University of Calgary

Student wins national award for dedication to education, community

UToday HomeApril 12, 2013

By Trisha Kingcott

President Elizabeth Cannon, left, and Provost Dru Marshall, right, greet Aleksandra IvanovicPresident Elizabeth Cannon, left, and Provost Dru Marshall, right, greet Aleksandra Ivanovic, a student in the Leaders in Medicine program. Photo by Riley BrandtThe University of Calgary is brimming with accomplished women leaders.

Elizabeth Cannon, president, and Dru Marshall, provost and vice president (academic), recently greeted Aleksandra Ivanovic, who will be awarded the Senior Women’s Academic Administrators of Canada (SWAAC) 2013 Graduate Student Award of Merit at a conference in May.

The award, $3,000 and a commemorative plaque, “recognizes women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their university and in the community while maintaining an exemplary academic record.”

Standing next to women who hold multiple leadership awards — one a fellow in the Royal Society of Canada and the other a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal — Ivanovic is in fitting company.

“It’s an honour,” she says. “I’m looking forward to the conference, it looks very interesting.”

Ivanovic attributes her success in the competition to several roles: founding skill development workshops for smooth transition from high school to university; leading the entrepreneurial Silicon Valley trek during her MBA; and her work for the Canadian Mental Health Association developing a social enterprise that provided employment opportunities to those living with mental disabilities.

She continues to work with underserved populations, volunteering her time in the Pathways to Housing program at The Alex, focusing on bettering the health of the homeless population transitioning to permanent housing. She is looking forward to a trip to Tanzania this summer to spend a month working in a local hospital.

A student in the Leaders in Medicine program, Ivanovic is pursuing both a PhD in neuroscience and an MD at the same time. This combined degree program provides an opportunity for a unique collaboration of clinical and research skills with broad ranges of application. It’s also a lot of work.

“They pack our schedules pretty tight,” she says, but the flexibility to pursue both programs of study concurrently is worth it.

Lisa Young, dean and vice-provost of Graduate Studies, says Ivanovic is just the type of graduate student the University of Calgary wants to have. “She is dedicated, hard-working, and passionate about her work and making a positive impact on the community around her.” She fits right into the Eyes Highvision.

SWAAC was founded to provide a forum and voice for women in senior administrative roles in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, promoting female leadership through various methods of leadership skills training and mentoring. More information about SWAAC can be found at


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