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Cool Grads! June 2008

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Featured Cool Grads

Brian Bate - ValedictorianBrian Bate - Valedictorian
Bachelor of Financial Services

Brian Bate is used to realizing goals, whether on the ice as captain of Mount Royal’s men’s hockey team or in the business world as he builds his own company.

This year’s Valedictorian came to Mount Royal as a psychology major hoping to become a counselor. But just one class with Bissett School of Business Instructor Jim Fischer changed everything and motivated Bate to switch direction.

Now the Bachelor of Financial Services graduate is starting his own business as an independent financial advisor. With all these accomplishments under his belt, it’s surprising to learn that Bate did not expect to be named Valedictorian.

“I was happy, excited and definitely surprised to be selected for this - it’s a real privilege,” says Bate, 24. “I’m looking forward to representing the students and getting a chance to speak to the people at Mount Royal who have supported us.”

Being named Valedictorian is one of many highlights for Bate, who lists the championship-winning 2006 hockey season with the Cougars as one of his best memories at Mount Royal.

“We won the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) men’s hockey championship and I was the captain of the team that year. That was a big highlight on a personal level,” says Bate.

Bate also lists a number of experiences with his instructors as some of his best memories.

“I was able to benefit from people who were more like mentors and friends to me than teachers - people with industry experience who I could learn from.”

After graduation Bate says he will focus on building his business and, eventually, building a family.

“I’m starting my own business from scratch and, on a business level, my main ambition is to expand that as fast as possible. In my first nine months, things are definitely ahead of schedule and going very well in terms of that growth level,” says Bate.

“I’d also like to get a family started in the next few years and have some kids.”

- Dan McGarvey

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Shoko KurodaShoko Kuroda
Bachelor of Applied Communication

When Shoko Kuroda moved to Canada from Japan in 2001, she could hardly speak English. Now, seven years later, the 26-year-old is graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Communication degree.

“I came here by myself. I wanted to learn English, so rather than staying in Japan and learning English there, I thought I would try to come to Canada,” she says.

“In Japan, English is a second language so we learn it for six years, but it’s tough to practise. When I got here, I knew most of the stuff people said to me, but I couldn’t respond to it. I didn’t know how to communicate back to them.”

Kuroda, who originally studied English as a second language at Mount Royal, entered the Journalism program just two years after arriving in Canada. Although she switched to the Electronic Publishing program mid-way through her studies, she is working toward finishing both degrees.

“I think it was tougher for me – I had lots of problems with grammar, but the instructors were very helpful and encouraging,” says Kuroda, who credits part of her success to the individualized attention she received at Mount Royal.

“Because the classes are small, I got to know all my classmates and all my instructors. I think that really made a difference.”

Kuroda, who is currently working at Source Media Group as a graphic designer, says her time at Mount Royal has prepared her for the future. Over the years, she not only received a top-notch education, but plenty of work experience as a communications/marketing assistant for Mount Royal Recreation.

She also volunteered to be a model for several Mount Royal publications including the new Calendar and the Recreation Guide.

“Mount Royal has been a big part of my life. Seven years is a long time and I am ready to move on, but I will miss this place for sure.”

- Tara Merrin

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Amanda ReidAmanda Reid
Social Work

To say Amanda Reid is passionate about helping others could be considered an understatement. In recent months, she’s participated in Take Back the Night, Clean the Core, as well as numerous other clean-ups and workshops which all focus on helping people.

While her dedication is not totally unheard of, what makes Reid’s passion a bit unusual is her youth. She just turned 20 last month.

“I have always known what I wanted to do with my life,” Reid says about her maturity.

Social Work Instructor Yasmin Dean says Reid is one of a kind. “Amanda is so young and has an incredible amount of potential. She is clear about her passion and very involved in her community.”

Reid learned about Mount Royal’s Social Work program while still attending high school and instantly thought it was where she wanted to be. “I thought the program would be so great because of the practical experience - it has lived up to all my expectations.”

One example of the hands-on experience Reid gained is the huge international conference she attended for Mount Royal. Reid was one of five students selected to travel to Dubai earlier this year to present at the Women as Global Leaders conference. Fellow presenters included Jane Fonda and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.

“My trip to Dubai was a big story - it was a trip of a lifetime. I learned so much about myself and the social work field while I was there.”

Reid believes the secret to her success is simple. “Take advantage of every opportunity presented,” she says, adding she is not concerned that her age may deter her from her chosen career.

In fact, she views it as a challenge. “I like to show people I can do what anyone else can, even more,” she says.

Dean has no doubts Reid will do just that. “Amanda is a grad who is going places,” she says.

- Jay Decore

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Melanie SamMelanie Sam
General Business Administration

As she graduates from the General Business Administration program, Melanie Sam is excited about her future. She is one of only 30 students to be accepted into the Integrated Management Experience program at the University of Lethbridge, where she will be taking a major in First Nations’ Governance with a minor in social responsibility.

Still, Sam often recalls her past post-secondary experience. Right after graduating from high school in 1990, she went to college and planned to transfer to a university to study social work. But, after two years of general arts courses, she dropped out.

“I say this to everybody - if I had started at Mount Royal when I was 18, I would probably not have dropped out,” Sam says. “The instructors at Mount Royal actually care about our success. They’re really approachable and they’re really, really there for students, which I’ve not found at any other school.”

After dropping out, Sam worked in a variety of jobs, from retail and restaurants to a position on a management team at a major oil company.

“Working in the bottom rungs and working in the higher levels, I saw things that I thought could be improved,” she says. “But I didn’t have the education to back it up.”

She chose to return to school to study business, and she chose Mount Royal because of its two-year transfer program to the University of Lethbridge’s First Nation's governance program.

Melanie says her time at Mount Royal has showed her that she can persevere, and that she is stronger than she thought she was. She developed her time management skills and discovered that going back to school didn’t mean giving up quality time with her three-year-old daughter, Aurora.

“I made a promise to myself that Aurora would get a minimum of an hour of Mommy/Aurora time every day,” Sam says. She also brought her daughter to Mount Royal some Saturdays, and now Aurora is taking Kodaly classes through the Conservatory.

“She likes to be a big kid and walk around the school,” Sam says. “It’s her school at Mommy’s school.”

- Nancy Cope

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Jeriel SorianoJeriel Soriano
Music Performance

Jeriel Soriano may be the poster child of the perfect student.

The 21-year-old Music Performance graduate is the recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Medal for 2008 after finishing the program with a perfect 4.00, the highest grade point average of all graduates from Mount Royal’s diploma programs.

“I am the type of person who doesn’t want to settle for anything less than my best. So, if I had to sacrifice sleep and social time, I would do that,” he says.

“I also have a really supportive family. They knew how dedicated I was so even if I wasn’t helping very much around the house, they respected that. They knew I wanted to achieve something.”

While Soriano has always excelled in school, his incredible success at Mount Royal is somewhat surprising, considering he only moved to Canada from the Philippines in 2002.

“Some of the subjects that were not related to music - for example, Introduction to Canadian Identity - were tough, because, being from the Philippines, it was all new to me,” he says.

“I am a high achiever. I want As but in that subject, I would have been happy if I got a B. Thankfully, I was able to pull it off and get an A, so I was really happy about that.”

Soriano had a much easier time with his core courses in music. He says having attended a boarding school in the Philippines, which specialized in the arts, prepared him for his time at Mount Royal. He also says his education here has prepared him to take on the world.

“I knew that the music program at Mount Royal would really help me because it is one of the best in the province,” he says, adding he might now go into engineering.

“I want to enjoy music and I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I did it for a living. I just want to have fun with it and maybe teach from time to time rather than do it as a job.”

- Tara Merrin

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