Three grad students named Elia Scholars

Allan Hutchinson chatting with this year’s Elia Scholars

Out of nearly 2,000 York University doctoral students, three are selected each year to join the Elia Scholars Program, worth $30,000 per year for four years of doctoral study.

This year’s Elia Scholars – Tomas Cheney, Stephanie Fisher and Katie Seaborn – were honoured at a dinner hosted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Patrick Monahan, vice-president academic & provost, congratulated the students on earning “the most prestigious scholarship given by York.”

Allan Hutchinson chatting with this year’s Elia ScholarsAllan Hutchinson chatting with this year’s Elia Scholars

Professor Emeritus Harry Arthurs, of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and former president of the University from 1985 to 1992, thanked Mariano Elia and the Elia family, whose donations enabled the creation of the Elia Scholars Program. In recalling meeting Elia, Arthurs said, Elia was “a wonderful man who pushed us to do more, to do it better, and to do it with the community.”

Elia’s son Paul spoke about his father’s dedication to his family and to education. Arriving in Canada at age 12, he spoke no English and was placed in kindergarten with a class of much younger students. “He learned the value and importance of education early in life and passed that to us,” Paul said, adding, “our family is so happy to be a part of the amazing work of the Elia Scholars.”

Tomas Cheney, working towards a PhD in political science, researches environmental politics and philosophy. With a principle interest in the human relationship with nature, he aims to look at past and present to rethink and restructure that relationship. “Through charting a story, we can think more creatively and innovatively about the ways we interact with nature,” he said.

Harry Arthurs addresses guests at the Elia Scholars dinnerHarry Arthurs addresses guests at the Elia Scholars dinner

Stephanie Fisher, a doctoral student in education, spends her time looking at how video games affect students’ engagement with learning, for the better. In her master’s thesis, she examined how Second World War video games drove players’ interest levels in history. In her doctoral research, she’s building on research that shows that gaming increases interest in the sciences, to see how that knowledge might be used to increase female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

After completing an MSc in interactive arts & technologies, Katie Seaborn joined the graduate program in communication & culture, a program offered jointly by York University and Ryerson University. In her doctoral research, she is exploring haptic technology (tactile feedback, such as when your video game Allan Hutchinson, Paul Elia, and Jeffrey O’Hagan, vice-president advancementremote vibrates in response to an event in the game) and whole body interaction in gaming (think Kinect), especially how these technological advances can help autistic children.

Allan Hutchinson, Paul Elia, and Jeffrey O’Hagan, vice-president advancement

As dinner drew to a close, law Professor Allan Hutchinson, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and associate vice-president graduate, thanked Arthurs, the Elia family and the Elia Scholars. He offered gratitude to Arthurs for cultivating the strong relationship with Elia and his family. “He has been a great mentor as an academic and administrator, for whom the University was always foremost a place of learning,” said Hutchinson. “The Elia Scholars continue Mariano Elia’s legacy and his passion for learning.”