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Celebrating alumni

Memorial University pays tribute to four remarkable graduates

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

The 37th annual Alumni Tribute Awards were held at the Emera Innovation Exchange on the Signal Hill campus this year, a fitting venue for alumni and friends to celebrate the innovation, engagement and entrepreneurship demonstrated by four incredible graduates.

The awards are the highest honour bestowed by alumni on exceptional Memorial graduates for their career achievements, as well as contributions to their communities and alma mater.

Alumnus of the Year

The 2018 Alumnus of the Year is Paul Antle, B.Sc.’85.

A highly successful entrepreneur, he is known as a pioneer of environmental technology in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is currently president and CEO of Pluto Investments Inc.

Mr. Antle was a member of the Prime Minister’s National Round Table on the Environment and Economy for five years and was one of Canada’s representatives at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. He promotes entrepreneurship through scholarships and the province’s angel investor network, which he co-founded, and still finds time to volunteer with several community groups.

Mr. Antle credits his decision to come to Memorial University for much of his success.

“The long journey from our little house on the bottom of the Signal Hill to this very special moment began with the most important decision of my life, 37 years ago–my decision to go to Memorial University,” he said.

“I see Memorial as one of our province’s crown jewels. We need to ensure it will always sparkle as a beacon of hope that wonderful things are still possible in our great province.”

J.D. Eaton Alumni Award

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

Mr. Cahill, who is president of the Cahill Group, contributes significantly to Memorial as chair of the Board of Directors of the Genesis Centre and as a member of the Board of Regents. He is chair of the Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council and initiated the creation of the Cahill Engineering One Student Success Centre, a program that has better prepared new engineers to enter the work force.

Mr. Cahill extended a challenge to all those attending this year’s ceremony.

“I would like to extend a most rewarding challenge to everyone here tonight…to stand up and support this educational jewel, to find a way to give back your time, energy and effort through any avenue you have at hand,” he said.

“Memorial, will succeed or fail to the degree that all of us, citizens and businesses alike, are active participants in building strong, innovative and enriching communities.”

Dr. Jennifer Lokash, Memorial University orator; Fred Cahill; Bethany Downer; Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor; Sharron Callahan; Paul Antle and Premier Dwight Ball.
Photo: Dennis Flynn

Alumni Horizon Award

Bethany Downer, B.Sc.’16, is this year’s Alumni Horizon Award recipient and is being recognized for exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate 35 years of age and younger.

After completing a master of science in space studies from International Space University, she is currently working in the European Space sector and has founded Reaching Space Science, an online science and technology communication platform. She is the first person from this province to attend astronaut training with Project PoSSUM in Florida and is the founder of One Step Shoe Recycling, which has redistributed more than 15,000 shoes worldwide and diverted 16,000 pounds of waste from Canadian landfills.

Ms. Downer spoke about her desire to continue her relationship with Memorial University to bring space closer to the people of our province.

“I hope to develop even closer ties to the university as an alumna, including initiating discussions about how I can help contribute to the integration of more space-specific courses at the school,” she said.

“My personal goal, since my selection to scientist-astronaut candidacy, is to bring space-related careers closer to home for our province, by exposing students to the opportunities available to them in this discipline and to make these opportunities accessible.”

Outstanding Community Service Award

Sharron Callahan, BA’68, is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award. A social worker for 35 years, Ms. Callahan is widely known for her involvement with the Girl Guides of Canada, where she progressed to the role of Canada’s 19th chief commissioner and then to international commissioner.

She is the president of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, chair of the Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador Pensioners, Seniors and Retirees Association and a member of the Seniors Advisory Committee for St. John’s. She has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the St. John’s Senior of the Year and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Ms. Callahan’s education allowed her to pursue a career where she could help people, in line with her passion for volunteering.

“After university graduation, I spent 35 years working as a front line social worker and supervisor in the fields of child and youth services,” she said.

“I am forever grateful to the teachers, university professors, fellow professional colleagues, and politicians with whom I have crossed paths. But by far it is the ordinary, every day people who have taken me as I am and who have given me the guidance, encouragement, and love that enabled me to do what I have done and continue to do.”

The 38th annual Alumni Tribute Awards will be held in fall 2019. To learn more about the award categories and how to nominate one of Memorial’s amazing alumni, please visit the alumni website.

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