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Prizes and Awards

Seeds, Latin America | Photo courtesy of Kyla Sankey


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize

The Michael Baptista Essay Prizes recognize annually, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at York University from a humanities, social science, business or legal perspective.

Classroom, Jamaica | Photo courtesy of Honor Ford Smith

The friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada, where he was a Senior Vice-President until his untimely death, fund the prizes to celebrate his spirit & success, the importance to him of his Guyanese roots, his outstanding achievements at the Royal Bank and his drive & love of learning.

If you are a York faculty member who graded an exceptionally accomplished piece of student work (at the graduate or the undergraduate level) of relevance to these regions this past academic year, we encourage you to nominate the essay in question.

The prize includes a monetary component of $500 per awardee.  Winning essays will be featured on CERLAC’s website. The essays may be from a full or half course during the  academic year, or a summer course.  Major Research Papers at the graduate level may also be nominated.  Submissions should be no longer than 35 double-spaced pages (exclusive of bibliography).  Deadline extensions are available in instances where significant re-writing is required to shorten the work to within that limit.

Prize winning essays

TLN Telelatino Prize

The TLN Graduate Fellowship ($2500) is awarded annually to one York graduate student, owing to their investment in communicating with the public about research relating to Latin America and the Caribbean and their diasporas.

Bahia, Brazil | Photo courtesy of Danielle Robinson

As a TLN Graduate Fellow, this student will serve as a knowledge hub and storyteller within the Centre with the mission of gathering and sharing human-interest stories from both student and faculty researchers on topics related to Latin America and the Caribbean, their diasporas, and their impact on Canada and the rest of the world.

The TLN Graduate Fellow will communicate these stories through our news storytelling portal, using various multimedia formats (such as videos, short stories, and podcasts) for the purposes of broadening their reach globally, so they are accessible to anyone interested in learning about these topics.

Each Graduate Fellow will be appointed for three terms (Fall, Winter, Summer), and they will be expected to  produce a minimum of four multimedia stories for our website.

Interested students should submit an up to 800-word statement of interest and vision for serving as a TLN Graduate Fellow. The Graduate Fellow will be selected based on the clarity, creativity, and maturity of their storytelling vision as well as their commitment to research in the region.

The proposal should include:  

  • the project title  
  • a provisional title for each of the four (or more) pieces  
  • a statement of the nature of each piece: the medium and general (methodological/theoretical) approach  
  • a statement of the nominee’s previous work that informs this project 

The Prize was established in 2009 by a donation made to York University by Telelatino (TLN), a Canadian television channel that broadcasts programs of interest to the Hispanic and Italian communities.

The TLN Graduate Fellow must be a graduate student registered in an academic degree program at York University (any Faculty or College, including Glendon). Eligible students must be Canadian citizens, Ontario residents, and demonstrate financial need.  

Interested Graduate Fellows can apply to the Prize by clicking on the "Application Form" button. A panel of York University professors associated with CERLAC will evaluate the statements of interest from the nominees. The winner is usually announced in October.

For more information, contact CERLAC at (416) 736-5237 or

Prize winning essays


The Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fellowship and Award

This generous endowment, the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund, was established in 2009 at York University through a private donation and University matching funds.

Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico | Photo courtesy of William Payne

The endowment will fund two annual student grant programs: the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Fellowship (one per year of $10,000), and the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Fieldwork Research Award (up to five per year, worth anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000). These will be awarded to graduate students engaged in research on human rights and social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean. The awards will be administered by CERLAC.

CERLAC Fellow Professor Emerita Liisa North established the fund in memory of her parents. Read more about Prof. North's motivation for creating the Fund in the article below, from the "YorkU Legacies Newsletter" (Fall/Winter 2009).

Adapting to Circumstances and Giving Back - Liisa North

The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies

The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies is intended to support PhD students at York University whose research is related to Caribbean studies so that they might focus on research during the fieldwork phase of their studies or while writing their thesis. Recipients will be selected based on academic excellence, significance of proposed research, likelihood of completion, and financial need. Preference will be given to a PhD student whose dissertation proposal has been accepted.

The award consists of $5,000.

Street Mural, Jamaica | Photo courtesy of Honor Ford Smith

Application process:

Interested applicants will be required to provide a nomination package to the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC).

Nomination packages will include the following:

  • a statement (no longer than three pages) outlining their areas of research and the importance of this research as it relates to Caribbean studies,
  • a sample of their research,
  • academic transcripts (can be submitted up to 2 weeks after the application deadline) and
  • two letters of reference.

Preference will be given to a PhD candidate with an approved dissertation proposal on file with the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, for distribution in the Summer term for the year of consideration. By virtue of applying for this scholarship, students agree to share their statements with the donor who has established the scholarship.

Applicants must also complete the Student Financial Profile (SFP).