2020 Convocation Spotlight: Mary Cairns, Curtis Skip and Alexandra Brigley

What do a biology student, a Vikings hockey player and a member of the Augustana Choir all have in common? They all want to share how much connections with their professors-in music, history, philosophy, biology and more-meant to them, and their degree.

Tia Lalani - 08 June 2020

A photo of Mary Cairns sitting in front of Founders' HallMary Cairns

Mark Chytracek Leadership Award | Sangkor and SingAble | Campus Visits Ambassador | Founding Member of Augustana's Butterflies and Beetles Research Undergraduate Lab of Entomology | Theme Community House Pioneer | Off to Med School

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
Honestly one of the things I love most about Augustana is the profs! Almost all of my profs went above and beyond to answer my questions and to help cultivate my learning. I think it is impossible to just choose one! That being said, I think everyone should take at least one class with Joe Wiebe, who is a master at teaching new ways of thinking. One with Tomislav Terzin, who is hilarious and full of fascinating fun facts. One with Dr. Rebecca Purc-Stephenson who puts tons of interactive elements into her lectures that really help you master the material. Finally, she doesn't teach much anymore, but if you ever get the chance, take a class or seminar run by Pamela Moskie-she is basically an endless source of wisdom, eloquence and is super relatable!

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
Although it was definitely a challenge at the time, AUBIO 475 pathogenesis which is run by Dr. Gares, was probably one of my favorite classes. It was medicine focused which excited me but also we got a lot of freedom and responsibility in the lab to design our own project. I learned a lot from this class and gained a lot of confidence in my lab abilities!

What's your best memory from Augustana?
In my second year, I was the project lead for the first theme house at the U of A. I remember sitting down together and having our first house meeting. There was so much excitement and nervousness! Excitement to start our project (A Search for Balanced Wellness), to be living in such a beautiful space and to be living together! But also nerves because only one of us had ever shared a house with people other than our families before, none of us had really cooked for ourselves and this was a level of independence we were unfamiliar with. I love this memory because it was the start of one of the best years of my life, and reminds me that even good things can be scary at first.

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
Opportunities abound at Augustana, don't be afraid to take them! And if you don't see the opportunity you want, consider making it. In my experience, the community is very supportive of new ideas and initiatives!

What's next for you?
I spent most of last year applying to medicine and just got offers from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta! I ended up choosing the U of A so I will be studying to be a family doctor in Edmonton next year! My long term goal is to be a doctor in northern and rural locations.


Curtis Skip

Curtis Skip posing beside his parents, Al and Jean

Curtis, with his parents Al and Jean Skip.

Vikings Hockey | Augustana Leadership Award | Onesimus Award | Vikes for Tykes

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
I really enjoyed being in the classes of quite a few professors. In my first three years, Rani Palo helped me discover my passion for history. In my last two years, Mélanie Méthot continued to keep me engaged in my passion for history and I learned so much from her. And of course, I always enjoyed the detailed debates in Stacy Lorenz's classes. I always looked forward to those professor's classes the most.

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
My favorite class was my history capstone with Mélanie Méthot. We were able to study a subject in history that we were passionate about and at the end of the year, present at the Augustana History Symposium. The class always had great conversations and I did so much learning throughout the whole year. It was rewarding to put in the time to research and be able to present towards the end of the winter term at the symposium.

What's your best memory from Augustana?
It's hard to pick just one memory. I met so many great people during my time at Augustana. Little moments with teammates and friends seem to stick out the most. Something that will always stay with me is pulling on the Viking jersey and playing goal for the Vikings just like my dad had done many years before me. Following in his footsteps to gain an education and play for the Vikings make me proud. I have to thank coach Blaine Gusdal for giving me the opportunity to continue my hockey career at Augustana.

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
I would say for new students to enjoy the process. Try to enjoy the little moments throughout your degree and try not to worry too much over little details. It goes by so fast so enjoy every little detail you can. Take the time to get to know your profs as well. Very few universities give you the opportunity to get to know your profs, they are awesome people!

What's next for you?
I am continuing my education next year through the Education After Degree program at the U of A's North Campus in Edmonton. I am deeply passionate about teaching and cannot wait to get into the classroom. I am also looking forward to continuing coaching with hockey and trying to climb the levels on the coaching side. My passion for teaching translates onto the ice with goalie specific coaching, which I plan to continue for a long time. I hope to one day teach at a hockey academy where I can pursue both passions of teaching and coaching!


Alexandra Brigley posing inside the graduation bellAlexandra Brigley

Research Assistant | Augustana Student's Association | President of the Fine Arts Club | O-Team Volunteer | Augustana Fine Arts Award (Music and Choral)

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?
My favourite mentor at Augustana is Dr. Ardelle Ries. She has been a professor of mine and my supervisor for my work as a research assistant for SingAble.

What was your favourite class at Augustana?
My favourite classes were my voice lessons, Music for the Theatre and script analysis.

What's your best memory from Augustana?
My best memories while being in school at Augustana was the 2019 choir tour in Cuba, SingAble and my time with the Fine Arts Club.

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?
The advice I would give a new student at Augustana would be to get involved. Join clubs, say yes to volunteer opportunities and social events. Take a class outside of your comfort zone. Do whatever interests you and submerge yourself in the community that Augustana offers. The people I've met and memories I've made have been some of the best moments of my life. Augustana was a new beginning for me and I love the person I grew to be during my time here.

What's next for you?
This Fall I am continuing my music education and working towards my master's in vocal performance at the U of A. My dream is to perform, build a family and start my own vocal studio.


For more information on this year's Convocation celebrations, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/augustana/services/academic/convocation.

For more information on this year's Convocation celebrations, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/augustana/services/academic/convocation.