Service Learning adds value for students and our community

Students present their projects to residents during their final visit to Northwood’s Halifax Campus.

Students present their projects to residents during their final visit to Northwood’s Halifax Campus.

There was excitement buzzing in the lounge on the on the top floor of Northwood’s seniors home as residents awaited a presentation from Terry Goldsmith’s CSCI 3428 Software Engineering class.

The students took part in a Service Learning project, which combines course curriculum with community-based experiences. Their task over the fall term was to create inclusive software for residents of the long-term care facility in Halifax.

After speaking with residents and occupational therapists to discover their unique wants and needs, the students worked in groups to come up with concepts such as voice-activated software, messaging apps, and an online calendar for use in the facility. They then made modifications based on feedback from their clients.

“As a professor, and a continuing care assistant, I witnessed something truly amazing when this bright and energetic group of residents worked with my class of 30 software engineering students,” said Goldsmith.

“I saw software engineers taking on the role of continuing care assistant, and residents taking on the role of software engineer. They could learn together, because of the opportunity service learning provided,” he said.

Feedback from residents included suggestions to use voice-activated commands, face recognition capability, and requests for colours that work best for people with vision issues – black and yellow is a popular combination, explained Margaret Szabo, Director of Business Development at Northwood.

“Memos are also a useful feature, easing anxiety for people who have memory issues,” she said, adding that being able to complete any tasks in two clicks or less is also ideal.

“It’s amazing how quickly the students learn to take feedback, reflect, and change; there’s a big difference from when we started in September to the final presentations in November,” said Sarah Bray, Service Learning Placement Coordinator, Student Affairs & Services at Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s students help Northwood resident Trudie Helmke.

Saint Mary’s students help Northwood resident Trudie Helmke.

Northwood resident Trudie Helmke was particularly impressed by the team that built a voice-controlled virtual assistant that they named Ellen.

When asked if she would use one of the apps if it were made available, Helmke said she would.

“I’ve been telling others about Ellen who would love to use it because they don’t want to keep spending money on [other similar products]… I’ve been spreading the word,” she said.

The benefits of service learning, the networking, and the connections with clients can last long after the courses end.

“It becomes real, you have to get out of the classroom and out of your comfort zone,” said Bray.

“These are skills that will serve these students in other classes and in future careers, while encouraging them to reflect on personal values, assumptions, and issues of social responsibility,” she said.

To learn more:

Service Learning opportunities for students
Service Learning Courses
Information for Faculty

 

Champions for wildlife and development honoured at Saint Mary’s winter convocation

Saint Mary’s University is granting the highest honour it can bestow, an honorary degree, to two innovative Nova Scotian leaders on Friday, Jan. 25.

Saint Mary’s is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

·         Scott Armour McCrea, a community builder, real estate innovator and entrepreneur; and

·         Hope Swinimer, a wildlife champion, animal advocate and rehabilitator. 

“At Saint Mary’s University, community is at the heart of all that we do,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “Both Mr. McCrea and Ms. Swinimer are exemplars in community building and leadership, whose accomplishments are deserving of recognition and acclaim. We are proud to have them as members of the Saint Mary’s community.”

A life-long Haligonian, Mr. McCrea's deep-rooted understanding of the enduring impact of real estate development on communities comes naturally to him. He is the second generation to direct The Armour Group Limited. As the Chief Executive Officer of The Armour Group Limited, he leads one of Atlantic Canada’s largest fully integrated real estate and investment concerns. An essential part of his work is fostering community development. He wants his grandchildren to be able to see the positive impact that The Armour Group’s real estate developments have had on the region.(Extended biography)   

Born and raised in Argyle, Nova Scotia, Ms. Swinimer knew from an early age that she loved animals and the outdoors. She also knew that she wanted a life working with nature. Today, she runs Hope For Wildlife, a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and education centre located on a farm in Seaforth, Nova Scotia.The center has helped over 40,000 animals, representing over 200 species. Ms. Swinimer and her team share their journey through their globally-syndicated television show that follows them as they nurse thousands of injured and orphaned wildlife back to health and return them to the wild.(Extended biography)   


Honorary Degree: Scott Armour McCrea

Scott Armour McCrea, Doctor of Commerce, honoris causa
Community builder, real estate innovator and entrepreneur

Scott Armour McCrea

Scott Armour McCrea

A life-long Haligonian, Mr. McCrea's deep-rooted understanding of the enduring impact of real estate development on communities comes naturally to him. He is the second generation to direct The Armour Group Limited, a family-held company whose roots in Halifax are anchored to the integration of the ownership, construction and management of their properties, which include many of the city's historic and traditional spaces.

As the Chief Executive Officer of The Armour Group Limited, he leads one of Atlantic Canada’s largest fully integrated real estate and investment concerns. An essential part of his work is fostering community development. He wants his grandchildren to be able to see the positive impact that The Armour Group’s real estate developments have had on the region. 

Prior to August 2011, Mr. McCrea was Executive Vice-President of Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust (CUF.UN- TSX) and was the founding CEO of Overland Realty; a TSX-V corporation focused on Atlantic Canadian real estate opportunities. Overland Realty was subsequently acquired by Cominar REIT. Mr. McCrea’s 25 years of experience include the development and management of complex real estate projects in the commercial, residential, hospitality and tourism-related fields. He has successfully negotiated hundreds of millions in debt and equity placements and property acquisitions. His achievements include the development of the RBC Waterside Centre in downtown Halifax and the Queen’s Marque district on the Halifax waterfront, which will represent an almost $200 million private investment in the region with a target completion date in early 2020.

Mr. McCrea has been an active participant on various Boards and non-profit organizations within the community; most recently these have included Mount St. Vincent University, Royal Host Inc. and the Halifax Grammar School as co-chair of the Engaging Excellence Capital Campaign.  His accomplishments have led him to be the recipient of several awards including Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Halifax’s Business Person of the Year (2006), and one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs. Mr. McCrea is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, where he studied business and economics.

Honorary Degree: Hope Swinimer

Hope Swinimer, Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Wildlife champion, animal advocate and rehabilitator

Hope Swinimer

Hope Swinimer

Born and raised in Argyle, Nova Scotia, Hope Swinimer spent most of her time outdoors as a child enjoying everything the natural world had to offer. She knew that she wanted to work with nature in some capacity, and after missing life by the ocean terribly while attending college in Truro, she knew she needed to stay near the ocean.

While working at Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital as a manager, Ms. Swinimer took in her first rehab animal in 1995—a robin that had been attacked by a cat. Researching how to care for the bird inspired her to learn more about injured wildlife, and as her knowledge grew, colleagues began sending wildlife-related calls her way.

Later that year, she became certified in Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Association. Ms. Swinimer was offered an opportunity to work as a wildlife rehabilitator in Ontario but couldn’t leave behind the place she called home.

With just a few cages in the backyard and a room in her house as a nursery, Ms. Swinimer rehabbed about 40 animals in her first year. By 1996, word of this grew, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) determined that a permit was required; however, such a permit did not exist in the province at that time. She worked with DNR to establish a licensing process (using the United States as a model), and in 1997, moved to Winnie’s Way in Seaforth where she received her rehabilitator permit. She considered Seaforth as the perfect place for animal rehabilitation.

The Eastern Shore Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre became the first privately owned wildlife rehabilitation centre in Nova Scotia, taking in about 200 animals per year. The centre was in such demand that it soon outgrew its property again, and in 2001, Ms. Swinimer relocated within Seaforth to “the farm,” which was a larger property that would accommodate the rehab’s immediate needs but also leave room to grow.

Hope for Wildlife now accepts over 4500 wild animals per year, and over 20,000 callers are assisted through its wildlife helpline, thousands of visitors are also welcomed to its facilities for guided tours. In December of 2015, Hope for Wildlife moved into a new custom-built facility, which replaced the more than 100-year-old barn previously in use, and in the summer of 2017, opened their onsite Country Clinic which acts as a fully functioning wildlife hospital. In 2019, Hope for Wildlife will install 109 solar panels onsite to reduce their ecological footprint, lower electricity costs, and help move the farm from fossil fuels to green energy.

Ms. Swinimer and her team share their journey through their globally-syndicated television show that follows them as they nurse thousands of injured and orphaned wildlife back to health and return them to the wild.

 

 

Johneil Johnson thrives in homecoming with hoop Huskies

SMU Husky Johneil Johnson was recently featured in an Atlantic University Sport article. Here’s an excerpt:

“Johneil Johnson chased his basketball dream down the road. But that trail only showed him how much he missed home.

The guard from Lake Echo, N.S., left the Regina Cougars after a strong season in 2016-17, sitting out a season to decide his next move. He committed to Jonah Taussig's Saint Mary's Huskies last Christmas.

Photo by Mona Ghiz | Graphic by Vincent Richard

Photo by Mona Ghiz | Graphic by Vincent Richard

The three-time NSSAF provincial champion with the Auburn Drive Eagles doesn't regret where he's been since graduating from high school. There was a prep school in Las Vegas, then another in North Carolina, before settling into Canadian university sport with the Cougars.

He had an NCAA dream, hoping to land a Division I scholarship. There were some Division II schools interested and some junior colleges, but that was it.

The Huskies have been like a warm blanket. The 21-year-old Johnson is averaging 13.8 points per game in 22 minutes coming off the bench as Saint Mary's has opened the conference schedule with a 6-0 record. His scoring average per minutes on the floor ranks third in the AUS.”

Click here to read the rest of the story, written by Monty Mosher