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Lakehead University Magazine Spring/Summer 2005

Remembering Lakehead

Nancy Braun, Jamie Sokalsky, Mary Gastmeier, Jim Sanders, Tania Saj, Helen Donis-Keller, Jeffrey Frazer, Livio Di Matteo, Gwen Dubois-Wing, Ken Owen, and Tara Redpath

To celebrate Lakehead’s 40th Anniversary, we thought it would be fun to contact graduates across the decades to ask them what they remember most about their University days. Who was their favourite prof? What are they doing now? How has Lakehead made a difference in their lives?

Nancy Braun

HBCommerce ‘80, Toronto, Ontario

Vice President, Credit Derivatives, at BMO Nesbitt Burns where her primary role is marketing structured credit products, mostly to bank portfolio managers, investment dealers, pension funds, and other money managers
Email: nancy.braun@bmo.com

It was particularly special for me attending Lakehead as my father, Harold Braun, was an original member of the faculty of Lakehead Technical Institute, Principal of Lakehead College of Arts, Science and Technology, and the first Dean of University Schools at Lakehead University. Both my parents, Margaret and Harold, were passionate about Lakehead. I am so proud that my father and his fellow colleagues and associates fulfilled their dream of building a thriving university serving not only the north, but also the rest of Canada along with a large, diverse group of international students. Growing up, I remember several Christmas dinners when my parents would invite a few international students to join our family for the festivities.

Defining Moment
In our first-year sociology class, we had to do a short assignment where we wrote down 10 statements about ourselves beginning with “I am.” The professor found mine funny and decided to share what I had written with the class, much to my chagrin. One line I had written was “I am going to break up with my boyfriend this weekend.” Jamie, upon hearing this, decided that this was his “green light” and so he got up the courage to ask me out, and the rest is history.

HBCommerce ‘80, Toronto, Ontario

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Barrick Gold Corporation, with responsibility for Treasury, Tax, Accounting, Financial Reporting, Risk Management, and Investor and Public Relations

Favorite Professor
Harry Elmslie – our accounting professor. He had a great manner of teaching and really seemed to care about us as students.

Defining Moment
April 23, 1977. The day that I first asked Nancy out on a date (and she said yes).

Fondest Memory
Other than meeting my wife Nancy, my fondest memories were the times that a number of our good friends in Commerce would spend part of Study Week in February in Lutsen, Minnesota, on a ski vacation at Lutsen Resort. It was a time when we could relax from a hectic school schedule while having a great deal of fun skiing and socializing together. There are so many excellent memories of those times – it really created a terrific bond between many of us in Commerce.

BA’69, Toronto, Ontario

President and CEO of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and a Member of the Order of Canada

As a visually impaired student in an era when neither technology nor facilities were as well developed as today, I found the willingness for accommodation by professors and fellow students to be natural and so important in allowing me to fully participate.

Lakehead’s Influence
My time at Lakehead fostered my curiosity and the importance of getting the facts before coming to a conclusion. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that attitude is the most enabling of life’s force – or greatest barrier – and always within one’s total control.

BA’95, BEd’96, HBA’97, MA’02, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Vice-Principal, Bishop E.Q. Jennings School

Defining Moment
Receiving my MA signalled the attainment of what I had first believed impossible – four degrees in seven years while being a full-time mom and teacher. There was also a sense of empowerment in that it marked the beginning of a stage of my life where anything was possible.
Fondest Memory
Rushing into Peter Raffo’s history class, wet hair flying, one shoe untied, dropping my book, plopping into a frontrow desk, dropping my purse, and spilling its contents. The woman next to me barely raised an eyebrow and said, “So, you have kids too.” That was almost 10 years ago, and Birgit Smith (MA’01) and I have remained best friends who still laugh at whatever life throws our way.

BA’95, HBA’96, Calgary, Alberta

A PhD from the University of Calgary and the recipient of two Killam Pre-Doctoral Scholarships as well as a Tomlinson Postdoctoral Fellowship from McGill University
Photo by Ken Bendiktsen
I spent most of my time in the Department of Anthropology, where I thrived on the personal interactions with my profs (some of whom I still keep in contact with) and the high quality, small class sizes. This combination allowed for more feedback on my assignments, tests, and papers, providing me with a solid footing for my graduate career.
Most Influential Experience
Working on El Molto’s skeletal collection from the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt. For my HBA thesis, I helped Molto analyse dental samples that he had collected in Egypt in previous field seasons. Then in 1997, just after I graduated, accompanied him to Egypt as a research assistant where I spent three weeks working on archaeological burials as part of the Dakhleh Oasis Project. As a young girl, my dream had always been to be part of an archaeology project in Egypt, so I almost couldn’t believe I would actually have the opportunity. These are the types of opportunities that I don’t think I would have had anywhere else.

HBSc’75, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Professor of Biology and Art at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Massachusetts
Lakehead’s influence
At Lakehead I discovered a love for research science. The professors made it possible for me to work on a variety of research projects. Were it not for the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate, I know I would not have been admitted to graduate school at Harvard University. Lakehead provided an ideal learning environment. The school was small at that time, the professors were interested, and we had high-quality equipment and other resources. I doubt that I would have had a career in science had I not had the educational experience at Lakehead. I came to Lakehead to work as a graphic designer and I left as a science student prepared to face graduate studies and a challenging world in research.
Advice to the Class of 2005
Find something that you love and figure out how to make a living out of it. If you have no genuine passion for an endeavour, chances are that you won’t be very good at it, so take your time and find something that will keep you up at night and challenge your mind.
I have the rare opportunity to simultaneously have a career in art and in science. Teaching undergraduates who are enthusiastic and full of fresh ideas is exciting, although at times, exhausting. There is nothing more satisfying than to see that flicker of recognition when a student “gets it” in art or science. I am a professional artist and a research scientist as well. The field of biology is constantly expanding so there are exciting new discoveries on a daily basis. Likewise, art is always changing and there is always a new perspective to be gleaned from experiencing the work of other artists and to make art myself. The prime motivator for me is probably the allure of learning new things.
Greatest Accomplishment
Besides raising a wonderful daughter who now has two perfect children, I take most pride in leading the research group that developed the first human genetic linkage map. The map made possible the identification of many genes of interest to the research and clinical community, so it was an accomplishment that was very useful to others.

Defining Moment
When I figured out how the mutations in a gene caused the disease I was studying. That was truly a Eureka moment that made all the years of frustrations and blind alleys seem trivial.

BEng’78 (Chemical Engineering),Ohsweken, Ontario

President and Chief Engineer of Frazer Environmental Engineers, a company he founded in 2003 in response to the increasing demand for environmental services in Canada and particularly within First Nations communities

Overall Recollections
The sense of the frontier and adventure, the smell of the woods, the fresh, cold air, the Sleeping Giant, Lake Superior, the ruggedness of the north – all of which made every day a new experience for me. I liked that it was a challenging but fair environment – I had the feeling that if I could succeed there, it was an accomplishment that meant something. I developed a sense of self-reliance and commitment that I did not know was within me. And besides, when I got there, it was too late and too far to go back home!

Greatest Joy
Seeing and helping young people succeed – not just at work but in school, in athletics, and in whatever areas of interest that they have. Coaching and encouraging people and seeing them succeed is very rewarding to me.

Fondest Memory
I have to admit that my fondest memory of Lakehead was at graduation because it was only then that I could breathe a sigh of relief. There were many times when I wondered, “What am I doing taking engineering?” I am proud to have fulfilled the academic requirements and met the standard that Lakehead represents. The one thing about the engineering program was that they created an academic environment where you could succeed if you did the work, but they did not lower the standards. They were fair but demanding. Just the way you would want. Except for the math. That was cruel.

Advice to the Class of 2005
Don’t get behind. Oh, another thing – don’t get behind.

We are a First Nations company solving problems for our own people. I know it sounds like I am making this up but there is more to this business than money. We are dealing with issues and problems everyday that are priorities for our communities. We have only First Nations employees and we act in the best interests of our people because we can and we must.

HBA’85, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics at Lakehead University

Advice to the Class of 2005
Be not afraid to speak your mind for the forces of evil, injustice, and incompetence thrive in the cool, comforting shade of the forest of silence.
The need to learn, know, and understand the world around me and to share and communicate that knowledge with colleagues, students, and the broader community. Academics have a responsibility to try and use their expertise for the betterment of society by being engaged in public affairs. This is extremely important in a region like Northwestern Ontario that faces so many economic and social challenges.

Greatest Accomplishment
My most significant research accomplishment to date is the collection, census-linking, and analysis of over 7,000 Ontario probate records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This research has shed light on the process of wealth accumulation and portfolio composition during a period that was devoid of government income support programs such as pensions. The data has also provided insight on the long-term impact of resource booms on wealth creation. A key conclusion is that resource booms lead to substantial short-term increases in wealth and income but the long-term impact is more ephemeral without a transition to broader based economic growth.

I am also proud of my continuing research contributions to health economics with a focus on the determinants and drivers of health expenditures. This line of research has policy implications given the continuing preoccupation with the sustainability of public health care.

HBScNursing’82, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Past Executive Director of the Northwestern Ontario District Health Council
Fondest Memory
One of my fondest memories of Lakehead was time that I spent with six other nursing students during “May Experience” – a clinical placement in Kenora. The month-long session exposed us to all types of nursing experiences and opportunities. We worked hard and played hard but learned so much that prepared us for our future as nurses. During that month, we also witnessed some of the unanticipated realities of an extremely hot, dry May as a number of northern communities were evacuated due to severe forest fires. We participated with the hospital community in preparations for the evacuation of a number of communities. Our professor, Marg Boone, was supportive, and facilitated us having an optimal learning experience. “May Experience” stands out as one of my most memorable learning experiences during my nursing education, and planted a seed for my love for ongoing work in the vast region of Northwestern Ontario.

BA’94, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Former business owner, now a full-time student, and President of the Lakehead University Alumni Association

Favorite Professor
Lisle Thomson. He was the first professor to buy me a coffee and take the time to talk about the true value of my university education.

Most Influential Experience
The sense of belonging I felt amongst my peers.
Advice to the Class of 2005
The true value of your education is not in the facts you memorize but in the skills you develop in pursuit of those facts. Your future success will depend on your ability to analyse and interpret the information life presents to you. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of the challenges that life offers you.

HBEnvironmental Science ‘04,Thunder Bay, Ontario

Environmental Impact Technician with the Ministry of Natural Resources, who was deemed the Most Valuable Player of the Nordic Ski Team that earned Lakehead U a gold medal at the 2003 Canadian University and Colleges Championships

Fondest Memory
My most enjoyable experiences at Lakehead involved ski trips with the varsity team. Whether travelling to Ontario University Championships in Sudbury, or World University Games in Italy, it was my fellow athletes and coaches that made these trips so memorable and fun. The goal of the team was always to ski our very best. We always believed that we could win the competition as a team, and we supported each other and cheered each other on right to the end.

Favorite Professor
Ken Deacon and Azim Mallik. Both of these professors really got to know me and shared many of their personal experiences with me, helping me to decide how to shape my own future.
If you have comments or stories you would like to share, send them to us before August 1, 2005, and your name will be entered into a draw for two bottles of 40th ANNIVERSARY WINE.
Email: frances.harding@lakeheadu.ca

We’ll feature more profiles of Lakehead University graduates in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue.
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