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A collage of the portraits of each of the prize winners.


Six grad students receive Rady Faculty Dean’s Prize

December 5, 2023 — 

The 2023 Dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Student Achievement Prize was awarded to six distinguished learners.

The award was created in 2019 to recognize exceptional academic achievement, notable personal service and strong leadership skills of graduate students in the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of DentistryMax Rady College of MedicineCollege of NursingCollege of Pharmacy and College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

“Congratulations to these superb graduate students,” said Dr. Peter Nickerson, vice-provost (health sciences) and dean of Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “They’ve accomplished so much already – and they’re only getting started. I look forward to following the careers of these hard-working and dedicated students who are making a difference here at UM and in our community.”

Each college could nominate one master’s student and one doctoral student. Colleges without a doctoral program could nominate two master’s students.

“On behalf of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, congratulations to this year’s recipients. Well-deserved,” said Dr. Hope Anderson, vice-dean of graduate studies at Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “We look forward to seeing their continued success in the future.”


Adam Brandt, a master’s student in the College of Nursing, aims to uplift the voices and the experiences of 2SLGBTQIA+ nurses to improve their work environments and subsequently the patients for whom they care. Brandt said their professors – especially the mentorship of Dr. Lynn Scruby – has been instrumental in their success as a graduate student.

“Winning this award is a recognition of my hard work volunteering in student leadership and in my community,” Brandt said. “It is validation and motivation to continue my involvement in my professional and personal life.”

Jess Crawford, a master’s student in the College of Nursing, is exploring gender inclusion and affirmation in nursing education and is looking for ways to advance nursing education towards equity for people of all genders. Crawford acknowledges their many unearned privileges, such as their whiteness, as contributing to their successes, and feels this award wouldn’t be possible without the trans and gender diverse people before them.

“It is my hope that this award is yet another stepping-stone towards success for all trans and gender diverse people, in particular fat, disabled and racialized trans people,” Crawford said.

Nolan De Leon, an MD/PhD student in the Max Rady College of Medicine, is studying how circular ribonucleic acids contribute to the development of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and how these microscopic rings can be used to diagnose CDH early in pregnancy, predict health outcomes and as a potential prenatal treatment. De Leon said he owes his success to the support of his lab members and the mentorship of his supervisor, Dr. Richard Keijzer.

“This award will serve as a reminder that the work that I do has the potential to save lives,” De Leon said.

Mikayla Hunter, a master’s student in community health sciences at the Max Rady College of Medicine, is researching the primary health-care experiences and needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ young adults with a specific focus on folks who identify as anything other than lesbian, gay or bisexual men, and binary transgender people. Hunter said they are beyond honoured to receive the prestigious prize. 

 “To be acknowledged as a queer researcher, especially in such a difficult time for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, is extremely important,” Hunter said. “I hope that other queer and trans students out there can see this and feel that they can achieve the same – because they can.”

Amy Kreshewski, who received her master of occupational therapy from the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, completed her critical inquiry research project with a focus on increasing accessibility for rural and remote wheelchair service delivery and led to the development of an online maintenance resource for manual wheelchair users. Kreshewski said the award inspires her to continue to be a lifelong learner and engage with her community through volunteerism.

“Winning this prize will help me reach my goals as I transition into clinical practice and will serve as a reminder of the importance of building relationships, showing leadership and demonstrating social accountability,” Kreshewski said.

Elysa Sandron, who received her master of occupational therapy from the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, completed her critical inquiry project with a focus on exploring the development of four student occupational therapists as culturally safe practitioners with Indigenous populations. Sandron said she is incredibly thankful to win the Dean’s prize. 

“I believe that the community I’m surrounded by contributed to winning this award,” Sandron said. “I have been supported by friends, family and faculty throughout my degree. Having a network of support relieved many of the everyday stresses of life and allowed me to contribute to my community.”

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