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UofGH grads gather for 10th annual Alumni Reunion

Rick FrankRick Frank

The University of Guelph-Humber recently gathered for the 10th Alumni Reunion, a spirited annual event where the alumni community comes together to reminisce, network and reconnect with fellow UofGH graduates as well as faculty and staff.

Held recently at the historic Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West and organized by Alumni Services, this year’s Alumni Reunion celebrated the Class of 2009 and the Class of 2014, but graduates from all years were welcome to take part in the popular event.

“I am thrilled to be here this evening to welcome you to the 10th annual Alumni Reunion,” said Liana Acri, UofGH’s Acting Alumni Advancement Coordinator, in her welcoming remarks.

“Reunion gives us an opportunity to get to know you better, hear stories about what you’ve been doing since graduation, and share in your achievements and successes.”

Toasting alumni success

While alumni nibbled on hors d’oeuvres including creamy mac and cheese croquettes, masa-crusted shrimp and a charcuterie board, they were also entertained with tricks by illusionist Ray Chance and they had the opportunity to pose for memorable caricatures from artist Michael McDonnell.

Amid the fun, awards were also handed out to honour the accomplishments and dedication of UofGH’s alumni community.

Ray ChanceRay Chance

The Alumni Award of Achievement – which honours alumni who have attained a high level of achievement or made outstanding contributions to their community, profession, or industry – was given to Caroline Tutakiewicz.

Since graduating from the Justice Studies program in 2012, Tutakiewicz has worked for RBC’s anti-money laundering unit and progressed from Investigator to Senior Investigator to Senior Manager to her current role, Director and Head of Investigations. She has led two award-winning projects on the topics of human trafficking and terrorist financing, and she has volunteered for eight years with the Youth Justice Committee.

Meanwhile, the Distinguished Alumnus Award – recognizing alumni who have demonstrated loyalty and commitment to UofGH through significant volunteer leadership – was awarded to Rick Frank, who graduated from Justice Studies in 2016.

As a student at UofGH, Frank was a member of the Pre-Law Society and played an instrumental role in getting students involved in the Osgoode Cup, the largest undergraduate mooting competition in Canada. This year, he volunteered to prepare UofGh to host its first-ever international mooting competition, the GH Cup, while also serving as a judge and recruiting other judges to take part.

Frank, who recently completed law school at Osgoode, is joining the criminal defence firm Cooper, Sandler, Shime & Bergman. He said that meeting people in graduate school who attended other universities only greatened his appreciation for the experience he had at the University of Guelph-Humber.

“A lot of people in my class went to great schools, but they didn’t have placements and they didn’t have the one-on-one relationships we have with professors,” said Frank, who completed placements at criminal defence firms in his second and third years.

“My experience at UofGH was amazing. The placements we had there were the best. You had the theoretical knowledge you acquire in the classes and you applied that really soon afterward in your placements.”

Michael McDonnellMichael McDonnell

Staying connected

Although the Alumni Reunion always provides an opportunity to catch up with old friends, some alumni have found that UofGH’s close-knit community creates an environment where students and even faculty still communicate long after graduating.

“I really liked the small class sizes. You could actually form a good connection with the professors, and one of mine keeps in touch with me on LinkedIn,” said Julie Craig, a 2015 Media Studies graduate who now works in communications for the City of Mississauga. “It’s a very personalized experience. You’re really not a number. Your professors actually remember you and care about you.”

“At a big university, it’s hard enough to meet people even in your own program,” agreed Jennifer King, a fellow ’15 Media Studies grad. “At UofGH, I had friends across all programs.”

Vera Marques, who graduated from Media Studies in 2014, similarly says her experience at UofGH created lasting connections.

“UofGH was wonderful. I made a lot of great friends that are still friends to this day,” said Marques, who now owns her own photography business. “It’s definitely mind-blowing that it’s been five years. It feels like yesterday.”

Even those graduates whose Convocation experience was further in the past felt similarly. Luis Almeida, a Business alumnus who graduated in 2009, says it’s been important to remain a part of the community.

“It’s about reconnecting,” said Almeida, who is now Senior Vice-President and Partner in the commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates Toronto. “It’s a group you don’t necessarily see that often so it’s nice to see faces and see where they are and how they’ve grown and evolved. We’re all adulting right now, which is great.”

A top-down view of the partyDr. Glenn BarenthinRick Frank poses with his awardLiana AcriJennifer KingAlumnus poses for a caricatureA group of alumni pose for a selfie with accessoriesTwo alumni chatTwo alumni pose for a photoMichael McDonnellJennifer King and Julie Craig A table of alumni peer into the cameraRick FrankRay Chance