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Acknowledging the best and brightest at the annual Undergraduate Student Awards

February 2, 2017

On January 31st, political science undergraduate students, their parents, faculty and donors gathered once again to celebrate the academic achievements of the best and brightest.

Presided over by Associate Chair and Undergraduate Director Rodney Haddow, the awards were presented to the students by the Chair Louis Pauly. Haddow, who will soon be stepping down from his current role, is grateful for his involvement in the event. “As Undergraduate Director, it has been my privilege to preside over this event, and bestow most of the honours, for the past three years. The awards are made possible by numerous and very generous donors, often former colleagues or students who want to celebrate the tremendous abilities of our students. There are awards for performance in individual courses, a year of study, and for an entire degree programme. The recipients are incredibly talented and have surpassed meeting their academic goals. I know I can speak for every instructor in our department in saying that it has been an honour to get to know them.”

In total, eighteen awards were handed out to twenty three students, with two picking up two or more academic nods. Rebecca Hellam, who was awarded the Pollara Statistical Confidence Award was honoured by the accolade. “I consider this to be proof that a little dedication to learning and a lot of patience from a professor can really help students step into fields they never considered options. The support I have received from teaching staff and faculty has been fundamental to the progress of my education, and this award feels like confirmation that success is possible even in challenging subjects. This award showed me my own capabilities, and has led me to pursue a Masters program in Public Policy. It has given me confidence where I previously had none, and that is something you can’t find in a classroom.”

Many students expressed their gratitude through short speeches, the most poignant coming from Rauf Isa Azimov who arrived to Canada as a refugee over eight years ago from Azerbaijan. Currently in his final year, he was awarded the Jules and Elaine James Scholarship. “First, I’d like to thank the donors for their generous support of these awards. In my first few difficult years here, I had two dreams. One was to be able to stay in Canada. The other was to go back to school. The only school I wanted to go to, and indeed the only one I applied to, was the University of Toronto. This institution brought me back to life. In my first political science lecture, I got emotional and cried because for the first time in my life, I was free to study the world, to ask questions, and to express my opinions without fear. I’m grateful to the University of Toronto for giving me that opportunity. I’m grateful for the recognition of my efforts and I thank my professors whose passion inspired me. I also thank the wonderful Canadians who helped me get to this point.”

The complete list of the 2015/2016 award winners is available here.

Donors present this year included Ronald Deibert and Nora Born-Clarkson.

Picture (L-R): Rauf Isa Azimov, Jacob Trombley and Chair Louis Pauly.