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Alumni Western Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Bringing comfort to the uncomfortable

by David Scott

Some of today’s students sitting in a lecture hall or lab reflecting on how their university education will be applicable in their career might not realize their future ‘office space’ could be a mobile hospital in a foreign war zone with less than ideal working conditions.

While most of us don’t plan to put ourselves in harm’s way while trying to save another human’s life as part of our career path, thankfully, there are graduates and professors at Western who have done just that over the decades. Perhaps the ultimate expression of higher learning is the ability to help a critically injured person with life-saving surgery. In this issue, Dr. D. Ross Brown, BSc’77, shares his experiences as both surgeon/professor and as a member of Canada’s military for more than a quarter century carrying out his work in less than pristine conditions.

Dr. Brown has ventured where other Western University-affiliated doctors, Dr. Vivian McAlister and Dr. Raymond Kao, have served in foreign war zones. Stories of their work and achievements can be found online at: www.alumnigazette.ca

Sometimes it’s a place the world has forgotten following a war that becomes a work environment for alumni. Michael Laneville, BSc’00 (Honours Geophysics), works to silence some of the tens of millions of unexploded ordinances lying in wait across Laos, a country that has seen no warfare in almost 40 years.

Laneville is the principal geophysicist with Minerals and Metals Group (MMG), an Australian-based mining company, operating in Laos. He works with several hundred Lao staff and several expats to clear unexploded mines and other explosive devices around Sepon, home of the country’s largest gold and copper mine. Estimates have more than 20,000 people killed or injured by these unexploded bombs since the end of the war. Hundreds continue
to be today, approximately one person a day in Laos.

Thankfully alumna Uche Eze, HBA’06, does not work in a country ravaged by war. But she made the decision many wouldn’t with her experience and education and returned to her homeland of Lagos, Nigeria, to turn a hobby of an entertainment blog and website into her fulltime, profitable livelihood.

While she could have stayed in highprofile corporate jobs in Calgary or London, U.K. and run her blog, it was important for an African-centric website to have a physical presence. It is a personal philosophy of Eze to emit positivity for young people to see and emulate.

Her entertainment, news and information website, Bella Naija, has done just that with more than one million unique visitors each month, including readers from the U.K., the U.S. and Canada in the top 10 countries. Who knows what paths lie ahead for current Western students? Hopefully, some won’t see air conditioning as a necessity or four walls as compulsory. Maybe the trek to work won’t involve an elevator ride but a hike across challenging terrain.

Challenge yourself to learn like these courageous alumni you will read about in our Spring issue. Start blooming in unfavourable conditions.


This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Alumni Gazette
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