Go to page content

Awarding excellence

Memorial alumni acknowledged for extraordinary achievements

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

Serial entrepreneur. Education advocate. Aspiring astronaut. Lifelong leader.

Memorial University today announced the recipients of its 37th 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 2018 recipients are Paul Antle, B.Sc.’85, Fred Cahill, B.Eng.’80, Bethany Downer, B.Sc.’16 and Sharron Callahan, BA’68.

Nominations were open from Jan. 30 until April 13, 2018, and submissions reviewed by an independent panel of Memorial alumni who comprise the Tribute Awards Selection Committee. The committee’s recommendations were officially submitted to Memorial on June 29.

“Each year our committee has the enjoyable, yet difficult, task of selecting four individuals from an extraordinary group of nominees,” said Bob Dowden, chair, Alumni Tribute Awards Selection Committee. “The 2018 recipients are all highly accomplished graduates who have put their Memorial University degrees to good use in their communities, province and around the world.”

Alumnus of the Year Award

Paul Antle
Photo: Submitted

A pioneer is defined as one who is first or among the earliest in a field of inquiry, enterprise or progress. Paul Antle, B.Sc.’85, exemplifies that term through his outstanding career in environmental technology, promotion of entrepreneurship and contributions to the community.

Mr. Antle was born on Signal Hill and was the first in his family to receive a university degree. After completing his master of engineering drgree from the University of New Brunswick in 1987, he started his first business venture, SCC Environmental Group, in his mother’s basement.

From 1988 to 1999, Mr. Antle grew SCC from the first company to provide integrated hazardous waste management services in the province to an international organization with operations on four continents. From 2007 to 2015, he served as president and CEO of West Mountain Environmental, the first foreign company to take its environmental remediation technology into China. In his current role as president and CEO of Pluto Investments Inc., Mr. Antle is making a positive economic impact across the province through small- to mid-sized private equity acquisitions. He is paving the way for others to follow in his footsteps as a founding member of the province’s angel investor network.

Through his work in the environmental sector, he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s National Round Table on the Environment and Economy from 1997 to 2002, represented Canada at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and chaired a Special Advisory Group on International Trade for the Environment. He is also co-founder of the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association.

His work has made an impact at the local, national and international level. Notable among his many distinctions are the JA Business Hall of Fame; Atlantic Business Magazine Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame; EY Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award; and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2007 Mr. Antle completed the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School graduating as class co-valedictorian.

Mr. Antle volunteers and financially supports a range of organizations including Rainbow Riders, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Stella’s Circle and the Bannerman Park Foundation. He generously supports students at Memorial through the Paul Antle Entrepreneurial Award and maintains an annual music scholarship with his wife, Renee.

J.D. Eaton Award

Fred Cahill
Photo: Submitted

Fred Cahill, B.Eng.’80, is this year’s recipient of the J.D. Eaton Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to Memorial.

A true Memorial success story, Mr. Cahill took the reins of the Cahill Group very early in his career. After only four years with the company, he assumed the role of president in 1989 and in the position continued to grow and evolve the company. The Cahill Group has been recognized by Deloitte as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and is one of the largest multidisciplinary construction and fabrication companies in Atlantic Canada. In 2015 his remarkable achievements and service to the engineering profession were recognized with his induction as a fellow with the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Mr. Cahill is active in the community as a member of the board of directors with Newfoundland Power Inc., the Shaw Group and the Construction Labour Relations Association (CLRA). He was previously chair of the CLRA and the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, and a member of the Atlantic Canada Energy Round Table.

He contributes significantly to Memorial University as chair of the board of directors of the Genesis Centre, as a member of the Board of Regents and an honorary board member of the annual Affinity NL Calgary event.

Mr. Cahill is invaluable to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, both as chair of the Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council and sitting on the co-operative education committee. Through his work with the Engineering Advisory Council, he has initiated a major new partnership opportunity with Nalcor Energy on a potential HVDC Research Centre to be housed on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. He has also generously donated to the creation and expansion the Cahill Engineering One Help Centre, which offers additional instruction and tutorials to first-year engineering students.

A staunch advocate of our university and its students, Mr. Cahill believes strongly in the next generation of Memorial graduates, and sees their contribution as vital to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Horizon Award

Bethany Downer

Bethany Downer, B.Sc.’16, is this year’s Horizon Award recipient, a recognition of exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate 35 years of age or younger.

After completing her degree at Memorial, Ms. Downer was one of only 40 people selected worldwide to complete her master of science in space studies from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. During her studies, she worked with the non-profit, The Mars Generation, engaging youth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields related to the space sector.

Ms. Downer is currently working in the European space sector in the area of communications for space science and technology, and she is the founder of Reaching Space Science, an online science and technology communication platform focused on creating a broader public understanding of the space industry. She is publishing a book on this topic, specifically aimed at young women interested in STEM. Ms. Downer has also worked for the United Nations representing university students and young space professionals through the Space Generation Advisory Council, doing communications work for the first African Space Workshop in Nigeria and as editor for the Space Generation Congress in Germany.

In 2014 she founded the non-profit organization One Step Shoe Recycling, which collects unwanted footwear to be redistributed to those in need. More than 15,000 shoes have been redistributed to 16 countries, helping those with this very specific and important necessity, while also diverting 16,000 pounds of waste from Canadian landfills.

This organization was inspired by a conversation Ms. Downer had with famous Canadian astronaut, Col. Chris Hadfield. He encouraged her to pursue her dreams of being an astronaut and to follow her passion for sustainability and community work. She has heeded this advice. She was named one of Canada’s Top Environmentalists under 25 by Starfish Canada (2015 and 2016); received the 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Leadership award; and was named to the Canadian Top 30 under 30 in Sustainability by Corporate Knights magazine in 2016.

Recently selected as the first scientist-astronaut from Newfoundland and Labrador to attend the training program Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), Ms. Downer is one step closer to realizing her dream.

Outstanding Community Service Award

Sharron Callahan
Photo: Submitted

Sharron Callahan, BA’68, has been giving back to her community and advocating on behalf of youth and seniors in Newfoundland and Labrador for more than 50 years. A social worker by profession, she spent her career in both child and youth protection and youth justice with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador until her retirement in 2002.

Ms. Callahan’s passion for youth advocacy extended beyond her profession and into volunteerism. Organizations that benefited from her dedication to community include Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Family Life Bureau, Cooperative Living Projects, Young Offender Advisory Committees and the Child and Youth Care Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Though her public service spans many groups, Ms. Callahan distinguished herself as a community leader on a national level with the Girl Guides of Canada. Starting as a unit leader for Sparks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders, she quickly advanced, becoming district, division and area commissioner. She was the provincial commissioner for Newfoundland and Labrador from 2002-07, before taking on the role of deputy chief commissioner for Girl Guides of Canada until 2012. She then became Canada’s 19th chief commissioner, the only person from Newfoundland and Labrador to hold this position. She used this platform to take a stand on the issue of violence against young women.

Ms. Callahan also shows a commitment to the fair treatment of seniors in the province, having held the position of president with the N.L. Public Sector Pensioners Association and the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, the latter position she holds to this day. She serves as a member of the Seniors’ Advisory Committee for the City of St. John’s and is the chair of the Seniors & Pensioners Coalition, which advocates on behalf of the organization on quality of life issues impacting aging persons and their families.

In recognition of her advocacy for both youth and seniors, Ms. Callahan was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, as well as the St. John’s Senior of the Year Award in 2013. She was recently awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, presented by the Honourable Judy Foote on behalf of The Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General for Canada.

Today, Ms. Callahan is still quite active serving the community as a Brownie unit leader in a local woman’s shelter and as a member of the Fireside Friends Trefoil Guild.

“I offer each one of these admirable recipients my heartfelt congratulations,” said Mr. Dowden. “I look forward to celebrating them and their incredible accomplishments at the awards ceremony in October.”

The 37th annual Alumni Tribute Awards ceremony will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m. at Memorial’s Signal Hill Campus in St. John’s.

Tickets (individuals and tables) can be purchased online. For additional inquiries, please contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at 709-864-4354, toll free at 1-877-700-4081 or email rsvpalumni@mun.ca.

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

Latest News

Creative spark

Literary festival will showcase local writers in celebratory setting

Indigenous insights

The Rooms and Anthropology department host speaker series

Skill building

Research office offering Memorial community free access to IBM digital program

Open for business

Tackling sustainability at Hatcher House thrift shop on April 20

‘Our programs are working’

Memorial University students takes first and second place at global finance competitions

Budget response

Memorial responds to 2024 federal budget