Congratulations to this year’s recipients of national, provincial and TRU medals for their academic excellence. The following recipients will be recognized during Spring Convocation, June 8-10:
Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal
Aaron Coelho completed his Bachelor of Science at TRU in 2008, and recently completed his Master of Science in Environmental Science. He also held a teaching assistant position in first- and second-year biology labs. His research included field work in the Lac du Bois grasslands, and presentations at the Society for Range Management conferences in 2013 and 2014 and at the Pacific Northwest Section Workshop in 2014. He finished second in TRU’s Three Minute Thesis Competition in 2014. He is currently working as an environmental consultant for Urban Systems Ltd., and is planning to obtain the designation of Professional Agrologist.
Governor General’s Academic Medal (Silver),
TRU Medal in Arts and TRU Medal in Education
Tonia Lambert began her career with the federal government, but guided by her passion to make a difference in the lives of others, she left her government position to return to university in TRU’s Bachelor of Education program. Her greatest highlight was being in classes with professors who openly shared their passions and ignited her interests. They encouraged her to think critically, participate in thoughtful conversations and create positive change. Her future plans are to help make this world a better place by working closely with people who have been traditionally excluded, and encouraging them to meet their desired human potential.
Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze)
Robert Long appreciated the opportunities to work closely with his instructors in the Human Service Diploma program. Highlights include hosting a radio show on campus station CFBX and presenting research on alcohol abuse at the Undergraduate Research Conference. He is currently working at an adventure-based wilderness treatment center near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. In the future, he plans to attain a Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work to learn more about social and solidarity economics as they relate to social services in underserved communities. His long-term goal is to improve the social service system in remote northern communities.
Sarah Gjaltema began the Education Assistant and Community Support Certificate program in September 2015. She was the class representative and provided peer support. With a passion for helping others, she has been involved with the United Way, the MS Society and Literacy Kamloops, and this year coached softball for the Kamloops Special Olympics. She is an integral part of the parent advisory council for her son’s school, and a frequent volunteer. Through TRU World she also hosted students from around the globe. She looks forward to a position as an education assistant in Kamloops, and would like to eventually become a special education teacher.
Law Society of British Columbia Gold Medal
Cole Rodocker received a Bachelor of Arts in English from UBC Okanagan before obtaining his Juris Doctor from TRU. Consistently among the top students throughout his years at TRU, he made the Dean’s List in his second and third year and received numerous Dean’s Course Prizes, awarded for achieving the highest mark in a course. His many awards include the Alvin and Lydia Grunert Scholarship in Law, ScotiaBank Course Prize in Business Associations, Norma Quinn Memorial Prize in Law for Real Estate and the TRU Law Scholarship. He has also contributed his time to the Law Students Legal Advice program, the TRU Legal Information Clinic and was a Senior Editor on the Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law. He will be articling at Blakes, Cassels and Graydon.
TRU Medal in Business Administration
Sydney Heichert knew since high school that she wanted to become an accountant. She began the Bachelor of Business Administration program on a President’s Entrance Scholarship, and went on to receive more awards including the KPMG Student Scholars to Business Award, two Daley & Company accounting scholarships, two CPA Education Foundation scholarships and the KPMG Aboriginal Scholarship. Winning first place at the 2014/15 Western Canada Chartered Professional Accountant Case Competition with teammate Faline Lidstone was a highlight of her third year. She began her accounting career at KPMG in Kamloops in January 2016 and is working on her Chartered Professional Accountant designation.
TRU Medal in Commerce
Mitch Smith went to Olds College in Alberta for two years, then transferred to TRU to complete the remaining two years of his Bachelor of Commerce degree. Currently working at Porter Hetu International in Drumheller, Alberta, he will be starting the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) certification program in September and hopes to one day run his own accountancy office. In his spare time, he enjoys snowboarding, wakeboarding and playing basketball.
TRU Medal in Computing Science
Christopher Foster started programming in grade six so entering the Computing Science program felt like a natural next step. He was president of the Computer Science Club, was actively involved in the Kamloops Innovation Centre, and was an organizer for Startup Weekend Kamloops. He participated in four research projects, some of which were presented at the TRU and UBCO Undergraduate Research Conferences. Currently working full-time at Memoryleaf Media Inc., a local software development company, he has received an NSERC award and will start his master’s at the University of Victoria in the fall, studying artificial intelligence and machine learning. He is also training for Ironman 2017.
TRU Medal in Fine Arts
Maeghan Watkinson began her Bachelor of Fine Arts after high school in Williams Lake. She received an Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP) award during the summer of 2015, and participated in TRU’s Undergraduate Research Conference in 2016, both relating to her graduation exhibition documenting the ranching lifestyle in BC. She travelled to the US to participate in SCGI printmaking conferences in 2014 and 2015, and also went to the 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. She intends to complete a Bachelor of Education to be a high school art teacher, and will continue working as an artist. She would also like to own her own ranch.
TRU Medal in Health Science
Emily McNeil-Smith graduated from the Westcoast College of Massage Therapy in 2013 and has been working as a registered massage therapist at a multidisciplinary sports medicine clinic for the past two years. Completing her Bachelor of Health Science will allow her to pursue a Master of Science in rehabilitation medicine, physiotherapy or possibly public health. She lives in Vancouver with her partner, and they enjoy kayaking, hiking and other outdoors activities. She is also a ballet teacher and is looking forward to teaching again now that her Health Science degree is completed.
TRU Medal in Interdisciplinary Studies
Breann (“Bre”) Erickson has focused her Interdisciplinary Studies program on leadership development, human resource management and psychology. A full-time gymnastics coach, a skier and a climber with a love for travel, she has lived by three words: balance, opportunity and effort. Balancing her time, she travelled, studied, spent time with friends, worked and made her time at university an opportunity, not a race. In spring 2015 she prepared a team of gymnasts to represent Canada on a world stage, and was recognized for her efforts as the Provincial Leader of the year by Gymnastics BC.
TRU Medal in Journalism
Jessica Messerer-Trosin graduated from Sa-Hali Secondary in Kamloops and entered the Bachelor of Journalism program in 2011. Throughout her studies, she enjoyed volunteering and working in the TRU Writing Centre. She is now working in her hometown and writing articles for The Connector. She plans to travel in the next few years and hopes to eventually become an academic advisor to help students on their education journey.
TRU Medal in Natural Resource Science
Aaren Ritchie-Bonar began her studies with a Regional Entrance Scholarship, and went on to receive several awards including the Micheline Pellerine Scholarship, the Mutual Fire Insurance Scholarship and the Barbara and Jack Gregson Memorial Award. A Study Abroad Ambassador for the past two years, she spent winter 2014 at the University of Belize, joining its women’s soccer team to play in the Central American University Games. In April she presented a poster on her honours research at the International Association of Wildland Fires Conference in Portland, Oregon. She is working for the BC Ministry of Environment as an aquatic invasive species inspector for the summer.
TRU Medal in Nursing
Chelsea McShane completed her Social Service Worker Certificate and worked as a community support worker until 2011, when her daughter was born. She then returned to school in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. In 2015 she received the Alvin and Lydia Grunert Scholarship for top undergraduate student in her faculty. Nursing has been a family affair—she graduates this June with her sister and study buddy Carly Roberts. Her grandmother and great aunt also attended nursing school and graduated together. She is now employed as a community and home health nurse and working on establishing her career.
TRU Medal in Science
Taiysa Worsfold began her Bachelor of Science on a TRU Ambassador Scholarship and joined the WolfPack in 2011. She was the poster athlete for women’s basketball in her final season, named Canada West first team all-star and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) academic all-Canadian. She received the Alvin and Lydia Grunert Scholarship for top academic athlete in 2015. She was a TRU PACE program leader and a brand ambassador, and volunteered extensively. This summer she is working for the Regional District of North Okanagan on the invasive plant control crew, and in the fall plans to volunteer abroad in health care before applying for medical school.
TRU Medal in Social Work
Jenny Neilsen balanced academic excellence in her Bachelor of Social Work program with parenting her three children. During her social work studies, she had the opportunity to take part in an international field school in Cuba. She also completed field placements within Splatsin First Nation and Interior Health Authority. She is presently employed as a registered social worker within Interior Health, as well as a crisis intervention worker for the Salmon Arm women’s shelter. She has been accepted into a Master of Counselling Psychology and Art Therapy program at Adler University’s Vancouver campus in the fall.
TRU Medal in Technology
Christopher completed the Engineering Design and Drafting Technology program at UCC in 2004, and started the Bachelor of Technology Leadership program in 2012 in response to labour market needs for technical and project management positions. He did all of his recent schooling online while working in a variety of communities—Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton—and recently found steady employment at Allnorth Consultants Ltd. in Prince George, where he works on major civil, mechanical and industrial projects. Most of his spare time is spent with his wife and kids while updating their recently purchased home, and he has begun working towards his Bachelor of Arts degree.
TRU Medal in Tourism Management
Justin Matulionis has met many new friends while completing his Bachelor of Tourism Management, including during a semester of study abroad at Southern Cross University in Australia. He was nominated for the Alvin and Lydia Grunert Scholarship in second and third year, and received the Fulton and Company Scholarship in his fourth year. This summer he is enjoying working at Treetop Flyers, a local adventure operation. He is pursuing a career in the tourism industry with a focus on adventure activities, and eventually intends to start up a small business of his own.
TRU Medal in General Studies
Photograph and biography not submitted.