincheloe Puchinger
After finishing her diploma, Jamie transferred to the University of Lethbridge to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science. After graduation, she got straight to work, creating a company and consulting for Newpark Environmental Services before accepting a position with St. Mary's Irrigation District and the Partners in Habitat Development Program. In 2010, she founded Farming Smarter, a non-profit registered Canadian charity that focuses on projects to improve the resilience of crop production in southern Alberta. Currently, Jamie is the assistant manager and has a number of roles and responsibilities including executing the education/outreach and stewardship programs.
Janine was profiled in an article in farming quarterly GrainsWest on people who grew up on farms coming back to agriculture after working in other industries. After growing up on a farm, Janine studied plant and soil health at Lethbridge College and later received her Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture with a major in biology from the University of Lethbridge. After graduation, she spent time in Australia working on canola seed production for Bayer CropScience before coming back to Canada and spending 10 years with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Now Janine and her husband, Ian, farm with her husband’s parents on a mixed operation in the County of Thorhild. Janine and Ian manage the grains side of the operation while his parents, Darlene and Don, oversee the livestock. Janine also serves as an Alberta Wheat Commission director-at-large and is a parent to twoyoung daughters.
General Studies student
Former Kodiaks runner Kip Kangogo placed first in the master category and third overall in the Victoria Marathon in October 2019. He also set a new master course record with his time of 2:21:49.
Grads step up to work as city’s first Community Peace Officers
Last fall, nine Lethbridge College grads hit the streets as Lethbridge Police Service’s first Community Peace Officers (CPOs).
The officers, all graduates of the college’s Police Cadet Training certificate program in 2019, include Raelene Austin (Criminal Justice – Policing 2018), James Belisle, Gerrilee Boon (Criminal Justice – Policing 2018), Justin Brizinello (Criminal Justice – Policing 2014), Brendan Davis (Criminal Justice – Policing 2013), Jeff Hilliard, Brad Kopan, Dayton Pagliericci and Austin Weersink. The newly minted peace officers started solo patrols in November after completing 22 weeks of in-house training and 16 weeks of field training on the street, paired with an experienced police officer.
CPOs are sworn peace officers with specific, but limited, authority to enforce City of Lethbridge bylaws, provincial statutes and some provisions of the Criminal Code. CPOs are trained to respond to less serious calls such as shoplifting, panhandling, loitering, trespassing, public intoxication, noise complaints, traffic offences and collisions. Their work frees up time for regular officers to dedicate to more serious or complex cases.
The LPS will be recruiting for additional CPOs this year, with the goal of fielding 15 officers in 2020.
It’s not the type of call a Lethbridge police officer is used to taking – but it goes to show the unpredictability of policing. A Guatemalan man suspected of war crimes was believed to be in southern Alberta, and international police services needed local help to find him and bring him in. Lethbridge College grad Jason Walper, a member of Lethbridge Police Services’ Integrated Intelligence Unit, rose to the challenge. Working alongside the RCMP, Jason and his unit spent three months on the investigation and used covert surveillance to locate the man. The suspect was deported and Jason had a career case that had allowed him to both use his training and expand his skillset. Becoming an officer was a lifelong dream for Jason, who grew up in Dawson Creek, B.C. The policing world he entered after graduation is much different than the one he occupies now. At that time, reports were mostly handwritten and tasks as simple as making a phone call or checking a database required returning to the station. Now, patrol vehicles are equipped with high-tech computers and everyone has a cell phone. While the technology has changed, the heart of the job has not. “We’re often called upon to assist people who are in crisis and need someone to talk with, to provide insight into a problem or to simply answer questions,” says Jason, who was one of five alumni featured in Lethbridge Herald articles celebrating 50 years of policing education at the college.
Harvey has enjoyed a 25-year career in law enforcement. Currently, he is director of enforcement for the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan, securities division, where he investigates financial crime occurring in Saskatchewan's capital markets.
Lori sent us her recollections from her time at Lethbridge College. “I was quite intimidated when I began my education journey as a First Nations student at what was then the Lethbridge Community College. I was fortunate to meet Joyce Deandra from the Nursing faculty, and she was very supportive and provided encouragement. Years later, I became part of the NESA program advisory committee as a Blood Tribe Department of Health nursing representative, which allowed me to participate in the program curriculum, practicum placement and student nursing mentorship.”
Municipal Recreation Management and Recreation Facility Management
Doug let us know what he has been up to since his Lethbridge College days. “After graduating, I took a job as economic development officer in Saskatchewan for a rural development company. In 1998, as part of my position, we created an agricultural business to grow seed potatoes under irrigation in the Lake Diefenbaker area of Saskatchewan and marketed them into the U.S. and Mexico. In 2003, I returned to a company I worked with in 1979, Park Derochie Inc. based out of Edmonton, working predominantly in the oil and gas sector. The role I had was business development and project management. In 2010, Park Derochie expanded into Saskatoon and I became a part owner and general manager. In 2015, I took the position of president, and we have now expanded into Regina and Manitoba. Our company has locations in Surrey, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Sarnia, and in the U.S. in Houston, Tex., and Cushing, Okla.”
Law Enforcement student
Lorne Blumhagen’s title is Chief of Police – a lofty recognition one achieves by always looking for the next challenge or opportunity. That’s been a constant theme throughout more than 30 years in policing. Lorne, who was one of five alumni featured in Lethbridge Herald articles celebrating 50 years of policing education at the college, began his career as an RCMP auxiliary constable before he switched course and completed recruit training with the Edmonton Police Service. He joined his hometown Camrose Police Service in 1992, eventually being promoted to sergeant in 2005. Following more than 20 years in Camrose, Lorne embraced a new challenge in 2014, joining the Lacombe Police Service. In 2016, he was named acting chief, before assuming the full-time position as Chief of Police in 2017. He remains actively involved in a variety of provincial initiatives, and he takes a special pride in his role as part of the Mental Health Police Advisory Committee. After more than 30 years in policing, Lorne says it’s the people he’s met along the way who leave the strongest impression. He remains close with colleagues from the RCMP, Camrose Police and Edmonton Police Services, and fondly remembers his beginnings in Lethbridge.
Ron Valin, who had a decorated 25-year career with the Lethbridge Police Service, was one of five alumni featured in Lethbridge Herald articles celebrating 50 years of policing education at the college. In the article, Ron said instructors such as Ken Riley and Bob Harrison made a lasting impression on him, and that he admired how they both had entered the education field following successful careers in law enforcement and had high expectations for their students. One of his career highlights was working a case that led to the first successful rape conviction using DNA evidence in Western Canada. Ron served with LPS until his retirement in 2000. After 25 years of dedicated service, he retired with the rank of sergeant and head of the Criminal Intelligence Division. “Law enforcement and the overall work of stopping the progress of the criminal element, was a considerable responsibility,” Ron said. “However, the reward was knowing that I played a role, for a very long time, in ensuring the safety of our community and its residents.”