Photos by Chao Zhang

Alumni Achievement Awards

In 2020, Mount Royal is celebrating those who have daringly pushed the boundaries in all aspects of their lives. The Alumni Achievement Award recipients include a pioneering nurse, a courageous hotel operator, a community-focused police officer and a rising filmmaker. All have helped advance their professions and improve society through serving others first. They are each an example of what is possible when the focus is on uplifting others to embody what it means to be Mount Royal University alumni.

The Alumni Achievement Awards are presented in three categories:

  • The Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes alumni at the culmination of their careers who have brought honour to their profession and alma mater.
  • The Outstanding Alumni Award acknowledges alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievements in their fields and/or community.
  • The Horizon Award recognizes outstanding achievements of alumni early in their careers.
  • The Outstanding Future Alumni Award is given to a current student who has made significant contributions to the University or wider community and exemplifies the leadership and ambassador qualities of our alumni community.

Anne (Porter) Kendrew

Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award

Nursing diploma, 1969

 

Photo of Anne (Porter) Kendrew.

 

Anne (Porter) Kendrew is a member of Mount Royal’s first graduating class of nurses (1969), and transformed how care is provided to very ill babies and their parents.

Immediately after leaving Mount Royal, Kendrew accepted nursing positions in Edmonton and the Northwest Territories before moving home to Calgary to start at the Holy Cross Hospital in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN), as it was called then. After a stint in labour and delivery, Kendrew became manager of the ICN, and stayed in that position for a decade.

“Those years were really the highlight of my career. We had such a wonderful team of doctors, nurses and educators,” Kendrew says.

At the time, parents were not allowed to see their children in the ICN. “They were alone,” Kendrew says. This led her to fight for the implementation of the perinatal bereavement support program, which helps parents properly grieve their terminally ill children by giving them the opportunity to hold and say good-bye to their babies in their last moments.

“They could die with dignity,” Kendrew says. “There would always be someone there with them.”

“If you have a vision, if you have a conviction about something that needs to be done, do whatever you can to fulfill it. It means lives, and can turn sorrow into joy for many people.”

Kendrew also worked to establish the Cuddlers program, which is still in use today. She explains that babies would often be in the ICN for several weeks and parents could not be there all the time. The Cuddlers program trains volunteers to hold infants to provide them the benefits of warmth and touch.

Both programs went against traditional practice and Kendrew and her colleagues worked tirelessly to advocate for these new approaches towards maternal and infant care.

She says, “If you have a vision, if you have a conviction about something that needs to be done, do whatever you can to fulfill it. It means lives, and can turn sorrow into joy for many people.”

Kendrew’s instructors during her nursing studies at Mount Royal possessed knowledge, showed kindness, had the ability to get things done and offered constant encouragement, she says. They taught her to listen carefully to patients and gave her the confidence needed to not be afraid to ask questions and always keep learning. Fifty years after leaving Mount Royal, Kendrew was the honoured speaker at the pinning ceremony for the 2019 cohort of nursing graduates.

“Kendrew’s quiet but strong leadership skills enabled her to become a manager of a neonatal unit, where she created change that made a significant impact on patients and families, particularly in the area of bereaved parents,” says Associate Professor Marg Olfert, who nominated Kendrew for this award and teaches in Mount Royal’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.


For her incredible contributions to the care of mothers and infants, her dedication to building empathy and connection with patients, and commitment to passing it on to future generations of nurses, Anne (Porter) Kendrew is this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award.

Travis Juska

Outstanding Alumni Award — Community Service

Bachelor of Applied Justice Studies, 2006

 

Photo of Travis Juska.

Travis Juska knew early on that he wanted to be a police officer. “There’s always been a very deep-rooted belief in my life that this is what I was put here to do.”

With that goal firmly in mind, Juska came to Mount Royal after high school to take justice studies, living and working on campus. He was hired by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) just as he turned 21.

“(Policing) is a wonderful vessel to us to make positive change,” Juska says. Crediting an upbringing around people who always emphasized the value of community, Juska says, “I find that when I can help others … that is the most motivating thing for me in my life.”

Now a staff sergeant, Juska trains, leads and mentors colleagues. He has worked patrol in several different districts in the city and also been on the recruiting side. Notably, he was part of the CPS team that launched ConnectLine.ca in 2019, a resource supporting those affected by domestic violence. The app allows people to find and contact appropriate agencies quickly, and was used more than 60,000 times in its first year.

“Strengthening our community can be tremendously rewarding, and if we all shoulder some of that burden we can make change.”

On top of his full-time job, Juska has dedicated more than 10,000 hours of volunteer work over the last 15 years. He has coached underprivileged youth in sports, participated in early literacy programs, taken part in a cross-Canada walk to support victims of crime, and worked with the Special Olympics and the Salvation Army.

“Strengthening our community can be tremendously rewarding, and if we all shoulder some of that burden we can make change,” he says.

To this day, Juska recalls with vivid precision many of the discussions he had — both in-class and one-on-one with his professors and instructors — about the criminal justice field.

“The older I get, I see more and more the impact Mount Royal has had on my life. When I’m dealing with an offender on the street and the concept of restorative justice comes up, I go straight to conversations I had at Mount Royal.”

Juska has continued to stay connected with MRU, participating in a number of advisory groups over the years. For students, Juska says, “Put values and visions first. If you pick an organization that mirrors your values, you’ll be successful.”


For going above and beyond to use his role in the community for good both on the job and off, Travis Juska is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award — Community Service.

Sharilyn Amy

Outstanding Alumni Award — Professional Achievement

Public Relations Diploma, 1995

 

Photo of Sharilyn Amy.

Sharilyn Amy knows that the first step to encourage support for a worthy cause is to raise awareness, and she has used her Mount Royal public relations training to do exactly that.

Mount Royal taught Amy how to position stories in a way that make people care. This skill, as well as a passion for connections, has served her well throughout her career as an advocate and an entrepreneur. She remembers the public relations program as demanding, but worthwhile.

“You realize they’ve prepared you to succeed in not only a corporate environment, but in a variety of situations where you need to balance competing interests,” she says.

Amy has worked all over the world, first with the Red Cross, then building a number of businesses and volunteering within her community. Currently she is the developer and owner of Océano Patagonia: Wild Coast Residence, an eco-friendly hotel on the Argentine coast in Puerto Pirámides, Patagonia. Amy and her business partner made sure the hotel was developed sustainably with a community development focus and it has won awards for its innovation.

“You realize [Mount Royal has] prepared you to succeed in not only a corporate environment, but in a variety of situations where you need to balance competing interests.”

Amy’s principled commitment to ethical business practices served her well when she and her business partner were pressured to succumb to bribery and corruption while building Océano Patagonia. They made the difficult and dangerous decision not only to resist these elements, but to work closely with the justice system in a covert sting operation. Because of their work, two people have been charged, several others identified and additional charges are pending that will further dismember the operations of this organized criminal network. They are now working closely with all levels of government, the diplomatic community and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to help support greater business transparency and fight corruption in Argentina and globally.

Amy credits Mount Royal for providing a keen sense of how important community is.

“I light up by connecting and inspiring people,” she says.

“I do that by supporting women-led business, humanitarian aid or running a hotel,” and by aligning everything she does with her personal beliefs.


For using her skills and abilities to build awareness for worthy causes while fighting for justice, as well as her dedication to sustainability and innovation, Sharilyn Amy is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award — Professional Achievement.

Trevor Solway

Horizon Award

Bachelor of Communication — Journalism, 2017

 

Photo of Trevor Solway.

Trevor Solway spent Saturday mornings with his grandfather, listening to the stories of his Blackfoot people. He sees storytelling as a huge part of his culture that continuously motivates him.

“It inspires me to pull that (creative) energy out of myself,” Solway says.

Already a budding amateur filmmaker when he came to Mount Royal to join the journalism program, Solway’s first major success behind the lens came in 2013 when he was working for Siksika Media. Along with huge parts of southern Alberta, his home community of the Siksika Nation flooded, causing Solway to instinctively grab a camera and start interviewing people about their experiences. The resulting documentary, Siksika Strong, ended up helping raise several thousand dollars towards recovery.

It was a process that taught him compassion, and one that was also eye-opening, he says.

“That documentary gave people the chance to go back and revisit those feelings that they didn’t have time to process. It taught me a lesson that filmmaking is very powerful. It can be a medium for healing and a method for people to really understand themselves.”

Solway’s time at Mount Royal nurtured his natural storytelling skills, he says.

“Ideas are great, but you have to act on those ideas. Lead with your heart: your spirit will be balanced and happy.”

Tending to work in a genre he calls “dramedy,” a combination of drama and comedy, Solway believes that a sense of humour has been fundamental for his people’s resilience. Filmmaking can be a way for the Indigenous to take control of their own image, he says. His 2016 film Indian Giver, about a father who abandoned his family for 20 years and expected to be treated as though everything was normal upon his return, has been screened at film festivals around the world.

To encourage Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous Peoples, for several years Solway ran a summer film camp at Siksika. Upon graduation from Mount Royal, he turned that camp into the Napi Collective, a grassroots filmmaking society with the hopes of developing the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers and talent.

“I try to take on the role of producer or mentor,” Solway says. Since their inception in 2018, the group has made five narrative films.

Solway’s advice to his mentees and students is: “Ideas are great, but you have to act on those ideas. Lead with your heart: your spirit will be balanced and happy.”


For displaying a devotion to his community and creativity, and for striking out on his own so early in his career, Trevor Solway is this year’s recipient of the Horizon Award.

Nathan Lawley

Outstanding Future Alumni Award

Bachelor of Arts — English

 

Photo of Nathan Lawley.

The list of Nathan Lawley’s accomplishments is so extensive that it seems he must be using a time-altering device. Otherwise, how could one person find the time to be involved in so many meaningful initiatives, volunteer, work and maintain an above-average GPA?

The answer to Lawley’s magic lies elsewhere, however, in a combination of hard work, dedication and empathy that has had a ripple effect throughout MRU since he began in the Bachelor of Arts — English program.

Lawley has dedicated his time and efforts towards multiple roles integral to the student community. He has volunteered extensively in peer support with the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University’s (SAMRU) Pride Centre and was a Planning and Implementation Committee member. As assistant vice-president academic, Lawley was the first student to be elected as the deputy speaker for the General Faculties Council.

After winning the position of vice-president academic for the students’ association in 2019, Lawley says he is proud of how his team handled a difficult 2019/2020 academic year, and that he learned to follow his own instincts as an advocate for his fellow students.

“The stories of each person’s life press on me and remind me how much there still is left to do.”

One of the areas where Lawley’s dedication and influence shines the strongest is his support and advocacy for the LGBTQ2+ community. He has generously shared his own story as an out transgender person, presented on the importance of respecting students’ pronouns in the classroom, encouraged a safe space for students to realize their full potential and used his position in student government to speak on topics relevant to the transgender community.

“My ability to be visible safely on the MRU campus is a privilege, which I hope I use to encourage those in my community who may be struggling with feelings of inadequacy or a lack of safety,” Lawley says.

One of the most meaningful, and most challenging, roles that Lawley plays is his involvement in SAMRU’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, when he curates a list of the hundreds of names of transgender people murdered by acts of violence in the previous 12 months, later displayed in a space of reflection.

“The stories of each person’s life press on me and remind me how much there still is left to do and how people are required to stand behind those who have less,” Lawley says.


For his committment to equality, inclusion and his fellow students, Nathan Lawley is the Outstanding Future Alumni Award recipient for 2020.

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Past Winners – Alumni Achievement Awards 2019

Check out the winners.

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Join us for webinars on
Nov. 23, 24 and 25 hosted by the award recipients