Wider Horizons

It’s hard to predict how your education will shape your life, but for Kevin and Amelia (Melo) Keech, studies at Lethbridge College spawned a family devoted to community service. With two police officers, two registered nurses and a recreation therapist working with some of the province’s most vulnerable, it’s a family of caregivers and first responders. And it all started when a Law Enforcement student met a Recreational Therapy grad at the college Residence Life office more than 30 years ago.

“It’s really neat how life evolves and comes full circle,” says Kevin. “It’s rewarding to see our daughters in service professions and, in all humility, it’s awesome that we were able to point them in that direction.”

Kevin recently retired as a sergeant with the Camrose Police Service, working as a patrol officer and specializing in forensics over his 25-year career, while his wife Amelia, a 1987 grad, is part of an interdisciplinary team at The Bethany Group’s Rosehaven program in Camrose.

Kayla, 24, the youngest of their three daughters, received her Bachelor of Nursing (through the joint Lethbridge College/University of Lethbridge Nursing Education in Southwestern Alberta program) in 2018, and today the RN splits her time between the Chinook Regional Hospital and the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. Her sister Megan, 28, is a police officer with the Calgary Police Service, while Letisha, 26, is a registered nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose.

Kevin grew up in Camrose and says he chose to attend the college after learning that many in the city’s local police force had trained there. With a strong focus on fitness (then led by coach Bertil Johansson), the course prepared students for the physicality of police work.

“A lot of the instructors were former police officers – it was a boots-on-the-ground kind of program,” he says. “One thing that stood apart was the athleticism – they wanted to teach us what it would be like, and match the expectations of the police services. I thoroughly enjoyed all of those coulee runs.”

Athletics drew Amelia from her home in Pincher Creek to the college, too, playing for the Kodiaks women’s basketball team from 1984 to 1986, while preparing for a lifelong career in recreational therapy. She says her own parents inspired her to choose a service profession. “My parents would never hesitate to help anybody,” she says. “They were always helping, instilling that care for others in all of us.”

Playing college basketball “was a great outlet for me,” Amelia adds, with exceptional coaches like John Jasiukiewicz. In school, practicum placements with local therapists in longterm care helped shape her career.

A generation later, Kayla headed to Lethbridge College to study nursing and play for the Kodiaks women’s soccer team. “You have to be disciplined if you are a student athlete,” says Kayla, adding four years at Lethbridge College taught her the importance of maintaining a good work-school-life balance. With her parents and sisters in police work and health care, Kayla says she’s been inspired to split her nursing practice between pediatrics and correctional health. The impact of having parents in public service influenced all of the Keech children, she says.

“My mom gave us an example of using our time and talents to better people’s lives and to help others,” says Kayla. “She is a passionate advocate for those without a voice and her selfless, giving nature extends well past her career.”

Are you a multi-generational Lethbridge College family? If at least three members across one or more generations attended Lethbridge College, let us know by emailing WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca. We’d love to profile you.

Wider Horizons
Story by Cinda Chavich /Photo submitted
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