Alumni News

School celebrates success in social work

Fri, 07/19/2024 - 00:45

At a Convocation social June 4 in Windsor Hall, the School of Social Work honoured outstanding alumni, field instructors, graduate assistants, and student representatives with its inaugural awards.

Recipients included:

Wanda Thomas Bernard, Inspirational Leader Award
Dr. Thomas Bernard has been a strong advocate in combating racism and has led numerous School of Social Work events with faculty, students, community members, and staff. In addition to receiving the Inspirational Leader Award, Thomas Bernard received an honorary degree from the University of Windsor at Convocation.

Anica Butters, Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award
Butters was recognized for her demonstrated dedication to understanding the course content and motivation to engaging students in learning.

Alexandra Dermansky, Outstanding Field Instructor
Dermansky just completed her first year as a field instructor. Her nominators mentioned that she set “realistic, achievable, yet challenging goals;” helped students “improve and expand their skills;” and provided a “unique, enriching placement experience.”

Shelley Gilbert and Anya Gross, Distinguished Alumni Awards
Gilbert has worked at Legal Assistance of Windsor since 1993. She was the co-ordinator of social work services at Legal Assistance of Windsor for many years before her current role as interim executive director of the agency. She is a seasoned field instructor to many students and a frequent guest speaker on various topics at the School of Social Work.

Gilbert is a founder and co-chair of the Windsor-Essex Counter Exploitation Network. She also co-founded the Windsor Essex Sex Worker Action Group, is the co-chair and long-standing member of the Canadian Council for Refugees Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, and co-chairs the Windsor-Essex Violence Against Women Co-ordinating Committee.

The MSW for Working Professionals field team nominated Gross because of her outstanding commitment to student support. Since graduating, she has supervised more than 15 students and continues to offer additional placement opportunities each semester. She provides MSW students with learning experiences that are challenging, innovative, and responsive to community needs.

Cynthia Kandi, Outstanding Field Instructor Award
Kandi is a seasoned social worker who currently works with Hamilton Health Sciences in its Special Immunology Services Clinic. The clinic provides outpatient care for children and adults who are HIV-positive. Before joining Hamilton Health Sciences, she worked in the violence against women sector as a counsellor and transitional support worker.

Under secondment from Good Shepherd Women’s Services, she worked with in the Domestic Violence Response Team of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society in Hamilton. In addition to this, Kandi had the opportunity to work with Wesley Urban Ministries as a street outreach worker and Native Women’s Centre as a relief crisis intervention worker.

Find more information in the School of Social Work newsletter.

Wanda Thomas BernardAnica ButtersAlexandra DermanskyCynthia KandiShelley GilbertAnya GrossStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesSocial WorkLaw

Access to equipment advances chemistry career aspirations

Wed, 07/17/2024 - 00:19

When Lara Watanabe (PhD 2022) was an undergraduate at a small Canadian university, she dreamed of getting access to high quality equipment like X-ray diffractometers for crystallography. Pursuing her doctoral degree in the UWindsor Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry not only turned that dream into reality but quickly led to a fulfilling role in a highly specialized field.

In May of 2024, Dr. Watanabe started her position as crystallographer and teaching lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Guelph.

“It is Because of Science at UWindsor that I’m prepared for this role,” she says.

“Without being at Windsor and without having that exposure to using the X-ray crystallography instrument, I wouldn’t know half of what I need to know for this role. It was super instrumental in what they were able to provide.”

The inorganic chemist says it all started when she began her degree in the Faculty of Science. Along with her co-supervisors Jeremy Rawson and Chuck Macdonald she used materials chemistry to explore applications for specific compounds.

“It was great to be given the freedom to explore what I wanted,” she says.

“Depending on the molecule, they could be used as sensors, for lubricants, or non-linear optic molecules, which are good for solar cells. There were a variety of different applications because I looked at a variety of different molecules.”

Early in her time at the University of Windsor, she asked both supervisors for training on the single crystal X-Ray diffractometer.

“They were very supportive and sent me to a workshop as part of a major chemistry conference,” she said.

“They provided hands-on-training to collect the data and showed me how to process the data through from solving and refining of crystals and that support was invaluable.”

She says the faculty’s former technician, Joe Lichaa, also helped her learn the maintenance aspects of caring for the instrument, aspects that students normally do not get to learn. The instrument takes a focused beam of X-rays and shoots it at a single crystal or powder sample. It produces a piece of data where you can get the connectivity of atoms based on the electron density in the molecule.

“It is one of the most powerful tools to a chemist when making new molecules in synthesis because it tells you definitively the connectivity of the atoms of the molecule you’re actually making — it tells you what it looks like,” says Watanabe.

“For example, it is used by the pharmaceutical industry to test their products because drugs can have specific forms of the active ingredient and this instrument will definitively tell you what form you have.”

While completing her degree, Watanabe was involved in the Women in Chemistry group. She helped organize the annual chemistry conference ChemiConn and led WinChem, a group that conducts tours and hands on experiments for visiting high school students to promote the chemistry and biochemistry department.

“I think that UWindsor had a lot of opportunities to showcase my love of chemistry and to try and be a role model for women in STEM, which has always been important to me. I like to be an advocate and show that there are women in these fields, and you can be successful at it.”

After graduating, Watanabe started a post-doctoral position at Carleton University. The industrial collaboration opened her eyes to a different view of research.

“It solidified my love of academia and the freedom it affords you to explore and publish.”

Lara WatanabeJeremy RawsonChuck MacdonaldJoe LichaaStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: ScienceChemistry & Biochemistry

Scholarship to honour legacy of Olympian law alumna

Mon, 07/15/2024 - 00:14

When she died in August 2023, Windsor Law grad Alexandra Paul (JD 2020) left a legacy of kindness, generosity, and a presence that only those who were fortunate enough to know her can understand, says a classmate who has founded a scholarship in her memory.

“Alexandra has had a lasting impact on the Windsor Law community, and her spirit and energy won’t be forgotten,” says Riley Brooks (JD 2020), treasurer of the Simcoe County Law Association, which funded the Alexandra J. Paul Memorial Scholarship to provide support each year to a University of Windsor law student.

“Members of the law association were devastated by her tragic passing. We are delighted to extend this scholarship so that Windsor Law students can also be a part of Alexandra’s story.”

Before her law studies, Paul was a competitive ice dancer. With her partner and later husband, she finished second at the 2010 World Junior Championships, won bronze three times at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, and represented Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

After her admission to the bar, she began a legal career with the firm Barriston Law practising in the areas of wills and estates, real estate, and corporate law.

Riley BrooksAlexandra PaulAlumniAcademic Area: Law

Former MVP returns to women’s hockey as assistant coach

Fri, 07/12/2024 - 00:11

A five-time academic all-Canadian, former assistant captain, and 2020 MVP has joined the Lancer women’s hockey team as a full-time assistant coach.

Amy Maitre (BHK 2020) played five seasons on the Windsor blueline and returned to the squad as a volunteer assistant coach following her playing career. Her hiring into a full-time paid position was made possible by a female apprentice coach grant from the Coaches Association of Ontario.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to offer this position,” said head coach Deanna Iwanicka. “Amy is an ideal candidate, as a former Lancer herself and then volunteer assistant coach. She has been working on her craft as a coach, and I believe has great potential in this profession.”

Maitre’s responsibilities include day-to-day operations with players and coaches as well as recruitment and program administration — everything from planning practices to monitoring the physical and mental health of athletes, program marketing, and more.

Read the full story at goLancers.ca.

Amy MaitreDeanna IwanickaStrategic Priority: Equity and InclusionAlumni

Cyclists pedalling for mental health

Wed, 06/19/2024 - 01:08

Support for groups and projects that make an impact is a way for the University of Windsor Alumni Association to add value to the lives of students, grads, and the broader community, says Rob Janisse.

Co-ordinator of special projects for the alumni office, he points to this weekend’s “Ride Don’t Hide” for the Windsor-Essex branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association as an example.

“The Alumni Association’s Communications and Engagement Committee provides over $60,000 in funding each year to more than 50 on- and off-campus groups, supporting initiatives that make tangible impacts here on campus, in our local communities, and beyond,” Janisse says. “We are proud to support impactful community groups and initiatives like CMHA’s Ride Don’t Hide.”

Ride Don’t Hide involves bicyclists across the country in raising funds for community mental health. Locally, it will send teams of riders on a choice of routes: around the track at the Ciociaro Club, along the Greenway, or on a 100-km loop through the county.

Now in its 11th year, it supports several services:

  • the Bereavement Program, which helps adults and children cope with loss by providing supportive grief counselling, group peer support, and education to teach healthy coping strategies;
  • the Client Assistance Fund, which provides short-term financial assistance to clients for grocery gift cards, transportation to appointments or job interviews, and other daily living expenses; and
  • mental health promotion, which extends education and training to workplaces, schools, community agencies, and the general public.

The event is set for Sunday, June 23. Find more information, including how to register as a team or individual participant and how to donate, on the CMHA website.

University of Windsor Alumni AssociationRob JanisseStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumni

Expert on inequities in health care aims to empower Black and racialized students

Wed, 06/19/2024 - 01:03

Newly appointed vice-president of Canadian Nurses Association and UWindsor nursing alumna Bukola Salami (BScN 2004) delivered a presentation on leadership and mentorship for Black and racialized students and youth as part of the Faculty of Nursing’s “Dean’s Intentional Conversations” speaker series on June 12.

According to Dr. Salami, Black and racialized people face challenges such as racism, discrimination, microaggressions, and employment inequality. These factor into negative economic outcomes for Black and racialized youth that inhibit their participation in society.

Salami detailed her experiences and discussed methodologies on leadership in the profession. She encouraged racialized individuals to set a positive mindset and tone, manage mental health, create a network of mentors and trusted colleagues, engage actively in support groups, understand administrative policies in place, and understand their rights.

Academically and professionally, Salami emphasized the importance of appreciating opportunities, and the value of grant-writing and research publications for the advancement of knowledge, academic and professional growth, improvement of patient care, policy influence, collaborative opportunities, and professional responsibility.

Salami explained how the role of mentorship builds confidence, self-esteem, influences career paths, and provides a sense of belonging for Black and racialized youths while empowering them with leadership skills, and positive cultural identity.

She elaborated on how good leadership is based on a long-term vision focused on people and processes. Strong guidance promotes patient and staff satisfaction and aims to improve retention of healthcare personnel.

Participants were encouraged to focus on their long-term goals in a systematic manner and ensure that their efforts align with a strategy.

The full presentation is available for download as a PDF file from the nursing website.

Bukola SalamiStrategic Priority: Equity and InclusionAlumniAcademic Area: Nursing

Film festival to screen local movies

Wed, 06/19/2024 - 00:37

Windsor is home to incredible talent, says grad Theodore Bezaire (BA 2002). He is proud his comedy The Birder will be showcased alongside other local films this weekend as part of a 20-year anniversary celebration by the Windsor International Film Festival.

The story of a mild-mannered bird enthusiast seeking revenge on a younger rival after losing the head ornithology position at a local nature park, The Birder was shot in locations around Windsor-Essex, including Ojibway Park, Mackenzie Hall, and St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Secondary School.

It is one of two productions by the Dot Film Company to be featured as part of the WIFF retrospective.

Film professor Mike Stasko (BA 2002) will screen his thriller Iodine, which follows a man who ventures north to search for his missing father, only to uncover a far more sinister mystery.

“It’s an honour to be part of WIFF’s 20-year local retrospective, celebrating Windsor’s film history,” Stasko said.

Also on the playbill is film professor Kim Nelson’s documentary This is What a Feminist Sounds Like, a biography of social activist Pat Noonan, who died in August 2018, and a number of short films by alumni.

The WIFF local retrospective runs June 21 to 23 at the Capitol Theatre, 101 University Ave. West. Find listings and showtimes on the festival website.

Mike StaskoTheodore BezaireKim NelsonStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementResearch and Creative ActivityAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesCommunications, Media & FilmCreative Arts

Homage to family centre of recent grad’s solo art exhibition

Fri, 06/14/2024 - 00:04

Poring over family artifacts, documents, and photographs, recent fine arts graduate Bianca Daher discovered a way to process her grief and honour her family through her artwork.

The loss of multiple family members in a short time frame left her to work through many emotions. As a source of comfort, she began collecting documents and old photographs, digging deeper into her family history.

“I had the chance to go through old family documents while cleaning out their homes and found passports and citizenship cards from the ’60s, which I scanned and organized into binders,” Daher said.

“I did the same for both sides of the family. I sorted through a shoebox of old photos, including my grandmother’s wedding pictures, and scanned them all. I also looked through postcards, noting what was written on them. At the same time, I’m reaching out to aunts and uncles trying to get as many photos as I can.”

She expanded her collection and knowledge through an ancestry website, and with that, Daher decided to make an homage to her family by incorporating the documents and photographs she had found into her art through a blend of materials and methods for her final project.

She will be showcasing her art by hosting a solo exhibition, ‘Tending to Time’ at Artspeak Gallery from June 16 to 22.

“I hope it inspires people to discover their ancestry. I know my ancestry up to my great-grandparents, but beyond that, no one really knows much about our family history,” Daher said.

“Both sides of my family are immigrants, and we’ve lost access to photographs and family documents from earlier generations. Any existing documents would likely be kept by a church in another country, which I cannot access. I hope this encourages people to wonder about their family's documents and origin.”

Going into university, Daher said, she was uncertain about the direction she wanted her art to take. Although she had always had a strong technical talent, she sought to add more depth to her pieces.

“I came in with a lot of skills and I was doing hyper-realistic portraits, but I wasn’t really making anything that truly meant something to me,” she explained.

Over Daher’s four years at the School of Creative Arts, with the help of courses in art history and contemporary art, she learned to take that talent, utilize a range of materials, and create something more meaningful to her.

“I feel like once you learn how to think critically about your work and other people’s work and just the world around you — whether it’s art or politics or anything — it almost changes the way you think,” Daher said.

“There are a ton of classes that I’ve taken that truly did change the way I think and the way that I approach making art, like the mediums that I use, and then how it looks. Not everything has to be hyper-realistic. You can make a sculpture, you can make mixed media. My experience at SoCA definitely changed my practice.”

Daher crossed the stage last week alongside nearly 5,000 other graduates at Convocation, an experience which came with mixed emotions, as she’s excited for the next chapter but will miss the community of artists working alongside one another. She plans to continue her studies at the master’s level in the fall.

The Artspeak Gallery is located at 1942 Wyandotte St. East. Learn more about Daher’s work and her upcoming exhibition.

Bianca DaherStrategic Priority: Research and Creative ActivityAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesCreative Arts

Arts organization honours alumni

Wed, 06/05/2024 - 00:12

Alumna and adjunct professor Bernadette Berthelotte (BMus 1981, B.Ed 1985, M.Ed 1990) has dedicated her professional life to music education. Last Friday, her outsized impact on arts education in Windsor-Essex was recognized with the Windsor Endowment for the Arts 2024 Community Arts Leadership Award.

“It is a privilege for me to advocate for the arts in public education and in the lives of children,” says Dr. Berthelotte. “Not because we are making artists, musicians, dancers or actors, but because we are aiding in the development of human beings and offering them ways to enhance the quality of their lives, throughout their lives.”

Known as “Dr. B,” Berthelotte spent 23 years developing and leading a thriving instrumental music program at W.F. Herman Secondary School. She created the “Reach Ahead” program that allows students in Grades 7 and 8 to participate in their local high school band, which enhances their skills and eases the transition to high school. Her commitment to music education and its impact on the development of young people has not only shaped the futures of her students but also set a high standard for educational excellence within the Greater Essex County District School Board.

In collaboration with local music educators and vendors, Berthelotte founded MusicFest Windsor, a regional festival affiliated with MusicFest Canada. The festival strives to provide an opportunity for students and educators across Southwestern Ontario to share their musical achievements through a performance venue.

She is the creator of “The String Project.” Inspired by Venezuela’s “El Sistema,” it is an after-school program at two schools in Windsor where children learn to play the violin from Grade 3 onward. Berthelotte firmly believes that music education fosters community, confidence, and success in young learners, and is already seeing incredible developments in program participants.

“Thousands upon thousands of studies that utilize the arts as part of a holistic education for all children continue to find that self-efficacy and self-esteem are heightened with these experiences,” she says. “Common sense, in addition to science, tells us that when children feel better about what they do, they will do better in everything.”

Following her retirement from the school board, Berthelotte has continued to share her passion and expertise through teaching music education courses in the UWindsor Faculty of Education. She also contributes to the Continuing Teacher Education Program, crafting and instructing additional qualification courses.

She regularly performs with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and freelances in Windsor and Detroit. Her extensive orchestral experience includes performing with the Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Metropolitan Orchestra, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and other ensembles.

Berthelotte received her recognition from the Windsor Endowment for the Arts during a community celebration May 31 at the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre.

Other leadership awards recipients with a UWindsor connection included alumni Christopher Lawrence Menard (BA 2012) in the literary arts category, Hugh Leal (BA 1973, BComm 1978) in the performing arts music category, and Arts Collective Theatre, directed by Chris Rabideau (BA 2008, B.Ed 2009).

Bernadette BerthelotteChristopher Lawrence MenardHugh LealChris RabideauStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesCreative ArtsEnglishBusinessEducation

Alumni to honour faculty members for innovation in teaching

Wed, 06/05/2024 - 00:00

The University of Windsor Alumni Association will bestow its Alumni Award for Distinguished Contributions to University Teaching on two professors during Spring Convocation ceremonies this week: Pooya Moradian Zadeh of the School of Computer Science and Kevin Milne of the Department of Kinesiology.

The award honours faculty members — nominated by colleagues, alumni, and students — as incentive and encouragement for achieving excellence in teaching and learning at the University of Windsor.

Dr. Moradian Zadeh holds a certificate in experiential learning from the National Society for Experiential Education which has supported his ability to apply these concepts in the redesign and development of several graduate and undergraduate courses. He is known within computer science for his unique and engaging teaching methods, genuine concern for his students, and desire to motivate them.

He describes his teaching philosophy as to help students understand the various aspects of technical concepts and to support them in generalizing their ideas, enhancing their problem-solving abilities, and fostering critical thinking skills necessary for tackling real-world issues.

Moradian Zadeh will receive his award at the 2 p.m. June 5 session of Convocation.

Dr. Milne’s pedagogical approach is summed up in the acronym “ENGAGE”:

  • Explain rather than simply show information,
  • Nourish all ideas, even those that might begin with an incorrect foundation,
  • Generate interest in the wonder of our world,
  • encourage Active participation in classes,
  • be Genuine in my enthusiasm for the learning process,
  • foster an environment where students Enjoy learning.

He has previously received the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance Teaching Award and the Ontario University Student Alliance Teaching Award in 2012; the Faculty of Human Kinetics Student Society Teaching Award in 2013, 2014, 2017; and the Faculty of Human Kinetics Wayne Marino Teaching Excellence Award in 2021.

Milne will receive his award at the 9:30 a.m. June 7 session of Convocation.

Convocation celebrations continue through Friday at the Toldo Lancer Centre; tune in to the livestream on the UWindsor YouTube channel.

Kevin MilnePooya Moradian ZadehUniversity of Windsor Alumni AssociationConvocationStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: Human KineticsScienceComputer Science

Computer studies prep grad for security position

Fri, 05/31/2024 - 00:10

Rahul Banerjee (MSc 2022) became so entrenched in UWindsor’s campus community during his time as a Master of Applied Computing student that he could not wait to return.

In late 2023, Banerjee took on the role of research security co-ordinator on the research partnerships team embedded in the Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation.

“Research security is a new domain that falls under national security, which is guided by federal and provincial policies,” says Banerjee.

“We work hand-in-hand with government agencies to create best practices for university researchers and then we support them to ensure their research is safe and secure.”

The first to hold that title, Banerjee hosts workshops and training sessions to teach faculty protocols and guidelines as well as arm them with the required tools and resources.

“Research security is about safeguarding our University research community from bad actors who hope to gain economically or militarily from work being done in Canadian labs, and the first step is awareness,” he says.

He says the field is so new that they are constantly assessing, prioritizing, and adapting to new practices and models. He loves his new role and says it was Because of Science at UWindsor that he was prepared for such a challenging position.

“MAC helped me gain a lot of these connections through networking opportunities, and these connections have helped me get where I am right now,” says Banerjee. “I’ve met people who are leading the community and many of them referred me to this role.”

As a message to current students, Banerjee says to nurture those contacts you make and focus on creating long-standing relationships.

“MAC gives you that opportunity to prosper and it is up to you to make the best out of it,” he says.

Those networking skills and opportunities helped him to become a key member on the local scene.

He was invited to be on the Google Developers panel for Windsor and Detroit region and is a member of the Windsor-Tecumseh Youth Advisory Council.

As a graduate student, he was on the student council and held two part-time campus jobs. After graduation, he turned a co-op position with BDO Canada as a data and innovation consultant into full-time employment.

His pride as an alumnus shines through and he has returned to three orientation sessions for the MAC program to talk to current students.

“I’ve become an online cheerleader for UWindsor and the region,” Banerjee says. “I want to promote Windsor as an up-and-coming hub of technology. We are already seeing it happen.”

Rahul BanerjeeStrategic Priority: Teaching and LearningAlumniAcademic Area: Graduate StudiesScienceComputer Science

Director of Institutional Analysis to step down after nearly 35 years with University

Tue, 05/21/2024 - 12:57

After a long and distinguished career as the executive director of Institutional Analysis, Rose Zanutto will embark on a new chapter as she steps down from her role.

With nearly 35 years of dedicated service to the University, Zanutto will transition into retirement, effective July 1.

“Rose is a stalwart champion of the University, a great colleague, and a true expert when it comes to institutional data and the Ontario post-secondary context,” said Beverly Hamilton, chief of staff for the University of Windsor’s president. “We are all going to miss her knowledgeable guidance, but I hope this next phase of her life will be amazing!”

In addition to her administrative role, Zanutto also is an alumna, having graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1983.

The Office of Institutional Analysis plays an important part in facilitating evidence-based decision-making and strategic planning by providing comprehensive analyses and data-driven insights on various aspects of the University’s operations, says provost Robert Aguirre.

“Rose’s portfolio is large and complex, involving data analysis for the University, a key role in budget and enrolment planning, and government relations, among many other important files,” Dr. Aguirre says. “Rose exemplifies the Office of Institutional Analysis’ mission of advancing the strategic goals of the University by providing leadership and direction for institutional data and analyses.”

Her team in the Office of Institutional Analysis likes to call Zanutto the “source of truth,” they wrote in a tribute to her expertise: “Her wisdom, mentorship, and keen ability to make sense of vast amounts of data and information will be profoundly missed yet will continue to inspire us all. Cheers to a richly deserved encore after a lifetime of tireless service.”

A celebration for Zanutto will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 26.

Rose ZanuttoAlumni

Grads honoured for business acumen

Fri, 05/17/2024 - 00:26

The concept of a resumé — reducing a job seeker to a piece of paper — is archaic, says Jordan Goure (BA 2014).

He is president and CEO of Picsume, a tech company with a mission of providing dynamic work profiles that match candidates with their ideal jobs. The company won an Innovation Award sponsored by the University of Windsor Alumni Association at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards reception Wednesday at the Chrysler Theatre.

“The resumé is the past. Picsume is the future,” Goure says. “Our core values of innovation, efficiency, and meritocracy drive us to create a seamless experience for both candidates and employers.”

The awards honour top businesses, individuals, and organizations in Windsor-Essex in 12 categories.

Other winners with a UWindsor connection include:

  • Professional of the Year Tim Brady (BSc 1996), owner of Brady’s Drug Store, with pharmacies in Belle River, Essex, and Tilbury;
  • ErgoNow office furniture store, owned by Sue Brunet (BHK 1993), Company of the Year with fewer than 25 employees; and
  • Meighen Nehme (BComm 2002), president of the Job Shoppe employment agency, winner of the Athena Leadership Award.
Find more information on the Chamber’s website.Jordan GoureTim BradySue BrunetMeighen NehmeStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumni

Partnership brews up front in campaign against disease

Mon, 05/13/2024 - 00:44

Three UWindsor alumni have joined forces to give the breath of life.

Daniel Peck (BCS 2003) and kinesiology professor Paula van Wyk (MHK 2008) have been working to build awareness and fundraise on behalf of their youngest son, Jack, who lives with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition which can hamper lung function.

Together they created Jack’s Journey, a family team supporting research into the disease. They registered last year when Jack was less than one year old as participants in the Windsor-LaSalle Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History, but Peck found the fundraising a challenge.

“It can be uncomfortable to just ask people to give money,” he says. “That is when I wondered if it would be possible to sell coffee with proceeds going to charity.”

And the idea for “Jack’s Java” was born.

Jake Rondot (BHK 2001) and long-time friend Dustin Stewart have a deep appreciation of the Windsor community and for coffee. Wanting to enrich the coffee drinking experience with flavours from around the globe with a proudly local brand, the two formed the RŌ_ST Coffee Company, which offers more than 20 different locally-roasted coffees for purchase online.

Although Dr. van Wyk has known Rondot for years as a sessional lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, a member of the University of Windsor Alumni Association Board of Directors, and a supporter of the Faculty of Human Kinetics, it took one more link to complete the chain.

“My colleague Jess Dixon (MHK 2003) let me know in the fall of 2023 about RŌ_ST and until then I had no idea Jake had a coffee business,” van Wyk recalls. “I reached out to see if this idea was possible.”

Dr. Dixon is pleased to have played the role of matchmaker: “I love seeing the HK family reach beyond the classroom and make a difference in each other’s lives and the broader community.”

Once they connected with Rondot, Peck and van Wyk sampled different coffee beans and roast types from RŌ_ST, inviting friends and family for taste testing, until they landed on a favourite: a medium roast of Columbian arabica beans described as having “a soft aroma, complex sweet notes of caramel and hazelnut, and subtle hints of a fruity finish.”

Jack’s Java is available in one-pound bags in a variety of grinds; order here. Proceeds from every sale go towards the Jack’s Journey team in the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History. This year’s walk is scheduled for May 26 at LaSalle’s Vollmer Complex. Learn more or donate through the charity’s website.

Rondot says his company is proud to participate: “Dustin and I are incredibly honoured to be asked and able to support Jack’s Journey and the CF community with this simple extension of work we already love doing.”

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease among Canadian children and youth and there is no cure. Jack must undergo at least one hour of therapy each day, and more when he is sick — ranging from chest physiotherapy to nebulizer treatments, nasal rinses, and sprays.

He also takes nutritional supplements and medicines to compensate for his pancreas working insufficiently.

“It is not uncommon for the pharmacist to ask to confirm Jack’s med order with us because the prescriptions he has, and the dosages, are not typical for a one-year-old,” says van Wyk. “Research has already helped identify new treatments and extend life expectancies, but much more is needed to end CF.”

Daniel PeckPaula van WykJake RondotJess DixonStrategic Priority: Partnership and EngagementAlumniAcademic Area: Human Kinetics

Law grad shepherds son to NFL draft

Fri, 04/26/2024 - 00:15

The Sports Network shared a tale of inspiration as Theo Johnson, a prospect in the National Football League draft, drew encouragement from the journey of his mother Amy Johnson (JD 2015) through law school at the University of Windsor.

A TSN feature on the story of her transformation from a single mother of six navigating through adversity to ultimately earning her law degree resonated with viewers nationwide.

When Amy Johnson and her six children found themselves in an unsafe family situation, they were compelled to seek safety elsewhere. It was this pivotal moment that set the stage for her ascent in the legal field, altering the course of her career and, significantly, her family’s future.

The NFL draft continues in Detroit through Saturday. Watch the video, “Lawyer mom inspires NFL dream.”

Amy JohnsonAlumniAcademic Area: Law

Grad publishes creative writing thesis

Thu, 04/25/2024 - 00:30

Jade Wallace (MA 2021), recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence at the graduate level, has partnered with Palimpsest Press to publish the novel, Anomia. The work is one Wallace, who uses they-them pronouns, wrote and defended as their creative writing thesis in September 2021.

Wallace says the inspiration for the novel started several years prior, as they became fixated on the possibility of writing an entire book free of the constraints of sex or gender.

After completing their thesis in 2021 and continuing with revisions and edits, Wallace saw the work picked up by Windsor-based publisher Palimpsest Press in 2023.

“For me,” says Wallace, “Anomia represents not only an artistic endeavour, but also an act of wish fulfillment. In daily life, we constantly negotiate the fraught dynamics of sex and gender identity, but in the world of Anomia, we are given a glimpse of another life. I am not yet sure whether the novel represents a possible or an impossible world. It is no accident that the title Anomia resonates, ever so faintly, like Utopia.”

Wallace’s book will be released officially June 15, and is currently available for pre-order on the Palimpsest Press website. Wallace will also be present as a special guest with How You Were Born author Kat Cayley during a public event at Biblioasis bookstore, 1520 Wyandotte St. East, Thursday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Biblioasis will host a local launch, reading, and signing of Anomia on July 7.

Jade WallaceStrategic Priority: Research and Creative ActivityAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesEnglish

Award honours student’s volunteerism

Wed, 04/24/2024 - 00:16

In Canada, Halima Mohamed’s parent found a place where they didn’t have to give up their Somali identities and were instead invited to embrace a new culture as their own.

“My family’s immigration story began with the search for a better life, a journey that is all too familiar for many who leave their homelands,” says the fourth-year biochemistry student. “Being born and growing up here, I witnessed the struggles and beauty that come with the immigrant experience.”

She says that experience taught her lessons in “resilience, strength, kindness, and, above all else, the importance of having a community.”

Her determination to give back earned her the Addolorata De Luca Leadership Scholarship, a $1,000 award to support first- and second-generation Canadians.

The scholarship founder, alumna Cessidia DeBiasio (BSW 2015, BComm 2018), says Mohamed embodies its mission: “honouring our ancestors while giving back to the next generation of student leaders.”

Among Mohamed’s leadership commitments are founding a UWindsor chapter of Diabetes Canada, and volunteering for the Canadian National Institute of Blind, Breast Cancer Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Hospice of Windsor-Essex.

“Halima has made it her mission to dedicate her time to supporting various organizations around Windsor-Essex,” says DeBiasio. “This allows her to meet people of different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and ages and extend her hand to others who may also be missing close human connection.”

Mohamed hopes to pursue a career in palliative medicine.

“Sometimes the best way to say thank you is through action and dedication,” she says. “Giving back is the ultimate lesson I have learned from my family’s journey, and it inspires me to do as much as I can to help others in the same way that I have been helped countless times before.”

DeBiasio named the scholarship in honour of her grandmother as a way to acknowledge the efforts of her family and other newcomers to Windsor and Essex County. To learn more, visit the Addolorata De Luca Leadership Scholarship website.

Halima MohamedCessidia DeBiasioStrategic Priority: Equity and InclusionPartnership and EngagementAlumniAcademic Area: ScienceChemistry & Biochemistry

Workshop to explore AI-driven animation

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 00:17

This spring, the Incubator Art Lab is hosting Nate Talbot (BA 2020) as its alumni Artist-in-Residence.

As part of his residency, Talbot is hosting a public workshop at the lab on Friday, April 26. Called “Biomorphic AI-driven Animation for Beginners,” it will invite participants to create an animation by combining household items, fruits and vegetables, and AI tools.

Talbot’s work under the name “N8” explores the intersections of technology, spirituality, and cultural identity formation. With a MFA in bioart and a degree in philosophy, he takes a unique perspective that challenges traditional notions of portraiture and explores human-non-human symbioses. Talbot is an expert in a variety of media, including three-dimensional scanning and modelling, virtual reality sculpting, motion design, digital holography, and artificial intelligence art.

Workshop participants should bring fruits and vegetables for use as a base for an AI animation, as well as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer. They will be further instructed to download an app before the workshop.

“Participants will take away a deeper understanding of how AI works, some of the ethical issues surrounding it, as well as a practical working knowledge of these tools,” says Talbot. “Participants will learn text-to-image, as well as image-to-video AI tools.”

No prior experience is necessary — this event is perfect for beginners.

Running 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the studio at 144 University Ave. West, the workshop is open to the public and costs $6.66 for ages 16+. Scholarships are available upon request. Participants can register on the Incubator Eventbrite page.

Nate TalbotStrategic Priority: Research and Creative ActivityTeaching and LearningAlumni

Debut documentary now streaming

Mon, 04/22/2024 - 00:26

Emerging filmmaker, UWindsor alumna, and Windsor native Gemma Eva (BA 2019, MFA 2021) presents her documentary directorial debut, Be Taylor, streaming free on CBC Gem as part of season 24 of the Absolutely Canadian series.

The documentary follows a young comedian, Taylor Last, for one year as she emerges into Windsor’s comedy scene. It tells of her struggle as a young queer woman who aims to overcome her mental health struggles and regain her confidence by embarking on a journey of self-love, self-discovery, and stand-up comedy.

“I really want to focus on women and queer people because I feel in the comedy community that I’ve seen, there’s a lack of representation there,” Last says. “I’m newer to my journey as a queer person. I’ve been focusing my sets on kind of embracing that and making it a healing process for me for coming to terms with my true authentic self.”

Eva says she was inspired by Last’s efforts to break into a new community in a very public way.

“As an emerging filmmaker, I felt a parallel in our creative journeys as she was also a young woman trying to enter a predominantly male-dominated field,” Eva says. “I became interested in Taylor’s story, learning that stand-up comedy was not only a fun way to entertain her community, but it is also a tool that helped her make light out of dark times.”

Besides Eva, who directed, produced, and co-edited, a number of UWindsor students and alumni worked on this project. Among them were:

  • director of photography and co-editor Calum Hotchkiss (BA 29018, MFA 2021)
  • MFA student Raquel Graston as camera operator and assistant editor
  • camera operators Armend Bajrami (BA 2018), Luca Cunial (BA 2019, MFA 2022), and Benjamin Cheer (BA 2022)
  • development editor Alysha Baker-Dias (BA 2017, MFA 2020)
  • sound recordists Sikandar Saleem (BA 2020) and Steven Boere (BA 2023, B.Ed 2023)
  • production accountant Noah Rocheleau, a business student

“GeminiFilms Inc. is a small production company that I started after graduating,” says Eva. “I primarily spearhead projects with my fiancée Calum Hotchkiss and my twin brother, Luca Cunial.”

Through GeminiFilms, she has the opportunity to work with local emerging talent and UWindsor alumni. She is keen to show Canadians that Windsor has a film community worth talking about.

“While working full-time in Toronto, Calum, Luca, and I always return to Windsor to produce our film projects — there’s no place like home!”

Be Taylor will debut on CBC TV this summer, and its film festival run is projected to begin later this year.

Gemma CunialCalum HotchkissRaquel GrastonArmend BajramiLuca CunialBenjamin CheerAlysha Baker-DiasSikandar SaleemSteven BoereNoah RocheleauAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesCommunications, Media & FilmCreative ArtsBusiness

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