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More than 1,500 graduates and guests are expected to attend Camosun College’s Fall 2010 Graduation Ceremonies this Friday, November 5 at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, at Camosun’s Interurban Campus.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Photo: Dr. Sarah Sampson Equine surgeon and recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Dr. Sarah Sampson, will address the graduating class.  Dr. Sampson is a 1993 University Transfer Sciences graduate of the College.  She started her educational journey at Camosun taking Grade 12 equivalency courses to finish her high school studies.

“I wanted to be with a more mature group of students than those I had left at high school, and I liked the idea of being able to get my GED and continue on at the same institution for my first two years of college,” says Dr. Sampson.

Within three years, she transferred from Camosun to Washington State University (WSU) where she completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Studies.

Always having a love of animals, especially horses, Sarah then applied to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State, specializing in Equine Medicine.  Sarah stayed at WSU to complete her DVM (Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons) in 1999 and then her PhD in 2008.

Today Dr. Sampson is an Assistant Professor of Equine Surgery and Orthopedic Sports Medicine, in Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.  She teaches undergraduate and veterinary students about medical and surgical problems in horses, osteoarthritis, equine lameness, equine radiography and ultrasonography, and tendon and ligament injuries.  She is married with two children.

“Camosun gave me a fresh start and renewed my love of education by providing an environment that encouraged independence and rewarded hard work,” says Dr. Sampson.  “I am honoured to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.  But also, I really appreciate the recognition of the many years of hard work that have gotten me this far.  I hope my story gives some students out there the motivation to pursue their dreams.”

Camosun’s Distinguished Alumni Award honours alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago and who have demonstrated outstanding service and achievement in their field and community.

BC Lt. Governor Silver Medal Award

Receiving the prestigious BC Lt. Governor Silver Medal Award this year is Michele Spencer, a recent graduate of Camosun College’s Indigenous Family Support Program.  Spencer achieved a remarkable, 8.78 grade point average (out of a possible 9) in her program, in addition to connecting in a special way to her Aboriginal culture.

“I am of Lakota ancestry,” says Spencer, “But I was raised outside of my culture.  Over the last five years I have been on a journey of discovery, getting to know more about that part of my identity.”

Spencer says that on the first day of class, Indigenous Family Support Program chair Roberts Wells told students that they would each be transformed. “It’s true, I’m not the same person I was a year ago.”

Spencer has volunteered over the past six years with Aboriginal children to promote self-esteem and empowerment.  She fulfilled a similar role in her program at Camosun, providing advice and support to her classmates, which contributed to their overall program success and morale.  There she was recognized as a leader and role model, and was extremely effective in opening dialogue between the Saanich people and her program practicum site.  Robert Wells, who nominated Spencer, says “Michele is a highly committed graduate, who will one day become a leader in her community.  She exemplifies the true spirit behind the Lt. Governor’s Silver Medal.”

The fourth of eight children, Michele Spencer worked most of her life to date in various manual labour jobs, including a 15-year period repairing machines in a used appliance store.  But even there, Spencer had a heart for people and a desire to help them with their problems.  “My boss used to joke that we should call the store ‘appliances and counselling,’ because I liked to chat and connect with customers.  They might not buy anything, but they left the shop feeling better.”

Spencer knew she had academic abilities that had not been used, which eventually she was prepared to go back to prove.  She began with evening upgrading classes.  “I graduated with my high school credentials a year after my daughter did,” says Spencer.

Now with her diploma completed, Spencer has returned to Camosun to begin work on a degree in science, which will ultimately lead her to complete a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. “The Indigenous Family Support program gave me the courage to pursue more education.  It got me going on the path to work with Aboriginal youth.”

Camosun College congratulates all of its Fall 2010 graduates and award recipients this year.


Susan Haddon
Director, College & Community Relations
Camosun College
T: 250–370–4231

Last updated: November 3, 2010 4:04 pm

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