Atkinson students honoured for academic excellence

Over 200 members of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies gathered to recognize the achievements of students at the annual Celebrating Academic Excellence event on Feb. 24. Students were honoured for their commitment to their academic studies, their contributions to student life at York, and their demonstrated leadership, expressed locally and internationally.

Alumna Jennifer Corriero (right) (BA ’03, MES ’06), recipient of the 2007 Bryden Alumni Award and co-founder and executive director of TakingITGlobal, provided a compelling keynote that encouraged students to dream big. Corriero focused on five lessons of leadership, one of which was to believe in oneself and in people. As several students noted after the ceremony, that belief is what led to their success. It was also the belief other people had in their strengths and abilities that led them on the path to York.

Georgia native Parnaoz (TATO) Tsintsadze came to Canada eager to make a difference. He had a dream to study and learn in a multicultural learning environment, a desire to make valuable changes in his community and a willingness to take a risk. As Tsintsadze notes, however, his journey to York may not have been possible without the financial support provided by the University’s prestigious Global Leader of Tomorrow Award. The award helped to ease his financial worries and played a vital role in engaging him as a new student.

Left: Parnaoz Tsintsadze (left) and Chhiv Ing Yang

"York is a place where the present interacts with the past and the future takes shape," said Tsintsadze. "It is a place where great minds of the world meet and give birth to ideas. I am honoured and excited to be part of it, and humbled to have received this award. The donors who generously contribute do more than they can imagine by providing award and scholarship opportunities."

Tsintsadze’s sentiment mirrors that of many other international students. For BAS student Kyle Anthony Kolasingh, receiving the President’s Award of Excellence for International Students opened up "a world of opportunity." The award has helped Kolasingh expand his academic goals – he plans to pursue his CFA designation and work towards his masters – and allowed him to transition successfully into Canadian university life and culture.

"Without this scholarship, it would be impossible for me to go to university outside my home country," said Kolasingh. "It has opened so many doors for me to be involved in new things, meet new people, all of which have helped me develop and grow as a person. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and learned invaluable lessons, all of which, without this scholarship, I would not be able to do."

Right: Zihao Xu (left), winner of the York University Faculty Association Undergraduate Scholarship, and Sandra Scott, Atkinson’s School of Administrative Studies undergraduate program director

Chhiv Ing Yang, second-year BAS ITEC student, attributes a great deal of her success in Canada specifically to the donors, who generously create the awards. "I am very grateful to them, to their belief in us as students, and I am inspired by their honourable contributions towards education and community," she said. "Thanks to the Global Leader of Tomorrow Award, I am able to immerse in York’s diverse culture, improve and develop on my field of interest, and gain other invaluable Canadian experiences."

It was with the knowledge that someone once believed in her that alumna Mona Sharkawy decided to create one of this year’s new awards – The Austin Award. Sharkawy was the epitome of an Atkinson student, working full time. During the latter part of her degree, she had her son, Austin. She received financial support through scholarships and personal support through the understanding of her professors. Grateful for her experience and eager to contribute to the York community as an alumna, Sharkawy created the award in honour of her son. Her generous donation will help sole supporters of families in need of financial assistance.

Left: Austin St. Jacques (left) – who The Austin Award is named after – with Ying Shen and Mona Sharkawy

"It’s the part of giving that’s beautiful – the opportunity to give back," said Sharkawy. "I don’t think I would be where I am, or as successful as I am, today without the support I received while at Atkinson. I’m at a place in my life where I am able to contribute and I encourage others (and these students when they’re able) to do the same."

Click to watch a video of the event

For more information on this year’s award ceremony, contact Student and Alumni Relations (STARS) at