The Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award is presented annually to a Queen’s faculty or staff member who has consistently provided outstanding service to students, other than in a teaching role. For 2022, the winner is the Physics Department’s undergraduate assistant Melissa Balson!

Melissa is a tireless champion of our students, guiding them to success through the walls and thorns of university bureaucracy. With over a dozen letters supporting her nomination, I’ll let excerpts from the student nomination letters speak to why she deserves this:

Melissa Balson of the Physics Department, Queen's University
Melissa Balson (Photo: Queen's Gazette)
As an undergraduate student, I have many people to thank for their support; however, my debt of gratitude to Melissa cannot be measured. Had I not had the fortune of meeting Melissa and having her support and kindness, I may have never realized what the physics community had to offer me and what I had to offer the physics community.
Melissa was my biggest advocate and was determined to help me succeed. She would facilitate communication with professors and arrange alternative exam times, often dedicating her personal time. In addition, Melissa aided me in navigating a complicated course schedule, and would perform due diligence to ensure I met all requirements for graduation. Melissa listened to my needs and do everything in her power and more to help me achieve my goals. Most importantly Melissa saw beyond my disabilities. Although I made her job difficult, she never accepted the fact that I was incapable of achieving my degree.
Even before the pandemic, most engineering students knew of Melissa. She has been a pro Eng-Phys argument used by current students during first year discipline nights, and is widely acknowledged to be the most involved and helpful program assistant across all engineering disciplines. In a degree that has become increasingly focused on post-grad job opportunities, it should be telling that students will vouch for a discipline based on the quality of its faculty and staff. In short, the students trust Melissa. We rely on—and appreciate—her dedication, guidance, and compassion. I strongly believe that there is no more deserving recipient of this award.

Thanks for all your work supporting the students, Melissa, and congratulations on a well-deserved award! — Prof. Rob Knobel, Department Head

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