Adapted from the Queen's Gazette

Congratulations to Jane Mao on recently receiving the Brian Yealland Community Leadership Award, and the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award! Jane earned a degree in Psychology (BScH) in 2020, a Certificate in Sexual and Gender Diversity in 2021, and a Masters of Education in 2023. Jane is currently a van Anders Lab team member in the Department of Psychology under Dr. Sari van Anders.

The Brian Yealland Community Leadership Award recognizes significant contribution to society by working with and encouraging youth who are experiencing social, behavioral, economic or other challenges by helping them realize their worth as individuals and their potential to achieve.

The Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award is the highest tribute paid to a student for their valuable and distinguished leadership at the University. The award is named in honour of Dr. Agnes Benidickson who was Chancellor of Queens University from 1980 until 1996. Admission to the Tricolour Society shall be limited to current students at the University. The number of students to be admitted to the Tricolour Society is limited to 4 students per year. It is not a requirement that the maximum of 4 students per year is reached, it is up to the discretion of the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award Committee.

These awards mean so much to me,” Jane says. “I feel so much love and support from my community. I'm incredibly grateful to learn alongside some of the most compassionate, genuine, and brilliant people, so to know that my community sees me as a leader is incredibly humbling. I'm so thankful to have such wonderful people rally for me and with me.” Jane credits Dr. Sari van Anders and Dr. Lee Airton for supporting them and being by their side since early on in their undergraduate career, and being supportive of their interests, goals, and academic development.

Jane is involved in many initiatives, on and off campus, that support marginalized youth and communities. They founded the Gender Affirming Assistance Project that aims to connect transgender individuals to gender affirming care in Kingston, provide gender-affirming apparel, bursaries, and build community among QTBIPoC individuals. They also developed and delivered trans-inclusive lifeguard training at the ARC in support of all-body swim events open to trans individuals in the campus and Kingston communities.

Jane is currently a master’s student in the Faculty of Education, and also works with the Limestone District School Board on the use of inclusive terms and resources in schools; they have curated staff workshops on supporting transgender students, and created social networks of queer youth.  Jane also develops and leads solidarity-building workshops for Kingston girls and nonbinary youth of colour. On campus, Jane has served as co-chair of the Education on Queer Issues Project; they are a longtime Residence Don, they have been part of Queen’s Coalition against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, and are currently the SGPS Equity and Diversity Commissioner. In this role, Jane collaborates with Yellow House on programming for QTBIPoC graduate and professional students.

Jane’s current research looks at the experiences of racialized transgender individuals when navigating the Canadian heathcare system and primary care physicians. “My research works to amplify the lived experiences of marginalized patients in hopes of creating more inclusive healthcare experiences,” they explain. “All of my research has been informed by community and for community, with the goal of not just equity and diversity, but rather freedom and liberation. I really want my research to community-based and action-oriented, so a lot of my research inspires my community work and vis versa. I think these awards reflect the impact of the tangible ways that I have translated, mobilized, and leveraged knowledge for my community.”

Asked about their future academic and professional goals, Jane says, “My career goal is to lead systemic change against oppressive systems. I know I will feel satisfied in my career when I continuously leverage my position to ensure autonomy and joy for marginalized individuals. With this mindset, I'm really open to seeing where my passions take me!”

Queen’s University Student Affairs recently celebrated the important leadership role students play on campus and in the local community, as well as outstanding service provided to students by staff and faculty, outside of a teaching role. This year’s recipients of the Peer Leadership Award, the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigenization (EDII) Impact Award, Brian Yealland Community Leadership Award, and Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award were honoured at a reception on March 20, 2023.

Read the original Queen’s Gazette story

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