Outstanding student achievement honoured with MSU Awards
On March 8, McMaster University and the McMaster Students Union co-hosted Student Recognition Night inside CIBC Hall, to celebrate the success and accomplishments of outstanding McMaster students. Presented annually, the MSU Awards are an opportunity to highlight students who have displayed outstanding leadership, community involvement, and commitment to student life.
The J. Lynn Watson Award for Community Service has been presented annually since 1983 by the McMaster Students Union to the campus group that has made the greatest one-year contribution to charitable giving. This year’s winner is McMaster Smiling Over Sickness.
- Since its establishment in 2002, McMaster Smiling Over Sickness (SOS) has grown to be one of the largest and most influential student-run charitable McMaster organizations, currently boasting over 200 members. By the end of this school year, Smiling Over Sickness will have committed hundreds of community service hours and is projected to raise over $5,000 in support for local organizations which support pediatric patients and their families. SoS’s commitment to charity and community support is evident in its ongoing partnerships with McMaster Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre, McMaster Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program, Camp Trillium, and the Children’s Miracle Network.
The MSU Spirit Award is presented annually to the campus group that has demonstrated superior spirit. This year’s MSU Spirit Award winner is MSU’s Student Walk Home Attendant Team.
- Now in its 32nd year of operations, MSU SWHAT realized record-setting engagement with McMaster students this past year. Following their hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, SWHAT has established a sense of safety on and off-campus for the McMaster community and continues to take care of their people. This past November, SWHAT organized a ‘Walk-a-Thon’ and completed over 200 walks in that month alone, donating all proceeds to the Native Women’s Centre. Additionally, they brought Wellbeing Week to McMaster for the first time in history, bringing the MSU Services together to support over 300 students.
The SRA Member of the Year award is presented to academic division representatives who exemplify the qualities of an outstanding student representative: empowering students, maintaining the dignity of the Assembly, being informed and prepared for all meetings, and actively working to improve the MSU. This year’s winners are Craig Dawdy and Zimo Wang.
- Craig Dawdy has been an active member of the SRA as a Business caucus representative. Throughout his time, he has consistently contributed opinions to discussions, prompting fellow members to think critically and consider other perspectives, to ensure the SRA is properly advocating for student needs. This individual has eagerly taken on additional leadership responsibilities within the SRA, including being a pivotal member of the Executive Board, serving on the Elections Committee, the Provincial and Federal Affairs Committee, and being the leader of their caucus. As Caucus Leader, he promotes financial transparency and fiscal accountability within the SRA, and as a member of the Executive Board he helps ensure services continue to meet the needs of students at McMaster.
- Zimo Wang has been an active member of the SRA as a Social Sciences caucus representative. Throughout his time on the SRA, he has helped forge relationships between the MSU and the student body at McMaster, encouraging students to interact with services, advocacy, and other opportunities. This individual has also taken on additional responsibilities within the SRA, such as helping to manage our student-facing services through the Executive Board, the Services Committee, and helping to advocate for student needs through the MSU’s provincial lobbying efforts in Kingston as an OUSA delegate.
Part-Time Managers run many of the MSU Services and help to better the student experience on campus. The winner of the Part-Time Manager of the Year award is bestowed to a person who has shown dedication, resilience, and compassion while fulfilling the values of their service. This year’s recipient is Vithuyan Sugumar.
- Vithuyan Sugumar has a profound ability to lead and motivate a team. Not only did this individual have the responsibility of leading and coordinating a team of more than 70 volunteers, but he rebuilt a service from the ground, following a COVID-19 related hiatus. Under his leadership, SWHAT has become one of the MSU’s most widely used services with over 600 users as of mid-February. Despite overseeing such a large team, this PTM knows volunteer by name, and treats them all as if they’ve been friends for a lifetime. Their passion and enthusiasm for the Service has uplifted the entire team, and has helped their volunteers and executives reach their highest potential.
MSU Merit Scholarship Award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding and valuable service to University, student, or residence governments, departments, clubs, societies, charities, or athletics. This year we have two winners for the MSU Merit Scholarship Award – one for overall achievement and one for one-year achievement. The winner of the one-year achievement is Emily Liang, and the winner for overall achievement is Gabrielle Trepanier.
- Emily Liang has been involved within the McMaster community in various capacities with the goal of not only making McMaster a more inclusive, safe, and equitable space, but also to provide support and mentorship to students. With a long list of involvement inside MSU services including: the Women + Gender Equity Network, the Pride Community Centre and the Student Health Education Centre, Emily has given so much in the pursuit of making campus life better for all students. In addition to this, Emily is involved in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Society, supporting peers in their academic endeavours by creating academic resources and events for the cohort. Furthermore, as an Archway mentor for the Student Success Centre, and Welcome Week representative for the Faculty of Health Sciences, Emily’s efforts to welcome first year students on campus is demonstrably remarkable.
- Gabrielle Trepanier has been involved in many facets of the McMaster community, including her faculty society, as well as MSU clubs and services. Gabrielle has demonstrated outstanding commitment to campus life. Whether it be as a Welcome Week representative, a buddy mentor for the Health Sciences Society, or a peer support volunteer within the Women & Gender Equity Network, Gabrielle’s service to students has been tremendous. In addition to these accomplishments, Gabrielle has been heavily involved in projects such as Bleed The North and La Plume Magazine, which encourages students to connect with the Francophone community at McMaster and allow their creative writing skills to flourish.
The Rudy Heinzl Award of Excellence was created to recognize the uncommon dedication to the concerns of students in honour of the former Dean of Students, Rudy Heinzl. Rudy contributed to the Student Services area at McMaster for more than thirty years. Through this award, the MSU honours his contribution by commemorating the work of others who have similarly contributed to the well-being of McMaster’s student community. The winner of the Rudy Heinzl Award of Excellence is Vithuyan Sugumar.
- Vithuyan Sugumar has demonstrated a commitment like none other when it comes to uplifting his community and providing opportunities for others. He has shown a tremendous amount of dedication and intention in all of the roles he has been involved in – whether it be as an MSU Spark Team Leader, aiding first year students in their transition to University, or as the MSU’s Student Walk Home Attendant Team Coordinator, working hard to promote the service to students, while overseeing a team of over 70 volunteers. Having also served as an Archway mentor through the Student Success Centre, it is clear that Vithuyan’s commitment to student life enhancement is unparalleled. In addition to these roles, Vithuyan is a volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House subcommittee of McMaster’s Smiling Over Sickness, assisting pediatric patients and their families and also works with the McMaster Research Shop, conducting and analyzing research for community groups in Hamilton.
Since its inception in 1931, the Honour M Award has been the highest award presented by the McMaster Students Union. It recognizes the accomplishments of a select few students for outstanding leadership, volunteer service, contribution and/or special achievement in extra-curricular activities. This award also recognizes the accomplishments that students have made on behalf of their peers, the University, and the community at large. A nominee’s contributions may have been completed in such areas as university or student government, residence life, departments, clubs, societies, charities, or athletics. The prestigious Honour M Award was bestowed to Kyobin Hwang, Vivien Trinh, and Hayley Ma.
- Kyobin Hwang’s passion for supporting students, especially first years, is unparalleled. As the current MSU Spark Director, Kyobin oversees 50 volunteers and administers programming to over 100 service users. She executed the distribution of wellness bags, containing self-care essentials, and implemented a new initiative called “Spark Stars,” which recognizes first-years for their active and meaningful engagement in the Service. Branching off of Kyobin’s passion for first-year mentorship, she also serves as a Community Advisor within McMaster’s residences, connecting with over 100 first years on her floor and establishing herself as a mentor figure which students can rely on for all types of issues .In addition to this, Kyobin is a Peer Support Volunteer within MSU’s Student Health Education Centre and MSU ‘s Women & Gender Equity Network, which has allowed her to advocate for sensitive topics and provide confidential peer support sessions. Kyobin has also been an integral part of the Bachelor of Health Sciences Charity Fashion Show which has supported a local charity, along with Bench to Beside, a club that aims to promote more awareness on translational medicine.
- Vivien Trinh has demonstrated a passion for improving student life at McMaster is championed by her participation in various MSU services and clubs. Citing that mentorship has played a critical role in shaping her undergraduate career, Vivien has undeniably demonstrated the qualities of a leader in all aspects of her undergraduate career. While involved with MSU Spark, Vivien spent two years bringing awareness to the service by not only increasing student engagement, but also leading a team of passionate volunteers to execute service goals such as the expansion of the Sessions program and the debut of the Spark Achievement in Leadership Award. As an Archway Mentor, Vivien supported a cohort of over 40 first-year students by conducting 1-on-1 conversations, responding to student inquiries, providing catered support, and recommending resources to promote their success. Vivien’s list of extracurricular and volunteer experience cannot be overlooked. She currently holds the following roles: Administrative Team Research Assistant with the MSU, Archway Mentor with the Student Success Centre, and Promotions Coordinator with MSU’s SHEC, and Public Relations Executive with MSU’s SWHAT.
- Hayley Ma, through all of her various leadership and volunteer roles, has shown great initiative to go above and beyond her job description by identifying gaps, using her creativity and applying systems-thinking. As the MSU’s current Marketing and Communications Assistant, Hayley connects with leaders of MSU services on directing videos that educate the McMaster student body on available resources. Hayley exemplified true initiative was shown when she started a series called “What’s Good, McMaster?”, which aims to highlight student perspectives on topics that are both fun and educational. Through her time at McMaster, Hayley has been involved with UNICEF McMaster for four years, a Welcome Week representative for three, and been an executive on the Bachelor of Health Sciences Society for two. She has committed over 170 hours to her volunteering positions including being a placement coordinator on McMaster Arts for Children, an in-school mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a volunteer for the Ronald McDonald family room and an inpatient pediatric volunteer at the McMaster hospital.