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Cool Grads! 2007

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Featured Cool Grads

ryan_valedictorian_2007Ryan Correy - Valedictorian
Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership

Ryan Correy talks about dreaming big. And he walks the talk. This year’s Valedictorian has made it his mission to make his own dreams come true and to inspire others to do the same.

Correy, who is graduating from Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership, is thrilled to be Valedictorian. “On a personal level, this is one of those experiences I’ll never forget,” says Correy, 24.

For his first Directed Field Study, Correy cycled from Alaska to Argentina, 25,000 km, as a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation, which makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses. “This charity ties to my whole life philosophy and what I’m trying to accomplish — it’s all about believing in a dream,” says Correy.

Through each new challenge — which also includes public speaking and filmmaking — Correy keeps pushing and learning. “When I started in my program I thought that leadership was one way. The leader is at the top and tells everyone what they need to do. After realizing that that method wasn’t working for me I had to force myself to step back and put the ego aside.”

After graduation, Correy plans on competing in the 2008 Race Across America — one of the most difficult cycling races in the world.

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megan_coolgrads_2007Megan Wood
Certificate of Completion in Disability Studies

When Megan Wood crossed the stage to collect her Certificate of Completion in Disability Studies, she made Mount Royal history as the first graduate supported through the services of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. Wood is one of three students with developmental disabilities who receive services from Inclusive Education, which works behind-the-scenes to help students achieve their post-secondary goals.

“It was interesting,” Wood says of the program and interaction with classmates. “I worked really hard and learned a lot of things.”

She completed research and a number of group projects, made friends and, like many college students, discovered her initial choice of a program wasn’t for her — she’ll be enroling in the Bachelor of Applied Communications — Electronic Publishing this fall.

Donna Dunn, coordinator of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, worked with Wood to review material covered in class in a way that suited her learning style.

“Ultimately, what Megan’s going to gain is what every post-secondary student gains — growth and understanding of who you are as a person, the creation of lifelong friendships and the pursuit of a career within your chosen field of study,” Dunn says.

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natalia_coolgrads_2007Natalia Brzewska
Music Performance diploma

Natalia Brzewska’s grandfather played an instrumental part in her passion for music. “He was my inspiration and the reason I started playing at the age of seven,” says Brzewska of her grandfather Zenon Brzewski, a famous violinist in her native Poland.

She hopes to become as dedicated a performer and teacher as he was. “Even when he was sick with cancer, he taught from his home right to the end. I now have the privilege of playing his violin.”

The 21-year-old not only graduated with a Music Performance diploma, her trio performed at Convocation.

Brzewska came to Mount Royal from Poland right after high school because of one instructor. “The reason I’m here is because of my teacher Mr. (Bill) van der Sloot. He inspired me and was the only person I wanted to study with,” she says, adding the two met in 2003 during the Conservatory’s Morningside Music Bridge. “I’m by myself here, but I’m so glad I came to Mount Royal.”

Brzewska will pursue her bachelor’s degree in Toronto, San Francisco or Barcelona. “At Mount Royal we get the opportunity to play for and learn from famous musicians from around the world. That’s how I met my future teachers.”

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judith_coolgrads_2007Judith Fitzmaurice-Johnson
Bachelor of Applied Child Studies

Judith Fitzmaurice-Johnson has waited a long time to take part in the pomp and ceremony of Convocation. Her kids are proud of the 47-year-old single mom who picked up her Bachelor of Applied Child Studies, which will go handily with the Children’s Mental Health Studies Certificate she earned last year and the Addiction Studies Certificate she’ll soon complete.

“This is my big ‘yahoo!,’ my first time to wear the hat,” Fitzmaurice- Johnson says with a laugh as she talks about having classmates the same age as her children. “I’ve built wonderful relationships. They’ve taught me so much. It’s been a good growing experience emotionally and spiritually.”

A former public school trustee in east central Alberta and a member of the area’s drug response task force, Fitzmaurice-Johnson discovered she had a passion for helping youth at risk.

“I wanted to help in a more hands-on way and this degree fit me so well,” she says. “I had the mindset that you don’t just heal one part of the family; you have to heal the whole.

“What we do as professionals has an impact well beyond the individual — it extends to the family, the community and beyond. It all has to work together.”

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christina_coolgrads_2007Christina Dethmers

You could say Christina Dethmers is already flying high because she’s just earned her Aviation diploma — but just watch her soar if her pending interview with Air Canada Jazz is a success.

Dethmers is one of three Mount Royal students, among a total of 18 from five colleges, heading to Toronto to be interviewed for a job by Jazz, a first in airline history. “It’s totally nerve-wracking and exciting,” she says of of her first airline interview. “And an amazing opportunity.”

She knows it’ll be game-on from the minute she arrives in Toronto. A banquet for all the students will monitor interpersonal interaction, an individual interview will find out how she reacts in given situations and a simulator evaluation will put her through a series of tests.

“Now that I’ve gone through the program, I’ve learned about the complexity of situations. Every day is a new challenge and a new problem, and you have to be able to apply the theory.”

And if the Jazz opportunity doesn’t pan out? She’s prepared to earn her wings flying wherever and whatever she can. “Maybe I’ll go into bush flying ... I wouldn’t mind taking a little plane to places no one has ever heard of. I’m looking forward to flying any plane I can.”

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michal_coolgrads_2007Michal Waissmann
Bachelor of Applied Communications - Electronic Publishing

Guys don’t wear a dress to Convocation. Take it from Michal Waissmann, your colleagues will never let you live it down.

Last year, the six-foot-three graphic designer in External Relations volunteered to help at the annual event. He was given the standard-issue red gown worn by volunteers. That wouldn’t have been a problem except Waissmann was wearing shorts (thinking they’d be covered by a long gown).

The result? Waissmann was caught wearing a just-below-the-knee frock — a look that just couldn’t be ignored. “Everyone laughed; even the President commented on my ‘nice outfit.’ So I just said, ‘well, at least he knows who I am now.’ ”

There wasn't any risk of a couture catastrophe this year when he crossed the stage as a member of the Class of 2007. “I've got a blue gown and cap, and I wore black pants.”

And if he strutted with pride just a wee bit, it was be deserved. Waissmann finished his Bachelor of Applied Communications while working full-time at MRC. “I’m learning a lot working here,” he says. “It’s like an agency without the agency hours. I’m working on many different types of projects, and that keeps things fresh.”

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