Class Notes

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Maurice Yacowar, BA’62

My new book, After Shtisel, published by, marks my 50th year of being published. The book analyzes the third season of the popular Israeli TV show, Shtisel, now on Netflix, and its writers’ intervening dramatic series, Autonomies. My first publication was No Use Shutting the Door, a Fiddlehead poetry chapbook published in 1971. My 20-odd books that I have written include studies of Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Tennessee Williams, Alfred Hitchcock, Paul Morrissey and the British artist John Bratby. I am now retired and live in Victoria with my wife Anne Petrie. My career included various academic positions from serving as dean of humanities at Brock University, dean of academic affairs at Emily Carr College of Art and Design and the dean of fine arts at University of Calgary.


Knight Trials cover

Alice Bienia BSc.’76 (Geology)

After a very enjoyable 13-year career in the energy industry, I’m now pursuing another passion of mine, writing. Knight Trials is the second book in my Jorja Knight mystery series and is set in Calgary, Alberta. My protagonist, Private Investigator Jorja Knight, is a smart independent woman with a sense of humour, an affinity for fine whiskey, and an uncanny knack for attracting trouble.
In Knight Trials, Jorja delves into a murder case that grows more baffling by the day. When she uncovers a dangerous hidden plot about to unfold, she must decide whether to expose the truth and shatter more lives or keep what she’s found hidden. My first novel, Knight Blind (published in 2020 and now available at most major bookstores as well as through Amazon, Barnes and Noble) was a 2016 Arthur Ellis Award finalist for Best Unpublished Crime Novel.

Connect with Alice on LinkedInTwitter, or at



Audrey Whitson, BSW’81

I’ve always been a writer; writing has been a constant through my several careers. Now, I think of it as my vocation as I first started writing in Grade 3 and had my first publication credit when I was 11 years old — a poem in the Western Producer.

My novel, The Death of Annie the Water Witcher by Lightning (NeWest Press, 2019) was a finalist for the 2020 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize, and it is my third book.

Set in rural Alberta,  Annie is an elegy for a disappearing way of life; it is set in 2003 at the start of the BSE crisis and in the middle of a drought. Annie is also a remembrance for a dark chapter in Alberta’s history: the eugenics movement. Annie’s story is told in eight voices. As the people of Majestic gather for her funeral, they reflect on how she has touched their lives in surprising ways and how she continues to intervene.   

Connect with Audrey on Twitter

Rosa Bruno-Jofre

Rosa Bruno-Jofre, PhD’83

I am a professor and former dean of the Faculty of Education, cross-appointed to the Department of History, in the Faculty of Arts and Science, at Queen's University. And, in 2019, I was installed as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in the Humanities Division of the Academy of Arts and Humanities. I have also received the 2018 George Edward Clerk Award from the Canadian Catholic Historical Association and the 2017 Toronto Dominion Bank Award as one of the Top Ten Most Influential Hispanic Canadians. My most recent books are Our Lady of the Missions: From Ultramontane Origins to a New Cosmology (University of Toronto Press, History Series, 2020); and, along with J.Stafford, I co-authored The Peripatetic Journey of Teacher Preparation in Canada ( UK: Emerald, 2020); and edited, Educationalization and its Complexities: Religion, Politics, and Technology (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

Catharine Dewar

Catharine Dewar, MD’85

I retired from my rheumatology practice in 2020 and moved to Victoria, B.C. with my husband Doug. Volunteering, gardening, renovating our home, reading and writing, socializing and travelling (when these become safe!) will be our focus in retirement. I have fond memories of the Wombats '85!

Michael Sundberg

Michael Sundberg, BSc (Eng)’88 

Following a 30-year international career in engineering, I've now elevated my occupation to artist! I'm writing books, directing films and doing photography — all from my base in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Connect with Michael on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram

Jeff Longphee

Jeff Longphee, BSc (Eng)’89

I recently retired after working for Chevron as a facility engineer and project manager for over 20 years. My career spanned several continents as I worked not only in Calgary but then in Venezuela, Kuwait, Indonesia, Paris, London and Bangladesh. Our current plan is to settle down somewhere on Vancouver Island and travel — if we can? —  over the next few years with time to explore new places and return to favourites we have visited in the past.   

Dennis Mueller, BSc’82, BSc’85, MA’89

On May 17, 2019, I retired from geoLOGIC systems ltd., a petroleum and gas industry software development company. You’ll still find me living in Calgary, attending Stampeder/Dino football games, and volunteering at the Calgary Zoo.

Connect with Dennis on Twitter


Katherine Hintz (nee O’Hagan), BEd’90

November 9, 2020, will mark 30 years since I graduated from the University of Calgary. I was a classroom teacher for 15 years and then was a Resource/Special Needs teacher for 6 years in the private and public schools in B.C. I am now entering my second year as a learning assistance teacher in a local public school, and I have thoroughly loved my teaching career!

My son is beginning his first year at a local university and my hope is that he will experience the same type of outstanding supportive treatment and training that I received at the University of Calgary (I think he will)!

Thanks very much UCalgary for training students to be a valuable asset to the various different communities that we serve!

Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn

Dr. Susan Forbes, BA’91 (Political Science), PhD

My undergraduate degree at UCalgary led to a Masters (Laurier — Political Science) and PhD (Western — Kinesiology). From there I became an academic, as well as having opportunities to work overseeing research projects and working with students on academic probation.

After working in the private sector for years, I eventually began teaching and working in the area of student success which eventually opened up the door for managing the Teaching and Learning Centre at Ontario Tech University (Oshawa), where I currently am. When I first moved into the role we had a mix of hybrid, fully online, and in-person instruction, but like the rest of country, we moved to fully online in March 2020. We continue to operate virtually and that's allowed my team to really work to expand what we do and how we do it.

Connect with Susan on LinkedIn and Twitter 

Theresa Eisenbarth

Theresa Eisenbarth (née Gukert), BFA'92

I am an Alberta painter (professional artist) living in Medicine Hat focusing on painting older neighbourhoods. This summer I've had an exhibition called "Walking the Flats" at the Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat. It's a unique, evocative and interactive visual story telling exhibit and is the first such exhibition also made available virtually by 3-D technology during the current pandemic. The 3-D tour of the art is available on the Esplanade Art Gallery website. In addition, the gallery has kept me busy over the summer creating videos of me working on a large 70 x 60 inch painting in the gallery. This "live" painting event will be edited and posted to the gallery’s webpage and social media channels after I have completed the large-format artwork. My paintings are in many private collections and are sold in galleries across Canada.

Connect with Theresa on LinkedInTwitter and Instagram

Lisa Johnston (nee Davies), BA’92 (Communications)

After two decades of working in the corporate and magazine publishing world, I just released my first fiction novel Wakeless that’s now available on my website at or via Amazon. The dystopian novel follows the life of Emma, a young woman who has somehow survived the wreckage of the 21st century and is discovered living in a basement hideout. Proclaimed clean, she is moved to Redemption City where she soon learns life is no better in the promised utopia — no one is free and eyes are always watching. Wakeless is meant to entertain adults who enjoy speculative fiction, say . . . novels such as the Handmaid’s Tale, that allow them to escape their own world and visit one vastly different — and even scarier — than their own.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn

Robb Sulava, BEd’92

I have been retired on disability since 2009. My teaching career was spent in Northern Alberta where I had numerous assignments. Over my career, I taught grades 5 and 7 and was a special ed teacher with grades 10 to 12. I finished up my career as a guidance counsellor. During the start of my teaching career, I taught standing up but I spent the next 15 years teaching from a wheelchair. This was the result of an unknown virus I contracted while travelling in Alaska so I know what viruses can do to you. That said, I had a wonderful career as a teacher and made many friendships with parents and colleagues — but most of all with students. Facebook has given me a way of maintaining these friendships.

Stephen Nagy

Stephen Nagy, BSc’94

I am currently a senior associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo. I am also a research fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI) and a visiting fellow with the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA). After completing me undergrad degree at UCalgary, I went on to finish my PhD from Waseda University in Japan, in international relations in December 2008. Some of my most recent research projects include “Sino-Japanese Relations in the Wake of the 2012 Territorial Disputes: Investigating changes in Japanese Business’ trade and investment strategy in China”, and “Perceptions and drivers of Chinese view on Japanese and US Foreign Policy in the Region.” Besides teaching, I am currently working on middle power approaches to great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.

Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn and Twitter

Michael John Ryan, DipFA’96

I travelled to Calgary to study at UCalgary for one specific reason — to study under music professor Lois Choksy. Living in Ireland, I had read her books and was so impressed by her implementation of the Hungarian Music Education system based on the philosophies of Zoltan Kodaly. That’s how I came to spend three enjoyable summers in Calgary, attending lectures and performing in choral concerts. I am now the director of the Ryan Academy of Music and owner of Danny Ryan Music Shop in Tipperary, Ireland, where we sell and supply musical instruments to people across the globe. I am also a music teacher and also work as a conductor and violinist. The distance from Calgary to Ireland seems great but it’s not such a long way to Tipperary!


Dominique Keller BSc’00 

Love: The Last Chapter is this anthropology grad’s new film, slated to premiere at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver, running May 6-16. DOXA will make its streams available to audiences across Canada.

Dominique moved into a long-term care facility in Calgary (pre-COVID) and lived with her subjects for one month, followed by frequent visits as a one-woman film team.  

It was during this month that she discovered there is far more to the story of long-term care beyond the basics of safety, hygiene and vaccines. That’s why the compelling documentary closely follows the (love) lives of three aging couples in Love: The Last Chapter

Connect with Dominique on Twitter

Erik Johnson, BComm’02

I was appointed Senior Vice President & Deputy Active Underwriter of Lloyd’s Syndicate Victor 2288. This new position begins in July 2021.

Connect with Erik on LinkedIn

Dianna Gallant, BA’04

I am currently an elementary teacher and writer. I published my first literary fiction novel, Saltwater Joys, in 2018, and its sequel, Saltwater Stranger, is due to be published this coming summer.

Saltwater Joys is set in Ireland’s Eye, a ghost town located on the edge of Newfoundland and Labrador — one of hundreds of fishing outports forced to resettle during the province’s confederation with Canada. The consequences of resettlement for Newfoundland and Labrador's people and culture are illuminated in this intimate tale of one family’s experience across two generations. In 1965, John Lee, a young fisherman, makes a tragic decision that changes the course of his life, pushing him to a self-imposed exile and to the brink of insanity. Twenty years later, John must face the demons of his past. The reader will experience Newfoundland in its vast natural beauty, poetic language, close-knit communities, bountiful hospitality, ghost stories, folklore and colourful culture.

Connect with Dianna on Twitter and Instagram.

You can buy the book on Amazon.

She Was book cover

Sabrina Samuel, BA’04

My first book of poems was just published. Called SHE WAS, it’s a collection of poems about remarkable women. In support of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC), it can be ordered through email at $20/book with a $5 delivery charge, outside of Red Deer. There is also a .pdf study guide and reflections available complimentary for your book club. If you’re interested, you can find events related to the work at and

Connect with Sabrina on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Rhona Stanislaus (née Graney) BAccS’04

My business partner Shannan and I have launched 'Liquid Kudos' an online beverage club (wine & spirits). We promote quality BC wine and spirits to an audience across Canada. It is free to join and there is no purchase commitment, just great wine at great prices shipped direct to you! You must subscribe/join to receive our email wine and spirit offerings. We also host tasting events, in person and online, and plan to offer future travel opportunities, domestic and international, with a wine and spirit focus. We offer business consulting services within the industry in areas such as financial management, export, policy development, partnership development, sales and distribution strategies, etc. You can subscribe by entering your name and email at:

Connect with Rhona on Instagram

Lesley Hinger BMus’06

I've recently been hired as the new co-artistic director of New Works Calgary, along with fellow composer Rebecca Bruton. I'm very excited to work with this organization, which I've long supported as a concert-goer and former board member. I've also recently had the pleasure of teaching music somposition as a sessional instructor in the School of Performing Arts at the U of C, and will be teaching musicianship in Fall 2020 as well.

Connect with Lesley on LinkedIn and Instagram

Michelle Ernst, BA’07

My new novel, Zenobia's Business, tells the story of Dorothy and Doug of rural Offrampville, Ontario, who find themselves together in Aleppo on the frontier of a new millennium and decide to join the circus. The fun eventually follows them home again... but things are as odd there as they were away. People tell me it’s funny and so, if you’d like to find out, you can buy it on Amazon and at Indigo.

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn

The Scarlet Forest

Amy Chandler, BA’08

My novel, The Scarlet Forest: A Tale of Robin Hood, which made the Calgary Herald's bestseller list, has recently been re-published in a second, expanded edition. The book blends new stories, based on my academic research, with classic tales and some almost-forgotten medieval legends. Another one of my books, Questionable Quizzes, was also published this year.

Connect with Amy at


Chris Patrick Carolan, BA’11

Crime Writers of Canada recently announced the shortlists for their 2021 Awards of Excellence. Calgary-based writer and UCalgary alumnus Chris Patrick Carolan's debut novel The Nightshade Cabal is a finalist for the 'Best Crime First Novel' award. The winners will be announced on May 27th, 2021.
Released on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic in late February 2020 by Parliament House Press, The Nightshade Cabal is a paranormal steampunk thriller set in the 1880s in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Nightshade Cabal was a Calgary Herald best seller in its week of release and has twice charted as high as No. 2 in its category on Amazon. 

Connect with Chris on Twitter

Brian Keating and an elephant

Brian Keating, Hon. LLD'11

I normally spend up to 150 days a year guiding in wild places like the Antarctic and Africa. When I'm home here in Calgary, I have averaged once-a-week opportunities to speak to various groups (conventions, business meetings , schools, etc) about the value of nature and intact ecosystems. Obviously, I'm unemployed now! But a cleared schedule (for the first time in my career), has given me the chance to hike, birdwatch, and otherwise explore our incredibly beautiful Alberta landscapes of parks and protected areas! What a thrill it has been to be immersed in observing the advancing spring, and now the rich greens of summer! I have the luxury of telling the CBC audience every Monday afternoon about some of these observations, celebrating nature. My biggest project now? Focusing on the continued development of, a non-profit effort to get people to think more about the value of nature.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Joan Tu (née Lee), BA/BComm’05,  MA ‘12

Joan Tu, a current medical student, published a U.S./Canada medical school admissions book for parents of first-generation pre-med students. The book, Raising Doctors: The Med School Admissions Success Guide for Parents of Future Physicians is packed with information and is meant to help parents support their children as they navigate the increasingly competitive and stressful process of medical school admissions and training. The book addresses both the need for equity and diversity in medicine, and the challenges faced by medical school applicants and trainees today in terms of student wellness.

Michalis Andronikou

Michalis Andronikou, PhD’13 (music)

Besides teaching composition and theory at Ambrose University, I still compose music. In order to deal with ugliness in these trying times, I decided to focus on beauty. “Aphrodite” is a work that I composed in the summer of 2020, inspired by the myths related to the birth of the ancient goddess, in an attempt to re-approach the primordial essence of beauty. It was performed by the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra conducted by Petros Stylianou, in November 2020. More of my music can be found here.

Connect with Michalis on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram

Sleep Good

Raman Gill, MEd’13

In August, I won the "Positive Voice of Calgary-South Asian Community" by the Asian Tribune from Edmonton for my volunteer work for the past 12 years in the community and in May, I received the Star 2020 online certificate from London’s World Book Records for bringing public awareness about COVID-19 to our community. After two years of sleepless nights — for a host of reasons — I also published an e-book on Kindle, Sleep Good — Get the Sleep you Deserve. I use my Education degree in much of the advocacy work that I do.

Connect with Raman on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Katie Rainsford (née Harris), BSc'13 (Kinesiology)

Since graduating, I've been working at a NW Calgary dance studio (Free House Dance Plus), running the office administratively and teaching young dancers (ages 3-18, in Jazz and Tap styles). I got married last year here in Calgary. I spend my free time exploring the city and surrounding areas, travelling to Kimberley, B.C. to see my family and gardening in the summer.

Connect with Katie on Instagram

Jeremy Adamson, MBA’16

After working in data science and analytics for the better part of a decade, and I saw that almost all companies were making the same mistakes.  I wanted to contribute to the practice in some small way so I spent a year writing a book. Turns out the writing part, from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., day in day out, was the easy part.  Marketing it is far more difficult!

That said, the book, Minding the Machines: Building and Leading Data Science Teams, was released last August and in a nutshell it explores the tasks, strategies, methods, and frameworks necessary for an organization beginning their first foray into the analytics space.

Jeremy is the Director of Intelligence and Analytics at WestJet Airlines.

Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn

Dr. Maha Al-Zubi, PhD17

Since I completed my PhD at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design in 2016, I've joined several international organizations (e.g., GGGI, Global Communities) dedicated to supporting sustainable development and promoting green economy in developing countries and emerging economies. Currently I am a researcher with agriculture water solutions at the International Water Management Institute (IMWI). IWMI is an International non-profit research organization with its headquarters in Sri Lanka and it responds directly to the demand for innovative, scientifically tested water management solutions for sustainable development. I am also involved in managing internationally-funded projects where I help foster interdisciplinary approaches to real-world energy, water, climate change and environmental issues. Having a long-standing interest in the interplay between environment, development, and policy, I am committed to supporting organizations and initiatives that strive to improve livelihoods, protect the environment, and secure peaceful relationships.

Connect with Maha on LinkedIn and Twitter

Mike Thorn, MA’17 (English)

I completed my master’s in English literature four years ago with a thesis called Ghosts and Shadows': Epistemophobia and the Disintegration of the Human Subject in John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Camara.

Last February, Journalstone published my debut novel, Shelter for the Damned.  

Here are a couple of testimonials:

"A full-throttle descent into visceral terror, Shelter for the Damned grabs you by the throat and never lets go. This haunting tale heralds the arrival of Mike Thorn as a horror writer to watch." — Jeffrey Reddick, creator of Final Destination

“A terrifying descent into suburban addiction and male shame, Shelter for the Damned is a gripping, uncanny tale cut from the same cloth as Stephen King and John Carpenter.” — Daniel Goldhaber, director of Cam (Netflix)

Connect with Mike on Twitter and Instagram

Bita Malekian, BSc (Eng)’18

The Water Movement in Calgary is an online platform that bridges the connection between Indigenous water treatment operators and experts, nation-wide, by providing a collaborative, interactive, and accessible platform where they can connect, share ideas, and access learning videos. As the founder of Water Movement, I was thrilled when we were recognized by L'Oreal Paris in their Women of Worth Campaign.

Connect with Bita on Twitter and Instagram.

Urchit Bhatiya, BSc'19 (Kinesiology)

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, I have been concerned for the mental wellbeing of workers in the healthcare sector. These workers are bearing the brunt of the horrors of the pandemic, and as a result, are experiencing significant levels of burnout, anxiety, and overall distress. I've had my own mental health journey and know the one of the most intimidating things about accessing help lies with the stigma. That’s why I've created the COVID-19 Healthcare Peer Support Hub: a safe, virtual, anonymous group to talk things through with your peers in the healthcare field. I vet all the members by checking their professional email addresses, and closely moderating the Hub to ensure a great experience. To request an invite, just fill out the form.


Danika Kelly, MSc’20

While studying risk and gender for my Master’s, I realized a market opportunity: software that could track and analyze female persons as ... well, females instead of just small males. Since then, I have launched My Normative and established a research partnership with the UCalgary to prove that My Normative can track the previously untrackable — female hormone variation. Working with my alma mater on this project has been incredibly fulfilling. If you’d like to check out my work, visit here.

Connect with Danika on Twitter and Instagram.

Syameena Pillal, BA’20

Despite ending my final year online, I'm glad I didn’t defer it, as I think about my current situation which finds me in Nairobi, eating delicious food and enjoying the warm weather. Life didn't turn out the way I thought it would post-graduation, but I'll always remember my UCalgary years with fondness for the friends I made and the memories it created. I graduated in a much different world than when I first started university, but for now, lounging on a beach by the Indian Ocean seems like a good choice to ring in 2021! As they say in Swahili, "Fuata mani yaendako" (go with the flow).

Connect with Syameena on Instagram


Rahim Sajan, BSc'01 (Kinesiology), BEd'03, MEd'20

I finished my Master's in Education just as this pandemic started! 2020 also marked the year I started my walkabout from TEDxCalgary —  after 10 years of serving as its curator. I have now started a new civil society adventure that is focused on nation- and province-building. The premise is than an even better Alberta and better Canada is possible, post-COVID-19. 

Connect with Rahim on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Yunying Zhang

Yunying Zhang, BSc(Eng) ’20

I was recently honoured to be one of the eight receipts of the 2021 Ivan Finlay Leadership Awards. If you’re interested you can read the article here.

Connect with Yunying on LinkedIn.

Remember — the University of Calgary Alumni Association is always interested in where life has taken you. Please stay in touch and we will help share your ongoing journey.