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Hidden talents

Olympic power lifting, show dogs, illustrations gone viral and more

Campus and Community

By Mandy Cook

Every day at Memorial, faculty and staff bring their talent and dedication to the classroom, laboratory and office.

Outside of the regular work day, though, many members of the university community turn their focus — and passion — elsewhere.

Here’s just a sample of what some of your colleagues get up to in their off hours.

Dr. Mary Bluechardt

When her demanding day at the office clews up, Grenfell Campus’s vice-president’s time is spent with her four-legged, furry friends. Along with her husband Cliff, Dr. Mary Bluechardt enjoys life as a golden retriever show dog owner.

Dr. Mary Bluechardt with her golden retriever, Humber.
Dr. Mary Bluechardt with her golden retriever, Humber.
Photo: Submitted

The Bluechardts and their dogs have competed in shows right across the country, and have been fortunate enough to travel as spectators to the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City, the largest dog show in North America. They’ve also attended CRUFTS in England, the largest show in the world with 22,000 dogs.

“We love the whole process of showing our ‘boys,’” said Dr. Bluechardt.  “We enjoy the training, the grooming, and developing that bond, and the fun that comes with it. First and foremost our ‘boys’ are our beloved pets, and it is an added bonus if they do well in the ring. ”

The Bluechardts are currently showing four-year-old BISS RBPIS MBBPIS Can GCh Meligold Thank You My Friend “Humber” who was awarded Best in Specialty this past summer.

The latest addition MBBPIS YBFGoldens All Or Nothin JustB “B” is only 16 weeks old. He has already started to collect titles and ribbons with Multiple Best Baby Puppy in Show wins this past November.

Michael Feehan

Mike Feehan, a member of the Faculty of Business Administration, has worked in the faculty as a graphic artist since 2013. In addition to his creative output in Memorial’s business school, he is building an impressive fan base online.

Inspired by the Netflix hit, Stranger Things, which took viewers by storm this past summer, Mr. Feehan designed an illustration and posted it on his Tumblr blog. It garnered almost 240,000 views (and counting).

The viral post let to Mr. Feehan being commissioned by the IFC, an American television network, to do three animated pieces in a similar style to promote their new show, Stan Against Evil, starring John C. McGinley (Scrubs).

In the last year, he’s worked on storyboards for television ads for brands such as Kit Kat, Durex and Mentos. He also has a comic series coming out in 2017.

“Drawing is something that I’ve loved to do for as long as I can remember,” Mr. Feehan said, “which is why I decided to do graphic design at College of the North Atlantic and Seneca College in Toronto, which ultimately led to me becoming the graphic artist for the Faculty of Business Administration.”

Dr. Jennifer Lokash

As if teaching and performing in the role of head of the Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, isn’t enough to tackle during the day, Dr. Jennifer Lokash has been studiously applying herself in the realm of Olympic weightlifting.

Olympic weightlifting, which is distinguished from the sport of powerlifting, is comprised of two competition lifts: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. They are both explosive and highly technical, and require a lot of strength and proper form, which Dr. Lokash says she is “endlessly” trying to break down and refine.

Dr. Jennifer Lokash during a training session.
Dr. Jennifer Lokash during a training session.
Photo: Submitted

“When I’m working on these lifts, I’m truly in a state of flow, the term the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has given to the experience of complete absorption in an activity that results from an optimal combination of challenge and skill,” she said.

“Time falls away, all the details of my job that are constantly swirling through my mind fall away — and there are many as head of a busy department like English — and I’m just there in the moment. It’s incredibly rewarding and empowering, even when it’s frustrating and emotional, which it sometimes is!”

Dr. Lokash says that it is likely she is the only woman in her age category who is seriously working on these types of lifts in the province, and that she’s on the verge of competing at the provincial level. Currently, she and her coach, Phil Alcock of Core Fitness, are planning for her to compete as early as this coming spring. She says she’ll “see where things go from there.”

“Until then, I spend a lot of time at the gym, covered in chalk with my hands on a barbell, just trying to find my flow.”

You can keep up with Dr. Lokash’s progress on Instagram; find her @jaylomun.

Jeff Keeping

When Jeff Keeping, web and social media manager at Grenfell Campus, isn’t crafting content for Grenfell’s digital channels, he’s chairperson of Atlanti-Con Science Fiction Festival.

Mr. Keeping founded the non-profit event in 2011 with friend and fellow Star Trek fan, Matthew Connolly. The festival has been running annually in Corner Brook since 2012.

Jeff Keeping in his replica Star Trek captain's chair.
Jeff Keeping in his replica Star Trek captain’s chair.
Photo: Submitted

Mr. Keeping says it was “a passion project” to bring Atlanti-Con to Corner Brook and let people know they had somewhere they could gather as a community and celebrate their favourite fandoms.

“Getting to see how excited people get and getting to see people who sometimes appear socially awkward come out of their shells for a little while is something that brings a smile to my face,” he said.

“I say this being socially awkward myself. Watching people meet our guests is another thrill. Last year we had Garry Chalk from Stargate and Transformers as our headliner and just watching people approach him — the voice of Optimus Prime — and knowing their day was made was something that made me happy.”

The next event will next take place Sept. 15-17 at the Corner Brook Civic Center Studio. More information can be found at www.atlanti-con.com, by liking their page on Facebook or following them on Twitter.

Colleen Quigley

Colleen Quigley, manuscripts librarian, Archives and Special Collections, Queen Elizabeth II Library, started dancing at the age of two as physical therapy to treat complication from an eye injury.

Colleen Quigley in the QEII Library.
Colleen Quigley in motion in the QEII Library.
Photo: Scott Campbell

She pursued her craft at York University, acquiring a bachelor of fine art (honours) in dance and has choreographed, performed and taught dance in Canada, the United States and The Netherlands.

Ms. Quigley combined her dance training into her most recent conference presentation, Dancing Documents, a discussion paper about the challenges of archiving dance.

Some of her recent local performances are Our Divas Do Christmas, White Christmas and Gypsy, with TaDa! Productions, and The Nutcracker with Kittiwake Dance Theatre, of which she is chair of the board.

Ms. Quigley says dance is a part of who she is and is something she is “compelled” to do.

“It fulfills my need to express myself creatively and performing locally keeps me embedded into the vibrant artistic community.”

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