Homecoming Abroad: Close ties from out West
For many, going from a small school where everybody knows your name to a big university where no one does can be a nerve-wracking or even scary experience.
But not for Jerry Henderson [BSc/14]—he calls it “life defining.”
When the mechanical engineering grad from Opaskwayak Cree Nation arrived at the U of M’s expansive Fort Garry campus, he found a welcoming community that supported and encouraged his ambitions.
Today, Henderson is working in Alberta as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, with future plans to use his skills to develop infrastructure in Indigenous communities.
But the close ties he made in Manitoba keep him coming back to campus as often as he can.
We caught up with Jerry at his home in Calgary.
What brought you to Calgary?
Originally, I came to Alberta to work as a Pressure Equipment Integrity Engineer with Shell Canada. Currently, I am going to be starting a new position in Edmonton with the Federal Government developing infrastructure on First Nation Reserves and Northern Communities.
What’s the best part of living and working in Alberta?
Friends and family. I was extremely nervous to make the move from Manitoba because of all the wonderful relationships I built there. Since the move, I have made a ton of great friends and met my girlfriend in Alberta. My nieces and nephews have been in Alberta since they were young. Now that I live here it is nice to be that uncle who does not live far away and is able watch them grow.
What is your favourite memory from your time at the U of M?
My favourite memory of the U of M is getting off the bus in the mornings, walking through the quad, and seeing all the other students. It was inspiring for me to see and be a part of a group of people trying to achieve their goals and dreams.
The U of M is celebrating its 140th anniversary. What do you hope the U of M accomplishes over the next 140 years?
140 years is a long time. You would have to be a real visionary to imagine what lies ahead for the U of M in that time. I think though, it is important to look back on the past 140 years of the U of M and see how things have changed. It is important to learn from the past so that the next 140 years will be full of wonderful accomplishments.
What does the U of M mean to you?
University of Manitoba means home. It is where I grew as an individual and developed my skills as an engineer. The university gave me the opportunity to succeed and be a successful person. I am thankful for programs provided by the university such as the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP).
Not all alumni can come back for Homecoming. How do you stay connected with the U of M?
Facebook and Instagram are my favourite ways to see what is happening back at the university. Also, if I’m ever in Winnipeg I usually stop by the campus for a visit. I’ve come back to campus for Indigenous Homecoming and, just this past spring, to celebrate the new ENGAP grads.
To celebrate Homecoming 2017, UM Today is running the Homecoming Abroad series, featuring alumni and students across Canada and around the world who are proving that from here you can go anywhere.
Homecoming is a chance to reconnect, reminisce, and celebrate. Join the U of M community at our Brown and Gold Brunch or meet up with fellow alumni at faculty, college, and reunion events all week long.