Through the SHCS Hero Awards, we recognize employees in our unit who make extraordinary contributions at UBC and beyond.

This year we received many wonderful nominations. Thank you to all the supervisors, managers and Associate Directors who nominated a member of their team. While it was challenging to select from all of the outstanding nominees, we are pleased to announce the following twelve recipients of our SHCS Hero Awards. Congratulations to all!

Ruel Acavado
General Worker Heavy, Food Services
Nominated by Levi Semadeni.

“Ruel acts like an owner at The University Center! He can always be found with a smile on his face and a warm sincere greeting for everyone! He makes Sage a great place to work!” — Colin Moore

Congratulations Ruel!

From Ruel's Nomination
“Ruel goes out of his way to make Sage better and cleaner, and he always does it with a smile on his face. Without Ruel it would have been impossible to successfully execute all the weddings and events we had at Sage this past summer. We are very grateful to have Ruel on our team. His attention to detail, willingness to help, ideas and initiatives is what makes Ruel a SHCS hero!

“On several occasions, Ruel has taken the initiative to improve operations and processes for our team. Ruel built an up-to-date inventory of all glassware, china and cutlery for Sage and Cecil Green, which is very helpful for the entire team. He also conducted invaluable research to help us purchase equipment that ensures our spaces look pristine. Thank you, Ruel for your valuable contributions!” — Levi Semadeni

Michelle Castaneda
Food Service Supervisor, Food Services
Nominated by Connie Lay.

UBC’s vision and Subway’s brand standards are Michelle’s “Do what’s right, even when no one is looking” motto. Michelle has a welcoming spirit which brings inclusiveness and care to every person she meets, and she has the natural ability to mentor and teach those lucky enough to work with her. There have been so many small moments where Michelle really shines—and she doesn’t even know it. We have challenges every day, but Michelle makes our team a team that succeeds, together.” — Connie Lay

Congratulations Michelle!

From Michelle's Nomination
“Michelle is in the people business and her superpower is kindness! Michelle has certificates of accomplishments, a collection of guest compliments and more, but her true impact lies in her interactions with students, staff, faculty and vendors. She upholds the UBC and SHCS visions in every interaction, conversation and action she initiates while inspiring, supporting, and setting an example for those around her.

“Throughout the pandemic and as we returned to in-person operations, Michelle’s commitment to staff, student and visitor safety in the Life Building was inspirational. She was committed to mentoring and supporting her team to be the best at what they do, encourage wellness in the workplace through regular check-ins, and made it a priority to let her team know that they are valued. She also encouraged her team to volunteer for Jump Start, where she played an important role reassuring parents and providing important resources and support to our new students.” — Connie Lay

Karen Deliva
Infant Toddler Educator, Child Care
Nominated by Karen Vaughan.

“I’ve always appreciated Karen Deliva and what she brings to her work and life.  I have known Karen for a while now. Once upon a time, I was teaching and guiding her at the beginning of her career in Early Childhood Care and Education.  I was not surprised to learn that it was Karen who was voluntarily leading an initiative of welcoming Ukranian families into Canada by presenting them with a beautiful new warm scarf—all in the honour of a little girl named Hannah, a child in her care at here at UBCCCS in Little Goslings. Karen is always thoughtful and gentle. I admire Karen and thank her for the light she brings to others—quietly and without expectation of anything in return.” — Karen Vaughan

Congratulations Karen!

From Karen's Nomination
“Karen provides care to three-year-old Hanna, who is originally from the Ukraine. When the war in the Ukraine broke out, Hanna’s grandparents on both sides had to flee their homes and, thankfully, are now safely relocated in Vancouver and Seattle. Karen had mentioned Hana’s story to her very kind and generous friend from New York, and touched by Hana’s story, Karen’s friend decided that she wanted to donate 2,200 scarves and shawls to all Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war. They named the project the Scarves for Ukraine and the donation, as well as the accompanying tags have been made in Hana’s honour.

“When the scarves arrive, Karen and her team from Little Goslings will volunteer their time to deliver the scarves and shawls at the airport to new families who have been displaced and who are resettling here in Vancouver. They will also deliver scarves and shawls to families who are attending resettlement workshops in community centres and Ukrainian churches across the Lower Mainland. Hana’s parents were so touched by Karen’s actions and both were brought to tears when they learned that their daughter is being honoured in this manner by her early childhood educators.” — Karen Vaughan

Alex De Moraes Martins
Warehouse General Clerk, Bookstore
Nominated by Rodolfo Calero and Melanie Dodig.

“Alex has been an important part of the warehouse staff at the bookstore since November 2021. She is key in keeping us on top of the day-to-day processing of all GM products coming into the bookstore. She is our go-to for finding solutions to challenging situations and is instrumental in ensuring convocation runs smoothly at the Bookstore. She is always supportive of her co-workers and offers expert guidance, care and compassion to all.  Alex is an all-around super star.

“Congratulations on being recognized with the hero award!!  We are very proud to have you on our team!” — Rodolfo Calero

Congratulations Alex!

From Alex's Nomination
“Alex has been a big part of the logistics operations at the Bookstore warehouse and has been instrumental in the processing department. Alex successfully processed over 400 orders in the month of September during our rush period. She was also very instrumental in processing course materials so that students could order and receive their books on time. Alex has been with the bookstore since 2021 and has shown nothing but hard work, dedication and collaboration.

“During our busiest time of the year—the back to school rush—Alex purchased pizza for the warehouse staff to show appreciation of their hard work. She makes sure that each warehouse member is part of the team.” — Rodolfo Calero & Melanie Dodig

Maria Domingo
Procurement Officer, SHCS
Nominated by Paula McCready.

I am so pleased that Maria has been recognized as a SHCS Hero for the wonderful work she does every day. Maria is the first person in the SHCS Main Office in the morning, and she does this by commuting by Sky Train and Bus from Langley, which only further demonstrates her dedication to the work she performs at UBC.  Maria diligently and effectively excels at her work and we are so fortunate to have her working with SHCS for these last 16 years.” — Brian Heathcote

Congratulations Maria!

From Maria's Nomination
“Maria is often referred to as the “backbone” of our Purchasing team. She brings over 15 years of experience to the team and as the first, original member to the Purchasing team, she has an incredible understanding and depth of knowledge that our team—and SHCS as a whole—rely on daily. Maria is very proud of UBC and takes a lot of pride in her work at the University.

“Maria works diligently behind the scenes and acts as a daily Hero to maintain many of the goods and services you may not realize she is responsible for. If you work in the main office and pour yourself a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning, there is a very good chance that was made by Maria! She also keeps our office well stocked with everything from coffee and milk to office supplies and chairs. SHCS-wide, she orders business cards, manages mobile requests, co-ordinates annual shredding, and works with our supplier base to support the United Way Campaign and our appreciation events with donations.” — Paula McCready

John Hall
Food Services Supervisor, Food Services
Nominated by Connie Lay.

“Our business is measured by the thousands of brief but meaningful moments that happen every day between all of us and our customers. After a meeting I attended last week, we had some leftover bottled beverages that we had purchased at Harvest Market. I decided to take them back to Harvest and let the team do whatever they wanted with them. I gave them back to John Hall and without hesitation he said, “we will donate these to some of our customers that need them most.”  In that moment, I was reassured that we are indeed on the right track.” — Colin Moore

Congratulations John!

From John's Nomination
“John has brought several UBC initiatives and goals to life at Harvest, where he operates the busiest grocery market on campus. John has never faltered in making equality, inclusion and accessibility attainable in Harvest Market and he makes everyone feel welcome.

“During the pandemic, many procedures had to change—sometimes daily. John made sure these changes happened in a comfortable, non-judgmental and calm way for our community. His consistent kindness, inclusiveness, and dedication creates a safe, fun and healthy place for our community.” — Connie Lay

Steven Henkelman
Plumber, Facilities & Building Services
Nominated by Randy Gvora.

“Steven is the glue of the SHCS plumbing crew—dependable, knowledgeable, personable and humble. His presence at work is eclipsed only by the quality of work he does to keep our residences running in top form and leadership he shows every step of the way! “ — Andrew Powter

Congratulations Steven!

From Steven's Nomination
“Steven maintains a highly positive attitude at work and is quick to build strong relationships with others. Steven strives to help integrate new employees and is eager to delight both internal and external customers, making him a valued member of our team.

“Steven is one of our most adaptable employees. He has adjusted to any change in a matter of minutes, and he also encourages others when we have to get used to new buildings and complex situations. We have been able to turn to Steven when we need someone to take on last-minute work due to his flexibility. Mr. Reliable is always ready and available for after-hours emergency calls or for potentially disastrous plumbing issues.” — Randy Gvora

Drew Jackson
Access Desk Attendant, Parking
Nominated by Roberto Albertini.

“Drew is one of the kindest, most caring and dedicated colleagues and friends that works in Parking. In supporting the needs of students, faculty and staff at the Access Desk, Drew has become our resident expert on key management. Key management requires a person who is calm, collected and generous with their time. Drew makes this often difficult work seem effortless. It is genuinely heartwarming to recognize Drew with this award. He is a truly wonderful person.” — Brian Jones

Congratulations Drew!

From Drew's Nomination
“Drew is known as our Dear Key Guru. He is the go-to-person for any questions regarding keys. Drew is calm, patient and always willing to go the extra mile to help. Drew will often facilitate one on one training sessions to teach staff about keys and is consistently open to sharing his knowledge and teaching others.

“From time to time, someone at UBC will need to have keys issued to people last minute due to an emergency or unplanned circumstance. Drew prioritizes these rush requests to ensure university processes go unaffected. Other times, a whole building needs to be re-keyed. Drew will personally deliver the new keys to make it as convenient as possible for building occupants.” — Roberto Albertini

Inderpal Khella
Sales Attendant, Food Services
Nominated by Racquel Dizon.

“Paula’s work ethic is contagious. She inspires UBC Student workers, UBC Students (customers) and other colleagues. She genuinely cares about her work and takes on more responsibility than required. Her dedication and commitment as a UBC employee is impressive. Paula goes above and beyond expectations everyday. Her customers love her and call her “Mama Paula”. Some of her former customers (UBC graduates) come back to see her years later. When they were students Paula made it feel like home whenever they went to Tim Horton’s Forestry.” — Jody Ropas

Congratulations Paula!

From Paula's Nomination
“Paula is an exemplary employee. She is responsible, dependable and often goes the extra mile. She generously shares her work experience and inspires new staff.

“Paula is the epitome of excellent customer service. Her customers always look forward to seeing her in the morning. Her connections have made such an impact that many of her previous UBC student customers come back after they have graduated to visit her. Many students have shared how Paula inspired them during their student days and feel like Paula is their “UBC mom”.” — Racquel Dizon

Alfredo Napuri
Assignment Clerk, Residence Life & Administration
Nominated by Sarah Bellis and Natalie Tole.

“Congratulations to Alfredo! He is a wonderful addition to our Assignments Team. His calm and positive nature shines through even during the busiest and most hectic times. It is obvious he cares not only for his teammates but also for the students we serve. Outside of work Alfredo loves spending time with his kids and grandkids—and we are sure he’s the coolest Papa and Nonno around! — Natalie Tole

Congratulations Alfredo!

From Alfredo's Nomination
“At the beginning of the school year Alfredo became a highly sought after staff member to speak with by parents and families who felt more comfortable connecting with our office in Spanish. Families would patiently wait in the office until Alfredo was available to speak with them. When witnessing these conversations I could see how relieved these parents felt, knowing they were being heard and understood.

“Alfredo never hesitated to connect with the families that were waiting to see him, even when he was not on counter duty. This is how he approaches working with students and their families. He takes pride in being able to provide support and an empathetic ear.” — Sarah Bellis & Natalie Tole

Diane Tannahill
Acting Associate Director, Operations, Child Care Services
Nominated by Deb Thompson.

“I am over the moon that Diane is receiving this award. Diane’s steady commitment keeps the CCS team grounded and on task at all times! She is the person that everyone goes to and she always ensures that she makes time for everyone. Diane jumped into the role of AD Operations during a critical period for CCS, thus making sure that children and families were able to have smooth transitions in and out of our programs. I am personally very honoured to work with such a knowledgeable and dedicated colleague and friend.” — Karen Vaughan

Congratulations Diane!

From Diane's Nomination
“In April, Diane stepped into the role of Director of Operations when the position became suddenly vacant. Diane quickly volunteered to step in to the role, which was great as she was the only person in Child Care who had the knowledge to do it! What she didn’t know, she learned through excellent communication and collaboration with the past Associate Director of Operations and her team in the office. Diane’s commitment to UBC Child Care and quickly learning this new role meant that we successfully managed our intense enrolment season. Her efforts were heroic and Diane is a hero to us.” — Deb Thompson
Dharma Velu
Assistant Housekeeping Supervisor, Facilities & Building Services
Nominated by Lawron Leung.

“Dharma has a gift of being able to connect with each one of the Service Workers individually and fosters an environment that focuses on creativity, leadership, hard work and growth.  Thank you Dharma for your service and impact on your team and our department.” — Johanna Webber

Congratulations Dharma!

From Dharma's Nomination
“Dharma is motivated by his passion for service and selflessness. You can always find him offering support to someone in need or encouraging staff to be leaders themselves. Dharma can be best compared to an octopus. Unlike humans, researchers believe that octopuses do not have to think about multitasking—they just decide which arm to activate.

“This past September, there was a leak at Tim Hortons (Orca) that required the restaurant to close early. Thanks to Dharma’s leadership and execution, Tim Hortons maintained the highest food handling standards, there was no follow-up cleaning required by the morning service workers, and Tim Hortons was able to reopen the next day on time, preventing further loss in revenue. At the same time, there was no need reduce cleaning services at daycares and dining halls the evening before.” — Lawron Leung