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Recognizing the accomplishments of mature women students

Ban Righ Centre hosts live virtual Spring Awards celebration.

  • Photograph of Helen Obilor
    Helen Obilor, recipient of the Barbara Paul Prize. (Supplied photo.)
  • Photograph of Elham Yousefinejad
    Elham Yousefinejad, recipient of the Barbara Paul Memorial Award. (Supplied photo.)

The Ban Righ Foundation will be honouring 13 mature women students for their achievements and determination this past year as they have progressed toward their academic goals during the pandemic.

Each year, the Ban Righ Centre hosts a Spring Awards celebration that gathers together award recipients, their families and friends, faculty, staff, alumni, and Ban Righ Foundation donors. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the awards celebration will be held as a Facebook premiere video event; the online event will take place on April 29 at 7:00 p.m.

Recorded messages from the student award recipients will be played, along with a message from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, and brief remarks from Susan Belyea, Director of the Ban Righ Centre.

“While we are disappointed that we won’t be honouring our student recipients in person again this year, this video event allows them to invite family and friends from all over the world to join them to celebrate,” says Belyea. “The enthusiasm of the award recipients really shines through, and I know it will be a heart-warming event.”

Two of the awards were established by Queen’s alumni Joseph Paithouski, B.A. '79, B.Sc. (Eng.) '80, in honour of his mother, Barbara Paul.

The Barbara Paul Prize acknowledges and celebrates a graduating student who combines academics with family responsibilities and who has faced and overcome significant barriers.

Helen Obilor, PhD (c), Nursing, is the prize’s 2021 recipient.

“I feel so honoured to be selected by the award committee. This award means a lot to me because it came when I am at the peak of my struggle as a mature student and a mother of young kids ages 3 to 12,” says Obilor. “The award confirms that my situation is transient; I am doing a good job, and I should continue to try my best. Forever, I will treasure this award.”

The Barbara Paul Memorial Award is intended to assist a graduating student, older than 25, who combines academia and family or work responsibilities in finishing their degree.

Elham Yousefinejad (4th year PhD student, Sociology) is the award’s 2021 recipient.

"I am so grateful and happy to receive the Barbara Paul Memorial Award. Unfortunately, the uncertain situation created by COVID has reduced the research speed and thesis writing of many graduate students, including myself,” says Yousefinejad. “This award will reduce the financial stress I feel, and it means a lot to me, as I trust I am not alone in my journey as a PhD student-parent." 

The Spring Awards Celebration video is being produced and directed by Kris Abbott and Janice McLean, the team who produced the Ban Righ Inspiring Women: Together in 2020 event this past October. 

To RSVP, visit the Ban Righ Facebook event page. For those unable to join live, the video will be posted to the Ban Righ Centre’s YouTube channel after April 29.

The Ban Righ Centre provides student advising and other supports and services to mature women students and student mothers at Queen’s. For the past year, Centre staff have been providing online one-on-one advising, programs and social events to help build community and connection in the remote environment. For more information, visit the Centre’s website.