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Student Learning Experience

Two-Spirit physician visits Queen's to discuss decolonizing medicine

New lecture series debuts with expert in Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ health.

James Makokis (centre) standing with lecture series supporters M. Nancy Tatham (left) & Donna Henderson (right).
Lecture series supporters M. Nancy Tatham (left) and her partner Donna Henderson (right) pictured with guest speaker James Makokis.

A new lecture series promoting equity, diversity, and inclusivity in medical education debuted with a talk by James Makokis, a family physician from Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta who leads one of North America’s most progressive and successful transgender-focused medical practices.

“Indigenous youth have one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, and that rate increases even further when we look at transgender members of that group,” said Dr. Makokis to an audience that packed the Britton Smith Lecture Theatre and a second, overflow space at the Queen’s University School of Medicine. “Every family medicine physician has within their scope of practice a general medical license that gives them the ability to provide transgender care. Medical students and residents, take time to learn to do this in your practice. It will be one of the most fulfilling areas of your career and you will help save lives.”

His lecture, entitled Decolonizing Medicine: Creating an Inclusive Space for Transgender and Two-Spirit People, is the first in the newly-created Dr. M. Nancy Tatham & Donna Henderson Lectureship – a series of talks featuring scholars and experts from diverse backgrounds discussing inclusivity in health, with a particular focus on LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous issues.

Dr. Makokis, who is both Cree and Two-Spirit, discussed language used around gender in medicine, the history of gender and First Nations people, and access to transgender care and hormone therapy. He explained that ideas of transphobia and homophobia are colonial social constructs, and argued that decolonizing medicine can be achieved through simple acts, like acknowledging and accepting LGBTQ2+ patients and providing care that meets their needs.

“Take off your white lab coats,” he said. “It holds so much institutional symbolism, but it can also serve as a barrier. Take it off and seek to relate to your patients in a human way. I guarantee this will help you have a long, healthy, and happy medical practice and career.”

Supported by a donation from Dr. Tatham and Ms. Henderson, who are both long-time activists, the lectureship is organized by the School of Medicine’s undergraduate Diversity Panel. Students on the panel expressed a deep enthusiasm in putting Dr. Makokis forth as the first speaker in the series.

“Understanding the impacts of the historical and ongoing oppression faced by our patients is so essential in being able to provide excellent care,” says Ayla Raabis, Queen’s medical student and Diversity Panel member. “We must constantly strive to undo our own biases to be able to truly connect and ensure we are seeing our patients as the complex people we are tasked with caring for. Dr. Makokis’ talk was such a valuable opportunity to learn from his unique personal and professional experience, and to inspire us to push for making medicine a safe space for all patients.”

Notably, Dr. Makokis and his partner Anthony Johnson won the most recent season of well-known television competition The Amazing Race Canada. They were praised for using the platform to raise awareness of Two-Spirit people.

The October 23 talk from Dr. Makokis was the first in the new annual lecture series. Information on future Dr. M. Nancy Tatham & Donna Henderson Lectureship talks will be shared on the School of Medicine website.

“We're excited to carry the momentum of this talk forward by hosting additional events centred around improving access to healthcare and delivering culturally-informed care to LGBTQ2S+ and Indigenous populations,” says Danny Jomaa, Queen’s medical student and member of the Diversity Panel. “As trainees in medicine, it's important for us to build approaches to care that are formed on the principles of equity and respect for marginalized groups.”

Fostering career development with a diversity lens

[Jenny Lee Northey speaks at QUIC]
In her role as career counsellor Jenny Lee Northey is consulting with students and student groups to get a better understanding of the career-related needs and experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. (University Communications) 

In order to better understand and support the needs of students with diverse backgrounds, in particular those from equity-seeking groups, Career Services in the Division of Student Affairs has created a new career counsellor position, and hired someone uniquely positioned to lead this initiative.

Jenny Lee Northey has started consulting with students and student groups to get a better understanding of the career-related needs and experiences of students from diverse backgrounds.

“Career Services has a strong suite of core services, and a variety of targeted services, such as on-site drop-in career advising in Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, the Ban Righ Centre, and Queen’s University International Centre,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services and Experiential Learning. “But we wanted to do more and do better in supporting students from a wide range of backgrounds, and in particular students from equity-seeking groups. We are thrilled to have Jenny in this new position.”

“Students have shared their ideas and concerns including developing vital support networks, identifying and addressing knowledge gaps, and encountering systemic barriers such as stereotypes, discrimination, and micro-aggressions,” says Lee Northey.  “I have also heard how students are seeing positive change take place as a result of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) report.”

A graduate from the Queen’s Concurrent Education program, Lee Northey has lived and worked internationally, including in Monterrey, Mexico and as a career counsellor at New York University Shanghai, where she supported the inaugural graduating class comprising students from over 50 countries. She has also volunteered in the Kingston community with international students and their families, with Youth Diversion and with Pathways to Education, and has supported efforts to end human trafficking.

Lee Northey is using these experiences to inform her approach, noting that these diverse experiences have enriched her perspective and understanding of cultural knowledge and practices.

“I have the privilege of not only listening to individuals’ personal stories firsthand, but of empowering them as they pursue and access equitable opportunities to contribute their ideas, talents, and perspectives,” she says.  “I am passionate about helping people reframe their narratives and connect with possibilities and pathways they may not have considered before.”

In 2019-2020, Lee Northey will continue consulting and compiling information regarding the career-related needs and experiences of diverse students. Career Services and the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) are partnering to offer a more robust suite of career supports to international students this upcoming academic year. As well, Lee Northey is developing dedicated webpages on the Career Services website tailored to support students of underrepresented and equity-seeking groups.

If you wish to learn more about Lee Northey’s role or Career Services’ commitment to providing more inclusive and equitable opportunities, please contact her at jenny.lee@queensu.ca.

Public information session: New student residence building

Queen’s is proposing construction of a new student residence, targeting LEED Gold standard, on the north-west side of its main campus in Kingston.

A public information session is being held to give interested members of the community an opportunity to learn more about the proposal and speak with members of the project team:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
4-6 pm
Queen’s University
Mitchell Hall, North Atrium
69 Union St., Kingston, ON

This event is a casual drop-in format featuring information boards and an opportunity to interact directly with project team members. You will also have the opportunity to sign up to receive project updates.

NOTE: An earlier notice showed the correct date with the incorrect day - we apologize for any confusion.

Improving the student learning experience

Ten research projects received funding through the Centre for Teaching and Learning 2018/19 Educational Research and Teaching and Learning Enhancement grants.

These grants support teaching innovation with the goal of improving the student learning experience at Queen’s University.

The Educational Research grants fund evidence-based studies around learning issues in the classroom. Each research team is supported through consultation with a CTL educational developer and a research librarian. Four grants are offered each year: two for graduate students for $1,000 each and two for faculty, for up to $5,000. The Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grants support projects focused on various aspects of teaching, including course or program design, assessment techniques, or effective use of technology. A total of $30,000 was available, with a maximum of $7,000 per grant.  All recipients will be invited to present at the Showcase of Teaching and Learning at Queen’s on May 6, 2020. 

“The purpose of these grant programs is to support the development of teaching and learning innovation at Queen’s,” says Andy Leger, Centre for Teaching and Learning (Chair, Educational Research Adjudication Committee). “These grants encourage educators to push their educational initiatives and research forward and, in so doing, enhance the student learning experience.”

For more information about the grants programs, contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

2019 Educational Research Grants

Exploring Education on Intellectual & Development Disabilities in Canadian Occupational Therapy Curricula: A Mixed Methods Investigation
Nicole Bobbette, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
Education plays a critical role in creating an inclusive and just society for all citizens. A lack of education for health professionals has been identified as one reason for the ongoing health inequities experienced by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently little is known regarding the extent of occupational therapy student education and training on this population.

Perspectives, Attitudes and Beliefs about Simulation for Assessment in Postgraduate Medical Education
James Ahlin, Department of Emergency Medicine; Melanie Walker, Department of Emergency Medicine; Kyla Caners, McMaster University; Andrew Hall, Department of Emergency Medicine
Competency based medical education (CBME) is currently being implemented both at Queen’s and nationwide across all postgraduate medical training programs. It is clear that simulation will be an essential part of competency-based assessment given the rare nature and high patient risk of certain clinical scenarios or procedures. Unfortunately, what is less clear is the current landscape of perspectives, attitudes and beliefs on simulation for assessment among both learners and faculty. Some stakeholders have expressed concerns about this use of simulation. However, these voices are not currently expressed within the literature on simulation-based assessment. Our study aims to fill this knowledge gap. This is essential to the appropriate integration of simulation into assessment in medical education that is acceptable for all involved. Furthermore, this is the base for the creation of a safe, reliable and valid assessment space.

Cracking the Correction Mode: Assessing the Effectiveness of Feedback Strategies for Improving Student Writing in the Second Language Classroom and Beyond
Michael Reyes, Department of French Studies; Francesca Fiore, Department of French Studies
The Department of French Studies recently introduced a series of reforms for improving the grammatical accuracy and overall quality of student writing. However, despite implementing a common framework for providing more feedback on writing across all courses, instructors do not know what kinds of feedback will improve learning outcomes. This project explores the effectiveness of different kinds of corrective feedback on student writing, both in the scholarly literature and in our second-year composition course. By doing so, this research project empowers instructors and staff with strategies for developing the writing skills of second language learners and international students at Queen’s.

2019 Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grant Recipients

A Proven Approach to Supporting Indigenous Community Empowerment
Anne Johnson, Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Engineering
CTL Support is sought to fund development of two lessons – Community Visioning – Supporting Community and Indigenous Economic Development Models and Collaborating with Local Governments for Inclusive Development – within MINE 803, Engagement for Community Development, an online course. Funding will permit collaboration with NetPositive, a registered charity that works with communities to help them articulate their values and aspirations, and to develop plans for sustainable, culturally relevant and affirming local economies. NetPositive will provide students with a practical approach to community empowerment. NetPositive will also share the experience and insight from communities they have supported, with a focus on Indigenous groups in Canada. This course contributes to reconciliation by providing concrete, practical ways future professionals can support reconciliation and approach cultural difference with respect and empathy.

Introductory Computer Science Mentorship Program
Wendy Powley, School of Computing
Learning to program can be challenging and intimidating, especially for young women who feel they don’t belong in a male-dominated field. Creative Computing (CISC 110) is a course designed to entice women to try computing for the first time. In the class, 60 per cent of students are female. Although inspired by the course, many do not continue to take further courses. The goal of this peer-mentoring project is to provide students with individualized assistance in the form of active learning, code walk-throughs, detailed written feedback, and personal support to solidify their knowledge and boost their confidence. The mentorship program will also foster leadership and further the School of Computing’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. The goal is to increase the number of students (particularly women) who continue in Computer Science after taking CISC 110 and to train students to educate and mentor in an inclusive and sensitive manner.

GeroCast: Using Podcasting to Deliver Living Cases in Gerontology Education
Mohammad Auais, School of Rehabilitation Therapy; Lucie Pelland, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
Podcasting is an emerging e-learning tool and recent evidence suggests that podcasting enhances student experience and outcomes. The grant will go towards developing a case-based group project for a physiotherapy gerontology course using podcasts to present a series of ‘living cases.’ The podcasts will be assigned to student groups to work on through the course and then present findings. Student learning outcomes and experiences will be evaluated with a survey. The living case podcasts will have broad applicability to other aging and/or health courses at Queen’s.

Decolonizing Opera: Micro-Internships as Experiential Learning
Coleen Renihan, Dan School of Drama and Music
Opera is an inherently colonized genre, and its history of misogyny, racism, and exclusion has been harshly (and rightly) critiqued, particularly following the rise of the #metoo #blacklivesmatter and #idlenomore movements. Opera is also being re-visioned by many creative Canadian composers, directors, and performers as a site of transformation and change. The project will feature a “Micro-Internship” innovation in the MUTH332: Opera Practicum course, allowing students to learn how and why some of Canada’s most exciting arts entrepreneurs are using opera for social transformation in 2019. In addition to innovating the curriculum by teaching students about opera’s potential for decolonization, and by giving them a unique opportunity to analyze and evaluate this in practice, this project also serves as a pilot project that considers the problem of how to frame and capitalize on a unique form of experiential learning in the arts.

Simulations, Role-Play and Long-form Scenarios: An emerging experiential learning opportunity to teach through complex issues
Kathryn Fizzell, Experiential Learning Hub; David Skillicorn, School of Computing
Simulation-based exercises are a way to bring real-world scenarios into the classroom, creating unique hands-on learning opportunities for students. This project explores simulations that involve presenting students with a specific situation and problem, and assigning them roles that require them to work together to develop tactics and strategies for responding in positive ways. To support faculty and project coordinators in using this form of experiential learning, the EL Hub, in partnership with the School of Computing, will conduct background research on pedagogical strategies related to simulation, role-play, and long form scenarios to create practical resources and materials for supporting their design and delivery. These materials will be piloted through a long-form scenario table-top cybersecurity training exercise being delivered by the School of Computing to students in the new NSERC CREATE Cybersecurity Graduate Training Program and promoted to other faculty and project coordinators through the EL Hub website and workshop presentations.

Freehand Sketching for Design Ideation in Mechanical Engineering
Roshni Rainbow, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Brian Surgenor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Freehand sketching promotes creative problem solving, spatial visualization, ideation, and communication, all which are critical in engineering design. While mechanical engineering students are introduced to sketching and computer-aided drawing during their first year, there remains a challenge of integrating the concept of freehand sketching to engineering design education to promote visual thinking and the design process. It is hoped that improvements in students’ freehand sketching abilities will foster creativity and innovation in engineering design. The grant will support the improvement of mechanical engineering students’ skills in basic freehand sketching through the implementation of sketching workshops and assignments into the second-year mechanical engineering section of APSC200: Engineering Design and Practice.

ELEC 280: Fundamentals of Electromagnetism
Muhammad Alam, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Engineering laboratories are vital to the quality of engineering education, in an era of high speed evolving the technology. Yet, these labs activities need constant reviewing and updating to meet the industry needs and to keep graduates up-to-date with what’s happening in the real world and to provide them with an edge to compete in the workforce. The main objective of instructors in engineering is always to create new active learning experiences that engage students in engineering as a profession.

Due to a lack of funding, neither grant will be offered in 2020.

Celebrating major admission awards recipients

  • Speaking group for the Major Admissions Awards
    Speaking at the Major Admissions Awards event were, from left: former Queen's University Alumni Association president George Jackson, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney, student Ampai Thammachack, and Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris
  • Major Admissions Awards recipients listen in Wallace Hall
    Major Admissions Awards recipients listen to Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney in Wallace Hall
  • Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris speaks with a student
    Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris speaks with Aaron Zhang, a fourth-year commerce student.
  • Ampai Thammachack, a fourth-year kinesiology student and Bank of Montreal National Award recipient, speaks during the Major Admissions Awards event.
    Ampai Thammachack, a fourth-year kinesiology student, speaks during the Major Admissions Awards event.

Students receiving major admission awards gathered for a special event at Wallace Hall on Sept. 18, where they met with faculty and administration members, and their peers. 

Ampai Thammachack, a fourth-year kinesiology student, spoke at the event about arriving at Queen’s from Bedford, N.S., and how much her Queen’s experience means to her. She struggled with self-belief and didn’t think she had any chance of achieving any kind of higher education. But receiving the Bank of Montreal National Award opened the door to new opportunities.

“Long story short, this award gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, which is something no one can ever take away from me or any major admission award recipient,” she says. “Because of this award, and the incredible people at Queen’s, I have been able to thrive in ways I never knew I would.”

During her time at Queen’s she has continued to run her two charities, The Glass Slipper Organization and Step above Stigma, and earlier this year received the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award, one of the highest honours a student can receive from the university, for dedicated service to the Queen’s community.

Currently, there are 285 entering and in-course major admission award recipients at Queen’s from across Canada.

“Major Admission Award recipients demonstrate a high level of engagement and academic success that continues throughout their time at Queen’s,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, the emcee for the event. “Year after year we are proud to recognize all of our recipients for their academic excellence, outstanding leadership abilities, , creativity, and initiative.”

The selection process for major admission awards is rigorous, with more than 200 faculty, including members of the Retirees Association at Queen’s, volunteering to evaluate the more than 1,200 submissions each year.  

The awards are supported by numerous donors. Many donors want to give back because they, too, received some form of support, recognition, and encouragement when they were students. Their generosity has a significant impact within the Queen’s community and the recipients of their awards. 

Visit the Student Awards website for information about the Major Admission Awards program.

Winter Term textbook adoption update

The deadline for Winter Term textbook adoption was Oct. 1, however, faculty still have the opportunity to adopt the course materials they need. Currently, 22 per cent of expected adoptions have been received by the Campus Bookstore.

If you have missed the adoption deadline, contact the Campus Bookstore as soon as possible. The adoption form is available online while the Campus Bookstore website offers information on the Faculty Homepage.

The mission of the Campus Bookstore is to provide course-required materials at the lowest prices possible. To that end faculty are encouraged to adopt their books as early as possible, to readopt the same textbooks and to consider low-cost or free online alternatives.

Submitting textbook adoptions early allows bookstore staff to purchase used copies, and seek out other cost-saving alternatives for students.

Upcoming textbook adoption deadlines are:

  • Spring Term: March 1, 2020
  • Spring-Summer Term: March 1, 2020
  • Summer Term: May 1, 2020

Championing new thinking

Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie met with a group of promising Queen's graduate students to talk success, failure, taking risks, and the future of research.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie at a round table meeting with Queen's University graduate students.
Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie meets with Queen's University graduate students for a round table discussion on the road to research success.

A group of Queen’s University’s most promising graduate students recently sat down with Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie, who shared his stories of achievement and failure in hopes of illuminating and inspiring their journeys toward research success.

Over 35 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers took part in an exclusive round table discussion with Dr. Chalfie during a visit to campus by the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII) – an international outreach program organized by Nobel Media and biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

“As researchers, we know that all discovery and progress is built on the push and pull of failure and success,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, who introduced the round table discussion. “Advancement in science and society, and the creation of new knowledge, often begins with a leap in the dark, with the courage to risk failure simply in order to propel ourselves one step closer to the goals our research pursuits seek to advance.”

Students from over a dozen disciplines attended the candid, closed-door discussion, which touched on topics ranging from science communication and public perceptions of science, to mental health and multi-disciplinary approaches to research.

“The round table with Dr. Chalfie was enlightening and inspiring,” says Mandy Turner, a third-year PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “Being a graduate student can sometimes feel siloed, so it was comforting to have the opportunity to hear from an accomplished researcher like him, as well as my peers across the university who echoed many of my concerns about the future of science and science careers.”

One of the recurring anxieties expressed by those in attendance centred on a perceived shift in society’s attitude toward the merit of scientific knowledge.

“From time to time, I feel nervous about my pursuit of a career in science, since it seems like hard-earned results and evidence are less and less accepted by the public and policymakers,” says Matthias Hermann, who has just begun his third year as a PhD candidate in Chemistry. “When I expressed my worry to Dr. Chalfie during the round table he reminded us that throughout history there have always been people who deny facts and evidence, which has only served to underline the importance of scientists’ work. I really appreciated this response.”

Many of the round table participants also remarked on Dr. Chalfie’s charisma and candor.

“To have this person who achieved one of the highest honours of a research career be so humble and sincere about his life was very inspiring to me,” says Artur Sass Braga, PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering. “He was so open about his initial failures in academia and shared with us that there is no secret formula or method to becoming a successful researcher. This perspective helps tremendously as it lessens the burden of the expectations graduate students can often feel are placed upon them.”

The round table preceded a sold-out NPII public event at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts featuring Dr. Chalfie in conversation with award-winning journalist and author André Picard, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. Both events also coincided with the launch of a new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements, much of which involves Queen’s graduate researchers.

“The round table gathering was also about recognizing the enormous contributions our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows make to knowledge production; to championing new thinking and to uncovering groundbreaking discoveries,” says Dr. Quadir. “I am proud of our students and post-docs for their relentless efforts to advance new knowledge that serves the greater public good.”

Learn more about the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event that took place at Queen’s on September 25, 2019, and view a video recording of our online Facebook Live broadcast of the event.

Building a better cover letter

[Queen's Best Cover Letters]
Career Service will launch Queen’s Best Cover Letters at the Career Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC). (University Communications)

Queen's students picked up over 2,000 copies of Queen’s Best Resumes  last year and the online accessible PDF version was viewed more than 1,300 times. But what is a resume without a cover letter? New this year, Career Services is launching the companion magazine Queen’s Best Cover Letters.

“Writing a great resume is hard work, and many students say they find writing a great cover letter is even harder” says Career Counsellor Jenny Lee Northey.

This new publication has 19 cover letter examples from Queen’s students. The magazine also includes advice from career counsellors including strategies that readers can apply to their own job searches.

As well as producing a new resource for all students, this project provided an experiential learning opportunity through the Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP). Ally Mastantuono (ArtSci’20) led the design and production of the magazine, applying her graphic design skills, and learning about working with printers and deadlines.

“I also learned a lot about the cover letter writing process in general, and in particular how important it is to take the experiences you have and to create a narrative that helps potential employers understand the skills and competencies you have developed," she says. "It is not about doing more and listing everything you have done, but about tailoring your cover letter to respond to the specific job opportunity.”

Students can pick up a free copy of Queen’s Best Cover Letters at the Career Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC). And for those who missed last year’s magazine, a new print run of Queen’s Best Resumes will also be available. If there are copies left at the end of the event, they will be available at Career Services and an accessible PDF version will be online. All students are welcome to the Career Fair.

New program increases access to Queen’s for local, first-generation students

The Promise Scholars program provides students with dedicated financial, academic, and career support.

Photo of convocation at Queen's
The Promise Scholars program is designed to break down financial barriers to a Queen's education

The university is launching a new program designed to increase access to Queen's for local, first-generation students.

The Promise Scholars program provides students with dedicated financial, academic, and career support, enabling them to complete a first-entry degree debt-free while gaining valuable work experience.

“Eliminating barriers to higher education is an imperative for our institution. Supporting students from our community so they can advance their knowledge and ambitions is integral to the mission of Queen’s. We know our graduates make a difference and education allows them to realize their dreams, contributing to not just Queen’s but the world beyond our walls,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Community engagement begins at home and I am excited about this program and its potential to help make a difference in the lives of young people and their families in the Kingston area.”

The program is designed to break down financial barriers that students from lower-income backgrounds face in accessing post-secondary education. Full funding for tuition, fees, books, and supplies, together with financial support for residence and a living allowance in years two, three and four, will ensure students can benefit from the full Queen’s undergraduate experience.

As it can be difficult for some first-generation students to navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise when attending university, the Promise Scholars program provides dedicated support to set students up for success. In addition to financial assistance, the Promise Scholars program will connect students with advisors for guidance on academics, financial planning, and career preparation. Students will also receive support from peer advisors and will be connected to the Queen’s alumni community and other professional networks.

Recognizing the importance of career experience, Promise Scholars will also have paid summer internships after years one, two, and three.

“We know that completing a university degree can be a transformative experience for students, but even with existing financial assistance programs, the cost to attend can be a barrier,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We wanted to design a program to provide qualified students facing significant financial challenges with the opportunity to pursue their chosen degree, gain valuable work experience, and participate fully in university life.”

Photo of Ann Tierney announcing Promise Scholars program to a group of local guidance counselors
Vice-Provost and Dean, Student Affairs Ann Tierney announcing the Promise Scholars program to local guidance counselors

Prospective eligible students can request to be considered for the Promise Scholars program when they apply to first-entry undergraduate programs at Queen’s. In order to be eligible for consideration, applicants must receive admission to a Queen’s first-year undergraduate degree program, be a first-generation student from the local region, and have a family income of $50,000 or less. Additional eligibility criteria can be found on the Promise Scholars webpage.

The first cohort of Promise Scholars will join the Class of 2024 in September 2020.

Tierney officially announced the initiative on Sept. 17 to a gathering of local guidance counselors. After introducing the program to them, they had a chance to ask questions and provide feedback.

“I think the Promise Scholars initiative is a tremendous step in the right direction. Having spent the last number of years working with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, I have become tremendously aware of the barriers they face every step of the way. I am sure our students will be submitting applications for Promise Scholars. We look forward to seeing this program flourish over the next few years,” says Brent Pickering, Principal of Alternative and Community Education with Limestone District School Board, who attended the event.

The university has dedicated funding to support five new Promise Scholars a year, a commitment of approximately $60,000 - $100,000 per student depending on the program of study.

Additional details will follow soon.

Celebrating a century of commerce

Digital storytelling campaign showcases the breadth and depth of the program’s 100-year legacy

Commerce 100
Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is celebrating a century of innovation with the arrival of Com'23, the 100th commerce class. (Photo by Greg Black) 

Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is celebrating a century of innovation with the arrival of the 100th commerce class (Com’23) at Goodes Hall.

Queen’s University launched the first undergraduate business degree in Canada in 1919 and as the program grew in popularity, the business school that is now Smith was established.

To mark the milestone, a digital storytelling campaign has been launched to showcase the breadth and depth of the program’s 100-year legacy. A new interactive website – smithqueens.com/100 – invites the community to explore some of the many highlights, profiles, memories, and stories from the last 100 years. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to share their experiences and memories of commerce via an online form on the site. 

“I have had the pleasure of meeting alumni from many decades of the Commerce program – some as far back as the 1930s – and the one thing that has remained constant over the past 100 years is the quality of the Queen’s experience,” says David Saunders, Dean, Smith School of Business. “This outstanding experience not only fosters talented students, but creates alumni who remain engaged with the program long after they have graduated.”

The 100th commerce class reflects the growth and diversity of the business world. There are 495 students in the Class of 2023, 52 per cent are women. They come not just from all over Canada but from around the world, too. Seventeen per cent of the 100th commerce class is international, with citizenship from countries such as Bulgaria, Ireland, India, Peru, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and China.

This, of course, was all far off in 1919. The first graduating class of 1921 comprised just two students. The next year seven students graduated, including the first woman to earn an undergraduate business degree, Beatrice Eakins. The curriculum focused heavily on economics and math in the early days and over the years, academics have remained central to the student experience.

Smith Commerce is renowned for its excellence and leadership in business education, having pioneered team-based and experiential learning. Students attain a deep understanding of business strategies and concepts, while at the same time fostering personal capacity in leadership, teamwork, cultural intelligence, resilience, communication, and presentation.

A number of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary are being planned and will be announced soon.

Discover the rich history and legacy of the Commerce program, and share your memories, at smithqueens.com/100.

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