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Campus Life - Kamloops

Couple gives back to their profession and to TRU Law

McDiarmid room naming

Kelly Maw (left), a third year Law student and TRU Law Society president, thanks Rob McDiarmid and Sharon Matthews for their gift of $50,000 towards Faculty of Law student awards on Jan. 23, 2015.

Kamloops—Master Rob McDiarmid and Ms. Sharon Matthews, QC, were recognized by Thompson Rivers University today for their tireless advocacy to bring the law program to TRU and their ongoing support of the Faculty of Law as donors.

“Today we are recognizing two generous supporters of TRU Law and this university,” said Alan Shaver, TRU President and Vice-President. “Master McDiarmid and Ms. Matthews have been connected with this university for 20 years, in the capacities of counsel, donor, advocate and champion. We are honoured to pay tribute to their support by dedicating this space to them.”

A 14-seat seminar room in the Faculty of Law’s new space on the third floor of Old Main will now be known as The McDiarmid Seminar Room.

Continuing their support of TRU’s law students, the couple has donated $50,000 to the law program, one of the first major personal donations to the Faculty of Law.

“For the law school to continue to succeed, it needs proper financing, and the cost of a legal education is significant,” said McDiarmid, Master of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. “Scholarships and bursaries need to be available to help offset that cost for most law students. Our gift is a small contribution to that.”

Master McDiarmid was among the group of local lawyers and others who championed and petitioned the provincial government for the creation of a law program at TRU, arguing that established schools were not training the types of lawyers required for centres outside of the larger cities.

A former president of the BC Law Society, Master McDiarmid received his law degree in 1975 from UBC and practised law in Kamloops for more than 35 years. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996. He was a partner with Kamloops law firm Morelli Chertkow when he was appointed as a Master of the BC Supreme Court in 2011.

Matthews is a former president of the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, has been appointed Queen’s Counsel and currently serves as a Bencher of the British Columbia Law Society. She counts the honour of addressing the first class of TRU law students on the first day of classes as one of her proudest moments as CBABC president. She is a strong supporter of TRU and the law school.

“As an advocate for greater access to justice,” said Matthews, “I believe the law school will make a real difference by educating lawyers in the interior of BC where many communities and many First Nations people need greater access to justice.”

In supporting TRU’s evolution over the years, Master McDiarmid has seen Kamloops evolve with it.

“The growth of TRU from Cariboo College to a full-fledged university has made this city a much better place to live,” said Master McDiarmid. “There is now more diversity, more resources, more cultural events in this city, plus the economic stability brought by the university has been a great benefit. The inclusion of a law school as a professional school is another important step forward in that growth.”

The Faculty of Law welcomed its first three-year intake in the fall of 2011 and celebrated its first graduating class in spring 2014. The faculty moved into its new space on the third floor of Old Main in 2013, an award-winning renovation and addition that has made the building a campus landmark.

More information
Christopher Seguin
Vice-President, Advancement
Thompson Rivers University
Tel: 250-574-0474
Email: [email protected]


Feb. 2 is deadline for proposals for undergraduate conference

Feb. 2 is the application deadline for students to submit proposals for the 2015 Undergraduate Research & Innovation conference occurring in late March.

The conference is in its ninth year, is March 27-28, and is an opportunity for students from all areas of study to take pride in their research by presenting their material as a lecture or as a poster, or both.

At a loss for what to include in your proposal? Read the blog post Conference Prep: How To Write a Winning Abstract for some tips and suggestions.

If you are planning on presenting, check out some examples of presentation slideshows from 2014.

Psychology student helps develop app for youth struggling with mental illness

App to help youth struggling with mental illness

Sara Gillis along with nine youth with mental illness, two family members of mentally ill youth, two clinicians and a mobile application developer from Robots and Pencils developed the app with funding from Coast Capital Savings.

For youth who experience psychosis, anxiety, or depression, it can be a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning.

But like most youth, their smart phones are kept close at hand. With this in mind, a team of youth and health professionals were prompted to create Canada’s first “gamified” smart phone app for youth with mental illness.

“Although there are lots of resources available to people with mental illness, there has never been an app that was specifically designed for youth with psychosis,” says Sara Gillis, a first year TRU student in Psychology. She is part of a team of 15 who have worked for over a year to develop Booster Buddy, a personalized tool to support and empower youth struggling with psychosis, anxiety, or depression.

Gillis along with nine youth with mental illness, two family members of mentally ill youth, two clinicians and a mobile application developer from Robots and Pencils developed the app with funding from Coast Capital Savings.

On Jan. 17, four months after its initial launch, Gillis presented Booster Buddy at the international E-Mental Health Conference at the Child and Family Research Institute at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Hoping to introduce Booster Buddy to a wider audience, she spoke to students and mental health professionals from all over the world. Officially launched Sept. 17, 2014, the app was downloaded 3,640 times within its first three months, primarily in Canada and the US but also in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Booster Buddy was beta-tested by 16 youth with mental illness, and reviews showed 95% of users found the app useful.

“We are finding the app also supports youth suffering from mental illness in general by giving a sense of companionship,” says Gillis.

Booster Buddy provides youth who are battling mental illness with calendar settings to help track moods, medication and relapses, with the option to set up daily check-ins and reminders. Customizable and personalized, the app also features simple goals to complete daily, a library of coping mechanisms in case of an attack, and a list of phone numbers of family and friends to call for support.

“I am really proud knowing that I have been able to reach youth from across the world and support their road to recovery,” says Gillis.

Photo and article by Eric Rankin, a second year psychology student and founder of Humans of TRU on Facebook.


Undergraduate Research leads to graduate school success

Deadline for the Winter UREAP competition is Feb. 27, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.

*UREAP Information Session: Jan. 30, 2015 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Visual Arts Gallery, lower level, Old Main

Ashley Berard-UREAP

Currently in her first year of the Masters of Sociology program at the University of Victoria, Ashley Berard is expanding on her UREAP research (the use of online forums and support groups to navigate an illness) for her thesis. Alongside Dr. Meridith Burles (sociology), she presented the research at the Qualitative Health Research Conference in Victoria in October, and is considering revising the report and submitting it for publication.

The whole experience has been invaluable, she says.

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