Everyday People

Brad Burns will tell you that it's no big deal. That it's all in a day's work.

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Brad Burns will tell you that it's no big deal. That it's all in a day's work.

One day Burns, principal of Highland School, might track down a winter jacket for a student who has none. On another day, he will make applesauce from donated fruit and share it with students in his school's breakfast program. On any given day, he will find a quiet moment for a student who is struggling in school or with a broken heart, who is dealing with a major loss or with generalized teen angst.

Burns is one of 21 people, Alumni Award recipients for 2017 , that we highlight in the Autumn issue of New TrailNew Trail. Alongside Burns we have surgeons and athletes, researchers and a bishop. Twenty-one people we are calling "everyday heroes."

Every year when we write about the Alumni Award recipients, we joke, "Well, it's time to feel bad about ourselves." Just reading their impressive biographies can feel daunting. (I mean, just how many alumni are members of the Orders of Canada, anyway?) But this year, writer Sarah Pratt looked past the impressive resum├ęs and arm's-length lists of awards to get a better picture of these individuals who are being honoured. What she discovered is they are everyday people who go about their lives quietly making choices that create a better world. They are the people who see a problem and say, "I can solve that."

It turns out, these are not the people who make you think, "I could never do that." They are the people who inspire you to say, "I can help, too."

Those of us who work at the University of Alberta talk a lot about uplifting - it's even on our business cards. We hear it so often that the actual meaning can get forgotten. Until you meet a Brad Burns, who every day is making the kinds of small gestures that transform a school into a community.

These are the people who remind us that "uplifting the whole people" is so much more than just a phrase we paste at the end of our emails.

Watch what happened when Alumni Relations - and Burns' entire school - surprised him with an award. And don't forget to register for your free tickets for the Alumni Awards ceremony Sept. 25. I guarantee you'll be inspired.

Lisa Cook - Associate Director of Communications, Office of Advancement Communications

Lisa is the Associate Director of Communications with the Office of Advancement Communications. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of New Trail, Cornerstone and Thought Box publications, and uses this as an excuse to subscribe to every publication she can get her hands on. The collection of magazines building up in her cubicle recently reached Cask of Amontillado proportions.