May 7, 2023

Graduate Students' Association honours award recipients for 2022-23 academic year

Keira Gunn and Ariel Kim awarded prestigious Leadership Awards at GSA Awards Gala 2023
AC Cameron and Keira Gunn, Ariel Kim, Imran Basha Soudagar Abdul Khadar
From left: AC Cameron and Keira Gunn, Ariel Kim, Imran Basha Soudagar Abdul Khadar. Joseph Tuan Pham

Challenging times produce exceptional leadership. The Graduate Students' Association (GSA) is grateful to witness numerous graduate students and community members have taken on leadership roles to ensure that graduate students thrive with mental health, financial, and community support.

On April 26, the GSA hosted its annual awards gala to recognize 23 exceptional individuals. The GSA expresses its sincere appreciation as they have gone above and beyond to support the UCalgary graduate student community.

Two exceptional leaders awarded the GSA Leadership Award this year are Keira Gunn, former AVP Labour and chair of the GSA Graduate Labour Union (formerly known as the GSA Labour Relations Committee), and Ariel Kim, chair of the GSA Gender and Sexuality Alliance Subcommittee.

Gunn brought great changes to the GSA Graduate Labour Union to improve the experience of academically employed graduate students at the University of Calgary. They established a strong foundation that will sustain the work and operations of the union moving into the future.

Under Kim’s leadership, the GSA Gender and Sexuality Alliance Subcommittee hosted the GSA’s first-ever drag show and the GSA Intersectionality Symposium in collaboration with other GSA committees. Because of their work, Kim and her team brought more visibility to under-represented groups in our UCalgary community and advocated for them to the University of Calgary and the larger Calgary community.

The Emerging Leader Award was presented to Imran Basha Soudagar Abdul Khadar, master’s student at the Haskayne School of Business. Khadar is also a member of the GSA Governance and Sustainability Committees. He is currently serving as the president of the MBA Society Departmental Graduate Association. He has worked with the UN as a project co-ordinator for the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot Project in His home country of India. He has also volunteered with The City of Calgary and has served as a mentor for fellow University of Calgary graduate students. 

Twenty other exceptional individuals received GSA awards for their unwavering support for UCalgary graduate students. The GSA is truly honoured to recognize them during its 2023 Awards Gala and celebrate their excellence.

The GSA would like to thank the awards committee and James Steele, GSA vice-president academic, for their work on the awards’ terms of reference, application, and adjudication process.

Please join the GSA to honour the recipients of the 2022-2023 GSA Awards:

Excellence in Administrative Support – Support Staff

  • Lori Somner, graduate program adviser, Department of History

Excellence in Research – Graduate Students

  • Joel Burma, PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology

Excellence in Research – Research Affiliate

  • Shahina Wiehler, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Excellence in Supervision

  • Dr. Andrew Szeto, Department of Psychology and director of the University of Calgary Campus Mental Health Strategy

Excellence in Teaching – Graduate Student

  • Tanisha Henry, PhD student in Biological Sciences

Excellence in Teaching – Senior Instructor

  • Dr. Kim Koh, professor at the Werklund School of Education

Leadership Award

  • Keira Gunn, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, former GSA AVP Graduate Labour Union
  • Ariel Kim, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, GSA Gender and Sexuality Alliance Subcommittee Chair

Emerging Leader Award

  • Imran Basha Soudagar Abdul Khadar, Haskayne School of Business

GSA Champion Award

  • Thao Nguyen, GSA marketing and communication manager

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Alex Paquette, former GSA vice-president academic

Graduate Representative Council Distinguished Service Award

  • Brett Nelson, PhD student, Department of Linguistics

Volunteer Excellence Awards

  • Pamela Farrell, chair of the Food Housing Working Group
  • Leah Mercier, chair of the Awards Committee
  • Nneka Jk-Onyeka, vice-chair the Governance Committee
  • Colin McKenzie, chair of the GSA Mental Health and Wellness Subcommittee
  • Pavana Bollu, chair of the Finance Standing Committee

Graduate Student Sustainability Award

  • Micky (Sangwook) Ahn 

Graduate Representative Council Initiative Awards

  • Meg Monisit and Daniel Adebesin
  • Hanna Thai
  • Navid Maddahi
  • Miao Wang