St. George’s Society of Toronto honours four YorkU graduate students

Four York University graduate students were honoured recently for their research achievements in British culture and health sciences at the St. George’s Society of Toronto scholars’ reception.

Last week, doctoral students Gavin Bembridge (Linguistics), Leigha Comer (Sociology), Sara Farhan (History) and MFA student Alistair Newton (Theatre) received their awards.

Sara Farhan
Sara Farhan

The society’s Graduate Student Award supports master’s and doctoral students in areas of research pertaining to British culture ( English language and literature, history, art, science, social and political science, geography, environment) and health sciences, specifically in the area of nursing and nurse practitioners. Recipients receive up to $12,500 in funds to support their research.

Farhan attended the reception with her professors and spoke at length about her research at York University. Her work examines the development of the Royal Medical College of Baghdad, which is Iraq’s first medical college. It highlights the college’s role in the development of a national collective identity at a time when Iraq was politically and economically convoluted in Britain’s diplomacies.

“Ultimately, my research will provide an alternate perspective to approaching cultural and pedagogical fusion on a transnational scale; one which rejects passivity theories and celebrates local level agency and activity,” she noted. “Through this project, I hope to contribute to the historiography of British and Iraqi cultural and the scientific contributions throughout the British mandate and the Hashemite period.”

Farhan also praised the society for the opportunities the award has provided her, and how it has contributed to her academic success.

“The majority of sources from British Mandate of Mesopotamia/ Iraq to the early 1960s are located at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies Library, Oxford University’s Middle East Centre; and The National Archives Kew’s Public Record Office in England,” she said. “In April 2017, I will be traveling to Oxford, UK where I can examine the rare collections hosted at Oxford University. I will then present some of my preliminary findings at the Middle East and North Africa Conference hosted by Trinity College in England.”

“By supporting this research, The St. George’s Society is having a significant impact on medical education, and therefore is a celebration of knowledge and research with a global impact.”

  • Bembridge, who is a PhD candidate in Linguistics, has completed both his BA and MA at York University. His work specializes in the areas of morphology and syntax.
  • Comer, a PhD candidate in Sociology, conducts public health research in chronic pain and illnesses. Upon completion of her studies, she hopes to work with Canadian medical schools to develop a comprehensive pain curriculum, and to help bridge the gap between biomedical and psychosocial care of chronic illness.
  • Newton, MFA candidate in Theatre, will direct Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park production in the summer of 2017, as well as a production at The Berkley Street Theatre, and he will also assist Canadian Stage Artistic Director Matthew Jocelyn with his upcoming production of the North American premiere of Liv Stein.

The St. George’s Society of Toronto is a registered non-profit organization. Through its member donations and fundraising events, the society donates to more than 20 charitable organizations annually.