by Sanam Islam
What do the president of CTV and the first registered aboriginal midwife in Canada have in common?
They are both Ryerson graduates, and were among the seven alumni honoured at this year’s Ryerson Alumni Achievement Awards ceremony.
More than 50 Ryerson alumni mixed and mingled with old friends, classmates and professors in the atrium of the Centre for Computing and Engineering Saturday night.
“Our students have truly made us proud and we honour their achievements,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy in his opening remarks. He was on hand to present the awards, which recognized graduates who have excelled in their careers and made outstanding contributions to their communities.
Five alumni who graduated between 1972 and 1989 received the Alumni Award of Distinction, including landscape architect Janet Rosenberg, CTV President Rick Brace, Canada’s first registered aboriginal midwife Carol M. Couchie, IMAX Vice-President David Keighley, and Google’s Sales and Advertising head Wendy Muller.
Couchie said she was humbled by the award and noted that many other aboriginal people have also excelled in their careers and communities.
“I’ve gotten this award on their behalf — it’s not just about me. It’s good to have aboriginal women up on the wall to serve as role models to others,” she said.
Rosenberg said a Ryerson degree gave her “the skills and confidence I needed for my job.”
Although she ended up in publishing and advertising, Muller credits her success to Ryerson’s hotel and tourism management program.
“In HTM, I learned about accounting, law, economics, drafting and even how to cook cauliflower soup for 350 people. I could translate my knowledge into many other fields,” she said.
“You have to have a passion for what you do to be good at it. If you don’t, switch. That’s what I did.”
Mark Bishop and Matthew Hornburg, who graduated in 1998, received the Isadore Sharp Outstanding Recent Graduate Award for their success in creating Marblemedia, an innovative digital media and television production company.
“We actually started the company out of our dining room. We faced a lot of struggles to get where we are today,” Bishop said. “The RTA program at Ryerson was a launch pad that propelled us into the world. And we were always very driven, which has fuelled our success.”
For current students, Bishop offered this advice: “Take the opportunities you have as a Ryerson student and use the Ryerson name to get support — there’s a huge network of Ryerson grads out there ready to help. And of course, keep persevering.
“Don’t give up.”