University of Calgary

Next generation of community leaders

UToday HomeNovember 13, 2012

Kendra Ardell is one of the student presenters at tonight's event. Photo courtesy of Kendra ArdellKendra Ardell is one of the student presenters at tonight's event. Photo courtesy of Kendra ArdellAs countless students get ready to take their walk across the convocation stage, final preparations are underway as the university anticipates the arrival of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

At the time of his appointment as Governor General, Johnston made learning and innovation key themes of his time in office. With that commitment in mind, the university will recognize Johnston’s support of academia by bestowing him with an honorary degree during this afternoon’s convocation ceremony. “We're excited that Governor General David Johnston is accepting the university's highest honour today,” says Jim Dinning, chancellor of the University of Calgary. “With his singular passion for higher education, what better place to celebrate his achievements than at convocation.”

Following convocation, Chancellor Jim Dinning and President Elizabeth Cannon will welcome His Excellency for a celebratory reception at the university’s award-winning Energy Environment and Experiential Learning (EEEL) building.

"After convocation, the Governor General will be our guest as we celebrate today’s occasion by shining the light on our students, and learn how student leaders are developing a strong social conscience and creating real change in our world," said Dinning.

University initiatives that have been established to develop the next generation of community leaders will be showcased – highlighting students who are contributing meaningfully to the world around them.

“As Governor General, David Johnston has advocated building a smarter, more caring nation,” says Dinning. “There is no finer example of this ideal than his commitment to Canada and its people throughout his career as an academic, author and statesman.”

Interactive stations located throughout the building will highlight service-learning opportunities offered through the Centre for Community-Engaged Learning, leadership development opportunities realized through the Emerging Leaders Program, and community-building activities that occur through the Common Reading Program.

“I am extremely honoured to have an opportunity to share my work and passion for community engagement with the Governor General,” says Kendra Ardell, student volunteer, Common Reading program. “Having the Common Reading Program recognized on this level is a testament to the hard work of all the volunteers and staff that have worked so hard to make this program a success. I am so proud to be a part of this hard-working community, and I look forward to the continued success of this program.”

The Common Reading Program ⎯ a unique initiative that engages new students during the summer months ⎯ will be one of several programs presented to the Governor General and special guests. The program is a cornerstone of on-campus community building efforts for undergraduate students, allowing them to begin to form connections to the campus community and share a common experience early in their academic career.

With a day focused on student achievement, the university is also proud to announce that Stephen Huang, a fifth-year student in physics and computer science, will receive the prestigious Caring Canadian Award – an honour that will be presented to him by the Governor General during the reception. The Caring Canadian award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smart and caring nation.

“I am proud to see University of Calgary student Stephen Huang recognized by the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award,” says Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary. “Stephen demonstrates the tremendous leadership qualities our students are known for. He is both an excellent student and an inspirational community leader.”

Huang is the founder of Nepal Vision, a charitable organization that provides eye surgery, ophthalmology training, and school supply donations to those in need in the underdeveloped country of Nepal.

An avid volunteer, Huang’s interest in starting his own charity came after he started to question how charities use the donations they receive. In May 2012, after a year of successfully fundraising $17,000 in donations and $216,000 in supplies, Huang, along with his sister, a biology student and his father, an ophthalmologist, set out on a three-week mission to Nepal.

While in Nepal, Huang and his sister visited orphanages and schools, handing out donations, while their father performed various eye surgeries and taught local doctors. Huang’s hope for the future includes pursuing graduate studies abroad and starting a larger charity to allow for additional travel to other parts of the world.