Our U of S alumni have made their mark all over the world. As we celebrate our centennial year, we want to highlight the accomplishments of our graduates.

Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from several of the U of S colleges, as we sit down to talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers.  

Have an alumni you think should be profiled? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at alumni.office@usask.ca

May

Nicole Callihoo (MPA’14) is a graduate of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS). Nicole currently serves as the program director for the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund in Ottawa, ON. Nicole established the All My Relations Award for students enrolled in the JSGS Master of Public Administration program.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

I attended U of S from 2012 to 2014. I don't think much has changed since I left. The newness of fall always brought me happiness; walking on campus during the first few weeks on a new school year found me content to learn new things a new adventure and a feeling of privilege to be in an academic setting. Walking through the Bowl with the change of the season and leaves bright with color was a great feeling. 

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

I was involved with the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the Indigenous Graduate Students’ Council; very involved on campus. It was great to be part of a community on campus and come together to discuss issues on campus with opportunity to build friendships with other graduate students. I was part of the GSA and the planning of the first GSA awards gala. It was so nice to be a part of the student community on campus. 

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

U of S was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot and was provided with so many opportunities as a result of my time in campus. The time is spent at u of s was the most important investment for me. 

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

I am currently the program director at the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund. Obtaining my Masters in Public Administration really boosted my confidence and my career. As the program director, I have the opportunity to build and provide support to First Nation communities in their pursuit of language retention and cultural knowledge. This position at the NIB Trust Fund is very humbling and any opportunity to positively affect our communities drives my passion. 

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

I really wanted to meet more Indigenous graduate students. 

April

Don McIntosh (BSP'87) is a graduate of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. He is a management consultant with Sierra Systems Group, an IT Services and Management Consulting firm in Vancouver, BC. Don practiced for many years in acute care. His career transitioned into the deployment and optimization of information systems to enhance capabilities within health care.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

There are many differences! Most notably, campus infrastructure. The new Health Sciences Building, expansion and re-design of the Royal University Hospital, the re-developed Place Riel and the new infrastructure around and including the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron. At the time, there was very little development near that yet-to-be-built world-class facility!

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Freshman week when we were back on campus; sharing stories of what happened over the summer and, of course, it was just great to see and connect with friends again. Several of my classmates were from Ontario and World Series games were always an enjoyable diversion from studies, particularly if the Toronto Blue Jays were in the pennant race. Most of all, it was just making long lasting friendships, eating out at small neighbourhood pubs/restaurants on weekends and just enjoying student life. With reflection, it was such a remarkable experience!

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

Irreplaceable. There is no question it is a beautiful campus (and I have visited many over the years), however the U of S is far more than that. It continues to be ‘quietly reserved’ in its many accomplishments and international reputation. We are all recipients of these and I am truly grateful. In one word, foundational.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

Even though I was considered a mature student at that point in my life, I was quite shy. As a future pharmacist, the requirements of combining solid science with essential people skills provided the basis for me to grow professionally, and personally. In many ways, it provided me with the confidence to undertake and welcome new challenges and to recognize that in many ways success really does come from just ‘standing up’.  My time on campus also provided the basis for ‘how to learn’ and a desire to continue to learn – both continue to this day.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

To become involved in student leadership opportunities and to more fully embrace campus life as it truly is a transformative period in your life. I would have embraced the opportunity to seek out a ‘student coach’, if you will. Once on campus, your personal and soon-to-be professional life expands tremendously with not all potential opportunities being obvious. Although my professors were engaged, knowledgeable and caring, additional coaching in ‘navigating the maze’ would have been an additional benefit.

March

Shannon Dyck (BA’09, MES’12) is a graduate of the School of Environment and Sustainability. She is an environmental co-ordinator for the City of Saskatoon, local artist, and volunteer. Shannon and her husband, Michael Nemeth, are co-founders of the sustainable housing development Radiance Cohousing.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

The most visible additions to campus include the construction of new student housing along Cumberland Ave., renovations and energy efficiency improvements to Place Riel, and the completion of the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. Since I’ve graduated, the U of S has also launched both the Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) and the Undergraduate Certificate of Proficiency in Sustainability.

Gardens also seem to be popping up all over the place, such as the McEown Community Garden for students living in residence, the roof top and fruit program demonstration gardens near the College of Agriculture, and the redeveloped Prairie Habitat Garden beside the Education Building.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Eco Bash 2007 at Louis. Not only was I dressed up as a plastic bag, but as the emcee, I managed to accidentally award the one door prize (a tent) to two complete strangers. At the time, I convinced the two of them that they could share the prize. I still wonder how that ever played out in the end.

Although I wouldn’t call it one of my finest moments, I can’t help but look back and smile.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

Extremely formative. Although I learned a lot both in and outside of the classroom, I think the more valuable lesson is that I discovered just how much I didn’t (and still don’t) know. This has helped me approach new situations, people, and a changing world with an eagerness to learn and understand.

Going to the U of S also opened my mind to new ideas, led to experiences that challenged my beliefs, identity and privilege, and introduced me to a diverse network of friends, colleagues, and mentors. I can’t image who I would be today without having had those experiences.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

For me, university was more about exploring what I was interested in than it was about achieving a particular academic outcome or degree. This led me to pursue two disciplines: Studio Art & Art History and Environment & Sustainability.

Having a background in both areas has benefited and shaped both my life and career. Not only do they play off each other well (both require creativity, exploration, and an understanding of relationships and interactions), but they’ve also allowed me to see the value in approaching my work from different angles and collaborating with others from varying backgrounds. 

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

There are a few things I wish I could have told my 19-year-old self.

There isn’t one right way of doing things; your life is not (and will never be) a clear, linear path. So, don’t let someone else’s version of success define your own, make sure to take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and don’t worry about changing your mind or direction if it feels like the right decision.

Secondly, the more you try to avoid failure and change, the harder they will be on you when they happen. Just try to get what you can out of these experiences and use them to become more resilient. Plus, if you’re too afraid of failing, you’ll never take any risks – and some risks are definitely worth taking.

And finally, you do not have to accept that “this is the way things are.” Everyone has the ability to make a positive difference in their own lives, in others’ lives, and in their community.

February

College of Nursing grad Braden Davie (BSN'11) is the operations manager of the NICU at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, NS.

 Braden Davie

(Photo: Canadian Nurses Association/Teckles Photography)

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

When I was a student at the U of S, construction was the norm. At that time, it seemed that the university was growing at the same rate as the province and the necessary infrastructure was being built to accommodate the need. When I return to the campus now, it is exciting to see how projects like the new Health Sciences Building and the Place Riel expansion have turned out. I'm incredibly excited that health sciences students now have the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art building that fosters inter-professional learning. 

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

My favourite memory outside of the classroom was being involved in the Saskatoon Nursing Students' Society (now called the Saskatoon Nursing Students' Association). We had so many opportunities to travel across both the province and the country to connect with nursing leaders. My time with the SNSS was certainly the highlight of my undergraduate education. 

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

The experience I had at the U of S was wonderful. Faculty at the College of Nursing did an amazing job engaging students and challenged us to find an area of practice in nursing that excited us. 

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

​In the six years that I have been a registered nurse, I have practiced clinically in acute care and in a community clinic. I have also had the opportunity to practice in formal leadership roles in professional practice and in management. My degree from the U of S provided me with a solid foundation to build my practice and I am fortunate that I have had so many opportunities early in my career. 

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

I wish someone would have told me to get involved in student organizations on campus. My involvement in the SNSS had a profound influence on my career and I wish I would have been involved in my first and second years. 

January

A College of Engineering grad, Sarah Gauthier (BE'03, MEng'14) is the manager of project engineering at Delco Automation Inc. and co-founder of Missinippi Water Solutions Inc.

Sarah's team of engineers design water treatment systems focusing on technologies such as reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, membrane de-gasification, and media filtration. Sarah was appointed to the FHQ Developments' board of directors in September 2014. She has also serves as a board member of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) and SaskPower.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

Technology has changed a lot since I started.  It definitely would have been rare to see a student with a cell phone or laptop, and I don’t believe any of my course content would have been available online.  I also remember dialing in via landline to register for classes as quickly as possible.  A lot of campus infrastructure has definitely changed; upper and lower Place Riel, Marquis Hall, the new Kinesiology building, Louis’, the Health Sciences building, Stadium Parkade and the addition of Tim Horton’s cafés! 

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

I’m not sure I could choose just one!  My favourites all involve spending time with friends and developing some life-long friendships.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I enjoyed my student experience! I learned how to manage my time more efficiently, but also to relax and take myself less seriously.  I felt very encouraged by my professors, so that helped with feeling competent as a young professional entering the work force.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

Over the course of my studies, I evolved from being a student who was fairly intimidated by the university to a student who was more confident taking on challenges in new environments.  I learned a lot of life lessons. For me, one of the biggest is that the road to success really begins with showing up. 

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

In retrospect, I wish I had embraced and appreciated the moment more, rather than thinking that the experience was something to “get through” in order to start my life.  I cherish those years now as a time that fostered independence and allowed me to begin to create the life I wanted.

December

College of Law graduate Joni Avram (LLB’91) is the principal of Cause & Effect Marketing, a Calgary-based brand and engagement consultancy.

joni avram

Cause & Effect Marketing won a 2016 SABRE North America award for its work on Alberta’s province-wide #IBelieveYou campaign, promoting the power of a compassionate response to sexual assault survivors, and its role in creating safer and healthier communities.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

The campus was relatively small back in the early 90s, and I spent most of my time at the College of Law, which its own little microcosm. As an observer over the years, it seems that universities generally play a bigger role in the larger community - connecting students with community and business leaders in a more focused way.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Visiting the Saigon Cafe – I have yet to find better Chinese food!

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I enjoyed my U of S experience – it’s a gem of a school in a beautiful city. I made lasting friendships and am proud to be part of the school’s great heritage. 

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

I got a law degree but chose to work as a public affairs and marketing consultant. I often say that I work in the court of public opinion. Every job I’ve ever had was because of that law degree. Having owned my own business for 10 years, it has definitely helped differentiate me among my peers. It’s also been invaluable in helping me analyze problems and frame issues in a way that affect social change. It’s also been great to connect and do business with all the other “Saskatchabertans” living in Calgary! 

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

I wish I had a clearer career trajectory because it took me a while to find my niche. At the time, I didn’t have a great sense of career options – it took a fair amount of digging on my part to discover all the opportunities a law degree offers. I also wish I had known how much bigger the world was about to become. I graduated in 1991 - just a few years before the Internet opened up endless possibilities. When I look forward, I’m focused on continuous learning, and am grateful for the foundation of inquiry I received at the U of S. 

November

At just 27 years old, Kara Nadeau (BSA'11) is the head of sales and marketing for her family’s seed business, Nadeau Seeds. Read about her experience as a student at the U of S and young alumni.

kara

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

The campus is beautiful. My favourite time of the year was in the fall with all the beautiful tree colours. The agriculture building is such a fantastic building with huge windows letting in lots of natural light. U of S did an excellent job of incorporating nature, trees and flowerbeds into their campus. Today, it seems like the campus has grown and the student facilities have improved.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

The Agriculture Student Association, which I was the Academic Vice-President (2008-2009), organized amazing events where a person would make new friends and have fun with old ones. I have many great memories with friends in residence, the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and some of the other colleges as well. U of S was such a welcoming university and the professors were also very welcoming and approachable. There was a feeling that the professors genuinely cared for you, to help prepare you for a very promising future. As well, coming from Manitoba, the people in Saskatchewan were so warm and friendly. I immediately felt like at home.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I absolutely loved U of S! The campus was beautiful, the people were friendly and I felt like it was a place that allowed me to thrive. The courses, especially in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources were great and diverse. I have a big place in my heart for the U of S as those four years were unforgettable.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

It shaped my career by having great courses, fantastic mentors, encouragement and an uplifting and hopeful energy in the college, which led me to be confident in the agriculture industry. I found strength in all of this and more. Through my experiences and courses, it developed me both personally and professionally. It was a safe environment where I could learn new things and be independent.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

To tell you the truth, I only have great memories of my first day at the U of S. I had been so excited leading up to that moment so I was ready for any and all experiences. The Student Orientation was a very special memory of mine on my first day at the U of S that I will never forget. You could feel the energy that the students had knowing that this university would shape their future

October

For this month’s alumni highlight, we’re profiling one of our accomplished Huskie alumnus, Marshall Toner (BE’86).

marshall

A jack of all trades, Toner played Huskie football, hockey and track all while studying civil engineering in the late ‘80s. He went on to play with the Calgary Stampeders from 1986-1991. Today, Toner is the executive vice president of JLL in Calgary.

What are some of your fondest memories of being a student-athlete?

Waking up on game day knowing I would have something else besides studying to focus on.

What did the student-athlete experience at the U of S teach you that apply to both your professional and personal life?

Juggling engineering and athletics taught me to be very responsible with time management and to prioritize on what really needed to be done. It also taught me that we can all be pushed beyond our comfort zone on what we think we can accomplish.

What do you remember most about playing at the rustic Rutherford Rink?

I remember the renovation to the rink and what an improvement it was which tells you just how bad it was prior to.

What does the athletic program bring to students on campus?

It brings a sense of belonging and pride that is bigger than just attending classes to get a degree. I still have a keen interest on how the athletic teams are preforming 30 years later.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

It helped shape me as a person but more importantly gave me the foundation and the confidence to pursue my dreams and goals in life.

September

This month we caught up with Jacqueline Cook (BComm'13)

cook

Cook is the vice president of growth at Vendasta Technologies, which was recently named one of Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 fastest growing technology companies in Canada. She is an alumnus of The Next 36, Canada's premier entrepreneurial leadership initiative. She also co-founded and was CEO of Triumf Mobile Rewards. Cook has been a recipient of a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 under 40, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award and serves on several boards and organizations across Saskatoon.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

One of my favourite things about the U of S is its timeless charm. The campus is sort of like London meets Melbourne - it has a mix of rich, historical "Thorvaldson" class with hints of modernism. While it wasn't that long ago that I attended the U of S, the campus has attracted beautiful new architecture like the Health Sciences Building and the brand new Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre which have both followed this artistic mix of "old meets new/knowledge meets innovation" style of architecture.

What's one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

One of my favourite memories outside the classroom was attending the women's basketball CanWest final at the PAC. The crowd was absolutely on fire, we sat court side, the beer was ice cold and the Huskies were unstoppable. Some of my good friends were on the team and they went on to win the CanWest final and progress to nationals - a first CanWest win at home in Huskie women's basketball history.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

My U of S experience was unforgettable. It was the perfect balance of structure, guidance and freedom.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

I was not your average student at the U of S. In my first year, I played Huskie soccer and was on the road a lot. I dropped out to work and travel around the world for a year. When I came back, I started a company and took classes in the afternoons and evenings. Toward the end of my degree, I was on the road a lot with work and other delegations. Because of this, I wasn't a model student and definitely didn't get straight As. The U of S provided me with the flexibility to pursue my dreams while pursuing my education. My profs allowed me to incorporate the things I was learning in the 'real world' into my own student experience, and because of this, I feel like I was provided a truly incomparable university experience.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

I wish I knew how fleeting those years would be. I wish I took it was more seriously, but also less seriously. University is the perfect place for accidental collisions - meeting a potential lifelong friend, business partner, spouse, mentor, employer. I wish I opened myself up to more opportunities for those accidental collisions early on, as those led to some of my greatest relationships and experiences.

August

Dr. George Pylypchuk (MD’70) has led a successful career, most recently as acting unified head of the Department of Medicine, a job that required overseeing clinical, academic and research actives across Saskatoon.

dr.p

Throughout his career he has held many administrative roles throughout the city and within St. Paul’s Hospital. After 40 years as a kidney specialist at his nephrology practice, he retired in 2015.

Today he continues in his role as the region’s vice president of practitioner staff affairs and senior medical officer.

We caught up with “Dr.P” to see what his time was like when he was a student at the University of Saskatchewan.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

Dr. Pylypchuk attended the university in the late 60s and early 70s, a time when the campus was changing with the rise of student governance and expansion of colleges like Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine. Since that time, many physical changes have taken place on campus. “The campus footprint has expanded greatly with many new impressive buildings from student residences to the Light Source to new health science facilities,” says Pylypchuk.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom as a student in the ‘70s?

Dr. Pylypchuk recalls Frosh Week as being one of his favourite memories while he was on campus. In the 70s, Frosh Week was met with parades, football games and activities in the Bowl, similar to the homecoming activities students experience today.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

Class sizes were generally smaller than they are today, which left Dr. Pylypchuk with distinct memories from his time in the classroom. “Small classes lead to lifelong friendships and easy access to great teachers,” says Pylypchuk.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

A career spanning 40 years, Dr. Pylypchuk commends the College of Medicine for its reputation and for demanding high standards from its graduates. “The College of Medicine had a very strong clinical program which was recognized nationally and thus our grads were in demand across Canada,” says Pylypchuk.  

What did you wish you would have known on your first day as a student at the U of S?

Current students might argue that their time on campus seems to be anything but quick, but for Dr. Pylypchuk, the one thing he wish he would have known was how fast the time would fly; “(I never thought) that six years would go by so quickly.”

July

For the latest installment of our Alumni Highlights series, we caught up with Sally Meadows (BEd’04). She is a graduate of the College of Education, and is a singer-songwriter, author, and speaker.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

Because I was married with kids when I started my degree, and therefore always under time pressure, much of my time on campus was spent at the College of Education. However, every day as I walked from my car to class, I marvelled at the beauty of the grounds and the striking architecture of the buildings; so much so that I have returned several times in recent years to indulge my passion of photography at this, one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.

Today, I am delighted to see a greater presence on campus of places for Aboriginal students to gather, something that I, as a former U of S outreach administrator, strongly advocated for.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside the classroom?

In the first term of my first year at the College of Education, there was a curriculum course taught by sessional lecturer Linda Richards that changed everything for me. As a “mature” student, I was worried that my classmates would not accept me. However, the friendships I made in Linda’s class—a testimony to her skill as an instructor—not only enhanced my experience but I am delighted to say are still intact 12 years later. My favourite memories outside of the classroom were how those friendships flourished through coffee dates, gatherings at the Education library, and Louis’ pub get-togethers.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I had two science degrees from Ontario universities before I attended the U of S’s College of Education, and I can honestly say of the three, my experience at the U of S was the most memorable, and the most fun! I was determined at the outset to make the very most of this opportunity and that was reflected in the friendships I made as well as the success I had as a student. It truly was a wonderful experience.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

After I graduated with my BEd in 2004, I worked for several years as a substitute and classroom teacher until a health issue forced me to take a breather. When I was ready to look for work again, an opening at the College of Engineering’s then Outreach Office shifted my career in a direction that couldn’t have been more perfect for me—engaging northern Saskatchewan students in meaningful, hands-on science activities and long-term projects in their community as well as on campus. The success of our efforts was beyond my wildest dreams and I say without reservation that this was the most rewarding and cherished job I have ever had. I am delighted to see that the foundational work my colleagues and I put into place for Aboriginal science outreach continues today through programs such as Science Ambassadors and PotashCorp Kamskenow.

Today I am thrilled to be working once again with elementary schools all around the province (and beyond) through readings and hands-on activities in support of my children’s books including The Two Trees—about a boy on the autism spectrum—which has been shortlisted for two awards.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

Before I started my Education degree, I had already been working with elementary-aged kids for almost six years through my business Nuts About Science! Becoming a teacher seemed the next logical step, and was a nod to my mother, who had always wanted me to follow in her teacher footsteps. I had my reservations about becoming a classroom teacher, but I convinced myself that it was what I wanted, and I was determined to follow it through. What I wish I could have known back then is that classroom teaching—as much as I fully respect those who make this choice—isn’t the only option for BEd graduates. While I treasure my time as a classroom teacher, it eventually became clear that science outreach—and now my work as a children’s author—were both much better options for me personally.

This work has allowed me to impact many more students and teachers than I would have been able to do as a classroom teacher, and has given me the freedom I need to reach for the stars.

June

Barb Cox-Lloyd (BSHEC’78) is a Home Economics grad. She is now the CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Saskatoon. We caught up with her to ask her a couple questions in this month’s alumni highlight.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

In 1974 when I stepped onto campus it seemed huge with lots of students and a lot of activity. As is true now, the Bowl was a centre of student activity, but it was less organized with touch football games and people enjoying the outside.  Now there are more students and a lot more buildings.

Home Economics was housed in the ‘new’ wing (at that time) of the Thorvaldson Building. Home Economics classes were held there, but as a Food Science major I had many of my classes with Agriculture students. That meant running to the John Mitchell Building from Thorvaldson on a regular schedule. This was fine when the weather was good, but in the 5 minutes between classes it could be a run when we had to bundle up on cold days.

There weren’t as many indoor walkways between buildings, so we spent far more time running outside between classes in the cold. A friend of my daughter told me that she never needed a coat because she could travel between classes inside all the time. That wasn’t true in the ‘70’s. The only indoor passage was a tunnel between the residences, Marquis Hall and the Arts Building that we only used if it was really cold!

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

I lived in Athabasca Hall for my first two years on campus. There was a group of us that regularly met in Marquis Hall to share meals and enjoy each other’s company. The terrific part of that time was that we were all from different colleges and brought a very different perspective to discussions.  As I recall we solved the world’s problems on a regular basis, but laughed a lot as well.

The four years of university for me were very social where I made lifetime friends. Most of us were away from home for the first time and formed bonds that lasted a lifetime.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I loved my four years at the U of S. In hindsight it provided me with the opportunity to grow in an environment that was all new and exciting. I grew in confidence and independence. It really was where I formed the values that defined my life.

How did going to the U of S shape your career as CEO if Habitat of Humanity Saskatoon?

My career has been varied and wide ranging since leaving the U of S. What I learned throughout my time there was to love learning and how to analyze a situation. This is what shaped my career along with the desire to build a strong community that benefits everyone.

What does it mean to you to be a U of S alumni?

I have always been proud to be an alumnus from the U of S. As I have said, my time there helped define the values I hold that have shaped my life.

May

For the first in the Alumni Highlights series, we caught up with Kim Coates (BA’81), actor featured in several movie and TV series, including star of the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy.

Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

Seriously, I don’t feel a year over 33 …well some days 43.  So much has changed since I graduated from the U of S in 1981.  When I go back to Saskatoon now, I like to jog around campus and I get the feeling of change for sure.  It’s a lot bigger now especially around the perimeter.  The roads were simple in the early 80s but now you actually need a map. I still think we need an archway; a true entrance to that amazing place.

What’s one of your favorite memories you had outside of the classroom?

How about Lady Godiva?* The lovable battle between engineers and agros was so palpable for me. One of my best buds is Murray Totland** (who basically runs Saskatoon now; beautifully I might add). I was always out with the College of Engineering so I was hip to all the crazy events.

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

IT WAS THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE.  It gave me the path I’m walking on now.  It gave me the courage to learn about Shakespeare, Sheppard and Tennessee Williams. I stumbled into acting and in a way acting found me. I’ve never been afraid to fail, and I trace that all the way back to my drama days at the U of S.

How did going to the U of S shape your career as an actor?

It was everything. I acted in about 25 productions over a four year period – that is totally off the charts and unheard of at other places. My pals in drama and I produced two years of summer stock theatre right on campus to go along with the school calendars. I’ll never forget it. We even travelled to Europe and won a Fringe First award for the play Creeps.

In my position now, I travel all over the world doing movies and I am constantly asked about my time at the U of S. I never stop sharing my memories of how it all began.

Thank you Tom Kerr and the faculty of drama way back when.

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

Where the closest bathroom was. But seriously, I was pretty much in awe of the entire place. I entered the campus wanting to be a history teacher and I left four years later as a professional actor.  I’m glad I was naive enough and green enough (go Riders!!) to be open to everything. I loved that place; loved the bowl, loved Louis, loved the old Hangar Building***, and so much more.

The only thing I don’t miss is the winters (blame Los Angeles for that).

 

*Lady Godiva was an old U of S welcome back tradition where a lady would parade around the bowl on a horse, all while naked.

** Murray Totland (ME’79. MBA ’92) is Saskatoon’s current city manager.

***Erected as a “temporary” facility post-WWII, the Hangar outlived its critics and became a place for students to gather and take classes until the 80s.