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Lakehead University’s Orientation Leaders are already getting set to welcome new students coming to the Orillia campus in September. The student leaders took part in a three-day training session on campus and at Geneva Park in April.
by Stephanie Edwards, HBASc
Over the course of three days in April, 21 Lakehead Orillia students took part in a retreat that was designed to help prepare them for their roles as Orientation Leaders for the 2014-2015 academic year. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of these student leaders and had an experience that definitely surpassed my expectations.
I have always been a shy person and one of the promises I made to myself upon attending university, was to become more involved in school and community life. This retreat allowed me to begin my journey to do just that.
Our first day was spent on campus, learning about the pressures and expectations of being a student leader and how our roles as leaders could not only change the lives of the first-year students, but our own lives as well. I was skeptical at first, but as the retreat went on, the reality of this statement began to become clearer to me.
For the second and third days, we found ourselves at Geneva Park, the beautiful YMCA conference centre in Ramara Township. We were introduced to Rich Clark of Geneva Park, our lead facilitator, who led us through a morning of games, that on the surface seemed quite simple, but ended up always teaching us a lesson. We learned about the power of communication and how important it is to sometimes just let it all go and trust each other, all the while having tons of fun.
One of the highlights for me was during our second day when we took part in an activity called low-ropes, which consisted of outdoor challenges, such as attempting to make our way across three wires that were strung between trees. Being afraid of heights and quite the introvert, this activity was the type of thing during which I would normally find myself sitting on the sidelines. There was no pressure for us to participate, and instead of the usual nervousness, I found myself excited when it came to my turn. I was eager to give it a go. There may have been a few falls but that is not what I remember about the experience. I remember my teammates’ cheers of encouragement and the high fives and laughter as I made it to the end of the course. It was a moment I will carry with me during my upcoming year as an Orientation Leader and probably for the rest of my life.
The best part of the experience for me though was not something that happened during a programmed activity, but instead, during our free time. At meals and in our late night conversations, we all learned about each other, and about ourselves, creating friendships that will last long after our time at Lakehead is over.
At the end of the retreat, we were all asked to choose one word that described our experience and for me that word was empowering. I was empowered not just by Rich and the leadership team at Geneva Park, but by my fellow students, who showed me that being a leader was more about working together than working alone.
The opportunity to be an Orientation Leader is not something many students have the privilege of being offered, and I will not take it for granted. I am now more excited than ever to welcome the new crop of Lakehead University students to our campus. As a team, we will help to provide the exceptional and unconventional university experience that students are looking for and, in my experience, will benefit from at Lakehead.
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Stephanie Edwards is a Lakehead University student who is working for the summer as a Marketing Communications Assistant at the Orillia campus.
February 11, 2013 - Orillia, ON
“Searching for the university that’s perfect for you?...”
You may have heard this intro to Lakehead’s radio ad recently – the voice you hear belongs to Liz Breton, a Lakehead Orillia student who is inviting listeners to visit the University.
Along with Dave Venneri, the two Lakehead students act as Lakehead’s official tour guides, and when it comes to knowing everything there is to know about the Orillia campus and life at Lakehead, they are the experts.
From how to find an essay topic in the library’s online database, to where the nearest health food store is, to how the school’s smart classroom technology works, Venneri and Breton can answer almost anything asked about the campus.
According to the guides, however, their knowledge of campus facts and figures is not the most important part of their jobs as part-time tour guides.
“Our job is to help ease in new students to university life; to help them understand what university is all about,” explains Breton. “ Prospective students need to be able to picture themselves here.”
“You can’t overestimate the value of a campus tour,” adds Venneri. Whether you live in residence or not, you’ll be spending four years of your life here and you have to feel comfortable.”
“During a tour, we are able to share experiences that younger students can relate to,” says Breton. “We’re close to their age and can share the excitement, as well as the apprehension, that we went through when starting university.”
Breton, from Midhurst, said she chose Lakehead over other schools even though the new campus was just a roadside sign at the time of her initial visit. “It was the friendly atmosphere and warm, welcoming people I met, that made me realize that Lakehead was for me. I wanted to grow as a person and become independent and I felt at a smaller, growing school I would have more of a chance of doing that.”
For Venneri, of Vaughan, it was the chance to move away from home and still be fairly close to Toronto. Now in his second year, Venneri says he is extremely happy with his decision and has seen his experience at Lakehead become more meaningful after getting involved with campus activities and life.
Being a tour guide is part of that experience. “I enjoy meeting people, talking to them and learning about their lives,” said Venneri. “During tours, we make a unique connection with people and we really have an influence on the decisions they make, so it makes me feel helpful. I now feel confident talking to anyone; this opportunity has really given me new social skills.”
Venneri adds that relating to parents is also an important part of conducting campus tours. “Parents ask good questions and they also provide lots of feedback.”
“You can see parents start to feel comfortable during a tour,” explains Breton; they can actually visualize their kids coming here. And they have a field day with excitement during the residence portion of the tour!”
“People hear about a small campus with 1,400 students and they underestimate the possibilities,” adds Venneri. “Once they are here, they not only see the impressive facilities, but learn about how students can get involved and fit in.”
Campus tours are offered by appointment (or self-guided by chance) and can be customized to suit the interests of the visitor. “If a prospective student has older siblings at university, or already knows quite a bit, and wants to compare features, we will offer a tour that is somewhat different from a first generation student who is approaching university from scratch,” explains Venneri.
In addition to customized tours, Venneri and Breton are responsible for leading group tours at many of the campus’s special events, such as the annual March Break Open House. This year’s Open House takes place from March 11 – 13 and offers visitors a chance to experience all that Lakehead University has to offer.
For more information, visit mylakehead.ca or to book a tour, call 705-330-4008 ext. 2150.
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Lakehead students Dave Venneri and Liz Breton are Lakehead Orillia’s official tour guides and always look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy a campus tour.
|Kimberly Shirley, with Dr. Michel Beaulieu and Arthur, graduated in 2013 with the highest average in Lakehead's History program. Kimberly credits her success to determination, encouragement from Lakehead’s professors and support from the Office of Student Accessibility Services to make sure her needs are met.|
With hard work, passion and perseverance, Kimberly Shirley has proven that encouragement and accessible classes can go a long way toward getting an education at Lakehead University.
Kimberly graduated with the highest average in Lakehead University’s History program, receiving her Honours Bachelor of Arts in June of 2013. She will now do her Master’s with help from an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for $15,000.
Kimberly credits her success to determination, encouragement from Lakehead’s professors and support from the Office of Student Accessibility Services to make sure her needs are met.
Kimberly, 27, has a rare neuromuscular disorder that requires her to use a wheelchair and rely on the help of a Special Skills Dog, a golden retriever named Arthur. She said she wouldn’t be doing her Master’s without the encouragement of her professors.
“The professors here have been amazing. Because it’s a small university, they show that they care. One professor told me that having a disability should not get in the way of going forward with my Master’s. They all planted that little seed and doused it in a kind of miracle grow to boost my self-confidence,” she said.
Discipline has also played a key role in her success. Her effort and positive attitude have clearly paid off.
“There is no shortcut to learning. I hate to disappoint you – it’s about reading. I love to learn from a book and from the environment,” she said.
Lakehead University’s professors create an environment that is extremely beneficial to learning, Kimberly said, because they make the material interesting and encourage students to reach their full potential.
Dr. Michel Beaulieu is one of the professors who continues to inspire Kimberly. He also provided guidance and assistance when she applied for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.
“Professor Beaulieu is a great teacher. He’s colourful and he brings life to the topics that he’s teaching. He’s very visual with his explanations and that appeals to me – I’m more of a visual learner.
“The profs are all quirky in their own way and it makes for better learning,” she said.
Her passion for history and the way she has triumphed over adversity have been an inspiration to her professors and classmates, Professor Beaulieu said.
“Her classmates can learn how to be better students from Kim,” Professor Beaulieu said. “I’m amazed by her. She works so hard and I learn things from her all the time. Kim is one of the best students I’ve ever had.
“History is about the past and human experience – Kim is interested in all human experience. She goes beyond the assigned readings to learn more and test everything she’s learning,” he said.
Professor Beaulieu said Kimberly’s success reinforces the need for accessible and flexible classes, as well as professors who are inspiring.
“This speaks to something Lakehead has excelled at – catering to all individuals who are seeking an education. Our smaller class sizes are good for accessibility and for learning, especially learning history,” Professor Beaulieu said.
Sheila Noyes, who recently retired from Lakehead, worked in what is now called Student Accessibility Services to make sure Kim had everything she needed.
“Kim exemplifies being triumphant over adversity. She demonstrates the power of courage, determination and hope. She is relentless in her desire to reach her goals,” Sheila said.
Prior to the start of classes, Kim and Sheila met with each of Kim’s professors to make sure her needs were understood. She required a note taker, some accommodation for exams and the company of her Special Skills Dog.
“Lakehead University has wonderful professors who readily and respectfully met with Kim. We also ensured that her classrooms were fully accessible and this meant occasionally changing the class location,” Sheila said.
“There are two kinds of accessibility: attitudinal and physical. In my experience, Lakehead University excels in both,” Sheila said.
“All of the departments in Student Services worked together to meet Kim's needs. The professors were respectful, caring and accommodating. When a need was noted, without fail each department responded quickly to ensure Kim had what was required.
“I have always felt that Kim exudes peace and joy. Perhaps that comes from knowing she is where she belongs, in academia,” Sheila said.
Kimberly was 10 when her interest in history was piqued thanks to a genealogy program that her mother used on the computer. Now, history – ancient Greek history in particular – is her passion.
Kimberly has spent her life proving she is intelligent.
“In high school it felt as if I had to prove myself,” she said. “Being in a wheelchair, you have a cloud hanging over you – people think that the marks I earn are sympathy marks. I worked and studied hard to prove that my marks were completely based on merit and I earned them on my own.
“At the start of the year you’re just a face in the crowd and you have to prove yourself to stand out.”
Kimberly challenges students to excel in their studies and not be afraid to stand out by showing they are intelligent.
“From all those times of having to prove myself, I graduated with the Governor General’s Award for the highest average in high school,” she said.
That work ethic helped Kimberly succeed in university too.
“I found that the university setting gave me the mental challenge that I craved and I fed on that knowledge,” Kimberly said.
She has some encouragement for students who are intimidated by the thought of getting a university education.
“Don’t cut yourself short – you may be smarter than you think,” she said.
“And, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The staff and faculty are more than willing to show you how and where to find what you need for success.”
From left, keynote speaker Craig Kielburger posed for a photo with Lakehead University team members Derek Wentzell, Aryanna Amos and Madison Rizzuto.
A fourth-year team of Lakehead University business students placed second in the Northern Ontario Business Case competition held at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie in early April.
The competition challenges students to prepare a thorough solution to a business case which is presented to a panel of judges who are business professionals.
Teams from Northern Ontario universities are invited to participate in the competition. The Lakehead team was comprised of Derek Wentzell, Aryanna Amos and Madison Rizzuto.
Lakehead students developed a comprehensive marketing campaign to include women in the Movember fundraiser while keeping men as the primary audience. One of the key tactical elements of the proposal was to launch an online campaign where women (known as Mo sistas) would leave lipstick marks on the cheeks of their husbands, boyfriends, brothers, sons etc.
“This was a great opportunity to be placed outside our comfort zone by applying our knowledge from school in a high-stress setting. What I'm taking away from this experience is that we all have unique approaches to address problems or issues,” said Wentzell.
The case-based approach of the competition allowed students to apply their knowledge in practical settings.
“The judges were not looking for a theoretical model applied to a case – they wanted a realistic, action-oriented plan that made sound analytical judgements,” said Rizzuto.
“Although the competition was stressful, it was an extremely valuable experience for us as business students. I would highly recommend that other students participate in competitions such as this,” said Amos.
“Our students were really excited about the event. They put in a lot of effort preparing,” said Dr. Asad Aman, a lecturer in the Faculty of Business Administration.
“It was a great learning experience for them and an excellent chance for business students from northern Ontario to come together, learn, collaborate and network,” said Dr. Aman.
Following the competition, students were treated to a luncheon with a keynote address from guest judge Craig Kielburger, Canadian activist for the rights of children and co-founder of the Free the Children charity.
Lakehead University’s Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team placed first overall against eight other teams in the 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers Midwest Regional Student Conference hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Platteville at the end of March.
For the first time in team history, Lakehead was ranked first in every category: Display, Lightness, Construction Speed, Stiffness, Construction Economy and Structural Efficiency.
Comprised of Jordan McDonald, Zach Sterling, Eric Buchanan, Layne Pukalo and Jared Boguski, with Faculty Advisor Dr. Tony Gillies and technologist support Conrad Hagstrom, the team moves on to the US National Student Steel Bridge Competition hosted by the University of Akron, Ohio on May 23-24 where approximately 50 universities will compete.
“The trip is what you make of it,” said Buchanan, a fourth-year Civil Engineering student, adding that the team spent a lot of time preparing before the competition.
“In the weeks leading up to the competition, the team grinded day and night to complete the most competitive and visually appealing bridge that we could. Strength and style with a Canadian touch along with a little luck allowed us to sweep all of the categories in the competition,” Buchanan said.
“It was a fun and successful trip and I recommend it to all Civil Engineering students,” he added.
“I continue to be impressed with the innovation and excellence the students bring to their participation in the competition. The team this year has maintained the high standard of performance which has become the tradition of the Lakehead bridge teams,” said Dr. Gillies.
“In March 2015 we will be hosting the competition on our own campus for the first time. We hope for continued success in front of the home support,” he said.
This is the 14th time in the last 15 years that the team has moved on to the US National Student Steel Bridge Competition.
Accounting students Taylor Hossana and Shannon Lane finished in the top five of the ICBC competition held recently in Kingston.
Two accounting students from Lakehead University’s Faculty of Business Administration qualified for the final round of the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC), held at Queen’s University, January 2 - 5, 2014.
The accounting team of Taylor Hosanna and Shannon Lane were one of five teams from Canada to qualify for the final round and the only representatives from Ontario.
“I could hardly wait to go to Kingston for the final weekend,” said Hosanna, a fourth-year accounting student. “The experience was amazing. Not only was the competition-portion challenging and exciting, but the opportunity to meet so many students, faculty and professionals from Canada and around the world was definitely my favourite part of the trip.”
Preliminary round competition saw seven Lakehead teams compete against approximately 41 university teams from around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States. The top six teams from each category went on to the finals at Queen’s University.
“Having the opportunity to compete in ICBC was unlike anything I have taken part in before. Preparing for the preliminary round of the competition proved to be a great test of the cumulative skills and knowledge we have obtained at Lakehead University,” said Lane, a fourth-year accounting student.
“The fact that our submission secured us a spot in the finals was an incredible feeling. Everyone should get involved in these types of competitions early in their university careers – they give you a new confidence in your abilities. It’s also an amazing opportunity to network and meet great people,” Lane said.
Thirteen Lakehead students competed in preliminary round subject areas:
- Aryanna Amos and Marco Cianfagna (Team Marketing)
- Ashley Schuster and Melissa Sargent (Team Human Resources)
- Samantha Auger and Marissa Pattison (Team Finance)
- Taylor Hossana and Shannon Lane (Team Accounting)
- Jason Flint and Ben Anderson (Team Ethics)
- Salvatore Tozzo, Madison Rizzuto and Craig Steele (Team Business Policy)
For the final round of competition, teams were given five hours to analyze a new business case and make a 15-minute presentation to a panel of corporate business leaders. The presentation was followed by a short question-and-answer session.
“Because the ICBC is now an international competition, the final round gave Lakehead students exposure to the best and brightest business minds in the world,” said Professor Ken Hartviksen, Lakehead University’s coordinator of the ICBC competition.
“Knowing they can compete at this level is a testament to the great students that Lakehead University produces each year. Along with all of our students who went to Kingston, Shannon and Taylor were wonderful ambassadors of Lakehead in this premier competitive event.”
Lakehead University measures success according to its new Strategic Plan and that Plan's five pillars – one of which includes Nurturing Scholarship and Community Engagement.
This story is an excellent example of the positive achievements that can be made by taking advantage of unique scholarship, research and community partnership opportunities.
In fall 2011, Lakehead University’s Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio was invited by the Canadian Mental Health Association-Thunder Bay Branch (CMHA) to join a newly formed ethics committee as a community representative.
Her role as Faculty at the School of Nursing as well as her expertise in mental health nursing was a good fit for this service commitment. At that time a very keen fourth-year nursing student, Esa-Pekka Leinonen, had begun working with Kristen to gain research experience.
He was interested in mental health and it seemed like a good fit to ask him to work on a literature review of what other community mental health organizations (globally) were considering as best practice guidelines for ethics and ethics education. The evidence-based document that Esa created became the road map for the plans that developed over the course of the next two years.
Supported by bioethicist Dr. Julija Kelecevic at the Centre for Health Care Ethics (CHCE), the ethics committee updated policies and procedures, and developed and implemented a research ethics protocol for the agency. Preliminary ethics training was delivered for the members of the ethics committee.
Training for all CMHA staff as well as members of the Board was provided by Michelle Allain, bioethicist (CHCE) during the summer of 2013.
In October 2013, CMHA-Thunder Bay Branch received a visit from the accreditation team and they were nothing short of impressed by the quantity of progress that had been achieved as well as the quality of the endeavours undertaken by the committee, working in close collaboration with the resources available through a strong university partnership.
This is a shining example of how Lakehead University contributes to excellence through collaboration with community partners, and provides opportunities for students to make a difference through research and scholarship.
Thunder Bay Community Foundation Past President Shannon Gothard Ramirez, left, presented Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio with a grant for $5,000.
In December 2013, Lakehead University’s Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio was proud to accept the Dr. R.K. Dewar Medical Research Grant for $5,000 from the Thunder Bay Community Foundation.
This generous support will contribute to the educational research project entitled Good Medicine: Supporting Elderly Individuals at Home in Northwestern Ontario being undertaken by Jones-Bonofiglio, a research affiliate with the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health (CERAH).
Emphasizing the idea that a person’s home has the potential to play a key role in quality care, this project will evaluate the use of mobile simulation technology in the delivery of health care education for interdisciplinary health care teams.
Led by principle investigator Jones-Bonofiglio, community partners on this endeavor include the School of Nursing, CERAH, and the Northwestern Ontario End of Life Care Network.
Lasting one year, this innovative project will support the progress and provision of health care that meets individual, family, and community needs in Thunder Bay, and honours the life and work of Dr. Robert Kerr Dewar, who believed in supporting and building capacity in health sciences and health care.
“Over the past few years, we have hosted many successful simulation research projects in the lab,” said Jones-Bonofiglio.
“This project allows us to take simulation out into the community and evaluate its use and potential for continuing education and professional development. The ultimate goal is to contribute to quality of life through excellence in care for elderly individuals in our community.”
Yoosrie Salhia grabs a rebound against four Queen's University players. Salhia benefitted from Lakehead University's Student Athlete Success Program.
During his five years at Lakehead University, Yoosrie Salhia became known as an excellent student and a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court.
The six-foot-five power forward, a 2013 graduate who was on the Dean’s List several times, is crediting some of his success to his teammates and coaches, on and off the court.
His on-court team helped him win games while his off-court team helped him learn to juggle responsibilities between basketball and the classroom.
“The road to my success would have been much bumpier without the support I received from Anthea Kyle in the Student Athlete Success Program, Lou Pero, the Manager of Student Development, and Madge Chan in Admissions and Recruitment,” Salhia said.
The Thunderwolves made the CIS championships four of the five years Salhia was a player. The team won the OUA Wilson Cup in 2011 and came second behind Carleton in the 2013 CIS finals.
“Playing at Lakehead is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Salhia said. “When Coach Morrison first called, I didn’t know very much about Thunder Bay or Lakehead, but it’s one of the best opportunities in the country. The community is totally behind you when you’re playing.
“It’s a small-school environment and the support services that you’re given help a lot,” he said.
What the former Thunderwolves basketball player found challenging at first – the way any student athlete probably does – is time management.
Spending at least 30 hours per week playing, practicing, working out and travelling, plus 30 to 40 hours per week studying and in class, who wouldn’t have trouble with time management?
When Salhia came to Thunder Bay in 2008, he was directed to Anthea Kyle in the Student Athlete Success Program, who helped plan his academic future.
“I wasn’t sure which path to take with my courses. Anthea helped me balance practice with school work. She helped me manage my schedule and my time, right off the bat,” he said.
“Because Lakehead is a small university, the service is a lot more personalized and you’re helped right away. People know who you are and they have the time to provide assistance,” Salhia said. “My friends have all told me that other universities aren’t like that.”
This exceptional athlete clearly benefited from the unconventional assistance offered at Lakehead – and he’s not the only one.
In 2011, Lakehead had a record number of Academic All-Canadians – athletes who averaged 80 per cent or higher in their courses – with 60 (some played sports outside the CIS).
“The other significant statistic for 2011-12 is 107 of our 190 student athletes averaged 75 per cent or above,” Pero said.
Pero is quick to give credit back to the students, who are the ones putting in the work.
“We’re here to support them and help them wherever it’s needed. It’s their attention to detail and hard work that makes them successful,” he said.
Anthea Kyle loves watching Lakehead’s athletes compete, but what she enjoys even more is having an intellectual discussion with an athlete about something they learned in class.
“Athletes are well versed in what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Sometimes going to university helps them make a connection to their own intellect,” Kyle said. “Athletes are sometimes unsure of their academic abilities,” although that wasn’t the case with Salhia.
Nothing stopped Salhia on the court or in the classroom. His physical style of play meant his back was sore a lot and he needed knee surgery three times, but he still played exceptionally well and excelled in the classroom.
“Yoosrie was a rock,” said Hugh Mullally, Sports Information Director, Lakehead University Athletics. “He was the cornerstone of the team in a lot of ways. He was soft spoken but when he did speak everyone listened.”
Salhia compared his scholastic journey to the ups and downs he experienced with the Thunderwolves squad.
“Sometimes you work hard on the court and do well, and sometimes you don’t do well – it’s the same in the classroom. It’s a lot of highs and lows. Fortunately for me, at Lakehead there were more highs than lows on the court and in class,” he said.
Salhia was an all-around success because he took the qualities that made him an elite athlete and applied them to class, Kyle said.
“Determination is one of the most important qualities an elite athlete and an elite student should have. They have to really want to achieve a goal in or out of class and determination is good for persistence,” she said.
Kyle believes that athletes who become better students excel even more in their sport. “Their heads are more in the game. They can think faster and make better choices while competing,” she said.
Kyle and Pero also advise athletes on how to approach a professor to explain they will be away at a competition and need an extension on an assignment or need to take a test on a different day.
“Our athletes travel further than other schools, so they need to establish a good working relationship with their professors, which is where small class sizes also come in handy,” Kyle said.
The Student Athlete Success Program was started eight years ago by Lakehead University’s Athletics Department.
“We pride ourselves in the academic support we give our student athletes here at Lakehead. We think it’s one of our responsibilities as a department and we take that responsibility very seriously. These athletes are providing so much to this institution and we believe it’s essential to support them academically,” said Tom Warden, Director, Athletics.
Pero and Kyle work closely to address athletes’ concerns before they become larger and make sure athletes are taking the proper amount of courses to be eligible for enrollment at Lakehead.
Their coaching helped steer Salhia in the right direction, which complemented the coaching he received on the basketball court.
Salhia’s former coach wants to win but he also cares about his players’ grades.
“The reason Scott Morrison is such a good coach is because he doesn’t just worry about what players do on the court, he worries about us off the court and in the classroom – that’s why a lot of my Lakehead teammates have been successful after basketball,” Salhia said.
Salhia is taking his experiences and the lessons he’s learned to help him in his future.
In September of 2013 Salhia, who lives in Toronto, will apply for teaching jobs.
He also plans to take a year off to rest his body and examine opportunities, including possibly playing professionally in Egypt.
Ashley Untereiner, left, has had great success working with her PhD supervisor Dr. Lily Wu.
A Biotechnology student credits her recent success to perseverance and the nurturing support given by her Lakehead PhD supervisors.
Ashley Untereiner discovered new pathways for sugar metabolism in diabetes under the guidance of her supervisor Dr. Lily Wu and co-supervisor Dr. Rui Wang.
“By discovering other pathways involved in sugar metabolism, it paints a larger picture of what is involved in sugar production and gives us a better idea of how to control an abnormal glucose metabolism. It leads us one step closer to controlling this deadly disease,” Ashley said.
Her studentship application was ranked nationally in the top 3.9 per cent of the recent CIHR Doctoral Award competition and earned her a Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship Award for $81,667.
Ashley’s discovery could result in safer glucose levels for people who have diabetes.
“Initially I wanted to get into cancer research, but I really wanted to work with Dr. Lily Wu at the University of Saskatchewan, who was doing research into sugar metabolism and diabetes,” Ashley said.
She received a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology at the University of Saskatchewan before coming with Dr. Wu to Lakehead.
“At the time I didn’t understand much about glucose metabolism and diabetes. When Dr. Wu came to Lakehead I came too because I knew working with her would be a great opportunity. A really great supervisor can make or break a project,” Ashley said.
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes, especially someone who isn’t active and doesn’t have a healthy diet.
“If things don’t change in society, diabetes will be an even bigger problem in the future,” Ashley said.
Dr. Wu and Dr. Rui Wang have played an important part in Ashley’s success by encouraging her to be “creative and daring” and to experiment with new ideas.
“Even if it seems simple, that’s how discoveries are made,” Ashley said.
“I made a good choice working with them. In our lab it’s like a family. There’s no need to be afraid that you will be judged or looked down upon when asking questions or if you make mistakes – having great supervisors encourages that type of positive environment,” she said.
Dr. Wu said Ashley has been a very good student who has worked hard.
“It has been a true pleasure having Ashley on my research team. She's gifted and thinks independently to skillfully solve her own research problems. She is a great team player whom every research laboratory would love to have,” Dr. Wu said.
“Ashley had several options to pursue her PhD study based on her outstanding training record to date. Her choice to study with my team at Lakehead is a testimony of the excellence of research activity here and the exceptional and unconventional research environment at Lakehead University,” Dr. Wu said.
Ashley believes that life’s challenges have made her a stronger, smarter person, and that persistence will almost always pay off.
“It’s funny how life takes you in so many directions. If you experience something terrible or hard, it’s meant to prepare you for what comes next and it’s something you need to go through.
“Not everything falls into place – you really have to work at it. But, if you have that extreme determination and stubborn persistence, you can accomplish your goals,” Ashley said.