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U of M grads unafraid to dream big

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Megan Jack is a U of M medical school graduate.


Megan Jack is a U of M medical school graduate. Photo Store

Megan Jack doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about being Manitoba’s first deaf doctor — she’s known since grade 7 she’d be a doctor.

"I just knew about myself, what I wanted," Jack signed through an interpreter. "I’m not the first deaf doctor in the world, I’m not the first deaf doctor in Canada."

Jack is among 2,845 graduates at this year’s 134th spring convocation, which concludes Thursday. That compares to 2,767 students last year, and is about the fifth-highest graduating class in the university’s history.

Along the way, no one tried to dissuade Jack.

"Shockingly, for me as well, everyone has been supportive, the patients as well," laughed Jack.

When she applied to medical school at U of M fresh from an honours science degree, "They were a little bit like, OK, how will we make this work?"

The same with Border Land School Division, when Jack attended W.C. Miller Collegiate in Altona. While there was not an abundance of interpreters in Altona, Jack had any that were available, and always had an educational assistant to help her with taking notes.

She has no doctors in her family, but back in grade 7 — yes, grade 7 — "I started reading books about medicine. Around that time I really got interested in science, biology, how the body works.

"I had a lot of people who believed in me."

Jack was one of 110 medical students who qualified from among 1,000 applicants.

The university’s disabilities services, now called accessibility, provided four interpreters each year of her medical studies, only one of whom has a medical background. Jack waited a year to start so that three interpreters could be trained in the complex terminology involved in medicine, and even then, they prep on the subject matter before going to a lecture with Jack.

When she’s working as a family doctor, after an upcoming two years in residency, Jack expects she’ll have to hire her own interpreter to treat hearing patients. While she can speak, "Not every person can understand me," Jack said.

Typically, Jack said, deaf patients bring a family member, communicate with the doctor with pen and paper, or bring in their own interpreter. She had a family member accommpany her to the doctor when she was younger.

Patient privacy would not be an issue for a doctor’s using an interpreter, said Jack: "Interpreters have their own code of ethics.

"I like rural medicine, but the deaf community is predominantly in Winnipeg," said Jack, who declared she plans to practice in Manitoba. "Deaf people can come to my practice if they so choose."

Not a Hanson brother

Let’s be clear up front — Matt Lowry is not a Hanson brother.

The peripatetic agriculture diploma grad from Neepawa has gone in very short order these past few months from the classroom to playing pro hockey in the ECHL to working his fields.

He’s just back from playing the late regular season and playoffs with the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League, now an acronym only).

Matt Lowry of Neepawa, seen here in 2011

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Matt Lowry of Neepawa, seen here in 2011 (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES) Photo Store

The ECHL was once the inspiration for the movie Slapshot.

"In the past, it had a bad name for being a goon league," said Lowry. "It’s actually a pretty good league, guys working up through the system."

After playing with Medicine Hat and Brandon in the Western Hockey League, and not drafted by the NHL, Lowry has played in the American Hockey League, in the ECHL, and had three seasons with the U of M Bisons.

Now that he’s a grad, he’s still looking at hockey as well as farming, said Lowry, who went to Neepawa Collegiate before joining teams in the WHL.

"At the moment, I plan to do both. I’ll work the summer on the farm, after harvest I’ll grab my hockey bag," said Lowry, a former centre now playing right wing.

Lowry is the fourth generation on the family farm northeast of Neepawa, growing wheat, rye, and canola. "My dad has a few thousand acres and I have 700 acres.

"We’re a little behind the eight-ball. We were a bit wet at the start, about a month later than last year," said Lowry.

He preferred U of M’s diploma program to a degree in agriculture: "It’s very practical, with learning situations that are hands-on," he said.

Passion for animation

The people at Disney might want to scoop up Allan Gould before a competing studio lands the best animator to come out of Red Lake.

Gould is graduating with a fine arts degree.

"My high school art teacher went there and encouraged me to go there," Gould said from his home in northwestern Ontario. "I just wanted to be an artist — as I progressed, I discovered my passion was animation."

Alas, Gould is still working on developing a website on which his work can be seen, but he’s presented his short films at campus open houses and galleries.

"My subject matter is cute cartoon animals that get into situations, and then learn something along the way," films designed for children but works that all ages can enjoy, said Gould.

Gould has been active on campus raising money for the Quagga Cat Shelter and for an annual Christmas toy drive.

"The toys are given to students with children With the expenses university has, it’s difficult to have a Christmas," he explained.

Further studies at a specialty animation program will depend on finding accommodation and being accommodated, as he was at U of M, said Gould, who has Asperger Syndrome.

"The accessibility office has been wonderful in helping me," such as providing him with a quiet room for exams, giving him extra time, and letting him write on a computer.


Elder Harry Bone

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Elder Harry Bone (HANDOUT)


Elder Harry Bone has worked tirelessly and quietly throughout his life to bolster Indigenous rights, and is Chief of Gilzhlgoowlnlng (Keeseekoowenin) in Treaty Two territory. He conducts research on the original spirit and intent of treaties, He is a member of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Council of Elders, and Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba’s Speakers Bureau. Bone serves as a source of inspiration to the Faculty of Medicine, which shares his goal of improving the lives of Indigenous peoples by respecting their individual and collective rights. He received his honourary degree at the Faculty of Medicine Convocation May 16.


Phyllis Yaffe is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of her exceptional business acumen and for trailblazing paths for other women to follow into the world of publishing and entertainment. In 1996, she became president and CEO of Alliance Broadcasting and by 2001 she was appointed to the newly created position of chief executive officer of Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, and later became CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications. In 2006 Yaffe was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. She’s the former chair of the board of directors of Cineplex Entertainment. Yaffe received her honourary degree Tuesday.


Wayne Anderson

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Wayne Anderson (HANDOUT)

Wayne Anderson is a successful entrepreneur and champion of the University of Manitoba’s vision and mission. Anderson was born in Winnipeg and graduated from U of M in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. In 1993 he became president at St. Boniface Pallet Company, an office he still holds today, and from 1993 to 2003 was vice-president of Hillside Farms Ltd. and chairman of the Manitoba Horseracing Commission. As a student, Anderson played hockey for the Bisons and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. Anderson was elected to U of M’s board of governors in 1996 and served many years including four years as chair. In 2008 he received the Peter D. Curry Chancellor’s Award in recognition of his service. Anderson received his honorary degree Tuesday.


Strinivasan (Strini) Reddy has been an educator in five countries, and an advocate for social justice and peace. Reddy began teaching in 1956 in South Africa’s Natal Province, then in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Zambia and England, before coming to Canada. In 1979 he became a consultant on English as a Second Language programs for Frontier School Division and in 1985 became the first chief superintendent of that school division. Reddy works with community organizations to improve education and combat child poverty. He is the Manitoba coordinator for Project Love, chair of the South Africa Education Support Committee, co-founder of the Summer Learning Enrichment Program for Winnipeg’s inner-city children and is past chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg. He will receive an Honourary Doctor of Laws at 9:30 a.m.


Archbishop V. James Weisgerber

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Archbishop V. James Weisgerber (HANDOUT)

Archbishop V. James Weisgerber was ordained as a priest 50 years ago. He was dean of arts at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, was rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral and pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, then at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Fort Qu’Appelle led the pastoral ministry in neighbouring First Nations’ reserves. In 1990 Weisgerber was elected General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), was appointed the Bishop of Saskatoon by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on March 7, 1996, and was named the sixth Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg by Pope John Paul II on June 7, 2000. Weisgerber has worked to bridge the divide between the Catholic Church in Canada and Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples and was symbolically adopted by several First Nations Elders at a ceremony in 2012 that made him a brother to the First Nations community. He will be receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws at 3 p.m.


Julie Payette

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Julie Payette (HANDOUT)

Julie Payette joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1996 and flew two space missions aboard space shuttles Discovery and Endeavour. On Endeavour, in 2009, she again flew to the ISS and operated Canadarm, a robotic arm she guided through delicate maneuvers needed to complete installation of a new laboratory attached to ISS. Payette has logged over 611 hours in space and from 2000 until 2007 she was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency. She was the first Canadian to participate in an ISS assembly mission and to board ISS. She will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in recognition of her courage to explore new boundaries, for challenging herself, and for trailblazing deeper paths for other women of science to follow.


Henry Engbrecht served as the university’s first director of Choral Studies from 1978 until 2006. Engbrecht had previously taught music and directed choirs in various schools and colleges in southern Manitoba. Recognized as a leading music educator, choral conductor, clinician and adjudicator, he has made significant contributions to the development of music education and choral music throughout Manitoba and across Canada over the past 50 years. Engbrecht helped establish the Manitoba Choral Association, the Foundation for Choral Music in Manitoba, and the Manitoba Summer Academy in Advanced Choral Conducting. He has conducted the U of M Singers, the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, the Manitoba Opera Chorus, and Canzona, his own professional chamber choir. An endowment fund in his name at the U of M recruits top graduate students to the Faculty of Music. He will be receiving an Honourary Doctor of Laws Thursday at 3 p.m.



The Dr and Mrs. H.H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to sociology Prof. Lance W. Roberts, who is known for engaging students through humour.

Geography Prof. Lisa Ford receives the Oliver Beatrice Stanton Award for Excellence in Teaching — Ford’s students describe her as exuberant.

The Distinguished Professor Award goes to Prof. David Barber, the renowned Canada Research Chair in Arctic system science.



Brent Gordon Thomas Else, gold for outstanding achievement at graduate level

Jason Matthew Klusowski, silver for outstanding achievement at undergraduate level

Tanner Kyle Nicoll, bronze for highest standing in the two-year agriculture diploma



Ryan William Murphy, Agricultural and Food Sciences

Anissa Bernadeth Anter, Asper School of Business

Daniel Bruce Kowbel, Engineering

Robyn Alexandra Arnason, Architecture

Alexa Rachel Yakubovich, Arts

Christine Marie Valérie Paillé, Université de Saint-Boniface

Daron Kelsey Baxter, Dentistry

Peiki Loay, Education

Jacqueline Reva Usiskin, Art

Jennifer Leigh Deborah Sellen, Human Ecology

Meaghan Luise Rempel, Kinesiology and Recreation Management

Conner Gibson Harris, Law

Matthew David Charles Packer, Desautels Faculty of Music

Ashley Joy Newman, Nursing

Lesley Amanda Worsnop, Pharmacy

Lauren Alexa Eggie, Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources

Christie Samantha Rampersad, Science

Erica Siddall, Social Work



Awarded for highest achievement in a faculty or school program:

Agriculture and Food Sciences:

  • Agribusiness --- Nolan Jay Giesbrecht
  • Agriculture --- Matthew Neil Chastko
  • Agriecology --- Katherine Alexandra Stanley
  • Food Science --- Lindsey Rianne Boyd


  • Art History Honours --- Jacqueline Reva Usiskin
  • Fine Arts Studio --- Cara Jess Mason
  • Fine Arts Studio Honours --- Jordan Walker Stephensen


  • Advanced Degree --- Anne Marie Heard
  • General degree --- Marcella Marie Dyck
  • Honours Degree --- Melissa Suzann Krushel

Dental Hygiene:

  • Chelsea Heather Hagen


  • Early Years Stream --- Shayla Michelle Refvik
  • Middle Years Stream --- Kevin lee Stevenson
  • Senior Years Stream --- Peiki Loay


  • Biosystems --- Shawn Kenneth Wiebe
  • Civil --- Lucas Emerson Wazney
  • Computer --- Chen Liu
  • Electrical --- Jesse Neil Doerksen
  • Mechanical --- Daniel Bruce Kowbel

Human Ecology:

  • Family Social Sciences --- Lisa Joy Balcaen
  • Health Sciences --- Sarah Elizabeth Turner
  • Human Nutritional Sciences --- Chelsey Anne Walchuk
  • Textile Sciences --- Kyla Lynn McWhirter

Kinesiology and Recreation Management:

  • Physical Education --- Sara Kathleen Oswald
  • Recreation Management and Community Development --- Lacey Michelle Lynes

Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources:

  • Advanced or Major Degree --- Stacie Dawn Westervelt
  • Honours Degree --- Kayla Renee Moore


  • General degree --- Jessica Sarah Enns
  • Honours Degree --- Jason Matthew Klusowski
  • Major Degree --- Xiang Liu


Updated on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 8:17 AM CDT: adds byline

10:08 AM: Adds gold medalists.

10:50 AM: adds photos, removes duplicate information

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