Doreen Kooy (BEd '88) knew what it was like to be different. The former teacher and Dhillon School of Business co-op coordinator was born with Turner Syndrome, a condition that can cause a variety of medical and developmental problems, including short height and heart defects. Because of this, Doreen faced many challenges in her life. Despite the challenges and being small in stature and often teased for it, she was a force to be reckoned with. With a passion for helping others and some inspiration from teachers past, Doreen took her small but mighty demeanor and put it towards a career in education. "She wanted students to live to their full potential and she gave her all to help others do that," says Doreen's sister Julie Klok. "She lived with odds stacked against her, so she knew challenges and wanted to inspire others to rise above their barriers."
Doreen's time on the University of Lethbridge (ULethbridge) Calgary campus as a co-op coordinator for Dhillon left a lasting impression. Co-workers described her as a "real people person," while students who were fortunate enough to receive her guidance raved about her "above and beyond," supportive nature. Sadly, Doreen's time in the career bridge office was cut short. In January of 2019, Doreen passed away due to complications from open heart surgery that stemmed from her condition. To commemorate her love of education and student success, the Dhillon School of Business at ULethbridge established the Doreen Kooy Memorial Prize for Co-op Student Excellence, supported by donations on behalf of Doreen. Each year, one deserving Dhillon student completing their degree who demonstrates exceptional initiative and accomplishment in their co-op work term, will receive a $500 prize in Doreen's name.
The 2022/23 recipient is Human Resource Management and Labor Relations (HRLR) student, Sharon Panesar. Sharon was nominated by Co-op Coordinator and Applied Studies Instructor, Erin Kennett. Erin says Sharon was chosen as this year’s recipient based on her work with Red Crow College’s human resources (HR) department. “She was an exceptional example of crossing boundaries and working in a community as a minority,” says Erin. “She was able to showcase not only her ability as an HR professional, but as an employee willing to learn, embrace a community and bring supports and knowledge to help the organization move forward.” In light of her glowing review, family members believe Doreen would be thrilled with Sharon as this year's recipient.
Those closest to Doreen hope others (especially recipients of Doreen's memorial prize) will be inspired after learning more about her and how she lived her life. Doreen herself was big on inspiration, she loved quotes and song lyrics and would often write them out in day timers, scraps of paper, underlined in books or stuck onto a mirror. One of Doreen's favorite quotes framed in her own handwriting was, "You matter! Be understanding and kind to yourself! That has a ripple effect." Julie hopes carrying on her sister's legacy through her memorial prize will be that lasting ripple effect Doreen lived by. "I want to honour Doreen through giving to this prize because I see that my sister's life can be an inspiration to others because of her tenacity in the face of struggle and her desire to make this world a better place," says Julie. "We need these kinds of role models and examples in our world."
The Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge is known for its immersive experiential learning opportunities, connecting learners with industry, its supportive, personalized approach and for exposing students to emerging technology. Study options available in both Lethbridge and Calgary.