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Class Notes
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Where Are They Now?

See what your former classmates are up to and tell us about your
accomplishments. We welcome all updates!

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From Rachael Pettigrew [PhD/14]: “I have been a faculty member and now a dept chair in Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary. I thought I would share that I was honoured to receive a Distinguished Faculty Award from MRU. One is given each year. Here is the story.”

Ag entrepreneur Trina Semenchuk [BSc(BioE)/2021] wants to make Manitoba the vertical farming capital of the world and started her company, The Little Greenhouse That Could, to help facilitate that vision.

Ernest Cholakis [DMD/82] became the namesake of the Cholakis Dental Group: Kids Dental Outreach Program, a partnership between the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry and the Winnipeg School Division.

Robynne B. Kazina [BSW/2002] was appointed a Judge of His Majesty’s Court of King’s Bench of Manitoba (Family Division) in Winnipeg.

Tracey Martin [BComm(Hons)/98] was named the new CEO of Kids Cancer Care in Calgary.

Dr. Jayelle Friesen-Enns [BSc/2017, MSc/2023, MD/2023], a co-founder of Indigenous Medical Students’ Association of Canada, is a recipient of a 2024 Indspire Award.

Michael Pierre [BSc/2001] became the Executive Director, Indigenous Services, in the Corporate and Strategic Services Division for the Province of Manitoba.

Karen-Denise Cyr [BA/93] became the new Executive Director of the CW Wiebe Medical Centre in Winkler, Man.

From Grace Nickel [BFA/80]: “I travelled to Portugal in September 2024 for my inauguration into the International Academy of Ceramics. The IAC is a highly respected international body that promotes cross-cultural activity in ceramics on a global scale. It is especially active in helping bring visibility and awareness to ceramic artists and organizations from countries who are chronically underserved. I’m thrilled to be able to be part of this cohort.

I’m the first Manitoban to be accepted and only the 18th Canadian to gain entry. I look forward to participating and contributing to this important international body that sees ceramics as a unifying agent leading to peaceful and positive exchange between diverse cultures and countries in a critical time when sadly it is often the opposite.”

Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones [BA/96, LLB/99, LLD/2017] retired from team curling in February 2024, shooting her last rock in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Physical Education teacher Bryan Vermeylen [BPE/2004, BEd/2006] is bringing unique circus arts programming to local school curriculum in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division.

Somia Sadiq [BEnvSc(Hons)/2007, MNRM/2017], founder of Narratives, won the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award from The Women Business Owners of Manitoba in fall 2023.

Jen Sonneberg [BFA(Hons)/2008, BEd/2016] was declared the winner on the CBC’s reality series The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down.

Iris Meck [BSA/78, ExtEd/88] was honoured with a Lifetime Achiever Award at the 2024 Women in Ag Awards.

The Métis artistry and multidisciplinary talent of Emma Mayer [BFA(Hons)/88] was on display at the Ace Art Inc. gallery in Winnipeg’s Exchange District in April for an exhibit by MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art).

Emma Hill Kepron [BA(Adv)/2003], Associate Dean of Libraries at the University of Winnipeg won big on Jeopardy and also made Ace Burpee’s Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans of 2023 list.

From Dr. Allen Jones [MSc/92]: “I started writing and drawing The Hidden Zoo Inside You during the pandemic after realizing the extent of misinformation regarding the coronavirus. I wanted to explain and demystify the language of medicine to my patients in my current practice and hope the Hidden Zoo can do the same thing for the general public.”


Klaus Hochheim [MA/95, PhD/2003] was a research scientist with UM’s Centre for Earth Observation Science when he died in a helicopter accident in Sept. 2013 in the Arctic. He loved photography and left behind a collection of images that reveal his unique lens of the North.

From his wife, Martha Hochheim: “I am hosting a photography exhibit of Klaus’ work at the Canadian Mennonite University Gallery in Winnipeg this summer as part of the 10th-year commemoration of his tragic passing (grand opening reception is June 21 and the exhibit runs until Aug. 31). I have been working together with gallery curator Sarah Hodges-Kolisnyk in order to share his stunning photographs with others. The photographs will be completely new to all. CMU Press is also publishing an artistic book of this work. In Sarah’s words, “In the tradition of modernist photographers such as Minor White or Edward Burynsky, Ice: Moments shares a first-hand perspective that eschews colonial, expeditionary views of the circumpolar and Antarctic regions in favour of an intimate, personal artistic and documentary viewpoint of one life on the ice.”

Couple Paige [BSc(Agric)/2009] and Marcus Dueck [BSc(Agric)/2007] of Four Oak Farms in Kleefeld, Man., were named Manitoba’s Outstanding Young Farmers of 2024.

Disha Naik [BSc/2018] became India’s first female airport firefighter. She joined the Aerodrome Rescue and Firefighting unit at Manohar International Airport in 2021.

Mainak-Singha [PhD/2023] did an insightful Q & A on his interest in supermassive black hole and working for NASA.

Best friends Hayley Johnston [BComm(Hons)/2013] and Thao Lam [BComm(Hons)/2016] launched Toasti Bean, offering infused coffee with unique flavours.

Engineer Mel Hosain [MSc/63], who is a Professor Emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, was honoured with an Alumni Service Award from their Engineering Advancement Trust. It is the latest of many awards for Hosain.

Of his time in Winnipeg at UM, he writes: “I am very proud UM is my alma mater. I landed in Winnipeg on Oct.2, 1961, a few days late as I received a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship because of a last-minute withdrawal and it took some extra time to get the papers ready. I learnt to skate on the Red River. I spent the summer of 1962 in a house on Jessie Avenue with the Hunter family. The older boy, Robert, of course, later became famous as the co-founder of Green Peace. I have fond memories of Winnipeg, forty below zero and all.”

From Steve LaDochy [PhD/85]: “I recently published a book Fire and Rain: California’s Changing Weather and Climate that your readers might be interested in. Speaking of rain, we’re getting buckets in southern California.”

Dr. Joss Reimer [MD/2008/MPH/2013], Chief Medical Officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the incoming President of the Canadian Medical Association, received the 2024 Canadian Mennonite University PAX Award.

From Janice Kehler [DipPT/76,BPT/83,MSc/88]: “I published a book in November of 2023 entitled Ode to Olympic Dreams—my coming-of-age story as an Olympic hopeful during the 1970s. As I prepared for the Olympics, I was also a student in the Rehabilitation Science program at the University of Manitoba. I graduated with a diploma in 1976 and then finished my BA in 1983. My memoir hybrid is a collection of personal essays that, in the later years, tells the story of one of my teachers, Miss James, who had a life-changing influence on my career both as an Olympian and as a physiotherapist. I would love to share this experience with alumni.”

The following notable alumni will be honoured as the University of Manitoba’s 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients: Steve Kroft [BA/88] (Lifetime Achievement), Dr. Joss Reimer [MD/2008, MPH/2013] (Professional Achievement), Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov [MD/83, PhD/98] (Academic Innovation), Michael Robertson [BA/98, MArch/2004] (Community Service), Chimwemwe Undi [BA(Adv)/2016, JD/2020] (Outstanding Young Alumni)

Valerie Shantz [MPAdm/2010, ExtEd/2014] became the new Executive Director for the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Shantz’s attended the very first festival in 1974 with her parents and has been a regular attendee ever since.

Former Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman [BA(ADV)/96)] was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench in December 2023.

Gerry Price [BSc/70, MSc/72, LLD/2017], Chairman & CEO of Price Industries, was named as the 2024 recipient of the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA), presented by the Associates of the Asper School of Business at UM.

Charles CJ Prober [BComm(Hons)/94] was appointed CEO of California-based Netgear Inc., a Silicon Valley hardware tech company.

Joanne Crozier [BID/91] conducted research for her MA thesis on the experiences of Metro Vancouver women working from home during the pandemic, revealing new design considerations that could influence residential design—especially in smaller homes—as the post-pandemic labor force evolves to include a larger segment of remote employees. Her thesis, entitled “Mothers of invention: How the experiences of women working from home during COVID-19 could reshape the domestic environment,” has been condensed into an article that was published in the Journal of Interior Design.

* Submit your Class Note to alumnirelations [at] umanitoba [dot] ca // Submissions may be edited for length, clarity and style

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