Contact Lenses: More than better vision!

Harry Gandhi is a recent grad from University of Waterloo’s  Biotechnology/Economics program.  With an interest in the link between health and technology and the support of the UW’s Velocity  program he co-founded Medella Health .  

The goal?  To develop contact lens that help diabetics by monitoring glucose levels and sending the info to a mobile device…a healthcare wearable.

Read on as Douglas Soltys and Peter Kenter share more of this inspiring health startup’s story!

Race Car Driver Keeps It 'All in the Family' On and Off the Tracks

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Joshua “Josh” Stade works as an Estimator and Project Manager for his family owned and operated business, MEI Paving, in his hometown of Chesley, Ontario. In addition, once the racing season begins, Josh can also be seen behind the wheel of #17 on race tracks across the province! At work for Josh, no two days are the same. He loves working with different personnel each day and going through a variety of tasks such as “pricing a job or running equipment. [It’s] not usually the same day to day.”

One constant in Josh’s life is that his family is always by his side and fully supports him, whether it is at work, or throughout his racing career, which he sees as a “hobby”. Josh says that his family has played “a huge role” in his professional life: “They have taught me everything I need to know. There are many things to owning your own business, [like] saving money, pricing jobs, [and] managing staff and money.” The Stade family are a team in every sense of the word and Josh still learns from them every day. Racing late models may be a hobby for them, but there is still a lot of work that goes into this passion, and every member of the Stade family is involved (along with some of their closest friends). As part of “Stade Motorsports”, Josh is the team driver and his dad, Duane is one of the crew chiefs. His mom, Theressa is the main photographer and videographer. Josh’s older sister, Vanessa, as well as his girlfriend, Bailey (pictured with Josh) work together on marketing and promotions while the youngest Stade sibling, Jodie manages prizes and giveaways!

Not every family is as closely knit as the Stade’s, but Josh wishes for more parents to be supportive of their kids when it comes to activities that interest them: “If you can support your kids’ dreams and goals, and they’re willing to work hard for something, [you] should at least give them a chance. My parents got us involved with racing to keep us off the streets and as a result, it has me doing hands-on experience [which helps] me every day. [It’s] as simple as fixing your own personal vehicle. There is more than one benefit to what I have learned throughout my racing. I have had a ton of great driving practice and awareness as well. Parents need to get more involved in their kids’ lives. Too many kids are hanging out on streets, so if they’re willing to work hard for something, support them as much as you can.”

Also in terms of family, Josh has followed in his father’s footsteps by studying Civil Engineering at Georgian College. Additionally, he has also found a family setting on the race tracks: “My favourite tracks are Sunset Speedway and Sauble Speedway” says Josh, because both venues have a “welcoming atmosphere with lots of friends! It brings the racing community together like one, big family—from racing to camping. It's more than being on the track, it's the social aspect as well.”

Josh has won many awards over the years, including “Rookie of the Year” in 2009 and “Most Improved Driver” in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Stade states that his progress “has been all learning curves. My team and I improve more and more each year, and it’s very pleasing to see great results as you grow in the racing sport.”

In the future, Josh would like to give back to his team and his community by winning a championship, but even now, he has reason to celebrate. On May 2, 2015, Stade had his most rewarding experience as a driver so far: “[It was] my first opening travel feature win down at Sunset Speedway. It was big for me because we worked very hard to accomplish that checkered flag and there were 31 race cars on opening night.... Sunset Speedway had just become a NASCAR sanctioned race track, so it was a huge success to go against the best drivers in Ontario and win!”

For anyone out there who has a dream they wish to pursue, Josh Stade offers the following advice: “If you have a dream, you have to chase it. It never comes easy, but that's my lifestyle. Family business and racing is all I do. I spend it alongside great friends and family and work hard for what I want. So, if you have a dream or goal, you have to work hard for it and not let anyone hold you back, because in the end it's going to make you happy and the hard work will pay off!”

To learn more about Josh and his team, click here.

Krysia Bussiere: Designing Woman

By Jennifer Ammoscato

 As an architect, Krysia Bussiere BA ’12 doesn’t want to just build buildings.

She wants to help build community.

 “Architects can affect change on both a social and a physical level,” The UWindsor grad says of her work at the Detroit, Mich., architectural firm, Hamilton Anderson.  

Bussiere doesn’t shy away from a challenge. When told by Dr. Veronika  Mogyorody that the University’s new Visual Arts and the Built Environment program (VABE) would be “difficult and demanding,” she was intrigued. In fall 2009, she enrolled as part of its first class.

VABE is a collaboration of the University of Windsor’s School of Creative Arts and the University of  Detroit Mercy’s (UDM) School of Architecture. It combines the study of art and architecture to give students a breadth of knowledge and experience in both disciplines. 

 For Bussiere, VABE combined very “loose” things like the visual arts with very technical things. “It was really fun,” she says. “Like solving a puzzle. I love thinking about how people move through space, or how architecture or cities can be influenced by and influence culture.  It’s thinking on so many different levels.” 

The VABE program focuses on art in the first two years. If a student’s primary interest is in visual arts, they can complete third and fourth year at the University of Windsor and graduate with a Bachelor of  Fine Arts in Visual Arts and the Built Environment.  If they are interested in pursuing architecture and qualify, in third year they can apply to the architectural program at UDM. 

For Bussiere, the goal was always architecture. “I wanted to study architecture, but I also wanted to learn the fundamentals of drawing and sculpture.”  She spent most of first year learning to draw in various mediums, as well as some painting and sculpture, which is helpful because architects need to be able to convey their design ideas visually.

 “The visual arts classes taught me how to control my hand for Modelling and drawing,” she says. “By second year, we were all so confident in our skills that we could model creatively and quickly in such great volume.”

 Bussiere spent her third-, and fourth-year co-op placements with Toronto-based B+H, one of Canada’s largest architectural firms. “I learned more and more about the architectural process.

I learned about ‘construction documents’ and how they zero in on finer details as a project progresses. Over time, I was given more and more responsibility.”

Through B+H, Bussiere worked on higher education buildings and on the Markham Pan Am Centre erected for the 2015Pan / Parapan American Games in Markham, Ont.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2012 from U Windsor, part of VABE’s first graduating class. The alumna was accepted to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture, and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in 2013 and Master’s in Architecture in 2014.

 Bussiere joined Hamilton Anderson, a Detroit firm that handles a wide variety of projects that include architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and interior design. 

 She initially began as an intern, but is now full time. “While you’re in school, you hear about firms from your professors and get in your mind where you’d like to work based on what they do and the people who work there.

 “Working with Hamilton Anderson appealed to me because they have a great studio environment and take on large-scale projects—but also smaller-scale projects—in the city of Detroit.”

 Detroit, freshly sprung from its term as the largest city in US history to declare bankruptcy, is working hard to transform itself. Part of this includes attracting investors and tenants to its once-bustling downtown. Hamilton  Anderson is one of the firms helping to shape its new face in an effort to reverse the exodus of businesses to the suburbs.

What Bussiere loves about her work is the range of projects she works on. “You’re constantly learning and it’s interesting.”

She also enjoys “the constant dialogue between you and the client and you and the contractor so that the work being done matches the needs, expectations and standards.”

The architecture of both Windsor and Detroit fascinates the grad. “I grew up in the area and want to learn more about its architectural background.” Of particular interest to her is Detroit, perceived by many to be on the cusp of a long-hoped for renaissance. During her UDM studies, projects frequently involved local sites in the Motor City.

 “I think it’s rare for an architectural program to focus on the Community aspect, and the need to create projects that benefit the community,” she says.

 “You came away from it with this sense that you have to be responsible with what you’re designing. We muse about the kinds of changes we can create as designers, architects, landscape architects and how we can tangibly change, because that’s what we’ve learned.”

 This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of View the University of Windsor Alumni Magazine.

Every Day is Different: Ben’s Paramedic Story

Ben Kenter has been a paramedic with the Ottawa Paramedic Service for about a year.  So far, it seems that things are going well for this 25-year old Fanshawe College grad.  He’s helping people every day, working with a great professional team, and doing rewarding and challenging work.  And, as he told Iris Winston, there is lots of variety!

“The only thing that is the same is how a day starts. You come, do your truck check to make sure everything is up to snuff. After that, you are briefed on road construction and anything else that is likely to affect your day…” [then] “nothing is typical”.

Have a look as Iris Winston shares more about Ben and the growth in career opportunities in paramedicine – where one has to “expect the unexpected every day."

Lovely Rita: A Personal Support Worker’s Perspective on Helping Others

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

If you have been looking for Rita Parent over the years, her location may have varied. However, Rita can always be found helping others, no matter where she is. For the last decade, the Tonawanda, New York native has served as a Personal Support Worker for countless people in the London, Ontario area.

Originally, Rita went to school for nursing in the United States, but as Parent recalls, things didn’t go as planned: “When I moved to Canada in 1983, the government didn't recognize my diploma in nursing and I was a single mother at the time.... I was unable to start over until many years later, where I decided to take a bridging course as a PSW.”

 Before returning to school, Rita faced many challenges while raising her young son in a new country. Regardless, she remained committed to helping others, even though she was not recognized as a nurse in Canada:  “We lived in Haliburton, Ontario – one of the greatest tourism towns in Ontario. I became a waitress at Sir Sam’s Inn, which – in my eyes – was easy for me, as it was still something I could do [to] give the customer[s] what they needed. I loved that job.”

 Many people would think that re-entering the educational system after a long period of time would be a daunting or scary task, but not Rita! Her advice to other adults (especially single moms) who might be apprehensive about going back to school is to not to fear it at all: “Don't be afraid to go after what you want!” she exclaims. According to Rita, school can even be enjoyable as an adult! “As a mature student, I enjoyed school more. [I loved] it so much, I couldn't stop! I had to make some sacrifices, but I did it!”

Currently, Rita is a Personal Support Worker for Cheshire London. Cheshire provides attendant (PSW) services for clients in their own homes, to assist them with healthcare and daily living. She feels very fortunate to have found her calling in this field: “I was lucky to find a great job where I have to utilize all of my skills at a client’s home. My job gives an individual the care they need and the opportunity to live independently.” Rita has also been able to “learn and grow” from the many individuals she has worked with, including award-winning, Paralympic Athlete, Tammy McLeod.

 Personal Support Work and athleticism are not often thought of as two things that go hand-in-hand, but it turns out that they do!  Parent and McLeod excelled together when Rita worked as Tammy’s caregiver and sports assistant in boccia ball. Tammy McLeod is a member of the Canadian Paralympic Boccia Ball Team. Rita says that working with Tammy was the “most rewarding part” of her job as a PSW: “I learned so much about boccia ball through the eyes of many athletes with disabilities. Not only did I assist and care, but I became close friends with many people all over the world. I'm very grateful for the experiences!” Although she is no longer involved with sport, Rita says she keeps “a close watch” on Tammy and her career.

Rita Parent admits that being a personal support worker is “a very demanding occupation. It's not meant for everyone, but if you have what it takes you'll go far. You need to be compassionate and love your work....” For her, “there is no doubt... that the healthcare field is the way to go, and we are in great need of PSWs.... I hope I'm not too wishy-washy, but I really love my job!”