Alumni Highlights: Don McIntosh

For April’s Alumni Highlights series, we spoke with Don McIntosh (BSP’87), a graduate of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. He is a management consultant with Sierra Systems Group, an IT Services and Management Consulting firm in Vancouver, BC. Don practiced for many years in acute care. His career transitioned into the deployment and optimization of information systems to enhance capabilities within health care. He serves as a board member for the Alberta Network for Health Information eXchange.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

There are many differences! Most notably, campus infrastructure. The new Health Sciences Building, expansion and re-design of the Royal University Hospital, the re-developed Place Riel and  the new infrastructure around and including the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron. At the time, there was very little development near that yet-to-be-built world-class facility!

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Freshman week when we were back on campus; sharing stories of what happened over the summer and, of course, it was just great to see and connect with friends again. Several of my classmates were from Ontario and World Series games were always an enjoyable diversion from studies, particularly if the Toronto Blue Jays were in the pennant race. Most of all, it was just making long lasting friendships, eating out at small neighbourhood pubs/restaurants on weekends and just enjoying student life. With reflection, it was such a remarkable experience!

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

Irreplaceable. There is no question it is a beautiful campus (and I have visited many over the years), however the U of S is far more than that. It continues to be ‘quietly reserved’ in its many accomplishments and international reputation. We are all recipients of these and I am truly grateful. In one word, foundational.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

Even though I was considered a mature student at that point in my life, I was quite shy. As a future pharmacist, the requirements of combining solid science with essential people skills provided the basis for me to grow professionally, and personally. In many ways, it provided me with the confidence to undertake and welcome new challenges and to recognize that in many ways success really does come from just ‘standing up’.  My time on campus also provided the basis for ‘how to learn’ and a desire to continue to learn – both continue to this day.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

To become involved in student leadership opportunities and to more fully embrace campus life as it truly is a transformative period in your life. I would have embraced the opportunity to seek out a ‘student coach’, if you will. Once on campus, your personal and soon-to-be professional life expands tremendously with not all potential opportunities being obvious. Although my professors were engaged, knowledgeable and caring, additional coaching in ‘navigating the maze’ would have been an additional benefit.

Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from all the U of S colleges, as talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers. In case you missed any previous features, you can read them here.

Al-Katib honoured with international peace award

Murad Al-Katib (BComm’94) is the recipient of a prestigious honour for his work in helping to feed Syrian refugee families.

(Photo: Don Healy / Regina Leader-Post )

Al-Katib is the winner of the 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award for his use of sustainable agriculture in an effort to supply food for those in need during the Syrian crisis.Al-Katib is president and CEO of AGT Foods — one of the largest suppliers of pulse crops in the world. He will receive his in a ceremony in Oslo City Hall on May 16, as part of the annual Business for Peace Summit.

Read more on Al-Katib’s special recognition.

Alumni Volunteer Profile: Jamie Neufeld

As the Volunteer Summit on March 25 approaches, we are profiling our many alumni who have contributed their time, talent or treasure to important causes and organizations.

Jamie Neufeld (BSc’13) graduated from the College of Arts & Science and is continuing studies at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Jamie’s volunteer experience includes spending summer 2016 in Uganda with Veterinarians Without Borders. She also volunteers locally with the Global Gathering Place in Saskatoon.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

When I was younger, I volunteered more out of a sense of obligation.  Now it’s about reciprocating the experiences others have given me, and paying it forward into projects that I am passionate about.

What was your first volunteer experience? What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?

I participated in a program with the Saskatoon Pony Club that taught inner-city children how to handle and ride horses.  Working with kids who were thrilled just to touch a horse, let alone ride a horse, awoke me to my privilege as a young person. While we fussed about which classes to enter in the upcoming horseshow, many program attendees had shoes that were too small and were caretakers for younger siblings.  It was a reality check at a young age, and I am thankful that my coach, the late Elaine Partington, was passionate about providing this opportunity for all involved.

What types of relationships and learning experience have you taken away from volunteering?

I have made friendships with people who continue to inspire and teach me.  In Africa, for example, I connected with the local people – Frazia, a woman raising four children of her own and three more who’d been abandoned; Vivian, translator with a heart of gold and so much love to give; Ronald, a ten-year-old who dreamed of attending public school and eventually becoming a schoolteacher–all passionate and positive, without judgement or pretense.

What is your proudest moment/accomplishment from your volunteering experience?

I had the opportunity to intern with Veterinarians Without Borders and spent the summer of 2016 working on the goat pass-on project in Uganda. The project was established in 2006, so we conducted a ten-year anniversary household impact survey to analyze project strengths and shortcomings. I interviewed over fifty women and was thanked for being part of a project that improved familial childhood; children could go to school, families could eat more than one meal a day, girls could afford menstrual products and have the same opportunities as boys, and communities were able to purchase water tanks and taps and a better standard of living had been achieved by many. Experiencing the impact that a collective of individuals has made over the last ten years was an outstanding part of any of my volunteer experiences.

What is your vision for the future of volunteering? How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

In our connected world, any and all information is available at our fingertips; we don’t have many excuses to remain ill-informed or blissfully ignorant.  However, it’s easy to remain disconnected from matters that we don’t see or directly affect us.  Volunteering and involvement should be self-motivated, but sharing my experiences and encouraging others to pursue an interest or passion of their own might be the first step.

Flory named new Huskies football coach

Scott Flory (BE’99) will lead a new era of Huskie football at the University of Saskatchewan. The 40-year-old former nine-time Canadian Football League all-star and three-time Grey Cup champion has been hired as the new head coach of the U of S Huskies football team.

Flory, who also served as head of the CFL Players Association following a 15-year professional playing career, is a former Huskie football standout who helped lead the team to two Vanier Cup national championship titles in 1996 and 1998 and has spent the previous three seasons serving as the Huskies’ offensive co-ordinator. He takes over from Brian Towriss, who had served as Huskies head coach for the past 33 years and left the program as the winningest university football coach in the country.

For Flory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to serve as the head coach of the football program that helped develop him into a CFL star.

“I am truly honoured and humbled to be selected as the head coach,” said Flory, who played five seasons with the Huskies from 1994 to 1998 and was twice named a CIS All-Canadian. “As a University of Saskatchewan football and engineering alumnus, I left this school and football program with the life skills necessary to be successful. After my playing career was over, being a head coach was a career aspiration of mine and to do it at my alma mater is a dream come true.”

Read more

Home Ice a smart investment for alumni

Most of what Shannon Briske (BComm’01) learned about life he learned from hockey, like the importance of teamwork, commitment and perseverance. Now a minor hockey coach, father of three and Senior Financial Advisor at Assante Wealth Management, he attributes much of his success to his experiences as a student athlete with the ‘Dogs’.

A founding member and past chair of the ‘Off the Leash Luncheon’, Shannon, pictured with his wife Jill, has been involved with the Huskies alumni group since graduating from the U of S with an honours degree in finance in 2000.

“The relationships and core values that were instilled in me as a student athlete remain today,” he said. “It’s important to give back to the program and community that was the platform for building such a strong foundation for my success.”

That’s why Shannon and Jill Briske (BSN’14) have generously donated $200,000 to the Home Ice Campaign – they are committed  to supporting a much-needed twin-ice facility for the Huskies and minor hockey players, providing athletes with the opportunities to develop as both players and people.

The Briskes are pleased that their contribution will help the community. Mr Briske said, “This facility will touch so many people in other sports and will be a venue that everyone can truly be proud of.”

Alumni Volunteer Profile: Sharla Daviduik

As the Volunteer Summit on March 25 approaches, we are profiling our many alumni who have contributed their time, talent or treasure to important causes and organizations.

Sharla Daviduik (BSc’95) is the manager of the administrative support group in the College of Arts & Science at the U of S. Sharla volunteers with the Saskatoon Open Door Society and Girl Guides of Canada as a leader of the 58th Saskatoon Brownie unit.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

I was looking for an “extracurricular” activity and for ways to become more involved in my community.  Girl Guides of Canada had a table on campus at the U of S during National Volunteer Week in 2002 and I put my name down on a whim. They called me back and now I’m still involved in the organization 15 years later.

What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?

Volunteering is a way to put my values into action.  I now see the role I have with Girl Guides as a way to provide a space for girls to build up their confidence and to realize how capable they are. Secondly, I find volunteering to be incredibly rewarding — it’s an opportunity for me to make a positive impact in the community and to improve my own skills.  Finally, I have a lot of fun with my Brownies and I have learned so much about different cultures from the people who attend the Conversation Circles at the Saskatoon Open Door Society.

What types of relationships and learning experience have you taken away from volunteering?

I have made some of my best friends through Girl Guides. I’ve learned a lot about leadership. I think I learned more about leadership from Girl Guides than anywhere else and I am using these leadership skills in my current job.  Volunteering at the Open Door Society has allowed me to learn about other cultures and countries, and has really made me think hard about how to explain the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

What is your vision for the future of volunteering?

I think that volunteering is going to become even more important than it is now, given some of the trends we are seeing in the world.  I became involved with the Open Door Society because I wanted to help refugees from Syria who were coming to Saskatoon.  If people are looking for a way to help, volunteering is a very positive way to do so.

How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

I think all volunteers can do to get others involved is to lead by example, and to be welcoming and inclusive when others want to be involved.  For example, if we only need four parents to help us at Brownies, and eight volunteer, they are all welcome.

Alumni Highlights: Shannon Dyck

For March’s Alumni Highlights series, we spoke with Shannon Dyck (BA’09, MES’12), a graduate of the School of Environment and Sustainability. She is an environmental co-ordinator for the City of Saskatoon, local artist, and volunteer. Shannon and her husband, Michael Nemeth, are co-founders of the sustainable housing development Radiance Cohousing.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

The most visible additions to campus include the construction of new student housing along Cumberland Ave., renovations and energy efficiency improvements to Place Riel, and the completion of the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. Since I’ve graduated, the U of S has also launched both the Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) and the Undergraduate Certificate of Proficiency in Sustainability.

Gardens also seem to be popping up all over the place, such as the McEown Community Garden for students living in residence, the roof top and fruit program demonstration gardens near the College of Agriculture, and the redeveloped Prairie Habitat Garden beside the Education Building.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Eco Bash 2007 at Louis. Not only was I dressed up as a plastic bag, but as the emcee, I managed to accidentally award the one door prize (a tent) to two complete strangers. At the time, I convinced the two of them that they could share the prize. I still wonder how that ever played out in the end.

Although I wouldn’t call it one of my finest moments, I can’t help but look back and smile.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

Extremely formative. Although I learned a lot both in and outside of the classroom, I think the more valuable lesson is that I discovered just how much I didn’t (and still don’t) know. This has helped me approach new situations, people, and a changing world with an eagerness to learn and understand.

Going to the U of S also opened my mind to new ideas, led to experiences that challenged my beliefs, identity and privilege, and introduced me to a diverse network of friends, colleagues, and mentors. I can’t image who I would be today without having had those experiences.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

For me, university was more about exploring what I was interested in than it was about achieving a particular academic outcome or degree. This led me to pursue two disciplines: Studio Art & Art History and Environment & Sustainability.

Having a background in both areas has benefited and shaped both my life and career. Not only do they play off each other well (both require creativity, exploration, and an understanding of relationships and interactions), but they’ve also allowed me to see the value in approaching my work from different angles and collaborating with others from varying backgrounds.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

There are a few things I wish I could have told my 19-year-old self.

There isn’t one right way of doing things; your life is not (and will never be) a clear, linear path. So, don’t let someone else’s version of success define your own, make sure to take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and don’t worry about changing your mind or direction if it feels like the right decision.

Secondly, the more you try to avoid failure and change, the harder they will be on you when they happen. Just try to get what you can out of these experiences and use them to become more resilient. Plus, if you’re too afraid of failing, you’ll never take any risks – and some risks are definitely worth taking.

And finally, you do not have to accept that “this is the way things are.” Everyone has the ability to make a positive difference in their own lives, in others’ lives, and in their community.

Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from all the U of S colleges, as talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers. In case you missed any previous features, you can read them here.