Students recognized for peer and community leadership, commitment to equity and diversity

Students recognized for peer and community leadership, commitment to equity and diversity

By Communications Staff

March 22, 2018


Queen’s students demonstrate leadership in many ways across campus and in the local community. Each spring, the Division of Student Affairs recognizes leadership excellence with a suite of awards that has been expanded this year to include contributions that specifically promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Students who work and volunteer across the division were joined by staff, faculty, and Kingston community members at a reception on Wednesday, March 21 to celebrate the important role that students play in fostering a supportive and inclusive campus and community.  

Six individuals and one group were honoured with Peer Leadership Awards, Brian Yealland Community Leadership Awards, and the new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Impact Awards.

“This year’s award recipients are undergraduate and graduate students whose contributions have strengthened our community in many significant ways,” says Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney. “We are delighted to highlight their initiative and accomplishments, as part of our annual leadership program. Congratulations to them, and thank you to all students who are involved in the delivery of programs and services on campus and in the Kingston community.”

The division’s Peer Leadership Award is presented to students who, through their commitment, skill, dedication, and interest in helping others, have exemplified excellence in peer-to-peer assistance and outreach. The 2017-18 award recipients are:

Atul Jaiswal (PhD candidate, RHBS) volunteers at the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) where he has created and delivered several peer-led transition support programs and workshops to support an effective social and academic transition for international and racialized graduate students, and has raised awareness about the work opportunities on campus. He goes out of his way to engage with his peers, and provides leadership, advocacy, and support through his work at QUIC, and with the Society for Graduate and Professional Students and the School of Graduate Studies.

Jennifer Williams (Artsci’16, MSc'18) Kinesiology and Health Studies) has been involved as a Peer Health Educator (PHE) in Student Wellness Services for the past five years, and has provided mentorship for the newly-created PHE program at the Bader International Student Centre in England. She was also instrumental in the creation of the annual Majors Night event for first-year Faculty of Arts and Science students, and has worked as a campus tour guide; she has held positions with the Alma Mater Society, and is currently serving as Speaker for the Society of Graduate and Professional Students.

Sexual Violence Bystander Intervention Trainers: Lea Keren, Nicolas Agius, Ally Bilenkey, Mackenzie Crawford, Cisca Rolleston Fuentes, Charlotte Johnston, Nadia Mahdi, Ramna Safeer, Frannie Sobcov, Dave Walker, Landon Wilcock, Cam Yung. This team of undergraduate and graduate students deliver a program that is one of a few of its kind in Canada. Using an intersectional, community-based approach, the training gives students tools to help them recognize and respond to sexual violence. Team members lead discussions about how to navigate difficult conversations, how to recognize situations where they can safely intervene, and how to respond to disclosures of sexual violence. The training also explores the convergence of sexual violence with race, gender, and sexuality. Over the past year, these students have trained thousands of peers and student leaders. They are also involved in the campus community through student clubs, student governments, residence life, orientation and other sexual violence-related work.

Named in honour of Brian Yealland, Queen’s chaplain for 32 years, the Brian Yealland Community Leadership Award is presented to students who work with and encourage youth who are experiencing social, behavioral, economic or other challenges by helping them realize their worth as individuals and their potential to achieve. The 2017-18 award recipients are:

Kennedy Everitt (Artsci'18) In her weekly role as a volunteer with Immigrant Services Kingston and Area’s Multicultural Youth Group, Ms. Everitt always meets the youth “where they are at,” quickly building a strong rapport. Many are described as attending the program each week specifically to see her. Although her main role is to help with homework, and language and life skills, she helps with anything that’s needed: cooking a healthy meal, playing sports, and simply connecting with these young people.

Emilio Frometa (Artsci’17, MIR’18) is the founder and executive director of Queen’s Autism Mentorship Program, which pairs varsity athletes with local youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Built from his one-on-one experience with a local youth, the program has already paired over 40 student-athletes with 80 youth, and it continues to grow. The student-athletes and youth spend about three hours together per week playing sports or other activities, and doing school work. The program facilitates friendships and relationships that help the youth develop social and motor skills, and it gives the student athletes the opportunity to act as a role model on and off the field of play. The program also brings the youth to varsity games to expose them to campus and the Gaels community.

The division’s new Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Impact Award recognizes individuals or groups who have demonstrated involvement in, and a commitment to, social justice causes that impact the Queen’s community on a broad or small scale; their contributions reflect efforts to furthering an understanding of the interplay and intersections among different identities on campus. The 2017-18 recipients are:

Aniqa Mazumder (Artsci'18) has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to making Queen’s a more equitable space. She has been involved with multiple groups and initiatives, including the Queen’s Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion, and OPIRG Kingston; she was the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Equity Commission intern in her first year at Queen’s, and has since served as co-chair of the ASUS Social Justice Committee, and as AMS deputy social issues commissioner. She recognizes that equity and anti-racism work is a continuous process, and has built partnerships and networks to strengthen social justice activism at Queen’s.

Xin Sun (Artsci’18) is dedicated to helping to build a more open and inclusive culture at Queen’s. She has been candid about her challenges with feelings and incidents of alienation and exclusion, and puts her personal experiences as a student living with a disability at the centre of her advocacy. She volunteers both with the Ban Righ Centre and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and takes every opportunity – from making a tactile dress to writing a book review – to raise awareness across the Queen’s community about the lives of students with disabilities.