FES honours students past & present

York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) hosted its first annual Awards Gala to honour current and past student award recipients and the generous donors who make the awards possible. The event, which included a formal dinner at the Underground on Nov. 3, celebrated the Faculty’s long tradition of student achievement and community involvement.

Right: York President &Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden with President’s Scholarship winners Adena Brettler (left) and Kerrie Lowitt

Prof. Bonnie Kettel, who served as emcee for the evening, guided the presentation of more than 30 awards to undergraduate and graduate students in the Faculty. Many donors and University officials joined the celebration, including York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, who presented the President’s Scholarship. As each award was announced, past recipients, going back to 1999, were also asked to stand up and be honoured.

“We were delighted to be joined by past recipients and their families from across Canada and the United States,” said Salina Abji, manager of the FES Student and Alumni Resource Centre (SARC) and one of the event coordinators. “Current students continually talk about the tremendous amount of support and inspiration they get from connecting with alumni. At the same time, our donors were thrilled to see the ripple effect of their generosity showcased in the continued achievements of past recipients.”

Left: Heaslip Scholar Sierra Frank (right) thanks award donor William Heaslip

More FES students were recognized this year than ever before, thanks to the introduction of two new awards: the Han Shan Sih Buddhist Society Student Bursary, which recognizes students with clear religious, spiritual or ethical commitments to the environment, and the Heaslip Scholarship in Environmental and Community Leadership, which recognizes students who have made notable contributions to environmental awareness, social activism and neighbourhood development. Two additional awards were announced for next year: the Adrienne Pocock Environmental Scholarship and the Harold Mahabir Student Bursary for International Development.

“It is hard to express in words my delight and gratitude,” said 2005 Heaslip Scholar Sierra Frank. “This award will offer me the time to give back to my community by volunteering. Thank you for enabling me to join in this circle of sharing.”

Dr. Woody FisherThe Faculty also began a new tradition of publicly thanking supporters for their contributions. The inaugural Friend of the Faculty Award, established to recognize outstanding support provided to the Faculty, was presented to Dr. M.M. (Woody) Fisher, a long-time supporter of the Faculty who is best known for donating to York the rainforest land in Las Nubes, Costa Rica, which is now home to York’s research facility there.

Right: Dr. Woody Fisher

“Through Las Nubes, the Faculty has made great strides in the promotion of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation,” said FES Dean Joni Seager. “The Friend of the Faculty Award acknowledges Dr. Fisher as the driving force behind the success of Las Nubes and a cherished supporter of the Faculty.”

For more information on awards offered by the Faculty, visit the Faculty Web site or contact the Student and Alumni Resource Centre at ext 33196.

This article was submitted to YFile by Arlene Williams, media & communications coordinator, Faculty of Environmental Studies.