Three undergraduate students at York University have been awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal. The medal recognizes the outstanding scholastic achievements of undergraduate students in Canada. Receiving the medals are changemakers Alina Kuimova, Amirarsalan Rahimian and Katelyn Conferido.
Alina Kuimova is graduating with a Specialized Bilingual B.A. (Hons.) in linguistics and language studies, which she completed in three languages: English, French and Spanish. Kuimova also served as the president of the Glendon Linguistics Club this year (2020-21) and is currently employed as a teaching assistant in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in the Linguistics program. During her undergraduate studies, she contributed to several faculty-led research projects and was able to work on an array of little known and fascinating languages, such as Mambila (Cameroon), Kwak’wala (British Columbia) and Samoan (Polynesia).
“It’s been a true privilege to learn from – and work with – our excellent, productive and incredibly supportive faculty. I was also lucky to study under Professor Chandan Narayan, who helped me discover a passion for working at the language-brain interface. As part of his lab, I investigated perception of noise-vocoded speech (an artificially distorted speech that simulates the signal transduced by cochlear implants) to improve the listening experience of people with hearing loss,” says Kuimova. “Prof. Narayan and I are currently revising a manuscript that was based on this research. I am planning to build upon this work, as I work towards my master’s degree in linguistics (also under supervision of Prof. Narayan).
“For me, this award is a measure of effort and dedication – not only mine, but that of everyone who guided me along the way. I am indebted to my family for making this journey possible and to my faculty for always inspiring me to do my best. Thanks to them, studying at York has been a truly exceptional experience,” adds Kuimova.
Amirarsalan Rahimian says he is grateful for the opportunity to study kinesiology and health science in the Faculty of Heath at York University. During his undergraduate studies, Rahimian says he was surrounded by amazing instructors, peers and experiences that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
He also pursued volunteering and found the experience enriched his undergraduate experience. “I was so passionate about the material I was learning in my kinesiology courses that I decided to become a volunteer peer note sharer from 2017 to 2020 for Student Accessibility Services, to share my passion and provide lecture notes for students with disabilities,” says Rahimian. “I was also able to further expand my knowledge and experience through extracurricular activities such as research and shadowing medical practitioners. For instance, in my third year of undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to volunteer in Professor Dorota Crawford's Developmental Neuroscience Lab at York University and support her graduate team in projects such as dendrite and dendritic spine measurements in mice. Furthermore, in summer 2019, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in Dr. Rezai's Biomedical Engineering Lab at York University and research the effects of heavy metals and neurotransmitters on the cardiovascular system of Drosophila larvae.
“I am truly honoured to be receiving this award, and I am motivated to continue putting my best effort to accomplish my goals in the upcoming chapters of my life,” says Rahimian. “I really am grateful for experiencing undergrad at York University.”
During his undergraduate studies at York University, Rahimian had an opportunity to shadow Dr. Arsha Karbassi at the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. “One of the most valuable shadowing experiences I had was with Dr. Karbassi at McMaster Children's Hospital, where I gained significant knowledge regarding the field of cardiology and the patient-doctor relationship,” says Rahimian. “I was truly fascinated by how professional, friendly and caring Dr. Karbassi was towards his patients, and I strive to be like him. My dream is to become a medical practitioner one day and change as many lives as possible.”
Katelyn Conferido is graduating from the Children, Childhood and Youth program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). During her undergraduate studies, Conferido used qualitative focus groups to explore how five youth in the Greater Toronto Area experience music-focused participatory fan cultures for an honours research project.
Her research proposal for the project earned her an honourable mention in the 2020 LA&PS Writing Prize. Conferido also received the 2021 Herbert and Violetta Halpert Writing Prize in Children, Childhood and Youth Studies for her final report of the project. She was awarded the 2019 LA&PS Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence for obtaining the highest sessional grade point average in the second-year level.
Most recently, Conferido has also worked as a research assistant with LA&PS Assistant Professor Abigail Shabtay in organizing the 2021 Children, Youth and Performance Conference, which is the largest academic conference in Canada focusing on children, youth and the performing arts. It was hosted by York University in partnership with Young People’s Theatre.
“The support of staff and students in the Children, Childhood and Youth program has encouraged me to pursue valuable learning experiences in and beyond the classroom and has helped me foster my passion for this field in such a rewarding way,” says Conferido. “To receive the Governor General’s Silver Medal in recognition of my work is an incredible honour.”
With a passion for teaching and researching child-centred pedagogies and rights-based practices, Conferido will be pursuing a master of arts in child study and education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
About the awards
For more than 140 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as from approved college or university programs. Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell, Robert Bourassa, Robert Stanfield and Gabrielle Roy are just some of the more than 50,000 people who have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal as the start of a life of accomplishment.
Today, the Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze, at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze, at the post-secondary, diploma level; Silver, at the undergraduate level; and Gold, at the graduate level. Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions, along with personalized certificates signed by the Governor General. There is no monetary award associated with the medal.