Award-winning volunteer credits childhood Christmas experience of going without as inspiration for giving back

28, Nov, 2023

EDMONTON, Nov. 28, 2023 – As a child, Senia McPherson would wake up feeling anxious on Christmas mornings because of the worry that Santa may not have visited her house. McPherson’s biological father abandoned the family when she was young, leaving her mother to raise three children on partial social assistance in low-income rental housing in Edmonton. Even the purchase of a candy cane or Christmas orange would have been a financial burden for her mother.

“I used to pour through the Sears Christmas Wish Books, longing for a Barbie or any doll with pretty hair or a Lite-Brite, bicycle or skipping rope,” said McPherson. “I remember being at the mall with my sister and watching the Santa there from afar, but not approaching him because we didn’t have the money to pay to visit him and tell him our Christmas wishes.”

Once or twice during her childhood, her family was the recipient of a Christmas hamper. Later on in life, she was moved by the idea of complete strangers helping people they didn’t even know. It inspired her to give back by becoming a volunteer - both for her professional association, the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET), and for other local charitable organizations.

Earlier this year, McPherson, a certified engineering technologist (CET) who works in chemical technology for the oil and gas industry, received the 2023 ASET Volunteer of the Year Award. It was presented to McPherson during an event at the association’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Calgary.

As an ASET volunteer, she delivers presentations to students at Alberta’s polytechnics and technical colleges (NAIT, SAIT, Red Deer Polytechnic, and Lethbridge College), introducing them to ASET and educating them about why it’s important to become a member and exemplify the professional ethics and behaviour required of membership. Her presentation has proven so successful that it’s now used as a reference tool for incoming ASET volunteers. She has also contributed to the development of ASET’s volunteer management system.

“It’s important to volunteer at all times of year, including during the holiday season. Even if Santa is not something every family experiences, Christmas is about the magic of giving, and is the magic you make it to be,” added McPherson. “Giving back to one’s community is one sure way of creating a magical holiday season.”

“At ASET, we are proud to have among our membership an individual like Senia whose commitment to volunteerism is unparalleled,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “It’s especially meaningful to know that her determination to give back is the direct result of a childhood of going without. ASET and other organizations for which she volunteers are very fortunate to have her support and generosity.”

About ASET
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 17,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.

Media Contact:
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET


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