Presenter Biographies

Keynote Biography

André Costopoulos is an archaeologist who earned his PhD at the University of Oulu in Finland in 1999. He conducts research on human adaptation to environmental change. He served as Associate Dean (Student Affairs) and then Dean of Students at McGill starting in 2008. He joined the University of Alberta as Vice Provost and Dean of Students in 2016.

50-minute Concurrent Sessions

9:00 - 9:50 a.m.

Sexual Violence Policy Introduction and Overview

Deb Eerkes is the Director of Student Conduct and Accountability and one of the two University of Alberta Discipline Officers. In addition to her work in student conduct, restorative justice, academic integrity, she was one of the lead authors on the Review of the University of Alberta’s Response to Sexual Assault report and led the development of the new Sexual Violence policy suite.

Sarah Wolgemuth has been serving students at the University of Alberta for over 14 years. She began her career as a Residence Coordinator in the University residences while completing her MEd in Educational Administration and Leadership. She then worked in the University Law School as Director of Student Services and Admissions. She then returned to residence as Assistant Dean of Students, Residence for four years, and recently became the Assistant Dean, Student Life in the Office of the Dean of Students where she oversees enhancing the overall student experience.

Building Your Collaboration Toolkit

Norma Rodenburg is currently the Senior Advisor to the Vice-Provost and University Registrar on Strategic Planning at the University of Alberta. In this role she oversees Student Connect and the Registrar’s Office Marketing and Communication unit, while leading the creation of the next RO strategic plan. Norma previously worked in the Office of the Dean of Students as the Student Affairs Officer. When not busy with work, Norma spends her time volunteering and raising her children.

Melissa Padfield began her career in higher education holding positions in Recruitment and Student Engagement within the Dean of Students portfolio and Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. Since 2010 she has worked in numerous student-focused positions within the Office of the Registrar, including Assistant Registrar for the National Recruitment and Student Connect. Currently she acts as Deputy Registrar overseeing Admissions; Student Financial Support; Record, Registration and Fees; Enrolment Management & Reporting; and National Recruitment. Outside of work she loves spending time with her two young children.

Emerging Adulthood Theory within Post-Secondary Context

Kevin Friese is the Assistant Dean of Students, Health and Wellness at the University of Alberta. His career has focused on a diverse set of commitments relating to students and student affairs taking him from student recruitment to student services and student health and wellness. With over sixteen years of experience in the field of health and wellness, Kevin has the privilege of leading a multidisciplinary team of health professionals on campus that support the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of students, their families, faculty, and staff. Following an ecological health and wellness framework, Kevin has a passion for supporting the health and wellbeing of students with a vision of creating communities in which each person is empowered to flourish and achieve their full academic and life potential. He has co-chaired the development of the U of A’s upcoming Healthy University Strategy, and led the development and implementation of an alternative campus addiction and mental health model predicated on the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) Post-Secondary Student Mental Health framework.

David Jennings is a fifth year Psychology student from Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta. David immediately became involved in CSJ student life through his campus association and as a Resident Assistant within Residence Saint-Jean. In 2014, David discovered his passion for mental health and started volunteering for the Peer Support Centre. He continues to volunteer for the PSC, implementing training and best practice support for new volunteers. David worked as the Student Life Assistant at CSJ, under the Team Lead Student Life. This sparked his interest in becoming a student affairs professional. Currently, David is interning in the Dean of Students Office as the Student Affairs Intern. This position has given him extensive professional development and has helped shape his future vocational goals upon graduation in April 2017.

10:00 - 10:50 a.m.

Responding to Sexual Assault Disclosures

Meagan Simon is an Education Program Coordinator with the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre. She completed her BA in Psychology at the University of Alberta in 2010, and her MA in Sociology in 2015. In addition to Meagan’s responsibilities of managing and facilitating educational programming, she also provides ongoing support, advocacy, and accompaniment to survivors of sexual violence. Meagan previously worked at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton as the Director of Public Education, and brings a decade of experience in crisis intervention.

Cultural Roles and Expectations: Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Student Advising

Gavin Palmer has a Masters in Intercultural and International Communication and is a self-proclaimed student of perspective. He lived, worked and travelled for ten years in Asia and has a background in education and international tourism. He is currently the International Student Program Coordinator for International Student Services.

Heather Seyl Miyashita has worked for University of Alberta International for almost two years as a Coordinator for the Visiting Student Programs which develops and operates programming for short-term international students and visitors. She provides academic advising, supporting students in reaching their personal and professional objectives, and facilitating academic and cultural seminars. She lived, worked and travelled extensively in Asia for over 20 years. Her current interests include cross-cultural communication in the post-secondary environment.

Questions That Make a Difference

Lynn Kirkland is a master facilitator with over 25 years of leadership and management experience in the public and private sectors. Her passion for communication and leadership development led her into the world of Human Resources at Capital Health/Alberta Health Services. For a decade she was the Director of Leadership and Employee Development; she led a team of internal consultants and designed and facilitated customized learning programs for senior leaders, managers and teams within the organization. Lynn has done advanced training in Leadership, Team Development, Change and Transition Management, Adult Education and Communication. She also teaches communication and adult education at the University of Alberta. Lynn has a highly engaging and interactive style and creates opportunities for learning conversations that lead individuals to leverage their strengths to achieve success.

11:00 - 11:50 a.m.

How to Build Anti-Oppression into the Workplace

Josh Connauton has served as the Program Lead for Student Group Services with the University of Alberta Students' Union since May 2015. He is pursuing a Master's of Education in Adult, Community, and Higher Education at the University of Alberta. His passions in life include equity, anti-oppression, music, and a good sandwich (preferably from Farrow). He has been on campus in professional and academic roles for 7.5 years and hopes to never leave his campus community.

Days of Action: Collaborating for Change

Jason Murray is a psychologist with Counselling and Clinical Services, University of Alberta. He has worked in a variety of roles counselling U of A students since 1999.  Jason also spends hundreds of hours every year doing educational workshops, presentations, and in-services for faculty, staff, and students on topics like fostering resilience, positive psychology, and working with students in distress. He's trying to drink less coffee.

Jane Slessor has been a registered social worker with the Community Social Work Team at the University of Alberta for the past year. She comes from a fairly long background of working in the Inner City in Edmonton that has a passion for working collaboratively, and continues the family tradition.

Sasha Van der Klein is a second-year graduate student in the faculty of ALES and Vice-President Labour of the Graduate Students' Association. Originally from the Netherlands, Sasha moved here almost two years ago because of the research area of my supervisor (chickens!) Sasha took on the Mental Health portfolio in the GSA and believes it combines well with her daily activities as VP Labour as she often supports graduate students in academic, financial, or supervisory troubles. In the Mental Health portfolio she has been active in the Days of Action committee to represent graduate students’ unique issues and struggles in their programs.

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want: Student Voice in Advising

Eric Kother is the current Specialist for Leadership and Recognition at the University of Alberta Students’ Union. His portfolio focuses on the development and implementation of the Students’ Union’s leadership training opportunities. Eric is finishing his fifth and final year in a Bachelor of Science program at the University of Alberta. He will be acting as the facilitator for the panel.

2:00 - 2:50 p.m.

How to Pronounce Chinese Names!

Nora Lambrecht works for University of Alberta International as an International Student Adviser. Nora is fluent in Farsi and Mandarin. Nora is also a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant.

Xiaobing Lin is an International Student Adviser at University of Alberta International. She holds a Master’s of Education degree, and many years of experience teaching English and Chinese as a second language. She will soon be a regulated Immigration consultant.

The Fairness Imposter: When Intention to be Fair Fails

Marc Johnson has been the Undergraduate Ombudsperson at the University of Alberta for five years. Marc has a Bachelor’s of Commerce, and is pursuing a Master’s of Education in Educational Administration and Leadership at the University of Alberta. His studies focus on Ombudsmen in higher education. Marc is also a Chartered Mediator. Marc helps students with academic and non-academic appeals; he also supports students in situations where they feel they have been treated unfairly.
Natalie Sharpe has a Master’s Degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and brings a holistic perspective to her ombuds work. Natalie has worked at the University of Alberta for 33 years, and is the Director of the Office of the Student Ombuds. Natalie also teaches part-time in Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Social Sciences. She has conducted research on indigenous land claims, edited for a Canadian encyclopedia, and held executive roles in an educational union. Natalie is the President of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons.

Unwind Your Mind Collective: Creating Collective Action to Support Student Mental Health

Melissa Visconti is the Team Lead of the Healthy Campus Unit, Melissa is currently an MSc student from the Centre for Health Promotion Studies at the University of Alberta. She completed her bachelor's degree in psychology from McMaster University. Her current thesis work focuses on creating healthy built environments

Nicole McLeod is the Healthy Campus Unit’s Student Team Coordinator, Nicole has a BA in Recreation and Health Education and a MA in Exercise Psychology. She is passionate about creating a culture of wellness on campus and wants to inspire others to get involved to help make the changes happen!

The Healthy Campus Unit is a health promotion team working to support campus health and well-being by creating a healthy campus community at the University of Alberta.

Ignite Sessions

3:00 - 3:40 p.m.

Defining the Campus Community by Defining Yourself

Kyle McCloy is the Residence Coordinator for Henday Hall in Lister Centre – a first-year tower on the University of Alberta campus, where he has worked since 2015. Kyle has a degree in Sociology and communications from Simon Fraser University, and  is currently pursuing an MA in Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. Kyle’s interests are in individual empowerment and creating strong communities in both physical and virtual spaces. When not working, he is an avid gamer and involved in dance and theater.

Like A Good Story: Metadiscursive Markers in Graduate Writing and Advising

Dr. Michael Leahy, a writing advisor with the Student Success Centre, also teaches professional writing in the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Extension. He holds a BA and MA from Dalhousie University, and a PhD from the University of Alberta. He has taught approximately 3,000 students at the University and is a co-author of the successful Canadian textbook: “Acting on Words: An Integrated Rhetoric, Research Guide, Reader and Handbook, 3rd edition (Pearson, 2004, 2009, 2012). Dr. Leahy has also published in many academic journals.

Sharing the Work: Lessons Learned in Collective Action

Stephanie Grant is the Acting Coordinator of the Community Social Work Team at the University of Alberta. Stephanie has a Masters in Social Work from York University, and is a member of the Alberta College of Social Workers. Stephanie is passionate about asset-based community development work and preventative approaches to community mental health.

The Power of a Story: The Unsung Heroes

Dinuka Gunaratne is the Career Education Coordinator for Graduate Students within the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) and the Career Centre. Dinuka supports and advises graduate students on successful transitioning into careers after graduation. Before coming to the University of Alberta , Dinuka spent seven years working in student affairs, alumni relations, and advancement at the University of Guelph, York University and Lakehead University. He started his career in Canada as an international student from Sri Lanka studying zoology and neuroscience at the University of Guelph.

Oh the places they'll go! A Collaborative Approach to Advising Students on International Opportunities

Ciara Murin is the International Internship Coordinator (Outbound) and has worked for Education Abroad since 2011. Ciara coordinates the day-to-day operations of the international internship programs offered by the University of AIberta International, focusing specifically on outbound internships. She is originally from Ireland, completed her BA in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has lived in Canada since 2007.
Ashley Laracy is the Summer and Group Study Abroad Programs Coordinator with the Education Abroad Office.  After completing a Master's at Memorial University, Ashley accepted a six-month internship with the International Youth Internship Program as a Gender Advisor in Tra Vinh Vietnam.  She then spent three years with World University Services of Canada in Hanoi, Vietnam, as a Gender Advisor and a Partnership Development Specialist, before arriving in Edmonton.

Poster Sessions

Caste in a Box: Silencing Poverty-Class Higher Education Diversity Policies

Elaine Laberge is in a Master’s of Sociology program. Her research, "The Reverberations of Poverty: Composing Lives in Higher Education," focuses on university undergraduate students whose lives are shaped by childhood poverty. In her research, participants subjectively define poverty. The research seeks to narratively understand their unique, individual experiences in relation to larger social, institutional, and cultural narratives. The goals of this research are to affect changes in policies and programs to improve the experiences of students from poverty.

Student Advisor Self-Care 101

Meghan Hodgson is a senior undergraduate student with a double major in Psychology and Anthropology. She is currently an Ombuds Intern at the Office of the Student Ombuds at the University of Alberta. In addition to this training and mentoring experience, Meghan is able to build upon the knowledge she has acquired throughout her undergraduate degree and apply it to developing self-care strategies. Her participation in the conference is an opportunity to reciprocate the support and knowledge that the student advising community has shared with her.

“Tradition” – The Story of 6 Henday

Kyle McCloy is the Residence Coordinator for Henday Hall in Lister Centre – a first-year tower on the University of Alberta campus, where he has worked since 2015. Kyle has a degree in Sociology and communications from Simon Fraser University, and  is currently pursuing an MA in Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. Kyle’s interests are in individual empowerment and creating strong communities in both physical and virtual spaces. When not working, he is an avid gamer and involved in dance and theater.

U of A Student Advisor’s Network

Chelsey Laux has been a Student Advisor in the Faculty of Business at University of Alberta, working with the Alberta School of Business for almost three years. She is deeply passionate about providing the highest level of service to students through innovative ideas.  She believes that by working together across faculties to share and implement new ideas, we can improve the level of service we provide -- and it's fun to meet new people along the way!

Building Collaborative and Resilient Supervisory Relationships: The Restorative Practices Initiative (RPI) at the University of Alberta

Brent Epperson is the Graduate Ombudsperson at the Office of the Student Ombuds, University of Alberta where he is simultaneously pursuing his PhD in political science. Brent’s research focuses on media framing in health care reform efforts. Working primarily with graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, much of Brent’s ombuds casework involves conflicts between students and supervisors or other faculty members. Brent’s research in macro-level issue framing informs his ombuds practice, combining reframing techniques with mediation to resolve disputes. Beyond the university, Brent contributes frequently to higher education debates in the Canadian press.
Shivani Kapur is the first Graduate Ombuds Intern at the Office of the Student Ombuds, University of Alberta. Shivani, a former judicial clerk in India, is an international student completing her Masters of Law. Shivani’s thesis focuses on discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace. Shivani helps students explore options to resolve conflict, navigate complex policies and procedures; she treats them with respect and intentional fairness. Shivani has become a better negotiator and problem solver, and most of all, a better communicator – better at listening, expressing her ideas and offering advice.

Road Blocks & Check Stops: Navigating the Path to Student Success

Student Connect Advisors provide front line services on behalf of the other units in the Office of the Registrar which includes recruitment, admissions, records, registration and fees, scholarships/awards, financial aid, convocation, and the Faculty of Open Studies. Advisors are highly skilled and specifically trained to advise prospective, current, and former students through phone, email, and in-person. In-person services are provided in one location within the Student Connect Centre where students can access multiple services. Advisors identify and assess students’ needs in an initial interaction and will connect students to additional supports and services on campus as necessary.

Active Communication: Using Educational Psychology as a Tool for Fairness

Mariah Venkatraman is a senior undergraduate student completing a double major in Psychology and Anthropology. She is currently an ombuds intern in the Office of the Student Ombuds. She is applying the knowledge gained in her course on Inclusive Education through the Educational Psychology Department. Mariah has found that many of the techniques and ideas taught there enhance her work as an Ombuds Intern, and may potentially be useful in other areas of student advising. By developing her skills in communication and cultural sensitivity, Mariah uses an Active Communication lens to assess her techniques and approaches as an Ombuds Intern.

Recognizing Student Involvement: Growing the Co-Curricular Record

Michelle Kim is the coordinator responsible for the co-curricular record at the University of Alberta. She also runs the SU Involvement Awards, and is the president of the HUB Community Association. She is also an executive member of Senior Care and First Steps. Michelle serves on the SU Health and Dental Committee, while taking a full course load working towards a BSc.