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KPU alumnus receives award for promoting healthy aging

Yongjie Yon receives the Distinguished Alumni Award June 14
Yongjie Yon, PhD, is a technical officer for the aging and health program at the WHO in Copenhagen, Denmark.

An alumnus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) has been recognized for his work in promoting healthy aging with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Yongjie Yon, PhD, received the distinguished alumni award Friday (June 14) during the morning convocation ceremony at KPU's Newton campus. He graduated from KPU in 2007 with a bachelor of arts in psychology. 

The award recognizes KPU alumni who demonstrate lifetime accomplishments in one or more areas: professional, entrepreneurial, innovation, service, exemplified resilience in the face of adversity, and significant regional, national, or international contribution.

Yon is a technical officer for the aging and health program at the WHO in Copenhagen, Denmark.

His work focuses on helping 53 member states to support healthy aging, which includes developing national policies, building capacity, and advocating for older people's health. He also has led campaigns to tackle ageism and elder abuse. 

"Our population is aging very rapidly, including Canada and globally. This year, we see a historic shift where more older than younger people live in the WHO European region," Yon said. "Now, it’s an opportunity for us to change how we think about population aging, our policies, how we live, how we work, redefine what retirement is and how we organize our society."

His interest in aging was sparked by the late KPU psychology professor, Dr. Larry Anderson, who died in 2023.

"Dr. Anderson was teaching psychology and aging, and he said that this is the field we need to go into because, eventually, the world will start thinking about how it can respond to population aging, its challenges and opportunities," Yon said.  

"He gave me my first job as a research assistant conducting the first B.C.-wide study on ageism, and it came back full circle. Now, I'm leading the work on aging and on ageism globally and regionally."

Elizabeth Anderson supported Yon's nomination for the award on behalf of her husband, Dr. Larry Anderson. 

"It is heartening to witness his dedication to fostering healthy aging at the international level, particularly for those living with dementia," says Elizabeth Anderson. "Larry's teachings and Yongjie's work intersect in their shared commitment to enhancing the lives of older individuals."  

After graduating from KPU in 2007, Yon earned a master's degree from Simon Fraser University and a PhD from the University of Southern California. 

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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