Leader in student success earns Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award

a man holding a trophy

Agata Stypka, student success coordinator in the Faculty of Health, received the award from the Advising Community of Practice and Peer Leader Community of Practice in recognition of her unwavering commitment to students through her work in delivering excellence in student success and peer leadership programming.

The annual award was established in honour of Lynda Tam, who 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 through shaping student services, advising, and peer mentoring programs. She was also a founding co-chair of the Peer Leader Community of Practice.

Agata Stypka
Agata Stypka

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 and was a coach and a guiding light to students, staff, and faculty.

Stypka received this year’s award for exemplifying many of Tam’s qualities. Stypka is known as a leader in student success, who contributes to and has impact in student success programs and initiatives across campus. As the longest standing student success coordinator in Calumet and Stong Colleges, Stypka is credited with the delivery of high impact initiatives such as Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), Agents of Change, Orientation and Peer Leadership Training.

“Agata is a welcoming and empathetic partner who works tirelessly to support her colleagues and champion student success and peer leadership across York’s campus and within our alumni community,” shared Jennine Rawana former head of Calumet College and Department of Psychology associate professor.

“Agata works tirelessly to support peer leaders to help them become proficient in their roles and brings a level of excellence to her programming, all with the intention of support students and their development,” says Mazen Hamadeh, associate dean, students, Faculty of Health and former head, Stong College.

As part of the award, art was commissioned from AMPD student Paria Shahverdi. The artwork is named “Peace” and was inspired by Tam, her illumination of shine, beauty and care, and the hope that she is now at peace. “This painting exemplifies the light and hope Lynda shared with those around her,” shared Catherine Salole, a member of the Selection Committee.

The award was presented to Stypka in a surprise meeting that included colleagues from the Faculty of Health, members of the selection committee and her nominators – Rawana and Robert Bishop, director, Student & Academic Services & Strategic Initiative. 

“It is an immense honor to receive this award and I am humbled. I had the opportunity to meet and work with Lynda and she certainly was a guiding light for me as I began my career at York. The beautiful painting of the dove is a wonderful reminder of the important work that universities do in the pursue of justice and peace and creating positive change,” said Stypka.