Mona Frial-Brown named recipient of the 2022 Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award

Vari hall

The Advising Community of Practice and Peer Leader Community of Practice has selected Mona Frial-Brown, manager of student success and access programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), to receive the 2022 Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award.

This annual award was established in honour of Lynda Tam, a long-serving leader at York University. Tam served as the first assistant dean, students in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) where she had a profound impact on the student experience by shaping student services, advising and peer mentoring programs. Her commitment to students and their success was part of her everyday practice. Through her creative and imaginative approach, she developed programs and initiatives that helped students excel and reach their academic, personal and professional goals. Tam exemplified student service excellence across York University. She was a coach and a guiding light to students, staff and faculty. As a founding co-Chair of the Peer Leader Community of Practice and as a campus leader in advising, Tam’s impact on students and student services staff was far-reaching and continues today.

Paria Shahverdi (left) and Mona Frial-Brown (right)
Paria Shahverdi (left) and Mona Frial-Brown (right)

Frial-Brown exemplifies many of Tam’s qualities in her unwavering commitment to students through leading innovative and inspired student service and support. Frial-Brown is an academic success and peer leadership specialist who has leveraged her expertise throughout her 15 years at York University in her roles in Learning Skills Services and LA&PS. She is well-respected across the University and known as a collaborator, empathetic leader and tireless champion of student success, and her ability to inspire change and improve services to thousands of York students each year. Some of Frial-Brown’s notable accomplishments, facilitations and collaborations include the development of the Learning Skills Peer program, new student transition initiatives and strategy development, Peer-Assisted Study Session (PASS) expansion, University 101 pilot, and most recently the newly established Student Numeracy Assistance Centre at Keele (SNACK). 

“Mona’s creative and thoughtful approach to student success has anchored some of LA&PS’ most notable teaching and learning initiatives over the past two years,” said Anita Lam, associate dean teaching and learning, LA&PS. “Across various projects and initiatives, she has consistently inspired and guided her colleagues, team members and in particular, her peer leaders to mobilize impactful changes in students’ learning experiences across the Faculty. In addition to intentionally designing robust training programs for peer leaders, Mona has fostered a sense of community as well as meaningfully contributed to pan-university communities of practice around peer mentoring, supplemental instruction and student learning.”

As part of the award, Frial-Brown, received art commissioned from Paria Shahverdi, a fourth-year BFA student in AMPD. The piece was inspired by a poem by the Farsi poet Sohrab Sepehri titled “Khane Doost Kojast,” which translated in English means “where is a friend’s home” and it is a metaphor for the life-long search for truth and self-understanding. “This metaphor is a wonderful reflection of Lynda’s legacy and Mona’s tremendous impact on our students’ journeys,” said Tina Pietrangelo, coordinator, integrated student services, AMPD, and a member of the selection committee.

Lynda Tam
Lynda Tam

The award was presented to Frial-Brown in a surprise Zoom meeting that included members of the student success and retention team in LA&PS, her nominators and Lam, and Michele Johnson associate dean students.

“Lynda Tam was creative and passionate about supporting students, which resulted in the creation of thoughtful programming that built community and fostered student success. She did this with warmth, empathy and love, and was a true inspiration and mentor to me,” said Frial-Brown. “I’m truly humbled and grateful to be honoured with this award by my respective colleagues. Paria’s beautiful artwork now hangs in my office, as a constant reminder of Lynda and her impact in my life.”

The selection committee thanks those involved in submitting nominations for this important award that both celebrates and recognizes Lynda Tam’s legacy and the contributions of many exceptional student services professionals at York.

More on her legacy can be found here.