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Updated: 23 hours 27 min ago

Event honours excellence of alumni

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 00:21

The Alumni Awards of Excellence dinner, April 11 in the Alumni Auditorium, demonstrated the impact being made by UWindsor graduates in a number of fields of endeavour, says Kelly Gosselin.

Acting director of alumni affairs and donor communications, she touts the community engagement of the six 2024 honorees.

“I feel our alumni are our greatest achievement as a university,” Gosselin says. “The exceptional alumni award winners represent the talent, perseverance, and determination of the UWindsor community.”

She extends congratulations to the award recipients and thanks to the Alumni Association, staff members, and award nominators who made the ceremony a “fantastic” experience.

Alumni Award of Merit winner Jennifer Jones (BA 1991) served as president of Rotary International in 2022-23 and has chaired the University of Windsor board of governors, Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services, and the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Alumni Ambassador Award winner Beth Ann Prince (BA 1991) represents the Alumni Association on the UWindsor Board of Governors and has served as president of the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation, and on the boards of Transition to Betterness Comfort Care Tote Program and the Windsor Yacht Club.

Alumni Odyssey Award winners Franklin H. Ezenwa (BSc 2015) has authored three self-help books to assist other students achieve their goals while navigating life in Canada, Trevor Fairlie (BA 2015) co-founded the Canadian Association of LGBTQ2S+ Lawyers and serves on the board of Start Proud as chair and Orchestra Toronto as vice-chair, Domenica Mediati (BFA 2015) is lead creative and intellectual collaborator on educational outreach programming for the Incubator Art Lab, and Hakeem Subair (BComm 2016) founded 1 Million Teachers, dedicated to creating a world with enough high-quality teachers to ensure all children can access a proper education.

Learn more about the Alumni Awards of Excellence, awards categories, and recipients on the event website.

Kelly GosselinJennifer JonesBeth Ann PrinceFranklin EzenwaTrevor FairlieDomenica MediatiHakeem SubairUniversity of Windsor Alumni AssociationStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumni

Program perfect preparation for profession, says science grad

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 00:24

UWindsor alumna Maheen Arshad (BSc 2020) discovered joy by taking the lesser-known career path of genetic counselling.

“Genetic counselling is a really rewarding profession and I wish everyone could learn about it because I absolutely love what I do.”

After receiving her honours BSc in Behaviour, Cognition and Neuroscience (BCN) through the Department of Integrative Biology, Arshad went on to complete a two-year master’s degree in genetic counselling at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Genetic counsellors are health-care professionals with specialized training in medical genetics and counselling. They work directly with patients and families at risk of genetic conditions. Arshad currently works in the fields of cancer, prenatal, and preconception genetics at Henry Ford Health in Detroit.

“It has the complexity I wanted in a career with a good balance of providing scientific information along with psychosocial counselling to support patients and families — it is the best of both worlds,” she says.

“There’s a lot that is not known so when we do have the answers, we can help patients be proactive and navigate challenges. Whether it is finding out they have an increased lifetime risk of cancer or whether is it a high-risk pregnancy, as a genetic counsellor I can serve as a central resource for my patients at difficult stages in their life.”

Arshad reports feeling prepared for graduate school thanks to the classes and knowledge she gained from undergraduate experience.

“Because of Science at UWindsor and the BCN program I transitioned well into grad school and adapted to the greater courseload along with the clinical rotations," she says.

“BCN was also the perfect program to prepare me for genetic counselling as it was a mix of biological sciences and social sciences, which transitioned well into learning complex medical genetics and psychosocial counselling.”

It was at the University of Windsor that Arshad learned about genetic counselling. She says Windsor is geographically well-positioned to give students the option to go across the border for shadowing, work, and volunteer opportunities.

A self-described shy high schooler, Arshad stepped out of her comfort zone as an undergraduate and quickly landed a student research position in biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter’s lab investigating the role of a cell cycle protein in the formation of brain tumours.

“It was really cool to get started in research in my first year,” she says.

“What I was learning in the classroom about the cell cycle, I was able to apply that in the lab doing research simultaneously, which helped consolidate the knowledge and provide greater context from what I was learning.”

Arshad also engaged with the BCN student organization by serving as vice-president of finance and co-ordinating its annual fundraising gala. She also attributes her success to being involved in Student Success and Leadership Centre’s LEAD program where she learned leadership skills, professionalism, and communication skills, and developed a sense of university community.

“I really optimized my time in undergrad and I’m so glad I did, because looking back it was so much fun to have all those experiences.”

Maheen ArshadStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesPsychologyScience

Drama staffer goes from backstage to centre stage

Wed, 04/03/2024 - 00:55

Kristen Siapas (BFA 2005), marketing and public relations co-ordinator for University Players, has been working with community theatre groups as a promoter, stage manager, and producer for almost 20 years since graduating from the School of Dramatic Art, but confesses that she still holds a deep love for performing.

She is getting her turn in the spotlight this month, playing the title character in the Korda Artistic Productions musical farce The Drowsy Chaperone.

The show grew out of the Toronto Fringe Festival and went on to earn 13 Tony nominations and five awards during a Broadway run of 674 performances — and is one of Siapas’ favourites.

“It’s heart-warming, it’s light, it’s funny, and it features larger-than-life characters that are fun to play and fun to watch,” she says. “It’s everything that is campy and fun about musical theatre.”

She is also pleased to be reuniting with others who have graduated from the UWindsor School of Dramatic Art, including fellow cast members Melissa McLeod (BA 2003, B.Ed 2004), Eric Miinch (BFA 2008), and Georgie Savoie (BFA 2023), as well as newcomer Gianluca Ieraci, who will begin his university acting studies in September.

“It’s so nice to be able to go out into the world and work with people who have that shared experience,” Siapas says.

The show will go on April 5-7, 11-13, and 18-20 at the Kordazone Theatre, 2520 Seminole St. Find tickets and more information on the company website.

Kristen SiapasMelissa McLeodEric MiinchGeorgie SavoieGianluca IeraciStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesDrama

Mother-daughter musical to enjoy exclusive screening

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 00:44

UWindsor alumna Melissa D’Agostino (BFA 2003) will be on hand for a screening of her musical film Mother of All Shows, Wednesday, April 3, in the Performance Hall, School of Creative Arts Armouries.

D’Agostino co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in the mother-daughter “traumedy” with Wendie Malick, whose television and screen roles included Nina Van Horn in the sitcom Just Shoot Me, which garnered her two Emmy nominations.

The April 3 screening is presented in conjunction with the University of Windsor Alumni Association exclusively for University Players members and guests, along with students of drama and communications, media, and film.

The evening will commence with a reception at 6 p.m.; the screening will begin at 7 p.m. Following the film, D’Agostino will engage in a question-and-answer session, providing a unique opportunity for students and attendees to gain insights into the creative process and engage in dialogue about building a career in film.

To attend this exclusive event, contact the University Players box office at uplayers@uwindsor.ca. Find more information, including a trailer, on the film website.

Melissa D’AgostinoUniversity of Windsor Alumni AssociationStrategic Priority: Research and Creative ActivityAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesDrama

Alumna building fitness empire one Instagram follower at a time

Fri, 03/08/2024 - 00:04

Paige Johnston learned long ago that perfection is an illusion.

It’s a message the UWindsor alumna shares with her more than 142,000 Instagram followers and with clients from around the world who come to her for online fitness training.

Johnston (BHK 2018, MHK 2020) is the founder of Push Collective, a personal fitness business she runs from her Windsor home. She is also a brand ambassador for Gym Shark — the holy grail for influencers in the fitness space — and for Reign Energy drinks and Beam supplements. She creates content for these brands from the gyms where she works out and other locales on both sides of the Detroit River.

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” said Johnston, who completed her Master’s in the Faculty of Human Kinetics’ kinesiology- movement science program intent on becoming a teacher. After graduation, she taught in the sports and recreation management program at Lambton College while continuing to post her workouts on social media.

It didn’t take long for the trajectory of her career to take an unexpected and wonderful turn.

Her first Instagram account, @paigejohnston­_fit, garnered 100,000 followers in the first year. The brand deals quickly followed.

Johnston spun her personal training business into a second account, pushcollective. People from around the world started contacting her for one-on-one and group sessions online. Her clientele, mostly women, started buying her services from as far away as Bali and Peru.

“I always wonder, how did you find me?”

The answer: through the power of social media.

Johnston does more than design workouts for her clients. She offers lifestyle advice. She talks about nutrition but frames the discussion in a way that does not categorize foods as “good or bad.”

“It’s about choosing moderation, and long-term results,” she said. “It’s about living a healthy lifestyle. I never say this is the only way to live — to never go out for dinner, to never have dessert, to never travel…. You have to look at everything — mind, body, and soul.”

She says she applies what she learned from her kinesiology professors to her everyday work. And she practises what she preaches.

Back in 2018, she made a conscious effort to start living a healthier lifestyle. She started working out regularly and paying more attention to her nutrition and other daily habits. She lost 50 pounds over the course of a year and felt better.

On her Instagram account, you’ll find photos of her from her pre-workout days juxtaposed with photos of herself now. Hashtags such as #confidence and #sustainableweightloss suggest these are not your usual before-and-after shots.

She features her husband James Caron (BHK 2018, MHK 2020) in many of her posts. He’s a fitness buff, too. She jokes that her dachshund, Puck, is the only couch potato in her household.

When they are not in the gym or being social media darlings, the couple loves to travel.

“I love experiencing new cultures, new energies, and new places,” Johnston said. She was in St. Lucia in December and plans to travel to Africa to do volunteer work later this year.

Push Collective has grown so much, Johnston is looking to hire additional coaches. In the coming year she wants to find coaches who specialize in hormonal health and muscle building.

She thinks back to her initial career plans with astonishment at what she is now.

“I was always searching for that impact piece,” she said. “I guess I’ve found it.”

Paige JohnstonJames CaronAlumniAcademic Area: Human Kinetics

Rhodes finalist grateful for encouragement

Tue, 02/27/2024 - 00:42

Being a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship was a great honour, says UWindsor alumna Aliyah King (BA 2022).

Now studying medicine at the University of Ottawa, she applied for the award, which brings together candidates from around the world to the University of Oxford, and was interviewed as a finalist to represent Canada.

“I felt and continue to feel immense gratitude for all of the people and experiences that have contributed to my story,” King says.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the University of Windsor, my mentors, my family, and my friends for believing in me, encouraging me to explore the world’s possibilities, and being a consistent part of my development.”

One of those mentors was Simon du Toit, who recalls King as a very talented student.

“She was a standout and made a great contribution while a student here in Windsor,” he says.

Tim Brunet, co-ordinator of the Outstanding Scholars program, notes that it has consistently produced high-achieving graduates. He has offered King as an example for current students to emulate: “We are delighted to see an Outstanding Scholar alum be recognized at the national level for their accomplishments.”

For her part, King encourages other students to have the confidence necessary to pursue their dreams.

“Don’t allow the first ‘no’ you hear to come from yourself,” she says. “Listen to the ideas in your mind that spark conviction in your heart to make a beneficial change in the world — and go after them.”

Aliyah KingOutstanding ScholarsSimon du ToitTim BrunetStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Nursing alumna pays it forward as health-care inequities expert

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 00:03

During Black History Month, the Faculty of Nursing is featuring pioneers and difference-makers in the profession, past and present. A series published on its website shares their stories of determination, resilience, and humanity.

A famous author and minister once said, "Change your thoughts and you change your world."

That mindset resonates with UWindsor nursing alumna Bukola Salami (BScN 2004). Dr. Salami recalls events that led her to a different and rewarding career path in health sciences.

While still at high school in Toronto in 1998, she remembers job shadowing a nurse during a Black youth mentorship program, an experience that would prove pivotal in her life’s work.

With aspirations of attending medical school, Salami applied for neuroscience and received offers from universities.

“But I kept thinking about that mentorship,” she says. “It was instrumental in my decision to move from neuroscience to nursing and that’s when I enrolled at UWindsor.”

Salami credits her professors and student support services for empowering her to excel academically. While living in residence, she met colleagues who shared similar challenges adjusting to university life; Salami learned to appreciate the value of compassion and how reciprocating help allows a person to experience fulfilment and growth as a human being.

“It paved the way for me, and I had always thought that after I was done, I would help others by paving the way for someone else.”

Today, most of her nursing practice, research, and advocacy, focusses on improving health-care access and delivery for Black, migrant, and underserved peoples, especially among the younger population.

Salami’s notable accomplishments include:

  • assisting in the creation of western Canada’s first mental health clinic for Black Canadian youths
  • providing expert testimonial to the House of Commons standing committee involving child health in Canada
  • establishing a Black Youth Mentorship and Leadership program
  • founding the African Child and Youth Migration Research (global) Network

Salami has also held several national advisory board positions and has been inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame as one of the youngest racialized representatives to receive this top international honour. She was also appointed Fellow of the Canadian Academy and American Academy of Nursing.

Bukola SalamiStrategic Priority: Equity and InclusionAlumniAcademic Area: Nursing