May 26, 2023
Meet the speakers for Spring Convocation 2023
Thousands of University of Calgary students will mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another during Spring Convocation. An eclectic group of speakers is set to impart their words of wisdom to the new grads at ceremonies where no honorary degree is being awarded.
UCalgary Chancellor John Cornish and President Ed McCauley have announced this spring’s speakers, many of whom at one point crossed the stage themselves:
Milton Carrasco, MEng’92
As co-founder and chair of Transoft Solutions, Inc., Milton Carrasco runs one of the top transportation software companies in the world. He has also helped to strengthen Canada’s ties to leading international agencies such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Federal Highway Administration, and Austroads. Prior to Transoft, Carrasco worked at consulting firms where his experience included the planning and design of transportation infrastructure, including freeways, expressways and other development projects. He was the recipient of the 2020 Business in Vancouver CEO Award and the 2022 UCalgary Alumni Career Achievement Arch Award.
Jesse Cockney, BKin’22
A champion both on and off the trails, Jesse Cockney is an Inuit Olympian in the sport of cross-country skiing, a seasoned athlete who has competed in the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics, and holder of three gold medals from the 2011 Canada Winter Games as well as nine national championship titles. Cockney leads new generations of athletes while coaching at the Foothills Nordic Ski Club.
Dr. Jim Dewald, PhD’06
As dean of the Haskayne School of Business and professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, Jim Dewald has exceptionally transformed the School under his leadership. Dewald has led the establishment of Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies and six new learning centres (leadership, entrepreneurship, real estate, corporate sustainability, business futures, and social entrepreneurship). Since his appointment in 2013, the school has seen significant increase in faculty, graduate students and funding. Dewald has also been instrumental in putting Haskayne on the national map for research.
Sam Effah, BComm’14
A two-time Canadian champion in the 100m, Sam Effah has an innate enthusiasm for sport, marketing, entrepreneurship and the Olympic movement. He is a 2021 Canada West Hall of Fame inductee, and was appointed co-chef de mission for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. Effah is dedicated to inspiring youth as an athlete ambassador for Right to Play, and is a former Classroom Champions mentor. Effah now works full-time at RBC, contributing to the growth of RBC Future Launch, the bank’s largest-ever financial commitment to helping young people prepare for the future of work. He recently moved into a full-time manager position on the Brand Marketing team, where he’ll help find and fund Canada’s future Olympians via RBC Training Ground, and support RBC’s broader sports marketing initiatives, including Olympic Games campaigns.
Lourdes Juan, BGS’05, MEDes’10
An entrepreneur, urban planner, tech startup founder and food-security activist, Lourdes Juan is a trailblazer in tackling our nation’s food-security crisis. Juan is the founder of Leftovers Foundation — one of Canada’s largest, tech-enabled food-rescue charities — and of the social enterprise Fresh Routes Inc., a mobile grocery store providing healthy and affordable food. Juan is also the founder of Hive Developments, an urban-planning and community-outreach consultancy based in Calgary.
Dr. Suzette Mayr, BA’90, PhD
An accomplished novelist and a professor in UCalgary’s Department of English, Mayr is the author of six novels, and her most recent work, The Sleeping Car Porter, won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction; the Republic of Consciousness Prize (U.S. and Canada); The City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Award; and the Georges Bugnet Award. Mayr, who has a PhD from the University of New South Wales, is a former president of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and has taught the university’s creative writing courses for more than two decades.
Originally from Nigeria, Charles Osuji studied law in his home country before coming to Canada in 2011, where he went through the process of being called to the Alberta bar. Three years after his call to the bar, Osuji became the sole owner of a thriving law firm. With almost no experience in law-firm management, Osuji has not only sustained the growth and integrity of the firm Osuji & Smith Lawyers, but has won several awards, including being named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada in 2020, and was included in the 2022 Edition of “The Best Lawyers in Canada: Ones to Watch.” A member of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2021, Osuji also co-founded an organization of Nigerian-trained lawyers, the Calgary Association of Nigerian Lawyers.
To read the full profiles of this year’s outstanding lineup of speakers, visit the convocation website.