Award-winning grad changing lives through sport

At just 34 years old, Jason Ribeiro (MEd ’15) has already become a leader in both his field and his community.

Ribeiro was recognized in absentia for his accomplishments and community impact as the 2023 Brock University Alumni Association’s (BUAA) Outstanding Young Alumni award recipient during Brock’s Alumni Recognition Reception on Saturday, Sept. 16.

After overcoming strife in his early to young adult life, Ribeiro has been steadfast in his commitment to bridging Calgary’s diverse communities through sport and entertainment, and is driven to create a sense of belonging for those who need it most.

He has spent nearly a decade volunteering with several groups in Calgary to advocate for community sport and recreation, including Sport Calgary, Global Shapers Calgary and Education Matters.

Last October, Ribeiro combined his passion for sport, youth mentorship and community to help bring a professional basketball franchise to Calgary as the President and Vice-Chairman of the Calgary Surge.

What started out as a text exchange between friends about acquiring a team has since turned into a “beautiful medley of young people, professional basketball players, coaches and community members,” he says.

“My experiences at Brock taught me how to be a true member of a team and push the needle on improving your local community.”

The Calgary Surge originated as the Guelph Nighthawks in 2018, one of the six founding members of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). The league was created with a mission to develop Canadian players, coaches, sports executives and referees. It currently boasts the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country with 71 per cent of its rosters being Canadian.

With Ribeiro’s leadership, the Calgary Surge aspires to become an anchor institution that enhances the economic, social and cultural well-being of Calgary year round, striving to amplify and support local talent, companies and causes as part of through its game day experience and community engagement.

Jason Ribeiro stands next to Brock University Alumni Association President Chris Ventura with his framed Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Jason Ribeiro (MEd ’15) (left) received the Brock University Alumni Association Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Brock University Alumni Association President Chris Ventura (BA ’12, MEd ’17).

While he’s worked hard to overcome his own challenges and create spaces of belonging for others, Ribeiro acknowledges his success did not happen in a vacuum.

“I can’t help but to think of all the other people’s stories who have intersected with mine that have allowed me to be standing here today to receive this humbling honour,” says Ribeiro. “It’s less about my individual achievements, but more about all the incredible people who have supported me along the way.”

While he wasn’t familiar with research or what the graduate experience would entail when he began his master’s at Brock, Ribeiro was confident in the support and guidance of his research supervisor, Camille Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education.

“I’m very grateful Camille was part of my earlier graduate student experience while I learned how to flex my academic muscles,” Ribeiro says. “Brock not only has amazing researchers to learn from, but also incredible mentors and people that are there to support you throughout those big leaps in life.”

After graduating from Brock in 2015 with a Master of Education, Riberio moved to Alberta to expand on his research at the University of Calgary, where he is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership, Policy and Governance.

Ribeiro has grown into an awarded researcher and published author in the field of education and often represents the views of everyday community members at boardroom tables and as a weekly radio and television contributor for Global News.

“Jason has achieved an immense amount of success in his personal and professional life,” says BUAA President Chris Ventura. “As a fellow young alumnus, it’s inspiring to see what he’s been able to achieve in such a short time since graduating from Brock University.”

Nominations for the 2024 alumni awards are being accepted on the Alumni Relations website until Wednesday, Jan. 31.

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