May 14, 2019

Kindness to injured student earns Schulich professor prestigious award

Dr. Ayodeji Jeje, PhD, among four Schulich professors and alumnus honoured at APEGA Summit Awards

Amidst the accolades, Sara Elkady knew one vital recognition was missing.

Her own feat was headline news: walking across the convocation stage on an prosthetic leg to collect her engineering degree, having overcome the grief and trauma of a devastating highway crash.

She’d lost both her parents and one of her sisters, and been badly hurt herself, but still managed to finish her classes between surgeries, while writing exams from a hospital bed.

Wouldn't have happened without kind professor

It was an amazing, inspiring story – but Elkady knew her June 2018 graduation wouldn’t have happened without Dr. Ayodeji Jeje, PhD, who’d gone above and beyond to ensure she could finish school.

"Dr. Jeje was an outstanding source of support for me through the challenges I faced. He supported my education by working with different bodies at the university to allow me to complete my degree while in hospital,” says Elkady.

When the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) nominated the Schulich School of Engineering professor for a mentorship award, Elkady was an enthusiastic supporter.

“It was moving to see how much time he gave up to ensure that my medical needs were prioritized and that I had a career to look forward to,” explains Elkady.

“I asked him to present me with my Iron Ring upon graduation because of how much he impacted my life and how substantial his efforts were in the completion of my degree.

“He is more than deserving of this award."

Exceptional achievement as a mentor

And on April 25, at APEGA’s annual Summit Awards, Jeje received the Outstanding Mentor Award, in recognition of exceptional achievement as a mentor.

“Dr. Jeje demonstrated that kindness in a large way in 2016, when an engineering student at the University of Calgary was involved in a devastating car accident,” reads APEGA’s official announcement.

“Though not assigned as her formal mentor, he offered his assistance, visiting her in hospital to strategize a plan of action. He brainstormed with her professors on ways she could complete classes between surgeries and write exams from her hospital bed.”

Just one example of helping students

APEGA went on to say the professor’s championing of Elkady’s cause was just one example of the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering professor’s kindness and leadership to students.

“The sign of a great mentor is being able to guide and inspire without being asked. Throughout his career, Dr. Jeje has done just that. He has influenced the lives and careers of many in and outside the classroom, moulding the professional engineers of tomorrow with a steady hand and a gentle touch.”

Schulich well represented at awards ceremony

And Jeje wasn’t the only Schulich School of Engineering representative at this year’s Summit Awards, which honour leading individuals and projects in professional engineering and geoscience for their role in building stronger communities across Alberta.

A total of four Schulich professors and one alumnus were recognized, including:

  • Dr. Nigel Shrive, PhD, received the Centennial Leadership Award for his decades of leadership and innovation in the masonry and biomedical engineering fields. Shrive has held multiple roles at the University of Calgary over the years, including associate dean of student affairs and head of civil engineering. He’s currently a professor of civil engineering at the university.

  • Dr. Ian Gates, PhD, received the Frank Spragins Technical Award for his innovations in the energy industry. In 2017, he and his research team created self-sealing pellets of bitumen—a potential game-changer for the industry. Dr. Gates is a professor in the university’s department of chemical and petroleum engineering.

  • Dr. Nader Mahinpey, PhD, received the Research Excellence Award for his leading-edge research programs providing groundbreaking innovations in carbon capture and conversion technologies. Dr. Mahinpey is a professor in the chemical and petroleum engineering department at the university.

  • Jordan Johnsen, P.Eng., received the Early Accomplishment Award for his quick advancement in the engineering community. In 13 short years, he evolved from eager student to the youngest executive of Canada’s largest condensate producer. Mr. Johnsen received his degree in manufacturing engineering from the university in 2006.