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Female first

2022 Alumni Tribute Award recipients make history

By Heidi Wicks

For the first time in its 41-year history, all four recipients of the Alumni Tribute Awards are women.

The awards recognize alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen fields, are committed to their alma mater and have made outstanding contributions to their communities.

The awards are the highest honour bestowed by Memorial University to exceptional alumni who have made tremendous contributions at home and around the world.

Alumna of the Year: Dr. Lisa Barrett (B.Sc.(Hons.)’98, MD’05, PhD’08)

Dr. Lisa Barrett has created a legacy of selflessness through her trailblazing work with infectious disease.

Her clinical and research work has resulted in several recognitions and awards, most notably Science Champion, The Discovery Centre (2021), Doctors Nova Scotia Physician Health Promotion Award, Doctors Nova Scotia (2020), Dr. John Savage Memorial Award for Faculty Leadership in Global Health, Dalhousie University (2020), Department of Medicine Research Excellence Award, Dalhousie (2019) and Merit Award, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (2014).

Time and time again, she has worked to improve the health of individuals living with chronic viral infections (HIV and HCV), vulnerable populations, including the elderly, persons who use drugs, the incarcerated and under-housed individuals, and those with other chronic conditions that threaten wellness.

During the pandemic, Dr. Barrett was centre stage as a trusted media spokesperson who contextualized public health policies in Nova Scotia. Working at the ground level, she envisioned and developed the frequent community-based, pop-up rapid testing centres in and around Halifax by recruiting volunteers from the community and training them to swab and test for COVID-19.

Her advocacy for testing asymptomatic persons is credited with helping Nova Scotia to maintain low levels of infections throughout multiple waves. She is also leading large studies of vaccine responsiveness in long-term care residents and treatment of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19.

Dr. Barrett maintains strong ties to Memorial and her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador through her collaboration with researchers on public health and advocacy efforts. She brought her hepatitis C elimination strategy to the province, as well as her COVID-19 work.

She frequently reaches out to public health officers and government officials, offering to share resources and to collaborate on solutions to improve the health and well-being of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Read Dr. Barrett’s full biography.

J.D. Eaton Award: Margaret E. Allan (BA(Hons.)’82, MBA’95)

Margaret E. Allan is a longtime friend and supporter of Memorial.

Margaret Allan is smiling at the camera and is in a sunny green space.
Margaret Allan
Photo: Submitted

She has served on several committees, including the Board of Regents from 2017–20, the Marine Institute’s Industry Advisory Committee from 2008–18 and the School of Music’s advisory council, and she has volunteered for various university events and activities, including a role as canvasser with the Office of Development during the Dare To capital campaign from 2011–12. She acted as a Memorial ambassador during the campaign, opening doors, talking to perspective donors and encouraging others’ support for and engagement with Memorial. She also spent 11 years on the Genesis Centre board.

Ms. Allan has more than 36 years of public and private sector experience in the natural resources sector.

Since retiring from full-time work, she has focused her volunteer and board efforts on local arts organizations, including Business and Arts N.L. and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.

She currently serves as chair of The Rooms Corporation, the Crown corporation responsible for the provincial museum, art gallery and archives.

Read Ms. Allan’s full biography.

Outstanding Community Service Award: Dr. Zainab Jerrett (PhD’98)

Originally from Nigeria, Dr. Zainab Jerrett came to Canada 30 years ago to embark on doctoral studies in folklore at Memorial after receiving a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship.

Dr. Zainab Jerrett is smiling at the camera and sitting in an armchair.
Dr. Zainab Jerrett
Photo: Submitted

As executive director of the Tombolo Multicultural Festival, founder and CEO of We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the owner/operator of International Food and Craft Expo Inc., her work has enriched the local arts and crafts community.

Much of her volunteer work is devoted to developing and increasing cross-cultural understanding and caring in the community and providing unheralded support to newcomers, both students and immigrant and refugee families.

Dr. Jerrett has worked closely with St. Augustine’s Anglican Church to help international students adjust to life in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her advocacy for the international community involved sponsoring international suppers at the church, which were sometimes coupled with a concert of international singers. Often, 200 people would attend, not only sharing meals, but merging cultures and learning from each other.

In April of 2014 Boko haram, a Nigerian terrorist organization, abducted 276 school girls in the region where Dr. Jerrett grew up. Her sister’s village was also attacked, forcing her family to flee in the night.

Within two weeks of her sister’s escape to assist with the care of the girls who also escaped their captors, Dr. Jerrett raised funds to create more than 100 scholarships (her original goal was 12). Within that initial fundraiser, We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador was born.

Since then, her outreach efforts broadened to collect donations of supplies for students and communities affected by the insurgencies.

On countless occasions, Dr. Jerrett has reached out to marginalized communities, both in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. Her devotion to relieving poverty, providing educational opportunities and her desire for a better tomorrow that includes all people is a beacon of hope for the future.

Read Dr. Jerrett’s full biography.

Horizon Award: Zaren Healey White (BA(Hons.)’10, MGS’16)

Zaren Healey White is a respected communications and media expert, a writer, artist, activist and strategic communications professional.

Zaren Healey White
Photo: Submitted

She has been manager of marketing for Celtx Inc., director of communications for the provincial New Democrat Party caucus, reporter and digital editor for VOCM News, worked in various marketing and communications roles at Memorial University and is currently a manager of marketing and communications with m5 agency.

For her significant contributions to Memorial, Ms. Healey White was presented with the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Award, the Fry Family Leadership Award and the George Story Convocation Prize, all prestigious honours that recognize both academic excellence and student leadership at Memorial and in the community.

She has taken her studies and exploration of gender and feminism from the academy to the real world, tackling long-held orthodoxies head-on in her writing, media commentary, academic guest lectures, educational workshops and community and volunteer projects.

She works hard to live her truth and to be a capable, strong woman who challenges herself to see and break down barriers for herself and others.

At just 35, Ms. Healey White is a powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with and shows no signs of slowing down.

Read Ms. Healey White’s full biography.

The 41st annual Alumni Tribute Awards will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Core Science Facility.

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