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Mentoring Indigenous youth

Queen’s and the Katarokwi Learning Centre of the Limestone District School Board are partnering on a pilot research mentorship program.

  • [The Indigenous mentoring program unites faculty, staff, and students at Queen’s with staff and students from the Limestone District School Board.]
    The Indigenous mentoring program unites faculty, staff, and students at Queen’s with staff and students from the Limestone District School Board. (University Communications)
  • [Nicole Morse, Natasha Vitkin, and Matteo Zago-Schmitt meet at Four Directions to plan exercises for their mentees.]
    Nicole Morse, Natasha Vitkin, and Matteo Zago-Schmitt meet at Four Directions to plan exercises for their mentees. (University Communications)
  • [Graduate students Shrutika Sukumar and Mohammad Azzam review lab safety with the high school students.]
    Graduate students Shrutika Sukumar and Mohammad Azzam review lab safety with the high school students. (University Communications)
  • [Mary-Jane Vincent explores the Anatomy Learning Centre]
    The Anatomy Learning Centre contains human body parts preserved in glass containers so students can study them. (University Communications)
  • [Ms. Vincent examines a model of a human brain in the Anatomy Learning Centre.]
    Mary-Jane Vincent, an Indigenous high school student, examines a model of a human brain in the Anatomy Learning Centre. (University Communications)

First Nations students in grades 10 and 11 have deepened their knowledge of science and health care with the help of some Queen’s graduate students.

The high-school students are participants in a pilot program aimed at giving them a leg up as they prepare for post-secondary studies. They met with their mentors from February through to the end of May.

“The vision of this program is to provide these students with a science-based education opportunity that leaves them feeling inspired, confident, and supported,” says Lisa Doxtator, Aboriginal Community Outreach Liaison at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and one of the program’s co-ordinators.

“Our hope is that the students will consider furthering their education in the sciences and will be better established for postsecondary success through this program,” adds Bruce Elliott, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine who is also one of the program’s co-ordinators. “The Four Directions Centre provides an ideal supportive home for our program.”

Working alongside Dr. Elliott and Ms. Doxtator are assistant co-ordinators, PhD student Chelsea Jackson and MSc graduate Sarah Nersesian; and graduate student mentors Nicole Morse, Natasha Vitkin, and Matteo Zago-Schmitt of the Queen's Collaborative Cancer Grad Program and the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.  

The mentors guide the students down one of two streams – a general stream, where the students learn about the scientific method through basic experiences; and a specific interest stream, where they complete a goal-driven project to gain experience in their area of interest.

“I wanted to get involved with the Research Mentorship program to combine my passion for science with my desire to give back to the Kingston community,” says Ms. Vitkin. “In our meetings, my mentee and I perform scientific experiments, go over key concepts, and discuss possible career paths and educational opportunities. I have really enjoyed creating a one-on-one discovery-based environment where my mentee and I learn from each other and explore key scientific concepts.”

Rounding out the team are Scott Nicol and Kelly Maracle, Indigenous Student Support and Engagement teachers with the Katarokwi Learning Centre of the Limestone District School Board (LDSB).

“For the school board, this program has created a post-secondary pathway for our students that attend the River Program at the Katarokwi Learning Centre,” says Ms. Maracle.

The pilot program currently includes three students from the education centre – this fall, the school board and Queen’s hope to expand the program to include more Indigenous students.

"The science mentorship was an enjoyable, interactive, and educational program,” says Mary-Jane Vincent, one of the students. “I enjoyed the variety of hands-on experiments like extracting DNA out of a strawberry and identifying differences between the mentor's and mentee's fingerprints."

As a final highlight, students and their mentors were invited to visit the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences’ Anatomy Learning Centre, where they were hosted by the Anatomy Pattern II program. During their visit, they viewed human body parts and tissues on microscope slides.

This mentorship program was funded by a $5,000 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Synpase grant. The school board has also covered some of the students’ costs.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 7

Hugh Segal receives an honorary degree as final week of Spring Convocation begins.

  • Hugh Segal laughs after a child responded during his speech
    Honorary degree recipent Hugh Segal lets out a laugh after a child in the crowd responded to his anecdote as he spoke at Monday morning's Spring Convocation ceremony.
  • A doctoral student from the Faculty of Arts and Science
    A PhD recipient from the Faculty of Arts and Science is hooded by Associate Dean (Studies) Jill Atkinson as Principal Daniel Woolf looks on.
  • Chancellor shakes hands with a graduate
    A graduate from the Faculty of Arts and Science points out her family as she is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech during the 16th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Grant Hall during Spring Convocation ceremony 16
    Grant Hall is filled for the 16th ceremony of Spring Convocation on Monday, June 4.
  • Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), Opening dedication
    Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), of the Office of the Chaplain, provides the opening dedication in the Mohawk language and English during the morning ceremony on Monday, June 4.
  • Graduate students in the first row
    Masters and doctoral degree recipients fill the front row at Grant Hall during Monday morning's ceremony at Grant Hall, the 15th of Spring Convocation.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf offers greeting
    Principal Daniel Woolf welcomes the graduates, and their families and friends to Queen's University for the 15th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Family members take a video of Hugh Segal
    Family members take a video of Hugh Segal as he receives his honorary degree during Monday morning's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.

Spring Convocation entered its final week on Monday with a pair of ceremonies being held at Grant Hall.

In the morning celebration an honorary degree was conferred upon Hugh Segal, Principal of Massey College former Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs), Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.

Convocation will continue with three ceremonies being held on Tuesday at 10 am 1 pm and 4 pm. The two final ceremonies will follow on Wednesday at 10 am and 2:30 pm, when award-winning architect Douglas Cardinal will receive an honorary degree.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 6

  • Former Member of Parliament John Baird (Artsci'92)
    Former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister John Baird (Artsci'92) speaks to the graduates after receiving his honorary degree.
  • Honorary degree recipient Valerie Tarasuk
    Honorary degree recipient Valerie Tarasuka, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, speaks with Queen's faculty members outside Grant Hall. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Two graduates are hooded
    Two graduates are hooded from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded during the 14th ceremony of Spring Convocation 2018 at Grant Hall.
  • Tyler Lively and Daniel Woolf
    Principal Daniel Woolf shakes hands with Tyler Lively, the former president of the Alma Mater Society, after he was hooded at Spring Convocation.
  • Video of John Baird
    A woman takes a video of John Baird as he speaks after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Friday, June 1.
  • Graduate receives blanket from kandice
    A graduate receives a blanket from Kandice Baptiste, Director of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, during Friday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
  • Chancellor Jim Leech photo with graduate
    Chancellor Jim Leech poses for a photo with a new graduate and her family outside of Grant Hall following Friday morning convocation ceremony. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates Melanie Robinson
    Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates Melanie Robinson, a teacher at Granite Ridge Education Centre, as she receives a Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • A group of graduates are all smiles
    A group of graduates are all smiles as the wait to take the stage of Grant Hall and be hooded at Friday morning's convocation ceremony. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Queen’s University conferred a pair of honorary degrees on Friday as two ceremonies were held at Grant Hall.

During the afternoon ceremony, John Baird (Artsci’92), the former Member of Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the Environment, and Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, was recognized.

Earlier in the day, Valerie Tarasuk, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, received her degree.

Convocation will continue on Monday, June 4 with two ceremonies at 10 am and 2:30 pm. An honorary degree will be conferred upon Hugh Segal, the current principal of Massey College, and former Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs) and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 5

Honorary degree conferred upon Indira Samarasekera as three ceremonies for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science are hosted at Grant Hall.

  • Honorary degree recipient Indira Samarasekera
    Indira Samarasekera, former President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta and former Vice-President (Research) at the University of British Columbia, speaks after receiving an honorary degree on Thursday, May 31.
  • Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science students take pledge
    Graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science take the pledge before being hooded at Spring Convocation at Grant Hall.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates a graduate
    Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science after he was hooded during the 12th convocation ceremony.
  • Students thank supporters
    Graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science thanks their supporters during the 11th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Front row graduate students
    Recipients of doctoral and master's degrees fill the front row of seats as they prepare to take the stage during the 10th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
    Graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science fill Grant Hall on Thursday, May 31, the fifth day of Spring Convocation at Queen's.
  • A pair of graduates are hooded
    A pair of Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science graduates are hooded during the morning ceremony on Thursday.

Grant Hall was the centre of activity on Queen’s campus Thursday with three Spring Convocation ceremonies filling the venerable building.

Each of the ceremonies featured graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Graduate Studies.

During the afternoon session an honorary degree was conferred upon Indira Samarasekera, former President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta and former Vice-President (Research) at the University of British Columbia.

Two more ceremonies will be held on Friday at 10 am and 2:30 pm with honorary degree being conferred upon Valerie Tarasuk and John Baird.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 4

  • Former Rector Cam Yung and Chancellor Jim Leech
    Cam Yung, the 35th rector of Queen's, is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech as Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris looks on.
  • Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer
    Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer speaks to graduates during the eighth ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Graduate flexes his arms
    A graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Science flexes his arms as he celebrates during Wednesday morning's ceremony at Grant Hall.
  • Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris
    Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris addresses those gathered at Grant Hall during Wednesday morning's convocation ceremony.
  • A graduate gets pin from QUAA
    A graduate prepares to receive a pin from a representative of the Queen's University Alumni Association after being hooded.
  • PhD graduate and chancellor
    A doctoral degree recipient waves to his family as he is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech on Wednesday morning.
  • Graduates are hooded
    A pair of graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded during Wednesday afternoon's ceremony at Grant Hall.
  • Graduate hooded by her parents
    A graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Science is hooded by her parents during the ninth ceremony of Spring Convocation at Queen's.

On a beautiful sunny day, graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Science and the School of Graduate Studies took to the stage of Grant Hall on the fourth day of Spring Convocation at Queen’s University.

One of the graduates was Cam Yung, the 35th rector of Queen’s, who received his Bachelor of Science degree.

Spring convocation continues on Thursday with three ceremonies being held at Grant Hall at 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm.

An honorary degree will be conferred upon Indira Samarasekera at the 4 pm ceremony.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Reduced availability in Stuart Street Underground Parking Garage

Beginning on June 7, contractors, working on behalf of Physical Plant Services, will be working on Phase 2 of the Stuart Street Underground Parking Garage sprinkler system replacement project. Work is expected to continue through late August 2018.

This phase of the project will impact parking areas on the upper level of the parking garage. In order to keep as much parking available to users as possible, the west portion of the upper garage will be cordoned off and taken out of regular use first. Once the west portion is complete and made available, the east portion will then be cordoned off.

Users should expect alternate routes to be used in the garage while work is taking place throughout the summer along with minor dust and noise disruptions.

For more information, please contact Fixit at ext. 77301 or by email.

Campus Electricity Demand Reduction - May 30

In order to reduce electricity costs and contribute to the sustainability of the province’s energy system, Queen's University is once again participating in an electricity peak demand reduction program.

Due to increasing provincial demand and high temperatures, today (Wednesday, May 30) will be the university's second demand reduction day of the year. Attached is a bulletin listing the buildings that will be participating in this reduction.

Friday, June 1 also has potential for a demand reduction; however, a separate notice will be issued on Friday morning to either confirm or cancel the reduction.

To learn more about the electricity peak demand reduction program, please visit the Queen’s Sustainability Office website. Those with questions may also contact Fixit at extension 77301 (internal), 613-533-6757 (external) or email.

Thinking about the thesis

Graduate research and scholarship can take many shapes, and so the thesis can be structured in many different ways.

Thesis exhibition: 'per/forming memoration' Leah Decter, 2018
Thesis exhibition: 'per/forming memoration'. (Leah Decter, 2018)

Doctoral education has traditionally been viewed as an apprenticeship towards a professorship. Nearly three in five students starting a PhD degree aspire for a career in post-secondary education, according to a recent Ontario graduate program outcomes survey.

Many institutions – including Queen’s – have been thinking about how the PhD must evolve to ensure that graduates are prepared to translate their academic learning and experience in ways that position them for success in many career paths.

In addition to promoting opportunities for graduate students to apply their research skills and to share their research findings beyond the scientific and academic communities, the School of Graduate Studies has looked inward at its own policies.

In recent years, the university’s regulations on the thesis format were revised to allow greater scope in presentation. This allows students to package their research in ways that maximize uptake and mobilization. The added flexibility recognizes the many ways of knowing that constitute scholarly work, and the value of that work beyond the academy.

“The thesis structure used to be limited to monograph or manuscript format targeting academic audiences, yet students may gain tremendous benefit from adopting a different approach,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean (Graduate Studies). “Portfolio or project-based formats, or the incorporation of a white paper or a policy paper, helps increase the potential impact of research, and can yield considerable benefit when navigating the job market.”

Dr. Brouwer notes a white paper or policy paper, for instance, is more easily digestible by government, business, and other stakeholder groups than a traditional thesis manuscript.

Dr. Brouwer says that Queen’s is among the leaders in ensuring that academic policies and regulations support creativity and scholarship in its many forms, and supporting student-centric approaches to graduate education and learning. And with a couple of years having passed since the new policies were implemented, the School of Graduate Studies is starting to see some innovative thesis submissions.

Leah Decter recently completed her doctorate in cultural studies, and used the opportunity when she completed her doctorate to incorporate her work as an inter-media artist. In addition to her full-length written thesis, Dr. Decter demonstrated a collaborative curatorial art project and her art exhibition. She also chose to defend her thesis within an art gallery, allowing her committee to be exposed to the artwork itself. 

'365-257-54' performance documentation by Leah Decter, 2018 (Supplied by Leah Decter)
'365-257-54' performance documentation by Leah Decter, 2018 (Supplied by Leah Decter)

“Research-creation is an integrative form of knowledge production combining traditional research methods with modes of artistic and creative practice that are dependent on the distinct literacies of creative practitioners,” she says.

Producing a thesis is a significant accomplishment in its own right; however, there’s so much more to it than just completing the document according to Dr. Brouwer. “Students oftentimes get so wrapped up in getting the thesis done that they don’t sit back, take a breath and think about all they have accomplished and learned along the way,” she says.

With the new regulations, students can choose to include their reflections on the process, their learning, and the skills they have acquired. These reflections can be helpful to the student when prospective employers ask them about what they bring to the table.

And when graduate students submit their thesis to the Library’s QSpace system, they can catalogue their reflections in the form of a written piece, podcast, or video alongside the document.

The Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS), of which Dr. Brouwer is past president, has been engaged in a national conversation about the evolution of the PhD for some time. Learn more about the national conversation at www.cags.ca

The Castle’s marathon man

Running 52 marathons in 52 weeks helped Adrian Thomas share his experience and tackle the stigma of mental health issues in the workplace.

Adrian Thomas and his son pose after his fifty-second marathon in 52 weeks.
Adrian Thomas and his son pose after his 52nd marathon in 52 weeks.

Adrian Thomas, Catering Manager at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), began his weekly marathon challenge with two goals; maintain a healthy lifestyle, and raise awareness about the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in the workplace.

Fresh from the final marathon of his 52 in 52 Challenge and on the heels of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK (May 14 to 20), Mr. Thomas and the BISC have big plans to support student and employee mental health.

Battling stigma

Mr. Thomas lives with depression and had a mental health crisis in 2011 that led to a yearlong period when he was unable to work, which caused anxiety and hardship for him and his family.

“Fortunately, I have a very supportive wife, Michelle, and an adorable son, Edwin, and several close friends who have helped me hugely as I came out of that bad period in my life,” says Mr. Thomas.

Mr. Thomas took up running during this time, having read that it can help with symptoms of depression. He joined his local running club, The Hailsham Harriers, and set ever-increasing mileage targets to slowly increase his endurance levels until he was able to run marathons and even ultra-marathons.

When Mr. Thomas reflects on his experiences, he describes a stigma in the workplace at his previous employers regarding mental health issues and a lack of understanding. He also describes the frustration that his wife experienced because she felt she had no one she could turn to who could help her understand what he was going through.

The custom medal for the 52 in 52 Challenge.
The custom medal for the 52 in 52 Challenge.

In April 2017, Mr. Thomas entered the 52 in 52 Challenge, where competitors pledge to complete 52 official marathons in 52 weeks. His additional goal was to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and address the stigma associated with discussing mental health in the workplace.

Mr. Thomas completed the challenge in just 50 weeks by participating in marathon races across southern England in Sussex, Kent, and Surrey. He wore through six pairs of running shoes and spent roughly $6,000 (£3,500) on race fees, travel, accommodations, and gear.

Mr. Thomas launched his own charity, Different Minds, on World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10) in 2017. The charity trains volunteers in recognizing the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues to become Mental Health First Aiders.

“I firmly believe that by opening up a dialogue where it is okay to talk about our mental health, we as a society can change attitudes,” says Mr. Thomas. “Our volunteers are trained to go anywhere and say, ‘We can all suffer from depression and it’s okay to talk about it!’”

Mr. Thomas partnered with the student government at the BISC in March for an auction fundraiser to support Different Minds, and to broaden the conversation at the Castle about mental health at work and school.

Safeguarding student mental health

At the BISC, the on-site Student Services Team places a particular emphasis on promoting positive student mental health at the Castle. The team is stepping up their services this year by growing their Peer Health Educator Program (now in its second year), providing free access to two professional counsellors through ten bookable sessions every week, and by creating an environment of open dialogue year-round.

“Our Student Services team take a holistic approach to students’ health and wellness. We offer spaces for conversations and direct students to appropriate resources, such as personal counselling,” says Roxy Denniston-Stewart, Student and Enrolment Services Manager at the BISC. “Students are also provided with a space to speak up and share stories with peers. Our goal is to provide students at the BISC with the resources and tools they need to support their wellbeing in an interdependent community.”

Events to promote healthy living happen year-round at the BISC, including the BISC Mental Health Week in the fall term. The week will focus on coping with exam stress and promoting the benefits of exercise, diet, and sleep during the revision period.

To read more about Mr. Thomas’s story and the work of Different Minds, check out the Facebook page.

Traffic Update: Princess Street closed to traffic from Clergy to Division until July

The intersection of Princess and Division streets will be closed from May 28 until July 1, 2018.

People travelling to convocation ceremonies should avoid Princess Street and Division Street or allow for extra time as traffic is being detoured.

Barrie Street is also closed from Johnson Street to Queen Street.

This is the final section of downtown Princess Street to be rebuilt in this multi-year project.

More information is available from the City of Kingston.

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