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Scholarship Recipient

2019 AAG Calgary Chapter Scholarship Recipient: Bria Mele

Bria Mele, PhD student in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, has been selected to receive the Calgary Student Award.

Bria has conducted research relevant to the geriatric population since her third year of undergraduate studies. Her undergraduate thesis research was awarded with distinction. In her study she combined neuroscience and economic theory to better understand the genetics of apathy in Parkinson’s disease. During her Masters studies, Bria conducted qualitative research with persons with PD and their caregivers to assess what they identify to be barriers and facilitators to living with apathy in PD. They identified difficulties with awareness of apathy as a syndrome of PD and difficulties with the diagnosis & management of apathy. Bria’s PhD project has been shaped by the difficulties identified by people with PD and their caregivers. Her PhD research is focused on the development of a clinical care pathway for diagnosing and managing apathy in PD.

Bria intends to become a clinician scientist, with a special focus on improving the mental health of older adults with common neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia. She has been accepted into the University of Calgary Leaders in Medicine Program. After she completes her PhD, she will commence her medical studies. Bria hopes to specialize as a geriatrician and work closely with patients, caregivers, and other physicians to improve the quality of life of those living with neurodegenerative diseases common in older populations.

Congratulations to Bria on receiving this award, with best wishes on her future studies and career!


Congratulations to the 2018 AAG Calgary Chapter Scholarship Recipient

The Calgary Chapter Scholarship was awarded to Ms. Allegra Samaha, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. Allegra has been an active member of the Alberta Association on Gerontology Calgary Chapter Board for two years as our Student Representative; however she has been making her mark in gerontology in so many other ways. In brief, this future leader in gerontology has already received eight distinctions and awards. She has participated as a co-lead or a research assistant with four research studies, and she has presented at conferences on 17 occasions either in poster or oral format. Allegra has also served in leadership capacities with the Gerontological Social Work Action Group and the Gerontology Interest Group within the Faculty of Social Work, as well as participating as a member or volunteer with other agencies.

In addition to working as a Social Worker with Alberta Health Services; Allegra is in the second year of her Master’s of Social Work program. Her Masters studies are being funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Graduate Master’s Scholarship. Her Master’s thesis explores how cultural diversity affects the help-seeking behavior of adult children caring for a parent with dementia.


Congratulations to the 2017 AAG Calgary Chapter Scholarship Recipient

The Calgary Chapter Scholarship was awarded to Mr. Jon Parr Vijinski, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary. Mr. Jon Parr Vijinski’s focus in his PhD program at the University of Calgary is exploration of affective responses of persons with Dementia in the use of music combined with video recordings of the listener. He has many years of experience as a research assistant for various professors exploring the effects of specific elements of music for promoting health and healing for a range of populations. Among his publications is a book chapter on how music moves people emotionally (see The Book Project at: The CAIT Research Group). He is a gifted tenor, composer, and producer (see examples of his compositions on his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/jonparrvijinski).