Alumna Spotlight: Special Achiever Dr. Thea Cacchioni ’94

Q & A with Dr. Thea Cacchioni ’94

Lisa (Greczmiel) Roberts ’82, Dr. Thea Cacchioni ’94 and Chantal Gionet on Founders’ Day after receiving the 2016 Alumnae Special Achiever Award – Young Alumnae category.

Thea, you came back recently to York House to collect the 2016 Alumnae Special Achiever Award. How was that experience?
My experience of returning to YHS was wonderful. What struck me most was the progressive tone of the assembly and support for the theme of the day – finding your voice. It seems that YHS is still committed to helping girls and young women find their voice.

Who influenced you most in your time at York House?
I would have to say both Eve Hunnings and Jean McLagan. Ms. Hunnings taught me how to tap into my creative voice. She allowed us to express our authentic selves through creative writing, even our defiant selves. Mrs. McLagan shaped my political awareness. History 12 was a pivotal course in teaching me about social justice.

What is your fondest memory?
My fondest memories are the times I shared with friends. We were then and still are a close group. I love that we could come to school and not worry about what we were wearing or what boys thought of us. We were there to learn and spend time together. We had a lot of laughs.

How did your time at York House impact who you are today?
The message that girls and women can do anything was instilled in me through YHS, and I’m sure helped shape my path towards my career as a professor in Women and Gender Studies.

How important are the connections you made with fellow Yorkies to you today?
I’m still very close to many of my friends from my graduating class. We formed tight bonds that have lasted decades.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a Yorkie today what would it be?
I would tell Yorkies today that they are incredibly privileged to be part of such an amazing institution. They are not only getting a quality education, but tools to pursue their dreams. My hope would be that they would pay it forward with some kind of service on a local or global level.

About Dr. Thea Cacchioni ’94

foundersdayassembly_29sep2016-9256Dr. Thea Cacchioni graduated from York House School in 1994 and is currently a tenured Associate Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Victoria (UVic), BC.

Dr. Cacchioni graduated with a PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick, UK in 2007 and went on to teach at UBC Vancouver, the Okanagan, and Simon Fraser University (SFU) before settling at UVic.

In 2010, Cacchioni was awarded the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU in recognition of her drug policy work aiming to protect women’s health and safety. In addition to the publication of numerous journal articles and book chapters, in 2015, Dr. Cacchioni published Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love with the University of Toronto Press.

A firm believer in academic and public community engagement, Cacchioni has organized several major interdisciplinary, international conferences, and has been interviewed and quoted in dozens of widely read publications including New York Magazine, National Post, Toronto Star, The New York Times, LA Times, Elle Magazine, and Ms. Magazine.

Alumna Spotlight: Preety Nijjar ‘12

Q & A with Preety Nijjar ’12

Preety is majoring in Honours Biomedical Studies with a minor in First Nations Studies and plays on the UNBC Women’s Basketball Team

Preety Nijjar ’12

When you look back at your time at York House, what stands out?
I feel so incredibly thankful to have had such supportive and amazing mentors like my basketball coaches, Mr. Prissinotti, Mr. Brown, Ms. DL and Mr. Jackson, and teachers like Ms. Boteju. They really made my experience at York House that much more meaningful and have all been so instrumental in my personal growth during my teen years.

You’ve had a stellar academic experience to date. Please tell us a little about that.
Yes, I’ve received an Academic All Canadian Award each year of my undergraduate studies thus far. The award is recognized and signed by the Governor General and means that you have been able to maintain an A- or higher GPA, while playing on a varsity team that is in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport league (CIS). The league has now been renamed University Sports or U Sports and it is the highest collegiate athletic league in Canada.

Now I am in my fifth and last year of CIS eligibility on the UNBC women’s basketball team and of my undergraduate degree. I was voted captain of my team again this year, so will have more responsibilities throughout this season.

What are you currently studying at UNBC?
My major is in Honours Biomedical Studies with a minor in First Nations Studies. I completed my undergraduate thesis last year on PACAP’s (a hormone called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activity polypeptide) role in vascular function with Dr. Sarah Gray, the Assistant Dean of UBC’s Northern Medical Program and Dr. Geoffrey Payne, UNBC’s Interim Vice President of Research. My thesis would be relevant for the development of new treatments to control or reverse the vascular complications associated with obesity along with its related caveats. This is a project that I have been working on since the end of my second year. I first received an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Award at the end of my second year which allowed me to begin the project, and then I continued the project as an independent study in my third year, and then as my honours thesis in my fourth year.

In terms of volunteer experiences, what are you involved with?
I have had an active role with the UNBC First Nations Centre and have been a peer support volunteer with the organization’s Peer Support Network (PSN) and have held a Student Leader position with them for the last two years. The PSN provides services to students and faculty, and we are trained to provide an Indigenous holistic approach to supporting mental health. My role in the Student Leader position includes developing outreach projects and peer-based wellness services around campus, being a liaison between counsellors and First Nations Centre staff, mentoring other peer support volunteers, creating campus-wide art based experiential workshops to learn more about stress management and self-care techniques. I am also a Crisis Line Worker for Northern BC.