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U of T Scarborough student wins prestigious university-wide award

DONALD FORSTER AWARD: Anthropology and health studies major Jenna Hossack has won a prestigious U of T student award. (Photo by Jason Szeto.)

by Eleni Kanavas

An anthropology and health studies major at U of T Scarborough is the recipient of the Donald Forster Award from the University of Toronto, which honours her active student involvement on this campus.

Jenna Hossack said she was surprised and excited to win the $3,150 award for which had applied. The well-earned prize money is going towards her tuition fees, she said.

The award was created in memory of Donald Forster, who was President Designate of U of T who died suddenly of a heart attack in 1983 before he could take office. The monetary award is open to all students across U of T who are enrolled in their first undergraduate degree program. Candidates are recognized for their participation in and contribution to student governance and student activities, as well as their academic achievement. Applicants are also required to have maintained a cumulative average of at least a B.

“While I was growing up, my mom was always active in our community and she taught me the importance of knowing what’s going on around you and participating in community life,” she said. “It’s those kinds of connections that make a place feel like home, and U of T Scarborough quickly became a home away from home for me.”

Even though Hossack lives in residence, she said she knew that the quality of her university experience would be determined by her level of participation in campus life. Thus, she says her involvement at U of T Scarborough has always been about finding ways to make life better for all students. She has held numerous leadership positions, focusing her efforts on improving life outside of the classroom, specifically in areas of diversity, accessibility, the environment, safety and health.

“I love being a resource and creating opportunities for students to learn and enjoy their time here,” said the 22-year-old, originally from Newcastle, Ontario. She works two part-time jobs, as an invigilator for the AccessAbility office, and as campus program coordinator for the mental wellness peer educator program at the Health and Wellness Centre.

Some of the positions Hossack has held throughout her university career include SCSU Vice-President Students & Equity 2006-2007, Vice-President Academics of the Students of Social Sciences Association (SoSSA), Chair of the Council on Student Services, and Residence Advisor 2007-2008. She has also been a volunteer for the Women’s Centre, Orientation and at tree and flower planting events on campus.

“Jenna is a natural leader,” said Tom Nowers, Dean of Student Affairs. “She has worked with and for students with dedication, enthusiasm and compassion, resulting in significant achievements both in student life and in her academic work.”

Yet, the demands of balancing two part-time jobs and three courses per term don’t stop her from accomplishing more.

Hossack is currently the campus program coordinator for the new Mental Wellness Peer Educators program at the Health and Wellness Centre. In addition, she works for AccessAbility Services as an exam invigilator as well serving on three committees: the Subcommittee on (Academic) Standing at U of T Scarborough; the Academic Board of Governing Council, and the Academic Policy and Programs subcommittee of Academic Board, which deals with academic planning and decision-making at the tri-campus level.

“My experience at U of T Scarborough has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “I’ve been privileged to have such great opportunities and overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’m grateful for the challenges that have helped me grow.”

She plans to graduate in June 2009. Hossack is currently applying to graduate school for applied medical anthropology. Her interest is in developing sexual health education programs for high school students.

In the meantime, Hossack advises her fellow classmates to get involved outside of the classroom and try something new. “University is not just about your marks, it’s learning about the world and growing as a person,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to make new friends, have new experiences and learn things that will shape you for years.”

Eleni Kanavas is a recent graduate of the journalism program offered jointly at U of T Scarborough and Centennial College.

© University of Toronto Scarborough