2016 SAMRU Awards Winners


Congratulations 2016 SAMRU Awards Winners!

Inspiring Culture Award

Getzemany Uscanga

Originally from Mexico, Getzemany moved to Canada in 2009 faced with diverse challenges such as cultural assimilation and language barriers. Her experiences as a recent immigrant are what made her decide to pursue a career in Education, which she looks to achieve as her second degree. Currently in her last semester of the Spanish program, Getzemany has found MRU to be her second home; she became president of the Spanish Students Society, acted as a student representative on the Faculty of Arts Council, coordinated events for Cultures of MRU, and now works as a Spanish tutor for Student Learning Services. As she moves on, she hopes that MRU can inspire and motivate others, just as it has inspired her.

Beyond Disabilities Award

Vivian Ly

For Vivian, the first year of nursing was the most difficult: feeling the frustration of exams, finals, failures, and having people challenge her abilities. When she finally felt she was back on track, life would manage to push her off course once again. After spending a day shadowing a nurse at the hospital, the experience left her feeling sad, angry, emotionally drained, and questioning her decision to be a nurse. This, while initially demoralizing, confirmed to her that, yes, she did want to be a nurse. Vivian recognized a desire to be there for people in their time of need, which has made all the difficulties worth it. In spite of all the stress and tears, Vivian has survived, and will continue to survive.

Gender and Sexual Diversity Award

Aalayna Spence

Enrolling at MRU 3 years ago, Aalayna’s dream of being a nurse was quickly curtailed by an inability to stand the sight of blood. She quickly turned this setback into an opportunity to study Social Work, a program she has fallen in love with. Her desire is to work with Indigenous youth in northern communities, in particular, youth who fall under the LGBTTQ++ spectrum. Aalayna’s experiences at MRU haven’t always been positive, but they have all contributed to her personal growth. Whether it was helping form the Trans* Awareness Committee, helping implement the first ever annual Trans* Day of Remembrance March and Reception, or even sharing her story with students, Aalayna knows there is more work to be done. She will continue to advocate for a safer environment for everyone at MRU.

Deanna Cardinal Memorial Award

Amanda Grace Heavy Runner

A proud Blackfoot Native woman, Amanda has been at MRU since 2014, enrolled in the Aboriginal Education Program and then the Bachelor of Communication program majoring in Journalism. Volunteering with SAMRU, she has made considerable contributions by dancing at cultural events such as the annual Pow-Wow and cooking fried bread at tea and bannock events numerous times over the semester. She is also treasurer of the Aboriginal Social Community club, a group that welcomes all people to come together and gain knowledge on culture and build relationships through celebration.  She enjoys her studies and community contributions, helping others to achieve success at MRU.

Citizenship Awards

Nouralhuda Ismail

Nouralhuda has always been passionate about education and teaching. It is this passion that pushed this Bachelor of Education student to volunteer in many school related programs and events such as Calgary Reads. She has also shared her time helping Syrian refugees, working one on one with children to help them transition to schools and overcome academic struggles. With the hope of becoming a teacher, she would like to provide support to low income families and immigrants. Nouralhuda knows that you don’t have to be rich to enhance the lives of others; all you have to do is find something you are passionate about and devote your time towards it.

Olga Barcelo

Olga believes that volunteering in the community is the most important thing a person can do because it benefits everyone. She currently commits at least 8 hours a week of her time in various roles such as project lead for Enactus, student ambassador for the International Student Centre, and as board member for the Office of Student Conduct. She has helped organize a petition which obtained over 60,000 signatures, created the Refugee Project, and looks at ways to help students in need of academic support. Olga is currently registered in the Bachelor of Arts program majoring in Sociology, hoping to one day change the world by becoming a lawyer.

Victoria Stosky

Enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, Victoria is dedicated to Free the Children and Enactus, both of which she has influenced in positive ways. Through Feed the Children she co-founded Tumaini, a group dedicated to community development projects in Kenya, which raised over $30,000 under her guidance. She has held several leadership roles in Enactus, volunteering over 2,500 hours to the group and founding projects such as Aboriginal Community Empowerment. As a motivated student with a passion for social change through entrepreneurship, Victoria has a desire to create a better world and true commitment to make a difference.

Committed Learner Awards

Terrill Tail Feathers

Originally from the Blood Indian Reserve in Southern Alberta, Terrill decided to attend MRU after being inspired to start a children’s television program to teach the Blackfoot language. Currently enrolled in the Aboriginal Education Program, he is preparing to join the Broadcasting program for the Fall 2016 semester to further his goals. As a single parent, dealing with tight finances and having to make sacrifices, Terrill wants to set a good example for his children and make his family proud. He has worked hard to get where he is and hopes to improve the lives of children in his community by bringing them educational videos to learn their indigenous language.

Bolutife Opeodu

Since he could remember, Bolutife has always wanted to be a criminal defense attorney, a goal that influences all aspects of his life.  Enrolled in his 2nd year in the Criminal Justice program, the desire to follow his own path has not always had positive outcomes. Personal relationships have been affected, some which have never been the same, but he continues to maintain his independence while pursuing his dream. All of this has tested his determination and helped him overcome an emotionally strenuous point in his life, bringing him to where he is today.

Excellence in Community Service Club Award

Spanish Students Society

Originally starting as a social club offering dance classes, the Spanish Students Society grew and modified their mission in 2012 to provide a more significant role on campus. To do this they embraced a more academic focus to their club activities. They developed a Spanish library, sharing texts relevant to Hispanic Societies, and created Conversation Groups to help students practice their language skills. This year they created Cultures of MRU, a celebration of diversity on campus, with the intention of making this an annual event. The Spanish Students Society will continue to share Hispanic culture on campus and bring greater opportunities to the students of MRU.

Excellence in Membership Service Club Award

Financial Students’ Organization

The primary goal for the FSO this past year was to restructure the club around the idea of facilitating student involvement. While not an easy task, the club was able to create 3 distinct pillars for their mission statement to guide them to reach this goal: promoting financial literacy, actively supporting the community, and forming meaningful, professional relationships. As examples of these ideas, the club hosted seminars such as the ATB budget workshop, devoted their time to organizations such as The Mustard Seed, and hosted their annual networking event. The club has aspirations of implementing the FSO Legacy Scholarship, recognizing both academic excellence as well as committed involvement to FSO or the Finance program at MRU.

Outstanding Student of the Year

Cassandra Nysten

As a 3rd year Bachelor of Science student with a Health Science major, Cassandra was engaged in her community from an early age. As a member of 4-H, she held several board positions, organized volunteer initiatives, and acted as a leader and role model for the younger members. She continues to be just as involved in her community today as a Peer Health Educator, a participant in the Stepping Up Violence Prevention Project, a swim/water instructor for Making Waves Calgary, and as a volunteer at the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured. Cassandra’s goal is to be a family doctor, believing that one person can have a significant impact on the world just by implementing positive change and encouraging other to do the same.

Gold Award

Simmi Grewal

Simmi’s tumultuous journey as an MRU student began about 5 years ago. Starting in open studies, she soon realized she was not mentally or emotionally prepared to be at university. While still recovering from personal tragedy, she sought help and was able to change the course of her life. Now in her 3rd year of the Bachelor of Business program with a major in Human Resources, she is actively involved in the Student Life Committee, was a Mental Health Project Coordinator for SAMRU, promoted the Bell “Let’s Talk” campaign, and has even made the Dean’s Honour Roll.  She is committed to improving herself and has achieved accomplishments she never thought she could have, only a few years ago.

Silver Awards

Emily Knight

The most meaningful and impactful volunteer experience Emily has had at MRU has been with the organization, Enactus. Now involved in her 3rd year with the organization, this Bachelor of Business Administration student has had to think outside the box, get out of her comfort zone, and collaborate with faculty, student, and business leaders. Two specific projects, Recreate and EmpowerU, have both created positive change for elementary school students and vulnerable women, respectively. Being part of Enactus and MRU has given Emily direction for her future, confidence to take on new challenges, and forge lifelong friendships. She is able to empower more people to become change makers, and that is pretty special!

Djordje (George) Calic

Entering Mount Royal University in 2013, George didn’t exactly have the best start. He had entered university in body, but his mind had yet to adjust to this new lifestyle. It was a spark of inspiration that made him know he wanted to be successful in school, and establish himself within the MRU community. He did this by studying hard, joining several clubs, keeping busy as a tutor, becoming a student ambassador, and serving as a research assistant to the MRU Finance department. As he says about his change in attitude, he “was blind, but now can see”.

Bronze Awards

Fareshta Ali Bik

As a student in the Bachelor of Child Studies program majoring in Early Learning and Child Care, Fareshta’s goal is to become a child development specialist. Ever since moving to Canada, she has learned to love, appreciate, and truly respect people for who they are, resulting in her commitment to serving her community in many different areas. Whether it be volunteering for causes such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary, Youth Probation, Heart of the Northeast, FOCUS on Seniors, or SAMRU groups like the Sikh or Sociable clubs, Fareshta will gladly continue to support her community and help anyone who crosses her path in life.

Linda Tran

Linda has always been apt to take part in both school and community volunteerism, especially when she can see the results of offering her time. Only in her first year at MRU in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, she decided to get involved in campus life early by becoming a Peer Assisted Study Session leader. There she facilitates student learning and provides a resource to those that need it. She has helped young children read by serving her time in the Reading Buddies program though the Calgary Public Library and currently volunteers weekly with Canadian Blood Services. Linda knows that volunteerism is an act that benefits the community, but it benefits her as well, and she is motivated to pass it forward.

Nathan Lawley

Since he started coming to MRU in the Fall of 2014, Nathan has been actively involved in many of the service centres and programs offered in Wyckham House. Sex Toy Bingo, Gender Bender, Wyckham House Foot Traffic count and the Consignment Used Book sale are just some of the events and programs he has dedicated his time to. He also volunteers in the Peer Support Center and as a room mentor, but his passion is with the Pride Centre. He works hard to make it a safe, comfortable, and exciting place for everyone by encouraging positive and educational conversations. Nathan is enrolled in MRU’s Bachelor of Arts program with a major in English.

Outstanding Governor of the Year

Dexter Bruneau

Now in his 4th year of the Criminal Justice program, Dexter has had the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on the lives of his peers. Recently voted in as the next VP External Affairs for the Representation Executive Council, Dexter has had lead roles in clubs, and is a member of the student governing board. Despite only sitting on the board for a short time, Dexter has made an impact by helping recommend a Club’s Council, where club executives would have greater control over decisions pertaining to them. Dexter feels privileged to have improved the lives of students at MRU and will continue to do so for as long as he can.

Champion Award

Shawnee Armstrong

Shawnee touches and enriches the lives of many MRU students, whether they know it or not. As the Assistant to the Chair for the Accounting & Finance Department in the Bissett School of Business, she is pleasant, well informed, and is a reliable individual for many students. Whether it be printing quizzes, helping book meeting rooms, or visiting classrooms to promote events, she demonstrates that she cares about students and their initiatives. Many students who visit Shawnee have only positive things to say, and she has become a friend and confidante to many at MRU.