UM Today | Students | Award-winning students credit pairing their passions with education

October 13, 2023 — 

This fall, students from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management will receive medals for their undergraduate academic success. Before they cross the stage, let’s get to know these award-winning graduands.


Emily Morrison, Kinesiology and Recreation Management

Growing up in Hartney, Manitoba, Morrison was active in all manner of sports like figure skating, volleyball, softball, and dance while also harbouring a keen interest in math and science. Studying Kinesiology at UM was “the perfect combination” of her interests. Morrison is now graduating with a bachelor of kinesiology and the Governor General’s Silver Medal, awarded for outstanding achievement at the undergraduate level.

As part of her degree, Morrison completed the Option in Aging, gaining knowledge on how to best serve Canada’s aging population. Her experience with sports, and the injuries that often result, helped her understand the struggles of not being able to participate in activities you enjoy.

“I hope to help people get active and remain active by sharing the knowledge I have gained, including the benefit that physical activity can have on health and wellbeing. More specifically, its potential to prevent or delay chronic disease development and its benefits for the older adult population,” explains Morrison.

She had the opportunity to do so firsthand in her Leisure and Aging class. “I interviewed my grandma multiple times over the course of two months. I learned about the barriers that she faces to physical activity, considered her interests and what is accessible to her living rurally, and used my knowledge from this class and others to work with her to come up with ideas for how she can overcome those barriers and stay active.”

To complement her studies, Morrison volunteered with St. Amant’s adult recreation program and assisted with research studies on balance control and youth athletes. She was also part of the Bisons track and field teams from 2020-2022 competing in triple and long jump.

Morrison plans to pursue a master’s degree in physical therapy and build a career on helping individuals restore their optimal physical function and return to engaging in the activities they love.


Kaylene Normand, College of Rehabilitation Sciences

Kaylene Normand wasn’t sure which of the many healthcare fields she wanted to pursue. This fall, she is graduating with a bachelor of respiratory therapy and UM’s Gold Medal, awarded for highest standing in an undergraduate faculty, college or school.

Her motivation is personal, as she explains: “Growing up with poorly controlled asthma, I was familiar with the frustrations and fear that came along with chronic respiratory disease. My asthma often prevented me from participating in activities the way that I would have liked to and made me feel left out as a child. It’s my hope that as a respiratory therapist, I can help people with respiratory disease get the appropriate treatment so that they can do the things they love without having to worry about being able to breathe. Overall, I chose to pursue respiratory therapy because I wanted to help people with respiratory disease improve their quality of life.”

Part of her studies included participating in research projects. Normand received an Undergraduate Research Award to join a team at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba investigating the developmental origins of chronic lung disease. She also assisted with a literature review regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19 and was listed as second author – her first publication.

Normand sees research experience as invaluable to her future career and hopes to continue to contribute to the growth of the respiratory therapy profession in this area.

“The hospital is a frightening environment as a patient, and often a place where people feel that they lose their autonomy and control. The way that I believe I can best combat this is to help patients and their families become well informed by providing them with high quality education; something that I can do best via being involved in research initiatives and learning from other health-care providers with different areas of expertise.”

Morrison will graduate during the Fort Garry Convocation ceremonies on Oct 17. Normand will graduate during the Bannatyne Ceremony on Oct 26. Find out more about Fall Convocation 2023.

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