Atkinson honours award-winning students

Atkinson’s best and brightest students were honoured at its annual student awards ceremony and reception on Sunday, Feb. 5. The event gave the Faculty an opportunity to pay tribute to 64 of its students who had received major entrance and program scholarships; essay, creative writing and book prizes; and memorial scholarships and awards. This year’s recipient of the Atkinson Faculty Alumni Association Teaching Award was also honoured.

York University President Emeritus Ian Macdonald, Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton, Associate Dean Michael Michie, and Atkinson Master Diana Cooper-Clark greeted students and other guests who had gathered to celebrate the academic accomplishments of Atkinson’s top students.

Sylvia Schippke, York’s associate vice-president student community development, provided congratulatory remarks on behalf of President Lorna Marsden. Following Schippke’s speech, Lenton acknowledged the academic accomplishments of the many talented Atkinson students who, during the past year, had demonstrated academic excellence, commitment and dedication to their studies.

In addition to celebrating academic achievement, this event offered the chance to recognize the generosity of donors, without whom many of these academic awards would not exist. Prior to the awards ceremony, the Faculty and the York University Foundation hosted a luncheon. The event provided a rare occasion for donors to see the impact of their dollars firsthand and for student recipients of financial support to meet their benefactors personally.

Right: Award donor Marge Watters (left) with award recipient Randa Ashkar

Randa Ashkar, the first recipient of the new Knebel Watters and Associates Scholarship in Human Resources Management, was rewarded for her top standing in the program. “I have worked so hard over the past few years. To be recognized with this scholarship is an amazing vote of confidence,” said Ashkar. “I am happy to be here today and to be able to thank my donor personally.”

Marge Watters, co-founder of Knebel Watters and Associates (a human resources firm), established the scholarship along with her husband, John Knebel, to recognize excellence in the field. “Our whole business is human resources, and so we were interested in doing something at the university level,” Watters said. “It’s fantastic to get to know Randa personally, to learn about her career goals, and to help her make valuable job contacts for after graduation.”

After the donor recognition lunch, Ayla Rodney-Simard, the York Idol contest winner and an Atkinson student studying Creative Arts and Cultural Expression, opened the awards ceremony by singing a soulful rendition of “O Canada”.

Left: Multiple award winner Irene McEwan is congratulated by President Emeritus Ian Macdonald (right)

Many of the recipients got more than one award this year, and some have also won in previous years. Multiple award winner Irene McEwan said she “felt very honoured once again to receive an Atkinson scholarship”. Each student was presented a certificate of academic achievement.

The atmosphere was particularly joyful as award winners were given the opportunity to share the celebration with their family and friends. Carella Keil, recipient of the Stanley Fefferman Prize in Creative Writing, said, “I felt very honoured and the scholarship increased my confidence…the ceremony was really nice and everyone was so friendly.”

Roger Mak, recipient of the Atkinson Entrance Scholarship, said, “I felt appreciated and I want to thank everyone who made this possible.”

Right: Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton and School of Administrative Studies Director John Parkinson congratulate Teaching Award winner Parbudyal Singh (right)

The final award of the afternoon was presented by Associate Dean Michie on behalf of the Atkinson Faculty Alumni Association, to Prof. Parbudyal Singh of the School of Administrative Studies. The award acknowledged the exceptional contributions and teaching excellence of the human resources management professor, who was chosen for the 2005 Atkinson Faculty Alumni Association Teaching Award.

An elegant reception at the CIBC Marketplace followed the awards ceremony. It provided an opportunity for students, families, faculty, staff, and donors to celebrate, mingle, enjoy great food and live jazz from York music students James McEleney (bass), and Robb Cappelletto (guitar).

The event was hosted by the Atkinson Offices of the Master and the Dean.

This article was submitted to YFile by Timothy Hudson, communications manager, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.