Annual awards ceremony recognizes outstanding students in communication studies

The Department of Communication Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) held its annual awards ceremony on Feb. 4 via Zoom and received a strong show of support by faculty, friends and family at the event.

Rob Heynen and Christine Cooling

Rob Heynen and Christine Cooling

Professor Rob Heynen, chair of the Department, opened with inspiring words of praise and gratitude toward the hardworking students who won awards this year and acknowledged that while he wished attendees could have gathered together to celebrate in person, he was glad to be able to support students in a virtual celebration. Making the best of a difficult year, he applauded the hard work of the award winners and expressed pride and thanks for all their efforts. He introduced the winner of the Penny Jolliffe Scholarship, Christine Cooling, who had the highest GPA in COMN 1000, the required introductory course in Communication Studies.

Undergraduate Program Director Susan Driver moderated the ceremony, introducing this year’s presenters and winners. She emphasized the extraordinary efforts students have undertaken to excel academically in very difficult circumstances, saying “It takes a strong focus and commitment to do so well during the COVID crisis especially when courses move online and our ability to connect and learn together is so limited.” Expressing the importance of recognizing and applauding the outstanding work by the award winners, Driver noted that they were given plaques and gift cards from the department along with the specific award money “to show our appreciation and give them something to hold onto, and display after this event is over.”

Alisa Siegel presented the Arthur Siegel Memorial Award to Clara Salehi. This award goes to a third-year student who is a double-major in Communication Studies and a social science program and holds the highest cumulative GPA. The award honours Arthur Siegel who taught for 34 years in Social Science and Communication Studies, focusing on the economic and cultural dimensions of mass communication.

Reccia Mandelcorn presented the Jerry Durlak Prize to Tran Cao. This prize goes to the student in the department’s second-year "Information and Technology" course who has achieved top academic standing and is continuing into the third year of the program. The award honours Professor Jerry Durlak, who was a long-time member of the Communication Studies, Social Science and the graduate program in Communication & Culture, teaching over 20 courses and directing the digital media lab at York.

Tony Koch presented the Eric Koch Award to Sophie Argyle. This award is given to a student in the second-year "Politics, Policy and the Media" Communications Studies course who has achieved top academic standing and is continuing into the third year. This award honours Professor Eric Koch, who had an incredible career at the CBC before teaching courses on the politics of Canadian broadcasting for many years in Social Science and Communication Studies, while also being a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction.

Dalton Kehoe and Manya Thakur

Dalton Kehoe and Manya Thakur

Dalton Kehoe presented the Dalton Kehoe Prize to Manya Thakur. The prize is given to a second-year student who has achieved the highest GPA in the "Communication in Everyday Life" course and is continuing on as an honours student in the Department of Communication Studies. Kehoe has taught in different capacities in Social Science and Communication Studies for many years, and this award honours his numerous contributions.

Professor Anne MacLennan presented The Reva Orlicky Memorial and Founding Friends Award to Devin Stroink. This award was established by York University alumni and friends to provide a bursary to a deserving upper-year Communication Studies student who has shown an interest in radio broadcasting in Canada.

Professor Natalie Coulter presented the Fokus Media Awards to Priya Saha and Breagh MacDonald. These awards provide support to current Communication Studies majors who are interested in pursuing a career in advertising, marketing and media. One award is open to student in the department’s third-year advertising courses with the highest GPA, and the other award is given to a fourth-year student with a high GPA.

Mary Louise Craven and Alesha Sterling-Lobban

Mary Louise Craven and Alesha Sterling-Lobban

Professor Mary-Louise Craven presented the Department of Communication Studies International Exchange Award to Alesha Sterling-Lobban. This award is given to a Communication Studies major with a high overall GPA who has successfully completed a York University international exchange and is currently completing an honours degree. It was noted by Driver that “this year was a particularly difficult time to take courses abroad and so our winner deserves special recognition for their efforts.” She also highlighted that Craven not only sponsors this award but has contributed enormously to the department as a faculty member, Chair and UPD for many years and has recently retired. Craven has been a strong advocate for students and helped to actively promote international exchanges and the IBA degrees. Because of her hard work, Communication Studies has robust participation by students who want to study abroad.

Driver ended the ceremony by thanking all the attendees and winners at the event, stating that “more than ever we need to celebrate the brilliance and passion of our students by recognizing and awarding their remarkable accomplishments.” She expressed hope that next year it will be possible for everyone to meet and celebrate in person, and also thanked the staff who worked hard behind the scenes to organize the Zoom event.

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