University staff honoured in top-40 list

By Rabiya Mansoor

Avenue Calgary recently crowned a new class of Top 40 Under 40 Calgarians. The University of Calgary’s influence was prevalent throughout the entire ceremony — from assistant dean Lara Cooke to Women’s Resource Centre executive director Stephanie Garrett.

“Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 is a celebration of the city’s young, bright leaders,” said Avenue editor Käthe Lemon. “The Top 40 Under 40 are the city’s future and present movers and shakers. They are the people who will be improving the city in the years to come.”

Lemon does not find the connection between the University of Calgary and many of Avenue Calgary’s picks surprising.

“There has always been a strong connection between the university and the Top 40 list,” said Lemon. “It’s a natural cross-over.”

“I think it’s also reflective of the strength of this community that people who go to school in Calgary are able to find jobs in the local market — and not just in oil and gas but across many sectors,” said Lemon.

While the university is proving to have substantial influence within the city, Lemon believes it will increase in the future.

“The fact that they are so young also speaks volumes about the quality of the university in years to come.”

Lara Cooke

Dr. Lara Cooke has worked as a balloon girl in Canada’s wonderland and as a bartender. She has now settled into her positions as the University of Calgary’s office of faculty development’s associate dean and department of neurosciences’ assistant professor.

Even with multiple teaching awards under her belt, the recognition she received by Avenue Calgary has humbly taken her aback.

Dr. Cooke, who doesn’t “want to do a lousy job,” is no newbie to motivation. Her inspiration comes from the wheelchair athlete, Rick Hansen, who injured his spinal cord.

“When I was in high school in Toronto, I was able to listen to Rick Hansen speak. He inspired me to pursue neurology as a career.”

Dr. Cooke thus began her journey into medicine and became a leader along the way. She describes her leadership style as “consultative — I want [to] know what others think before I make a final decision.”

Elise Fear

What began as a PhD project for Elise Fear has transformed into a third generation prototype that uses canola oil and microwaves to detect breast cancer.

“I didn’t want to invent something that no one would see, I wanted to create something useful that could actually be used in clinics,” said Fear.

While the Tissue Sensing Adaptive Radar system Fear created is in its third generation, she says there are always improvements to be made and will likely be many more prototypes.

“While working as a leader, I see my style as being inclusive,” said Fear. “I want other people to develop their strengths so the team as a whole improves from one person’s development.”

“I am lucky to have the opportunity to be part of a great team that works extremely hard and inspires me to be better.”

Stephanie Garrett

“It’s great and strange,” Stephanie Garrett said about her recognition by Avenue Calgary. “I know so many people who are accomplished so I wonder, what makes me special?”

While Garrett now works as the Women’s Resource Centre’s executive director, she wanted to be a professional dancer in her preteens and hopes to one day own a bistro in Europe or Argentina.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, the Women’s Resource Center ceased to exist. Through involvement with an initiative to reopen the center, Garrett was able to hone her skills as a leader.

“There are many emerging leaders here at the Women’s Resource Center. I see some of them being on the Top 40 list in years to come. But ultimately, being a leader isn’t about being on a list.”

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