Graduate's life changed by Bali tragedy

Deanna (Thompson) Jokisch (BMgt '09) traveled to the University of Lethbridge campus for the first time to attend Convocation in October.

The road to her degree, which she completed at the U of L's Calgary campus while working full time, took more than seven years and came after the former Trochu, Alta., resident traveled and worked internationally – Eastern and Western Europe, Australia, Singapore, and Bali, Indonesia were among her many destinations.

In all the good Jokisch discovered on her many trips, she also encountered the bad – in particular the large-scale devastation brought about by a terrorist bomb at a Bali nightclub in 2002. In an essay Jokisch wrote for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website, she recounted her story:

"All of a sudden, there was a very loud bang. It sounded like a crash or something very large hitting the wall outside our room. Before I could get the words "what the hell was that?" out of my mouth, the entire room shook with the second explosion, the windows blew in on us and we landed on the floor in the dark. It had to be the most terrifying moment of my entire life.

Unsure of what to do or what just happened, we stayed on the floor listening for a sign of what might be going on outside. That's when we heard a fellow guest yell, "There's been a bomb!" A bomb? Are there going to be more? Has war broken out? How do we get out? These were all the questions that were going through my head. What were we going to do?"

What she did was to stay amidst the ruined hotel and help her friends and the injured. She returned home a changed person, and embarked on a new path – this one involving university studies.

"She spent hours helping the injured, seeing things on such a huge scale, things most rescue workers here (in Canada) would never see (and hopefully never do)," said her mother, Anna Thompson. "She received awards for her efforts that night, one being a bronze medal of bravery. I think that her greatest reward was to fulfill the commitment to go on and live life as it should be, because so many young people lost their lives that night."

Jokisch currently works for Husky Energy in Calgary in their risk management department. Among other activities, she also volunteers for the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew, a charity that rescues abandoned and neglected dogs and helps adopt them out.

A complete account of Jokisch's experiences after the Bali bombing can be found on the CBC website