TRU Distinguished Alumni Awards honour deserving recipients

Raj Chahal (right) receives the Grace Chronister Bachelor of Social Work Award at the 2012 TRU Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner. PHOTO BY DEVAN. C. TASA

Taylor Rocca, Roving Editor  Ω

The 2012 Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner was held on Apr. 13 in the Grand Hall of TRU’s Campus Activity Centre.

Five awards were given out on the evening, including the Neil Russell Student Leadership Award, the Grace Chronister Bachelor of Social Work Award, the Professional Achievement Award, the Community Service Award and the Milestone Achievement Award.

The evening opened with TRU president, Dr. Alan Shaver, addressing the audience prior to the award presentations.

“You remind us of why we are here and you inspire us to become an even better institution,” Shaver said. “In short, you carry our banner everyday, and for this we thank you sincerely.”

Amanda Jones was the first award recipient to be recognized. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in chemistry, Jones was awarded the Neil Russell Student Leadership Award. She volunteered as a hockey coach as well as a student mentor on campus.

“Volunteering is like tossing a stone in water,” Jones said. “You impact one person and the ripples that form from that one stone spread out and affect others around them.”

The second award recipient to be honoured was Raj Chahal, who was given the Grace Chronister Bachelor of Social Work Award. Chahal completed her Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2002 at TRU and has since moved on to work for the Ministry of Children and Family Development and most recently Royal Inland Hospital.

Chahal has also taught at TRU for the past six years.

“I am very honoured that this university has not only served my education, but continued to guide me in my profession,” Chahal said.

Paul Houle, receipient of the Professional Achievement Award, was the third honouree. Houle completed his Bachelor of Science degree in 2001 at TRU. He would go on to become an analytical chemist, creating two state-of-the-art chemistry laboratories.

“If you were to have asked me 11 years ago when I finished my studies at [TRU] if I would be standing here receiving this award,” Houle said, “my response to you would be ‘you are categorically insane.’
“I was the guy who at the time thought it was a very, very good idea to organize study sessions at Heroes,” Houle said. “Believe me when I tell you that never, ever works out the way you think it will.”

James McCreath was then honoured with the Community Service Award. McCreath received his Bachelor of Journalism from TRU in 2002 and went on to obtain a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Royal Roads University. He has worked with KidSport Calgary and most recently BMO Nesbitt Burns.
McCreath helped to raise more than $14,000 towards the purchase of software that will help elementary students new to Canada learn English.

“My narrative ended up crossing paths with TRU,” McCreath said. “I learned about the power of story telling and enhancing your story and enhancing the story of others.

“I came here and I was inspired, I was engaged and I was appreciated. The net result of that is that when I left here, I was empowered. I am forever grateful to TRU for that experience.”

KPMG was the final award recipient of the night, receiving the Milestone Achievement Award for its support towards TRU students over many years.

Ian Hanomansing wrapped the night up as the event’s keynote speaker. Hanomansing’s speech highlighted a list of “five things that make Canada great that we take for granted.”

Hanomansing’s list consisted of  the following:

It doesn’t matter what post-secondary institution you attend.

Public school is a viable option for parents to send their children to.

We are extraordinarily safe in this country.

We are advanced in diversity acceptance in this country.

We own an incredible level of free speech.

The TRU Distinguished Alumni Awards has honoured 65 different TRU alumni since the event was first established in 1995.