Meet the medal winners of Spring Convocation 2014
Created in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have become the most prestigious award for outstanding achievements that Canadian students can receive.
These awards are given annually at convocation.
Governor General’s Gold Medal
Harsha Sasikumar is the recipient of this year’s Governor General Gold Medal, awarded for outstanding achievement at the graduate level.
Before coming to the University of Manitoba, Harsha studied in India and earned a Master of Science in Physics from Mahatma Gandhi University, as well as a Master in Technology from the Center for Space Science and Technology Education, affiliated with the United Nations and Andhra University.
Moving to Winnipeg and Canada from a small town in India has had a profound influence on Harsha, both personally and academically. Her time at the University of Manitoba has been a life-changing experience, helping her to embrace new concepts and discover her identity. Working with her supervisor, Dr. Samar Safi-Harb, has greatly shaped her professional career, inspired her to be passionate about research and taught her to see the big picture.
Her research involves studying the highly magnetized neutron stars and their associated supernova remnants through X-ray/gamma-ray observations. She is a published author and the recipient of numerous awards for her academic achievements.
Harsha is trained in classical Indian dancing and continues to take lessons in Winnipeg. She has actively performed at the provincial and national levels, including at Folklorama, Dance Manitoba and the Canadian National Dance Championship competition, where she won silver.
Congratulations Harsha on this wonderful accomplishment.
Governor General’s Silver Medal
Kaitlin Alexander is the recipient of this year’s Governor General Silver Medal, awarded for outstanding achievement at the undergraduate level.
Kaitlin graduated from J. H. Bruns Collegiate in Winnipeg before attending the University of Manitoba. During the course of her studies, Kaitlin has participated in summer research projects that have had a tremendous impact on her, both as a scientist and as an individual. She studied software architecture of climate models with Dr. Steve Easterbrook at the University of Toronto, and presented the results of this project at conferences in both San Francisco, California and Boulder, Colorado. The following year, she conducted research with Dr. Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria Climate Modelling Group. The results of this work led to three journal articles co-written by Kaitlin, all of which were cited by the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She then travelled to Australia and worked with Dr. Katrin Meissner of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre and researched an episode of sudden climate warming and resulting ocean currents.
Kaitlin’s interest in climate change inspires her to run climatesight.org, a blog that has attracted over 300,000 views over the past five years. She uses this vehicle to share articles she’s written on climate change research and communications, and to connect with scientists and science enthusiasts around the world.
In August, Kaitlin is returning to begin a PhD in climate science. We wish you all the best in your future studies, Kaitlin. Congratulations.
Governor General’s Bronze Medal
Aaron Szucsik is the recipient of this year’s Governor General Bronze Medal, awarded for academic excellence at the diploma level.
Aaron attended J. H. Bruns Collegiate in Winnipeg before coming to the University of Manitoba. Over the past two years, he has devoted all his efforts to the study of dental hygiene, and it has paid off. Aaron is inspired by the dental hygiene instructors and mentors he met through the program. Congratulations, Aaron.
Governor General’s Bronze Medal
Awarded for highest standing in the two year Diploma program in Agriculture. This year it was awarded to Fiona Mae Jochum.
UNIVERSITY GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
Awarded for highest standing in an undergraduate faculty or school.
AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SCIENCES
Garrett Sawatzky is the recipient of the University Gold Medal in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. He is awarded this honour for achieving the highest standing in his Faculty. Garrett attended W.C. Miller Collegiate in Altona, Manitoba, before arriving at the University of Manitoba. He completed the Agriculture program, then transferred to earn his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness.
While a student, Garrett operated the family grain farm with his father.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Architecture, Sarah Stasiuk is awarded the University Gold Medal. Prior to studying at the University of Manitoba, she attended Campbell Collegiate in Regina, Saskatchewan.
During her studies in the environmental design program, Sarah met professors, mentors and colleagues who have had a lasting impression on her life. Attesting to her creative spirit, she enjoys quilting and sewing in her spare time.
For achieving the highest standing in the School of Art, Amity Bradbury is awarded the University Gold Medal. She received a diploma in graphic design from Red River College in Winnipeg before studying at the University of Manitoba.
One of Amity’s most memorable experiences at the U of M is a field trip to Minneapolis that allowed her to experience many of the artworks that she studied. Outside of school work, her interests range from drawing and painting to curling.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Arts, Elizabeth Burlock is awarded the University Gold Medal. She attended Kelvin High School.
Elizabeth researched medieval and 19th-century literature. She is grateful to her instructors for fuelling her love of literature. During the course of her studies, she received First Class Honours in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
For achieving the highest standing in the Asper School of Business, Jennifer Solman is awarded the University Gold Medal. She completed the International Baccalaureate Program at Miles Macdonell Collegiate before attending the University of Manitoba.
Jennifer competed and placed twice at the JDC West Business Competition as a member of the Taxation team. She also served on various committees for the Asper School of Business and the Commerce Students’ Association.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Dentistry, Alanna Junaid is awarded the University Gold Medal. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Winnipeg before entering the University of Manitoba, where she completed the Dentist Degree Program in Endodontics and earned a Bachelor of Science in Dentistry.
She has won numerous awards, including first place at the Canadian Dental Association/Dentsply Student Clinician Research Program in 2013..
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Education, Terri Willard is awarded the University Gold Medal. Prior to this degree, she received a Master of Science in Forestry and Land Use Management from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Terri researched and presented her ideas at WESTCAST 2014. Being part of the Faculty of Education Weekend College has shaped her understanding of what can be achieved in education.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Engineering, Christopher Dynowski and Kevin Sagan are awarded the University Gold Medal.
Christopher attended Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute. He has conducted research for three consecutive summers as part of the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, and is an active member of the Polish Folk Dance Ensemble.
Kevin Sagan graduated from St. Paul’s High School. While at the U of M, he studied dam safety in Northern Manitoba, constructed a sandbag testing facility to fight floods in Manitoba, and completed summer co-op positions with Manitoba Hydro. In the summer of 2012, Kevin received an Undergraduate Research Award.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Human Ecology, Kayla Whitehurst is awarded the University Gold Medal. She attended Transcona Collegiate Institute .
Kayla worked as a summer student studying the impact of flaxseed on health, as well as basic metabolomics techniques. Outside of university life, Kayla helps seniors by volunteering at Concordia Hospital.
KINESIOLOGY AND RECREATION MANAGEMENT
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, Jodie Woodward is awarded the University Gold Medal. Prior to joining the University of Manitoba, she studied at Redvers High School in Saskatchewan.
During her university career, Jodie’s fieldwork with kinesiologists and nurses has had a tremendous impact on her. This experience has allowed her to connect theory to practise, and helped her find employment in the field.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Law, Katherine Riley is awarded the University Gold Medal. Before attending the University of Manitoba, she completed an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Queen’s University in Ontario.
Katherine is the founding vice president of the Environmental Law Group, with whom she studied ways to improve the Manitoba Environmental Assessment process for large projects. She also took flying lessons, and worked as a law student tutor.
For achieving the highest standing in the Desautels Faculty of Music, Ernest Bartel is awarded the University Gold Medal. Ernest attended “Colegio Filadelfia”, a high school in Paraguay.
In 2012, Ernest was a recipient of an Undergraduate Research Award, which saw him study piano pedagogy. Outside of school work, he enjoys playing collaborative piano.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Nursing, Margaret Thiessen is awarded the University Gold Medal. Prior to her studies at the Universality of Manitoba she attended high school in Rosenort, Manitoba.
Margaret enriched her studies by volunteering for the Winnipeg Interprofessional Student-run Health Clinic. She values this experience for giving her the opportunity to work with students from other health care faculties.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Heather Bourns is awarded the University Gold Medal. Before beginning her studies in pharmacy, Heather earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba.
The friends and professionals Heather has met through pharmacy have had a great impact on her. Her extracurricular interests range from curling to fishing.
For achieving the highest standing in the Faculty of Science, Kaitlin Alexander is awarded the University Gold Medal. She attended JH Bruns Collegiate.
Kaitlin has been shaped by several undergraduate summer research projects on climate science. A published co-author, she runs the blog climatesight.org, which to date has attracted 300,000 views. Kaitlin will soon move to Sydney, Australia to begin a PhD in climate science at the University of New South Wales.
UNIVERSITÉ DE ST. BONIFACE
For achieving the highest standing amongst her peers, Kelsey Bray is this year’s recipient of the University Gold Medal at Université de Saint-Boniface. Prior to her studies here, she attended Collège Jeanne-Sauvé.
Throughout her studies, Kelsey worked at Gymkyds Gymnastics and volunteered at the Health Sciences Centre Children’s Hospital.