Giving back through connection and movement

The many perks of living in a smaller city include the close connections and spontaneous opportunities which can be formed in just a single momentThis is true of two alumni who met while finding balance through movement and a shared vision.

After crossing the stage at convocation, Pauline Brunnen (BFA ’11) would go on to travel, work and unearth a passion for science and health. In 2013, while working away on a biochemistry degree at the University of Lethbridge to bolster her chances of gaining admission to veterinary school, Pauline says she discovered exactly what was driving her each and every day — wanting to help people.

“Helping someone in what may be even the smallest of ways is where I feel content and know is my life’s trajectory,” says Brunnen. “My ‘aha’ moment came while I was practicing yoga. I could see the people around me getting stronger and healthier with each class they completed. I knew then it was the way I could give back and help people.”

For current third-year PhD student and alumna, Jessica Parker (BA ’11, MSc ’14), her drive is almost identical to Brunnen’s even though her experiences differ. Parker’s research investigates female fertility, the reasons why women have children and what things may affect how many children they have.

“My fieldwork takes place in Nunavut and I work with Inuit women in a community which has the highest rate of fertility in the country,” says Parker. “Living in the community with these families has been an extraordinary experience and one I feel privileged to have. While there are children everywhere, the community lacks many of the resources they need to provide for the families in the area. I hope to see my research have an effect on some of these issues.”

After returning from a three-month research trip in the dead of winter in the north, Parker walked into a yoga class Brunnen was teaching.

“I really enjoyed Pauline’s style of teaching and her ability to encourage and guide you through each movement,” says Parker. “When an opportunity arose to take over the business where I practiced, I immediately knew I wanted Pauline to guide the direction of the studio and I would handle the business end.”

Today, the two alumni have re-energized the business, Hot Yoga Lethbridge, and have discovered the many shared experiences they had through their time at the U of L.

“I came to the University of Lethbridge because I was looking for a more personal educational experience. I wanted to know the names of my peers and professors and for them to know mine,” says Parker. “I have stayed at the U of L because of the exemplary opportunities for research I’ve experienced and the outstanding faculty and teaching I’ve received.”

Brunnen agrees, being inspired by her peers and talented faculty in both the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Arts and Science is a key memory from her time as a student.

“Organic chemistry isn’t exactly an easy subject to understand but Dr. Peter Dibble (Chemistry & Biochemistry) made the curriculum make sense to me and he was a great professor to learn from,” says Brunnen. “I absolutely adored Leslie Robison-Greene’sclass, the history of costumes, as well. Being a student in her class was just a riot and one I cherish to this day.”

You can experience one of Brunnen’s yoga classes for yourself and reconnect with your favourite faculty members during Homecoming Weekend! Register for your free one-hour flow yoga class on Saturday, Sept. 2, by heading to before space runs out.