Paying it forward in Teacher Recognition
Outstanding Student Award recipient for Law recognizes professor who once stood in the same shoes
Every year, each faculty at the University of Manitoba nominates an outstanding student who is then invited to recognize two teachers who played an instrumental role in their educational journey, one from their early school years (K to grade 12) and one from university. Both teachers are then honoured at the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning’s Students’ Teacher Recognition Reception. The Faculty of Law’s Outstanding Student for 2022 is Shawn Singh, a third-year law student and a fellow of the President’s Student Leadership Program. As fate would have it, the professor he chose to recognize at last Thursday’s reception was Assistant Professor Brandon Trask, who was also a Faculty of Law Outstanding Student Award recipient when he graduated – in 2012.
In a video address for the virtual event, Singh thanked his Windsor Park Collegiate teacher, Mr. Adriano Magnifico for seeing his potential and laying the foundation for his love of the English language. Fast-forward to his second university degree wherein Trask first taught Singh Evidence in second year law, and then supervised his independent research paper in the fall of 2021. They worked closely on several projects related to access to justice and social equity, and Trask hired Singh as a research assistant.
Singh found in Trask a teacher who inspired him with his own passion for social justice: “His careful guidance and tireless commitment to empowering unrepresented groups helped me see the difference that a strong voice can make for those that cannot advocate for themselves,” said Singh. “His passionate approach showed me how to use my own story as a source of strength; rather than a weakness, like I had for most of my life.”
“In essence, Brandon Trask taught me how to become the master of my own message; not only as a mentor, but as a close friend. With that in mind, I will always be grateful that our paths crossed while I was a student at Robson Hall.” – Shawn Singh, 3L
Trask observed that Singh made “very impressive” use of his time at Robson Hall. “I’d like to congratulate Shawn for having excelled during the JD program and for having quite deservingly been chosen as the Faculty of Law’s Outstanding Student Award recipient,” Trask said. “In many ways, law school is what you make of it—and Shawn has done incredibly in so many ways. He has really embraced the pursuit of social justice—and has fostered so many skills to help in this pursuit going forward.”
Specifically, Trask observed, Singh helped start up a clinic, took part in pro bono projects, participated in the renowned Presidents’ Student Leadership Program, clerked at the Provincial Court, and published multiple peer-reviewed articles, amongst many other activities and initiatives.
Being recognized by Singh is especially meaningful for Trask, who was himself selected as the Faculty of Law’s Outstanding Student when he graduated with his Juris Doctor in May 2012. “I had the chance to recognize two outstanding teachers during that reception – Professor Darcy MacPherson and Ms. Mary Neely, my grade 5 and 6 English teacher, who flew in from Dubai to attend the in-person ceremony,” he recalled, “which gave me an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of excellence in teaching—and to think about what makes a teacher really succeed in encouraging students to develop and utilize their critical-thinking skills and advocacy abilities.”
Please watch Shawn Singh’s full speech on the University of Manitoba’s YouTube channel.