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Jan Underwood to receive Honorary Degree at Red Deer Polytechnic’s 58th Convocation

Date posted:
Friday, June 3, 2022

Jan Underwood

In May 2022, Jan Underwood celebrated her 20th anniversary working with CARE for Newcomers (formerly Central Alberta Refugee Effort). In her role as Public Awareness Coordinator/Community Educator, Jan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to developing greater inclusion and intercultural awareness across communities in central Alberta. Through her work, she has developed a long-time positive relationship with Red Deer Polytechnic. Jan has contributed her expertise, time and compassion across a wide range of projects from engaging in Intercultural Education with our students and employees to participating in program development. 

While Jan’s immense contributions in Red Deer and central Alberta have helped to shape local communities, her journey began in Bradford, Yorkshire, in England, where she was born and raised. Growing up in a multicultural community, she developed a love for and curiosity about different cultures. After teaching in multicultural schools in Bradford and in London, England for 10 years, Jan emigrated to Canada with her Canadian husband, Peter. 

In Red Deer, Jan worked in the Children’s Department of the Red Deer Public Library for 15 years, where she planned and delivered many multicultural programs. After transitioning to her role with CARE for Newcomers, her positive impact on this region grew exponentially. 

Through Jan’s leadership as Public Awareness Coordinator/Community Educator, she delivers more than 200 workshops and presentations each year to schools, post-secondary institutions, workplaces and organizations. Her presentations focus on a range of topics including Intercultural Competence, Cross Cultural Communication and Sensitivity, Human Rights, and Anti-racism Response Training. Through her connections, conversations and information-sharing, Jan is making a positive, impactful difference in the lives of thousands of people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

In addition to her role as an educator, Jan is also a tireless advocate for immigrants and newcomers to Canada. She brings confidence and a sense of empowerment to the thousands of immigrants that she has worked with throughout her time at CARE for Newcomers, providing support and assistance as they transition to and settle in Canada. 

Whether sharing her wisdom with students who are preparing to become peer tutors at Red Deer Polytechnic, volunteering her time on various committees across central Alberta, or leading the organization of large events such as CommUnity Power of One, recently held at Red Deer Polytechnic, Jan is a committed leader who makes everyone feel involved, included and appreciated. 

She demonstrates empathy, kindness and warmth, but she is also a person of action. She devotes her time and inspires others to work together to make connections and to build stronger, more welcoming communities.

People from around the globe consider Jan to be a mentor, leader, ally, advisor and friend. She is passionately committed to creating a better world, for her children and grandchildren, for friends and strangers, and for those she will never meet. Her life’s work is immeasurable, and it has changed this region and this institution for the better. 

Red Deer Polytechnic is proud to bestow upon Jan Underwood an Honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the 58th Convocation ceremonies on June 3, 2022.

                                                                                       -30-

For media inquiries, contact:

brent [dot] forster [at] rdpolytech [dot] ca (Brent Forster) or shelley [dot] newman [at] rdpolytech [dot] ca (Shelley Newman)
Communications Strategists – Corporate
Red Deer Polytechnic

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