Although the COVID-19 pandemic drew life on campus to an early close, St. Michael’s students continued to enrich the community with their talents and service as their coursework and extra-curricular activities transitioned to online platforms.
This year’s Student Life Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding extra-curricular contributions to the University and the St. Michael’s community as a whole during a particularly challenging time.
New awards recognizing Service in Student Mental and Physical Wellbeing, Leadership in Community and Cultural Development, and Outstanding Contributions to Social Justice Initiatives were introduced in 2020 to highlight areas of distinct interest to St. Michael’s students, staff and faculty.
Several awards recognize creative initiatives that are a vibrant part of campus life, including student publications and the arts. “The theatre is a space for people of all different experiences and backgrounds to come together and work to create something beautiful,” says third-year student Emily Villani. As Artistic Director for SMC Troubadours, Villani oversaw and performed in theatrical productions, including a recent production of Guys and Dolls.
Other awards recognize the work of students to foster inclusion, social justice, and a deep sense of welcome. A major goal for Sonakshi Sharma, a third-year student and Executive member of the Indian Students’ Society at U of T, is to help international students find more familiar and comfortable spaces in campus community—especially in the area of cultural representation. “I believe building such a community is important for students in order to have a comprehensive university experience,” says Sharma.
Athletics, a longstanding area of achievement and an important part of the education of the whole person at St. Michael’s, is another area in which students are being recognized for leadership and service to their peers. “Intramurals are an incredible foundation for a social and athletic life on campus!” says Mika Embury, fourth-year student and recipient of the Mary H. Lee Award for Leadership in Women’s Sports.
Student Life Associate Emma Graham describes the recipients as “leaders who actively encourage their peers to get involved, follow their dreams, and build up others.” Their influence has helped other students at the college become active participants in community life outside the classroom. Each award is peer-nominated, which means that each recipient is being recognized not only by the College, but by fellow students who benefited from their service.
The full list of the 2020 Student Life Leadership Awards can be found below, with more details available on Facebook.
- Award for Leadership in the Arts: Emily Villani
- Award for Leadership in Community and Cultural Development: Sonakshi Sharma
- Award for Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice Initiatives: Adam Da Costa Gomes
- Award for Excellence in Peer Mentorship: Sam Gruppuso
- Award for Outstanding Exhibition of College Spirit and Pride: Simran Dhir
- Award for Service in Student Mental and Physical Wellbeing: Christeen Salik
- Award for Leadership in Student Publications: Ian Hauber
- Award for Male Athlete of the Year: Victor Wakelin
- Sr. Kathleen Heffron Award for Female Athlete of the Year: Elaine Pityn
- Mary H. Lee Award for Leadership in Women’s Sports: Mika Embury
- Kevin Fawcett Award for Freshman Athlete of the Year: Eloïse Alarie