University of Calgary

Class Notes

Submitted by alumni on Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:42.

Class Notes

We love it when you send us news! Your updates on career moves, weddings, births, retirement and awards — in other words, your life events — are listed here!
by Ellis Choe

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Arsheen Dhalla, BN’10, received the Alumni Achievement Award at the 2016 Arch Awards for her nursing expertise. Six years post-graduation, she has already made her mark internationally. She founded Daraja — which means “bridge” in Swahili — a non-profit foundation and charity in Zanzibar, Tanzania, that supports a local school and orphanage to empower young adults with educational opportunities and provide tools to support life skills.

Omar Eleryan, BSc (Eng)’10, a Calgary engineer, and his business partner, Simon Czarnota, debuted Cleo, their pocket drone, at the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The camera drone is small enough to fit into your pocket and is controlled by your smartphone.

Faye Stenning, BKin’12, a professional Spartan racer who nabbed third in the 2016 world championships, was named one of the Calgary Herald’s 20 “Compelling Calgarians” to watch in 2017. She shares this piece of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to do what you love and take some risks. Never let the thought of failure hold you back.”

Erica Wiebe, BKin’12, BA’16, the professional wrestler who brought home a gold medal from the Rio Olympics, has been named one of the Calgary Herald’s 20 “Compelling Calgarians” to watch in 2017. Her life motto: “Be yourself . . . it will always be enough.” She was also named Ottawa’s 2016 female athlete of the year at the Ottawa Sports Awards, the largest and longest recurring municipal amateur sport-recognition program in Canada.

Hayley Wickenheiser, BKin’13, MSc’16, retired from hockey on Jan. 13, 2017. The four-time Canadian Olympic gold medallist, considered the best female hockey player in the world, tweeted the announcement: “Dear Canada. It has been the great honour of my life to play for you. Time to hang ’em up!! Thank you!”

Colton Lewis, BComm’15, was named one of the Calgary Herald’s “Compelling Calgarians” to watch in 2017. He is the key figure behind initiating the Brett Wiese Memorial Scholarship Fund. Wiese was a close friend of Lewis’s who was killed at a house party three years ago. This recent grad is optimistic about 2017. Lewis says: “It’s going to be an amazing year for Calgarians — actually for all Canadians as we celebrate our 150th birthday. I think we should acknowledge how fortunate we are to live and study in such an amazing country.”

Greg McMeekin, LLB’15, was included on the list of 20 “Compelling Calgarians” to watch for in 2017 by the Calgary Herald. He doesn’t want to be known as a role model due to his disability (the 43-year-old lawyer has cerebral palsy). Having fought institutional barriers his entire life, his No. 1 passion has never wavered. “I want to help as many people as possible,” says the volunteer at Calgary Legal Guidance, whose life motto is, “to try and see the good in all people.”

James Thorogood, BSc (Eng)’16, was recently one of 11 Canadians to win a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford. In the past few years, he has worked with Engineers Without Borders in Ghana to identify viable businesses that could reduce import dependencies and create opportunities for rural communities. He also co-founded Skill2Scale, a social enterprise that develops digital-education services for low-income youth in India and East Africa. Currently, Thorogood is working with a startup enterprise in Kenya to improve the livelihood of millions of small-dairy farmers who are entrenched in cycles of poverty.



Qapla’! Speaking Star Trek

When he was a kid, Joseph Windsor, MA’12, fell in love with the Klingon language. Since then, not only has he gone on to become an expert speaker of it, he’s built his academic career around linguistics.

First heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Klingon has grown from a few phrases into a bona fide language with thousands of speakers around the world. There’s an official dictionary, a translated edition of Hamlet and even a Klingon Language Institute.

Windsor, a PhD candidate in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures & Cultures, started studying the language four years ago and has presented on Klingon linguistics at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.

“I don’t think anyone expected (Klingon) to take off,” says Windsor. “(Stories) become more believable when you get the aliens speaking their own language.”

Windsor was quick to offer his Klingon-language services to Telus Spark for its new Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience exhibition and hopes to help out with promotions for the event. He didn’t wait long to visit after it opened in February.

“We had so much fun,” he says. “It’s really interactive — you get to try your luck shooting phasers and scanning Klingons with a tricorder.” The exhibit also includes props and costumes from the franchise, as well as models used for filming.

Windsor’s Klingon expertise will also come in handy when UCalgary hosts the Language Creation Conference on July 22 and 23.

“We’ll be looking at what does studying an artificial language teach us about the learning process and learning biases in natural languages,” says Windsor, who is a local co-host of the event dedicated to “conlanging” — the craft of language creation. “It’s the first time the conference has been held in Canada.”

Klingon is an example of conlanging. The concept is not new, Windsor says; the idea goes back to the 12th century, Esperanto being a famous “real-world” example, and other constructed languages such as Dothraki from Game of Thrones have taken on lives of their own.

But Windsor’s love for language includes more-traditional ones, too. “I tried to teach myself German when I was seven or nine years old,” he says. “I’ve always been a language nerd.” He completed undergrad degrees in English and Gaelic at St. Francis Xavier before coming to UCalgary in 2008 for his master’s and PhD. Aside from Klingon, Windsor’s interests include Irish and Blackfoot, and his postdoctoral proposal is a study of the Métis language, Michif.

As for his choice to call UCalgary home, Windsor says, “The University of Calgary motto is in Gaelic, so I figured this was the place to be!”

Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience runs to June 4.

For more information on the Language Creation Conference, visit U

– Alex Frazer-Harrison


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