Go to page content

Amazing alumni

Memorial graduates recognized for exceptional achievements

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

Technology trailblazer. Memorial champion. Opera star. Community builder.

Memorial University today announced the recipients of its 36th annual Alumni Tribute Awards, recognizing alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen fields, are committed to their alma mater, and made outstanding contributions to their communities.

The 2017 recipients are Catherine Courage, B.Sc.(Hons.)’97, Gary Follett, B.Eng.’75, Dr. David Kelleher-Flight, B.Mus.’04 and Darlene Spracklin-Reid, B.Eng.’95, B.Ed.’04.

“The potential of a Memorial education knows no bounds,” said Bob Dowden, chair, Alumni Tribute Awards selection committee.

“Once again this year, our committee had the difficult task of selecting from an outstanding group of nominees. Our four award recipients are exceptional individuals.”

Alumna of the Year Award

Catherine Courage
Photo: Submitted

If you Googled Memorial’s Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017 — Catherine Courage, B.Sc.(Hons.)’97, an executive at that very same technology corporation — would be the top result.

As the vice-president, ads and commerce user experience, at Google Inc., Ms. Courage leads a team whose product lines account for more than $60 billion in annual revenue and is made up of more than 300 employees in four countries.

After completing her degree at Memorial, the St. John’s native completed a master of applied science in human factors from the University of Toronto. It was from there she made the move to Silicon Valley, starting her career in the technology industry with Oracle.

Since that time she has progressed through leadership positions with technology companies that include DocuSign, Citrix and Salesforce.com.

Ms. Courage has been recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s Top 40 Under 40. In 2013 she made Forbes’ list of Top 10 Rising Stars at The World’s Most Innovative Companies. In 2014 she was named one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council. She is a board member for the Fortune 500 Company, Insight Enterprises, as well as two non-profit organizations in San Francisco, Calif. A sought-after speaker and writer, she frequently presents on the topics of creativity, innovation and design.

Ms. Courage is a shining example and a mentor to women in technology. She has been actively involved with Clinton Global Initiatives for Girls, TechWomen and TechWomen Canada. She has spoken to Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine and the Genesis Centre on the need for more women in leadership and recently shared her expertise with the N.L. Association of Technology Industries through engagements such as the Women in Technology Group.

She also stays connected to her home province as a member of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Private Sector Advisory Committee for the development of the Business Innovation Agenda.

J.D. Eaton Award

Gary Follett
Photo: Submitted

Gary Follett, B.Eng.’75, is this year’s recipient of the J.D. Eaton Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to Memorial.

He is widely recognized as the most prominent welding engineer in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is appropriate that in his personal life, he is a volunteer who “solders” together a passion for community and Memorial University.

Following graduation, Mr. Follett, who is from St. John’s, began working with McNamara Industries Ltd. He later joined BFL Consultants Ltd., eventually rising to the position of vice-president and partner. In 1983 he founded FGA Consulting Engineers and has served as president until 2008, when they joined forces with Acuren Group Inc.

Mr. Follett served as president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland (APEGN, now PEGNL) from 1991-92. He has chaired both the APEGN Professional Development and Education Committee and the St. John’s Board of Trade.

He has been recognized for his dedication to engineering programs, and exceptional voluntary service related to engineering. He received the APEGN Award for Service, the PEGNL Community Service Award, and the PEGNL Award of Merit, the organization’s highest honour.

Mr. Follett has supported Memorial, and specifically the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, for more than four decades. A strong advocate for Memorial’s engineering programs and for hiring Memorial’s students and graduates, he has managed efforts for government support of the Engineering Expansion Strategic Initiative, a critical growth plan for the faculty. During his time as chair of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council, he also served on the Committee for Student Diversity and Women in Engineering, among others.

Keenly aware of the importance of supporting student success, he has actively participated in a number of alumni and fundraising efforts on behalf of his alma mater, including his graduating class’s reunion endowment fund. Mr. Follett has also shown strong support towards engineering scholarships at Memorial.

Horizon Award

David Kelleher-Flight
Photo: Submitted

Dr. David Kelleher-Flight, B.Mus.’04, is this year’s Horizon Award recipient, a recognition of exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate 35 years of age and younger.

Praised by Opera News for his “flawless diction and flexible lyric baritone”, Dr. Kelleher-Flight has already distinguished himself among the most respected singers in the ferociously competitive world of classical music in New York City. Since making his professional debut with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra in 2004, the St. John’s native has beaten the odds in the competitive world of classical music and built an international profile, working with leading opera houses, conductors and musicians around the globe.

Following graduation from Memorial’s School of Music, Dr. Kelleher-Flight completed a master of music from the Manhattan School of Music in 2006 and a doctor of musical arts from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2011. On two separate occasions, Dr. Kelleher-Flight was one of nine singers accepted into the Lieder Master Course at Oxford University for Advanced Singer-Pianist Duos at the Oxford Lieder Festival, Europe’s most respected Festival of Song.

He made his critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut as Monterone in Rigoletto in 2010 and his New York City Opera debut as the Marquis de Tarapote in La Perichole at New York’s City Center in 2013. His resumé boasts more than 50 leading and supporting roles in opera and musical theatre, six of which have been recorded and commercially released.

Dr. Kelleher-Flight is currently the vice-president of the Light Opera of New York, a professional opera company committed to the preservation and production of the Light Opera. He is on the voice faculty at the State University of New York at Suffolk County and maintains a private studio in Manhattan where he trains a wide array of professional singers and Broadway performers. He has served as adjudicator for the Kiwanis Music Festival, the Associated Music Teacher’s League of New York and has served as a vocal coach for the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

Outstanding Community Service Award

Darlene Spracklin-Reid
Photo: Submitted

Darlene Spracklin-Reid, B.Eng.’95, B.Ed.’04, is on a mission to ease the suffering of those who have been devastated by natural disasters. Using her talents as both an engineer and teacher, she travels the world with teams of students to help rebuild communities — and renew hope for the people who live there.

Born and raised in Mount Pearl, Ms. Spracklin-Reid is a lifelong volunteer. Her current focus is in the role of director at Together by Design, a not-for-profit organization she co-founded in 2012. Since that time, the organization has brought together engineering students and apprentices to work on community service projects.

Each year since 2009, she has led a team of volunteers to New Orleans, La., to aid the rebuilding process in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The group strives to help vulnerable citizens, as well as individuals victimized by fraudulent contractors who exploited those most in need. After all this time, there is still much work to be done. The team also works on projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, improving teaching and learning facilities, as well as accessible housing.

A lifelong learner, Ms. Spracklin-Reid is a part-time PhD student in civil engineering at Memorial. She has held a variety of roles in the engineering profession throughout her career, with companies such as Nodeco, Strescon Limited, PCL Constructors and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is currently a senior instructional designer with the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and a part-time instructor at the Marine Institute. She has worked at Memorial since 2011.

Ms. Spracklin-Reid has been active in several associations and community affairs groups. She currently serves as a director, youth services, with the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest board of directors. She is also chair-elect of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists Newfoundland and Labrador.

‘Wonderful representatives’

“Congratulations to these incredible alumni who have distinguished themselves through their careers and commitment to community,” added Mr. Dowden.

“They are wonderful representatives for Memorial and Newfoundland and Labrador, not just here at home, but all over the world. I look forward to celebrating their many accomplishments at the awards ceremony in September.”

The 36th annual Alumni Tribute Awards ceremony will take place Thursday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s.

Tickets (individuals and tables) can be purchased online. For additional inquiries, please contact the Offices of Alumni Affairs and Development at 709-864-4354, toll free at 1-877-700-4081 or email rsvpalumni@mun.ca. Tickets are $150 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Details can be found on our website.


To receive news from Memorial in your inbox, subscribe to Gazette Now.