AU honours its outstanding alumni
This fall, Athabasca University (AU) hosted alumni awards events in Toronto, Kingston, and Calgary to honour the four 2019 Alumni Awards recipients, all of whom have excelled in the work they do: Esmail Bharwani, Shastri Ramnath, Dr. Djenana Jalovcic, and Barb Tiedemann.
Our alumni ambassadors are blazing trails in their communities and all around the world—whether in science and technology, nursing, archaeology, counseling, or as creators of digitally enhanced education models of the future.
Our celebrated alumni are committed to improving themselves and improving the lives of those around them, each and every day. Our alumni represent everything about the future of an education.
Each year, we honour four outstanding AU ambassadors who are living their lives out loud, providing hope, insight, inspiration, and encouragement. They make a positive difference in their communities, in their work spaces, and in the hearts and minds of many.
Learn more about the four incredible learners who embody AU’s values in the work they do.
Esmail Bharwani – 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award winner
Esmail’s dedication to his family and his community is exemplified by his passion for volunteer work and his tireless commitment to giving back and making a difference in others’ lives through education. Throughout his career he gave tirelessly of himself to help others in many ways, and supported his family at every opportunity.
After he sold his practice in 1999, he went on to earn a law degree in 2004 and channeled his education and experience into helping others, including not-for-profit organizations in his community. He currently devotes much of his time to his family foundation, set up in 2011, largely with his own funds earned from accounting and law practices. It currently provides over 43 awards each year, from endowments to last in perpetuity, to help students pursue their education and improve their lives and the lives of those they touch.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the accomplishments of an AU graduate who brings honour and prestige to the university. The recipient of this award is selected based on evidence of outstanding contributions to any field of human endeavour or extraordinary contributions to his or her community.
Shastri Ramnath – 2019 Rising Star Award winner
Shastri is a visible champion for change within the Canadian mineral industry, bringing her entrepreneurial spirit to a sector that has historically been male dominated. After working several years as a geologist, she completed her MBA with Athabasca University in 2012 and struck out on her own.
Since then she has incubated and launched several successful corporations, including Orix Geoscience Inc. in 2012. She has been widely recognized for her innovative business model and her willingness to support her employees’ continuing education.
The Rising Star Award recognizes an AU graduate who has demonstrated leadership and significant contributions to an area of expertise early in his or her career. The recipient will have shown significant success at an early age or in a new industry.
Dr. Djenana Jalovcic – 2019 Volunteer Service Award winner
Djenana’s understanding of the importance of volunteering came in the 1990s, when her home city of Sarajevo was under siege during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She saw volunteerism in that city literally mean the difference between life and death, and that experience inspired her lifelong passion for volunteering.
She has given her time and passion to countless organizations over the years, currently dividing her time between the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed in Bangladesh, the Canadian Society for International Health, Accessibility for All, and the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston.
The Volunteer Service Award recognizes an AU graduate who has demonstrated a spirit of volunteerism and community service through active, unpaid involvement in and contributions to his or her community.
Barb Tiedemann – 2019 Future Alumni Award winner
As the mother of teenage children, Barb has seen first-hand the struggles youth face these days—especially with respect to adolescent girls’ mental and emotional health. She found that there were limited programs aimed at tween girls to address specific topics like anxiety, depression, and friendship, but not in combination.
With the support of mental-health professionals, Barb volunteered her time to research and co-create the B’Tween Girls curriculum, an eight-week program aimed at girls in grades 4 to 6. She has facilitated the program in Calgary schools with incredibly positive results. Wanting to do more, Barb returned to school and is working on a Master of Counselling degree that will help her continue to serve her community.
The Future Alumni Award recognizes the leadership, service and potential of a current AU student who has completed a minimum of 15 course credits at AU. The recipient of this award will have demonstrated academic excellence and substantial contributions to his or her community or career while balancing the demands of student life.