Faces in the Crowd – Outside The Lines

Posted on November 1, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

 

“I’m a fun guy to be around. I try and make people feel happy.”

Meet Justin Gregg.

Justin grew up in small town Vermont, the only child of a father who was a lawyer and a mother who worked for the Chamber of Commerce. In a time when the internet had yet to take a foothold on society, he loved playing in the outdoors. His mother was an animal lover who helped the local humane society find placement for stray and abandoned creatures.

At the age of ten, he travelled to Massachusetts on a whale watching trip. He saw a humpback whale and was immediately captivated with marine life.

Justin grew up and was considered a nerd, when being a nerd wasn’t cool. He loved science fiction movies and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In high school he played a variety of sports and in grade twelve, got his first taste of acting participating in theatre. Upon completing high school, he travelled to Sweden as an exchange student and completed an additional year of studies. This was a transformative experience. He learned a new language and for the first time came to appreciate that people in other parts of the world think and act differently.

Even though the idea of studying marine biology had some appeal, Justin enrolled in a linguistics program at University of Vermont. “I didn’t particularly like science as a subject and thought the program would be too difficult.” At the end of his second year, he headed off to the Netherlands to study linguistics and the Dutch language. He met his future wife, Ranke while both of them were participating in the production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

In his fourth year, Justin and a dozen colleagues from an a capella group, travelled to New York in a limo to perform at an UVM alumni function at the Windows of the World restaurant atop the Twin Towers.

Ranke moved to Ireland after attaining her Masters degree to pursue a Ph.D. at Trinity College. Justin moved to Ireland to be with her but with no job prospects and proper work visas, he decided to become a student again taking a one year sound engineering and music technology course. In 1999, the couple married and Ranke took a year off to travel to the United States. It was around this time that Justin’s father became sick which led to a protracted illness. Years later his mother would develop ALS. “At a young age, I became conscious of suffering and end of life issues.”

Back in Ireland, Justin tried his hand at a number of jobs including voice over work. After attending a Celtic scholar’s conference in Wales with Ranke, he decided that he would pursue a Ph.D. He spent an entire year at the local library reading books on biology, zoology and genetics. He decided to do a program in Cognitive Psychology. When he pitched his idea to the people at Trinity College, he was told that he would need to find a field supervisor. He contacted Kathleen Dudzinski, a renowned dolphin communication researcher.

For four summers, one in the Bahamas and three on a volcanic island off the coast of Japan, Justin studied dolphin behaviour. He swam with them using an underwater camera to record behaviour and sounds. He completed his doctorate in 2008 and in 2013 published a signature book called “Are Dolphins Really Smart”? The book was somewhat controversial arousing a lot of criticism by the media. As a result of this, he started to publish his own articles and became a science writer.

The couple’s daughter was born in 2008 in the Netherlands where Ranke had gained employment. Justin became a stay at home dad. “My number one goal in life was to get married and become a father.” He became a stay at home dad, when being a stay at home dad wasn’t cool! “Even though The Netherlands was progressive, it was unusual to be a stay at home dad. I was not part of the mainstream mother group.”

Yearning for the rural life, Justin applied for a self -employment permit to Canada in 2013. “I wanted to live in the country, cut my own firewood and have my own bees.” B.C.  was first on their list but a cursory investigation determined that the west coast was a bit on the pricey side. Justin’s grandmother’s family had lived in the Annapolis Valley so they set their sights on Nova Scotia. At around this time, a position became available in the Celtic Studies department at ST.F.X. University which Ranke applied for and was accepted.

After a year of renting, they purchased a home in Pleasant Valley. The couple believe in self-sufficiency. They installed solar panels in their home, grow their own garlic, cut their own wood and make their own honey and maple syrup.

Justin is an adjunct professor in the Biology department at St.F.X. and is a senior research associate with the Dolphin Communication project. A prolific writer and author, he now has his own publishing company called “Outside the Lines Press.” He is active in community life and contributes his many talents when called upon. His sense of humour, inherited from his very witty mother, is on full display when he leads an improv session.

Antigonish is very fortunate to have such a talented individual who lives life “outside the lines.”

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Faces in the Crowd – Keeping the Wheels Turning

Posted on October 11, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

 

 

“My employees mean everything to the success of my business. My core values guide me.

Meet Jennifer Baudoux.

Born in Stellarton, the second oldest of four girls, Jennifer learned from an early age the importance of a person’s roots, tradition and family values. For many years, the family would drive over to Kenzieville to visit her grandparents. They also took several trips around the province looking for adventure.

She and her sisters were outdoors people. Besides biking and running, Jennifer had a passion for sports with ringette dominating the winter months and soccer in the summer. As part of a rite of passage, she got her driver’s license followed by her first job in the food services industry.

Her first leap of independence was a three week solo trip she took to Norway at the age of 17 to visit an exchange student.  She had never been out of the Maritimes before but received the blessings of her parents to travel alone. Her trip to Norway fuelled her passion for travel and the outdoors as she spent much of her time mountain climbing.

She had a good head for math so it wasn’t surprising that she attended the community college in Stellarton to pursue a diploma in business information technology. She wasn’t sure of her career path but she knew it would be in business. “I wasn’t fuelled with angst wondering what I would do the rest of my life. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to reveal itself,” says Jennifer.

She married in 1997 and she and her husband bought a piece of land in Hazel Glen which they cleared with their own hands. She took a position at McDonald’s restaurant and spent 17 years with the company, many in a management role.  With two small children, this was very demanding with long hours at work. Like so many couples, there was a lot of juggling with one partner working day shift and the other the back shift to make things work.

Both she and her husband ended up working in Truro. This required a daily commute and after a hydroplaning accident one day while transporting the children, they decided to buy a home in Truro. While they liked Truro, there was much second guessing and the lure of Pictou County was too strong. “There is great comfort in knowing where you’re from.” They bought an old home in Kenzieville not far from her grandparents.

In 2007, her husband bought a Canada Bread franchise. Jennifer decided to leave McDonald’s to work with him. His travels took him to the A&W in Antigonish. The local franchisee, hearing of Jennifer’s extensive experience in the food services industry, asked if she would meet with him. Despite her initial objections (“I’m not doing this again”), she decided to partner with the current owner in 2012. In 2016, she became the sole owner.

“I learned a lot about being a woman in business. You must believe in yourself and not be intimidated. You have to learn to take things in stride,” says Jennifer.

Recreation was and continues to be a crucial part of her success in business and in life. “Sports are good for the mind, the body and the soul. “ An avid biker and runner, many a problem was solved while out on the back roads or a mountain. Both she and her two children have become competitive cross country mountain bikers. Jennifer recently competed in the Canada Cup and her children hope to qualify for the Canada Games team some day in the future. The three of them have also completed triathlons.

The A&W franchise in Antigonish has been recognized locally and nationally as one of the top restaurants in the chain. This hasn’t happened by accident. In a hyper competitive industry, Jennifer has been able to attract and keep employees in a business which is known for a high turnover rate. She notes that paying a fair wage is part of the equation but Jennifer does the extras that go a long way to engender loyalty. She provides fresh fruit for the staff and uses team building exercises like skating, bowling and trips to the Keppoch. She takes people in a management role to national and international conferences.

Jennifer is the president of the Maritime Association for A&W and is a skilled trainer and motivator.

When summing up her life to date, Jennifer indicates that business has helped her with her personal life and her personal life has helped in business. “You need to set goals and be prepared to work hard to attain them.”

Jennifer’s wheels are always turning whether in the board room, the restaurant or on Keppoch Mountain.

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Faces in the Crowd- The Passionate Physician

Posted on October 4, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with 3 comments

Dr.Najeeb Kadir

 

“I do not believe in any wars, past or present. War is not for human beings.”

Meet Dr. Najeeb Kadir.

Najeeb Kadir was born in Kifri, Iraq in 1958. He was the middle of three children and at an early age, the family moved to Diyali, Iraq where his father worked as courtroom clerk. His mother stayed at home with the children and impressed upon them the importance of education as she was an educated woman. After he completed grade 11, the family moved once again, this time to Baghdad where there were more opportunities and better schools.

It seems that nearly every Iraqi family wanted their children to become engineers or doctors as these occupations could provide a better life. Najeeb had three uncles who were well educated. As a result, he had access to books and picked up a great deal of English in his teenage years. Gaining high marks in the national standardized test for all grade twelve students, Najeeb chose medicine from a list of possible options prescribed by the government. The journey to becoming a doctor was just beginning, the great hope of his family.

A university education was free in Iraq. This included expensive medical books. He enrolled at the University of Baghdad School of Medicine in 1976. He spent these years living at home and besides his studies, he enjoyed the social life and sports, particularly soccer. In year four of the six year program, he decided that he wanted to be a surgeon.

The Iran Iraq war threw a curve into Najeeb’s life and his studies. In 1982, the government of Iraq headed by Saddam Hussein issued a decree forcing many young doctors into the army. For three months, Najeeb attended boot camp and learned how to use a gun, a far cry from the surgeon’s scalpel.  For the next two and a half years, he was posted with an infantry regiment on the front lines of the conflict, about one kilometre from the war zone. He performed lifesaving procedures, witnessing the horrors of war on a daily basis. He knew that if he were to suffer from PTSD, his future would be in jeopardy. For this reason, he focused on his own person safety and that of his family back home as a distraction from the trauma which was all around him.

This experience of war and human suffering, transformed Najeeb’s life. “I learned to cherish human life. I was very motivated to spending the rest of my life to help people get out of their misery.”

He spent an additional one and a half years in a military hospital away from the front lines before being discharged. He continued his studies in Glasgow, Scotland for two years. In 1990, he was a fully qualified surgeon. He was now married with a wife, two sons and a daughter.

He was adamant that he didn’t want to continue his career in Iraq.

Due to ongoing travel embargos, he ended up going to Libya to practice medicine. He then moved on to Dubai. A chance meeting in the hallway one day with the head nurse, known as the matron, changed the trajectory of his life. “How long are you intending to stay in Dubai?” she asked the young surgeon. “There is no future for you here. I am going to Canada. You could make a contribution in Canada. You will find a brighter future there.”

In 2004, Najeeb received a permanent residency visa to Canada and headed for Toronto. He had a friend in Halifax who was a businessman who invited him to come for a visit. While in the city, Najeeb met Dr.Robert Stone. Najeeb credits Dr.Stone as very influential person in shaping his life. Eventually, he got licensed in the province of Nova Scotia and in 2006 was recruited by the hospital in Yarmouth. In 2008, he had an opportunity to do a locum in Amherst and that’s where he’s been ever since. During a ten year period, he has been the chief of staff at the hospital as well as the chief of surgery. He has glowing words for his colleagues in the surgical unit.

In 2015, he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada.

To keep physically and mentally sharp, he goes to the gym seven days a week. Another part of his workout regime happens inside a boxing ring where he spars two to three times a week.  “When your body is healthy, your mind is at ease. When your mind is at ease, you can handle stress better,” says Dr.Kadir.

“I love Canada where human rights are respected. This country has provided me with an excellent quality of life.”

Dr.Najeeb Kadir loves his work, loves his family and his adopted country.

“I am a very passionate person. Passion encompasses every fibre of my being: my hands, my feet, my heart, and my soul.”

The improbable road from Iraq to Amherst has been challenging but this is what has fuelled the “passionate physician.”

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