Wider Horizons

Alumni at work: When the students become the teachers

When it comes to lifelong learning, two of the college’s Exercise Science instructors are practising what they preach – under the guidance of their former students. Instructors Dawn Keith and Stacia Nelson have been attending CrossFit Framework in Lethbridge, where they’re coached by some Lethbridge College grads. It’s not the first time they’ve trained with former students at various gyms in the city, but it’s the latest example of their reverse mentoring experiences.

“It’s become a circle of learning,” says Dawn, who has taught and coached at the college since 1993. “We train with them or are coached by them, and they keep us connected to what’s happening in the industry. Then we bring that knowledge back to the classroom for the benefit of our students.”

The sentiment is shared by Stacia, who has taught at the college since 2006. She says she’s constantly learning new techniques and getting feedback from her former students, who are now her coaches. “I want to show my current students that we can continue to learn,” she says. “Our industry is changing all the time, so professional development and training with others is important.”

Hattie Kanyo (Exercise Science 2014) and Amanda Jeffrey (Exercise Science 2011) are both trainers at CrossFit Framework, and they say it’s been a rewarding experience coaching their former instructors. “As students, we learned so much from them, and now we can return the favour,” says Hattie. “Coming back and being able to teach them and become friends with them has been the coolest thing ever. I’ve had a lot of fun helping them out and watching them grow.”

“They really value my opinion and look up to me as a coach,” adds Amanda. “They put their trust in what I’ve learned from them, and I want to give them as much value as I can when they’re in my class.”

In addition to helping their former instructors and current clients achieve their personal fitness goals, the college’s Exercise Science graduates continue to work hard on goals of their own.

Hattie is a professional CrossFit Athlete who won the ELFIT Crossfit Championships, an international competition held in Cairo, Egypt, in November. She has also become an international CrossFit coach, which she says has strengthened her skills in new ways. “I get to coach people from all around the world, which is really cool,” Hattie says. “Sometimes people don’t speak English, so then I have to really show a lot of body language and show them how to move that way, so it’s definitely eye-opening, and I get to learn a lot more that way. It’s just a lot of fun, and I love it a lot.”

Amanda is a full-time nutrition coach and also enjoys helping others reach their goals. “I love it! I have like 60-plus clients and I really help change peoples’ lives,” she says. “Coaching has always been like a true calling for me.”

Those skills are being passed down to other generations in more ways than one. Another former student, Amy (Boyd) Detmers (Exercise Science 2013), coaches fitness classes for children in southern Alberta, and she has previously coached Stacia’s children. “Coaching kids really brings me a lot of joy,” Amy says. “Seeing their progress and how excited they get when they accomplish something big – it’s the best.”

Wider Horizons and the Alumni Relations team celebrate stories of Lethbridge College grads working together. If you’d like your business showcased in a future issue, email [email protected].


Engineering Technologies grads shine in competition

Three teams of Lethbridge College students were among the eight finalists for the Capstone Project of the Year Award from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) announced in October.

Tyce Daniells and Hannah Thompson (Civil Engineering Technology 2023) were recognized for their efforts to determine if the addition of glass fibre to hot mix asphalt would improve its performance.

Macallister Chambers, Kevin Janzen Orozco, Ian Ouellet and Pushapdeep Singh (Civil Engineering Technology 2023) were recognized for their paper on implementing chopped basalt fibres at various percentages within concrete beams and cylinders.

Nicolas Groenheide, Peter Harris, Julian Krizan and Willy Peters (Engineering Design Technology 2023) were recognized for their project, which asked the question: “Is a computer software program as effective as a wind tunnel when testing air flow around an object?”

People who have a talent for technology, think analytically and pay attention to detail can turn their interests – whether in information systems, reading and making maps, sketching buildings and bridges, or creating detailed plans – into rewarding careers. Learn more at lethbridgecollege.ca or by emailing [email protected].

From left to right: Tyce Daniells, Hannah Thompson, Macallister Chambers, Kevin Janzen Orozco, Ian Ouellet and Pushapdeep Singh. Bottom (from left): Nicolas Groenheide, Julian Krizan, Willy Peters and Peter Harris.


College alumni make up half of conservation officer academy

Lethbridge College alumni, from the Conservation Enforcement degree program and Natural Resource Compliance diploma program, accounted for half of the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy (WCLEA) graduating class in September. Upon completion of the 18-week WCLEA program, officers begin work with their respective agencies in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon, where they receive operational experience and additional on-the-job training.

“We cannot express how proud we are of these new officers as they embark on their dream careers to protect the public, our resources and environment,” said Nichole Fox, Environmental Sciences instructor.


Where are they now alumni updates

Kellita Day Chief
First-year Early Childhood Education student

Kellita was recognized by the City of Lethbridge and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee at its inaugural Reconciliation Awards evening in September. She received the Young Adult award for her leadership and taking initiative in role modelling values that support Reconciliation in her community. “I have always believed that volunteering in your own community from a young age teaches you many techniques, as well as experiences and opportunities,” she says. “Being Niitsitapi, I have a deep connection to my volunteer work. Volunteering to some may be considered to be free work with no paper reward, but there is a much more valuable and long-lasting reward. The reward is fulfilling your soul, while helping those in your community who are in need.”

Ocean Kveder
Bachelor of Ecosystem Management; Renewable Resource Management 2017

Ocean was featured in an article from the Nature Conservancy Canada in August about their work as the Conservation Volunteers program assistant for southern Alberta. Ocean, who worked as a conservation technician for NCC in 2019 and 2022, said in the article that their education prepared them well for their internship.

“Connecting with people is one of the ways that the long-term, healthy management of ecosystems can be brought to light – the more you learn about something like this, the more likely you are to want to take action to care for and protect it. When people are given opportunities to try out hands-on conservation measures, they tend to get deeply involved in it and grow a love of it,” Ocean said.

Tristen Brown
Civil Engineering Technology

Tristen was named one of 166 winners of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in September. The scholarships, only 55 of which are given in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), are valued at $50,000 a year for three years, and are awarded to graduate students in Canada who demonstrate leadership skills, research potential and academic excellence in their studies.

The scholarship will support Tristen as he completes his PhD program in Civil Engineering at Lakehead University, where he earned a master’s degree in 2022 and his bachelor’s degree in 2020. All of his education after leaving the college has focused on wind and structural engineering, and his current doctoral research is focused on innovative solutions to modular homes for Indigenous communities throughout Canada.

“This scholarship will help me push my research topic to many communities throughout Canada by implementing a strategic housing solution,” Tristen says. “This can be completed by travelling and communicating to many of the communities throughout Canada that are in need of a housing solution. The work can then be published in many significant publications and conferences to further distribute our research strategies.”

Brown, who grew up in Edson, Alta., says coming to the college helped prepare him for the work he is doing now. “Lethbridge College prepared me for many obstacles, such as scheduling my school, free time and social life,” says Brown. “It has prepared me for many educational hurdles, not only in schooling but in life as well. My time there taught me how to learn by completing hands-on training throughout my educational journey. And lastly, the college prepared me to get out of my comfort zone and interact with many people that I can consider friends.”

Tucker Pickerell
Cook Apprentice

Tucker was featured in an October article in the Taber Times celebrating his work for the Taber’s Table long-table event held over the summer. “I had an amazing time cooking for the Taber long-table experience,” he said in the article. “I have done a few other events in Lethbridge but nothing in Taber, so it was exciting to get to come back to my hometown and cook for a large crowd of familiar faces! It was wonderful to get to work side by side with some of southern Alberta’s best chefs and all the other members of the industry!” Tucker has worked at Hudsons Canada’s Pub in Lethbridge for nine years – the last two as head chef.

Kiana Van Ee
Business Administration

After graduating from the college, Kiana continued her education at the University of Lethbridge where she completed her Bachelor of Management degree. She says her time at Lethbridge College was “nothing short of amazing” as she gained valuable knowledge and hands-on skills in various business disciplines while making lifelong friends and connections. Kiana began her career in human resources and now serves on the college’s Business Administration Advisory Committee. She says the role allows her to contribute to the continuous improvement of the program, ensuring that future students receive the best education and opportunities for success.

Alexandra Carnio
Business Administration; Rising Star 2022

Alexandra got to take “the trip of a lifetime” when she, along with 46 fellow young entrepreneurs from across the country, was chosen to represent Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit in New Delhi, India. “I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 22 and have learned a lot during my adventures,” she says. “As a young entrepreneur and mom with three kids under five at home, [I bring] a unique perspective on ways we support entrepreneurs, especially moms.” Alexandra, a 2022 Honouring Excellence Rising Star Award Winner, is a marketing and communications strategist and co-founder of ProducKIDvity and The Playce App.

Matthew Bourret
Business Administration – Accounting

Matt works as the inventory manager at Varsteel in Lethbridge, where he has been a valued part of the team since 2014. He is also a dedicated husband and proud dad of two little ones. As a lifelong lover of sports, Matt says that when he’s not spending time with his family and friends, you’ll find him on the golf course or baseball diamond in the summer and the volleyball court in the winter.

Leighton Motz
Criminal Justice – Policing

Leighton, who is a constable with the Taber Police Service, won a gold medal at the World Police and Fire Games in Winnipeg this past summer. According to an article in the Taber Times, he competed in the “Toughest Competitor Alive” category, in the 30+ age, heavyweight category. “When I realized that I actually won my event, the seven months I spent training for it had finally paid off and was worth all the dedication, training injuries and time spent away from family,” he said in the article. “I am especially grateful for my family, friends and colleagues who supported me. This event was no joke and at the start of the day, I decided to leave everything on the table and give it my all. It paid off.” Canada finished first in the competition overall in medals with 594.

Ashley Day Chief
General Arts and Science

Ashley Day Chief was named Young Business Professional of the Year at the 2023 Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Business Awards in October. Ashley is the Chief Operating Officer of AdvancedAg Inc., which is a proud Canadian, First Nations and family-owned company with over 20 years of leading-edge biotech research. AdvancedAg’s team is passionate about environmental sustainability, and its proprietary edge enables the company to selectively grow, blend and stabilize individual strains of bacteria into biologically active products.

Jolane Houle
Fashion Design and Marketing

Jolane was featured in a September article in Avenue Calgary, which focused on her work with several Calgary theatre production companies. According to the article, Jolane is a freelance costume designer who works closely with Making Treaty 7, the Indigenous theatre company presenting the show as part of its residency at The Grand Theatre. She says she is Blackfoot from Kainai and picked up her sewing skills from her mother and grandmother – her first inspirations. Along with Making Treaty 7, she has worked with several theatre production companies, including New West Theatre in Lethbridge, Stage West Dinner Theatre and Alberta Theatre Projects, as well as numerous TV and film productions, including The Revenant, Lost in Space and Wind River: The Next Chapter. After graduating from Lethbridge College, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Lethbridge.

Christina Romeril
Business Administration

Christina, who was featured in a fall 2022 story in Wider Horizons, has published her latest cozy mystery, called A Nutcracker Nightmare. The book launch was held in November at Analog Books in Lethbridge and included an original interactive murder mystery she wrote for the event.

Paul Armbruster
General Studies student

Paul, who played volleyball for the Kodiaks in 1997-98, was named the head men’s volleyball coach at Providence College in Manitoba this summer. After leaving the college, he went on to play for Briercrest College and the University of Calgary Dinos, and then played professionally in Norway. In 2006, he returned to Canada to begin his coaching career, according to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, where he helped coach Team Alberta and Canada’s junior national team. He had previously served as head coach for the men’s volleyball teams at Ambrose University and Lakeland College.

Cardine Jones
Conditional Vocational Program/ Inclusive Post-Secondary Program

Cardine began his career as a groundskeeper at Lethbridge College 28 years ago. Since then, he has worked his way up to building maintenance lead. Cardine says he learns more and more each day, adding “I’ve learned from the legends who were in my shoes 20 years ago, and now I get to be the legend who teaches the next generation.”

Brad Onofrychuk
Business Administration

Brad was named Vice President - Academic at Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake, Alta. in August. According to a media release from the college, Brad has 16 years of post-secondary experience in Alberta and has served as a faculty member, program head, chair, and, for the last seven years, dean of Business, Foundational Learning and the School of Energy with Power Engineering and Sustainable Energy. “I am very excited to join the Northern Lakes College family and return to Slave Lake where I graduated high school and spent six years as a youth. I have fond memories of the many outdoor opportunities my family enjoyed while previously living here,” he says. “I am very pleased with the focus Northern Lakes College has on students and accessibility. I look forward to contributing to the success Dr. Glenn Mitchell and the team has experienced.”

Heidi Davis (Inniipoiakii/ Buffalo Talking Woman)
Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology

Heidi received the Community Leader award at the inaugural Reconciliation Awards evening, hosted by the City of Lethbridge and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee in September. An addiction and mental health outreach recreation therapist at Alberta Health Services, Heidi works closely with both the Kainai and Piikani Nations. “My life changed eight years ago when I began working with the elders,” she says. “This award is so special to me, since the connections with the Blackfoot community are essential in the work we do as an outreach team.” Heidi also works to promote Indigenous wellness through the arts to help her patients with their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Dawn Sugimoto
Communication Arts

Dawn travelled to New York City in September to be part of a five-person panel on Participatory Democracy to Govern Big Tech: The Canadian Experience. The panel (part of an All Tech is Human event called the Responsible Tech Summit: Shaping our Digital Future) was for an in-person, invitation-only audience at the Canadian Consulate. The incredible opportunity stemmed from Dawn’s involvement with the Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Expression – a Canadian Heritage-supported and Public Policy Forum-led initiative to study and address online harms. In 2021, she was part of a 42-person citizens’ assembly, selected from hundreds of applicants, to learn about the impact of digital technologies on democratic expression, legal options being explored in Canada and other countries, and how solutions might safeguard freedom of speech while protecting the public interest. The assembled group was demographically representative of Canada, including by age, gender, region and socioeconomic factors.

Rick Lewchuk
Communication Arts – Broadcast Journalism 1979; Distinguished Alumni 2019

Rick, who had most recently worked as senior vice president of Creative Marketing and Brand Standards at CNN Worldwide, spoke with Mark Henick at the Review of Journalism about branding the news. When asked for advice from Rick’s work at the enterprise level to individual journalists starting out who want to brand themselves, Rick said: “Be a good person. There are too many journalists out there who think by really pushing people hard that it makes them look tough. Empathy goes a long way. Some of the most beloved journalists I worked with at CNN… Anderson Cooper is a really nice guy. He empathizes with people when he talks to them. Wolf Blitzer is a really nice guy. He holds people accountable, but he’s not a jerk when he does it. Clarissa Ward is a really good journalist. But she’s empathetic when she does her journalism. You don’t need to get in people’s faces and you don’t need to be argumentative. That’s not helpful.” The full Q&A can be read at reviewofjournalism.ca/on-brand.

Bob Jacobson

Bob reached out to Wider Horizons this summer to update his address, and then when the team realized he was an early grad of the college, he provided a few updates on his life and career over the last five decades. After graduating from the college, Bob earned a degree in accounting from the University of Calgary and received his Chartered Accountant (CA) designation. He spent over 40 years in public practice in Lethbridge before retiring in 2012. Bob has given much of his time volunteering to both local and provincial organizations. He was a founding member of the Lethbridge Oldtimers Sports Association, a director of CMHA (Southern Region), Treasurer of 1975 Canada Winter Games as well as other community and sporting groups.

Since retiring he said: “My wife Sheila and I spent our summers at our cottage in Waterton. When our daughter Catherine lived in Memphis, we would travel there for two or three weeks every year, by plane, by train (Shelby-Chicago-Memphis) and by our van! About 10 years ago, Catherine and family moved to Scotland when her husband accepted a position at the University of Edinburgh. We now try to get there about once a year and stay about a month. We also have a son and daughter-in-law in Calgary and we have been fortunate to be able to visit them a lot and be part of their daughter Jessica’s growing up. We try to keep active by attending a senior’s balance and movement class at the YMCA and getting out and walking on the many paths in Lethbridge. We also work at socializing with various groups on a regular basis. I do try to keep in touch with colleagues from the accounting world as I met some wonderful people from all over Canada.”

Wider Horizons
Story by Tina Karst and Cathy Gibson-Epp | Photo by Sam Young
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