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Year-end ceremonies recognize university's distinguished almuni

Vancouver Island University will recognize distinguished alumni and confer five honorary doctorates at its spring convocation ceremonies next week.

Serene Kerpan, 29, will be presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award for early achievement.

Kerpan graduated from VIU in 2008 with a bachelor of arts majoring physical education and history (with distinction) before earning a master's degree in kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan, where she also coordinated an aboriginal health curriculum. She is in the final year of her program to earn her doctorate in kinesiology.

Her focus on developing physical activity programs for aboriginal youth and athletes began at VIU.

"I got connected with my professor to Cowichan First Nation who were hosting the North American Indigenous Games that year and they wanted to do some fitness testing with their athletes, so my professor was kind enough to bring me along and connect me to the community," Kerpan said.

She work with First Nations earned national funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She has taught 10 university courses in kinesiology and education and in 2010 was awarded the University of Saskatchewan Provost’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher. She also coaches inner urban aboriginal girls' basketball.

Once she earns her doctorate, Kerpan would like to return to Nanaimo. Her dream job would be a faculty or administrative position at VIU that would allow her to work with students and the community.

"If an opportunity arose at VIU and I was a successful candidate, I would love to come home," Kerpan said. "I love VIU. It's my alma mater. I learned so much from that institution and the values that they have really align with what I want to do with my career, but I'm open to all kinds of opportunities."

Kerpan said receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award from VIU is an honour.

"I never shy away from telling people what a wonderful university VIU is," Kerpan said. "When you really admire an institution and they give you an award like this it just means so much more."

Malerie Meeker will also receive the Distinguished Alumni award for service to society. Meeker has taught in the Faculty of Health and Human Services, School and Community Support Worker Program at VIU's Powell River Campus since 2002.

Spring convocation ceremonies will be held at the Port Theatre Tuesday to Thursday (June 3-4).

For more information, please visit www2.viu.ca/convocation/ceremonies.asp.

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