Biology, economics and Indigenous studies grads recognized with silver medals
Three graduating students from York University, Megan Schwegel, James Addis and Lance Morrison, were recognized with the Governor General of Canada’s Silver Academic Medals.
Awarded by the Governor General of Canada, the Governor General’s Academic Medals recognize the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. Silver medals are awarded to the undergraduate level student graduating with the highest average from approved university programs.
“Megan, James and Lance have each demonstrated their commitment to academic excellence, one of the core pillars of York University,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “As new alumni, I know their tenacity, creativity and dedication will serve them well, and continue to bring them much well-deserved success.”
About the recipients
Megan Schwegel, a graduate of the bilingual biology program at Glendon Campus, worked closely with Assistant Professor Valerie Schoof, primarily on vervet monkey data entry, data cleaning and a social network analysis of red colobus monkeys.
During her undergraduate career, Schwegel was involved in the first-year Research Mentorship Program in 2016-17, and facilitated the administration of a psychological test to community members for healthy aging research being conducted by Associate Professor Guy Proulx and postdoctoral visitor Kristoffer Romero. She also volunteered on project with Assistant Professor Laura McKinnon that involved finding nesting sites and recording measurements of eggs in Toronto parks.
Schwegel has been awarded two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards with Schoof. Research for the first award, held in 2018, involved collecting behavioural data and fecal samples, from which she extracted hormones, from adult female and infant vervet monkeys in Uganda. She is currently holding the second award, for which she has been expanding upon her honours thesis, “Breeding seasonality and stacked reproductive investment in female vervet monkeys at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda," which used the vervet monkey data to determine how reproductive parameters relate to female dominance rank, and how these parameters differ in this group of monkeys relative to at other locations.
“Receiving the Governor General's silver medal is a huge honour,” Schwegel said. “As a Glendon student, I was allowed to explore various fields and I'm very grateful for the opportunities with which I have been presented.
“Being at a small campus gave me the confidence to speak up and I am thankful for the friends I have made and the professors who have helped me along the way,” she said.
James Addis was a Glendon student who graduated with a major in economics and minors in mathematics and music with a focus on jazz piano. He describes his undergraduate experience at York as “unique and fantastic.”
He appreciated his time studying science and technology policy with Associate Professor of economics Marie Lavoie, and his work as a research assistant and co-author with Ian Roberge, interim principal at Glendon, exploring public policy and administration.
Addis, who aspires to be a professor of economics and management by day and a jazz pianist by night, is heading into the direct-entry PhD program in Strategic Management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“It is a great honour to receive this award from York,” he said, “My time at Glendon and in the jazz area of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) music has been nothing short of phenomenal.”
Lance Morrison’s undergraduate research focused on cultural, ceremonial and language reclamation for Indigenous people, and the history of anti-Indigenous genocide in Canada. He graduated with a specialized major in Indigenous studies with a certificate in Anti-Racist Research and Practice.
"Being only the second Indigenous student to receive this medal makes me extremely proud,” said Morrison, a Métis and Plains Cree student. “I honour my ancestors who had very tumultuous relationships with the Canadian education system and have shown them we are still resilient and proving ourselves.
“I hope to serve as a role model for other Indigenous students to remember to believe in themselves and strive for their very best,” he continued.
While at York, Morrison served on the Indigenous Council, the Aboriginal Students Association at York, and as an Indigenous Student Advisor for the Department of Equity Studies, Department of Indigenous Studies and the Equity Studies Students Association. He was invited to give three guest lectures to first-year undergraduate classes.
His play, “ᐅᐢᑫᐢᑫᐧᐤ ᐸᓯᑯᐃᐧᐣ Oskeskwew Pasikowin: New Woman Standing,” received a President’s and Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Creative Writing Award in 2017.
Morrison will be working toward his master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at York with a project that looks at how reclamation of Indigenous languages can help Indigenous people heal from direct or intergenerational trauma.
About the awards
For more than 140 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as from approved college or university programs. Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell, Robert Bourassa, Robert Stanfield and Gabrielle Roy are just some of the more than 50,000 people who have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal as the start of a life of accomplishment.
Today, the Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze, at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze, at the post-secondary, diploma level; Silver, at the undergraduate level; and Gold, at the graduate level. Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions, along with personalized certificates signed by the Governor General. There is no monetary award associated with the medal.