Student Profiles - 2021
In a year that required the utmost of adaptability and resilience, many Trent graduates were able to rise to the challenge to achieve great success, excel academically and become part of the largest graduating class in Trent’s history. A few of those outstanding students are profiled below. Students who won academic medals or were on the President’s or Dean’s Honour Rolls have that significant accomplishment noted after their names in the list of 2021 Graduates. The President’s Honour Roll was established in 2000 to recognize students who have achieved a minimum cumulative average of 80% or better overall. The Dean’s Honour Roll was established in 1986 to recognize students who have achieved 80% or better in their most recent session and have maintained a minimum cumulative average of 75% overall.
Dr. Katharine Viscardis ’13
Ph.D. in Canadian Studies
Governor General’s Academic Medal – Gold
Dr. Katharine Viscardis says she has enjoyed many things about Trent including interdisciplinary studies, working with exceptional professors, forging lifelong friendships and gaining critical teaching experience with undergrad students.
Professor Viscardis says she was thankful to engage in deeply meaningful research about historical institutional violence - working with survivors who shared their stories and winning awards for this research through a three-minute thesis competition.
“I have enjoyed many things about Trent, including the opportunity to work with fantastic professors, including Drs. Julia Harrison, Janet Miron, Luigi Iannacci, and Joan Sangster, among so many others. The friendships I have made are also significant to my experience at Trent. I also thoroughly enjoyed the teaching experience I gained at Trent. Connecting with undergraduate students has been a wonderful experience.”
What’s Next: While working as an instructor at Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake, Alta., she plans to continue her research about the experiences of those who suffered institutional violence. Eventually, she plans to publish a book based on her dissertation.
Stephanie Dagg ’19
B.Sc. Honours Psychology
Governor General’s Academic Medal – Silver
With dreams of eventually pursuing a Ph.D., Stephanie Dagg pursued her undergrad Psychology studies at Trent and found her professors to be not only dedicated in their disciplines but also deeply caring about student well-being. When working as an administrator for the Trent Centre for Aging & Society, Ms. Dagg also gained critical hands-on experience.
In addition to receiving the Trent National Renewable Scholarship, Ms. Dagg received the Kennett, Young and Nobels Outstanding Performance Prize for 2019-20, achieving the highest mark for PSYC 3015Y Advanced Statistics in Peterborough.
“I am confident incoming Trent students will feel both personally and professionally supported, academically challenged and make lasting relationships - all while being immersed in the beauty of our campus and city landscape,” she says.
What’s Next: Ms. Dagg is working towards a publication and conference presentation based on her thesis work and is enjoying continued collaborations with Trent supervisors. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Elisha Ieshontenhawe King ’18
M.A. Sustainability Studies
As an Indigenous woman and avid lacrosse player, Elisha Ieshontenhawe King, decided to pursue her Master’s in Sustainability Studies at Trent and her thesis was centered around a community-based research project in her home community of Akwesasne. She worked with teachers at the Akwesasne Freedom School, a Mohawk language immersion school, to identify a Rotinonhsón:ni education system that combined Kanienkehá:ka knowledge systems, Kanienkéha language and connection to the land.
“I chose Trent for a few different reasons that combined, no other school could offer,” she says. “It was the support for Indigenous students, the calibre of the women's lacrosse team and the beautiful campus,” she says. “My absolute favorite experience at Trent was winning OUA gold in 2019 with the women's lacrosse team.”
What’s Next: Ms. King is currently working with Iakwa'shatste Youth Fitness, a non-profit organization that she helped start in 2015. She is also working as a consultant with the Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School to apply the knowledge gained from her research and determine how they can implement a land-based education program.
Ainsely Lewis ’16
Ph.D. Environmental and Life Sciences
“I enjoy being challenged. I enjoy doing things that are out of the box. In the Ph.D. program, my supervisor challenged us to be innovative. Research experience can be a roller coaster ride, lots of trials, many unsuccessful, but when something works, it is a “Eureka” moment.”
When Ainsely Lewis started his Ph.D. at Trent, he knew he had found a home-away-from-home with mentorship and support from his thesis/dissertation committee members who challenged him in a way that made his research better. Throughout his studies he also took opportunities to travel to South Korea through the International Institute for Environmental Studies and served as a judge for the Peterborough Science Fair.
“Peterborough is a perfect place for research, I mean, have you seen Trent’s campus? […] It is beautiful! Especially in Autumn,” he says. “Trent also has a collaborative environment, and everyone is so courteous and professional.”
What’s Next: Mr. Lewis is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Emery Lab where he is studying plant hormones and how they help the plant function, and metabolites (byproducts of metabolism) that plants may produce. He wants to continue to champion more representation for women and minority groups in STEM.
(Nathan) Alexander Baron ’17
B.A. Honours in English Literature and History with a specialization in Teacher Education
“I was president of Trent’s Gaming and Table Top Organization for two years. I coached and managed both Trent’s League of Legends and Rocket League eSports teams in the 2020-2021 academic year. These extracurricular activities were fundamental to my enjoyment of Trent, as they let me gain valuable leadership experience while meeting like-minded individuals and making meaningful friendships.”
As a joint major in History and English, Alexander Baron was able to develop the skills to fully understand, dissect, and reflect upon the deeper trends and meanings within the relevant material. Outside of the classroom, he served as president in Trent’s Gaming and Tabletop Organization and coached/managed Trent’s League of Legends and Rocket League e-sports teams.
What’s Next: Mr. Baron will pursue a Bachelor of Education degree at Trent and plans to eventually become a high school English, History, and Math teacher.
Gillian Forbes ’17
B.A. Joint Major – Economics and Anthropology
The flexibility to major in two different subjects was Gillian Forbes’ favourite part of studying at Trent. Ms. Forbes also immersed herself in the Trent experience by participating in novice rowing during her first year and later studying abroad in Spain.
She was awarded the Norma Miller Prize and the Maurice J. Boote Scholarship, which is awarded annually to the student entering fourth quarter who has attained the highest cumulative average in Economics.
“Trent was the perfect step between secondary school and graduate-level education, providing a supportive environment in which students can grow to reach their full potential,” she says.
What’s Next: Next year, Ms. Forbes plans to study International Affairs at Carleton University. She says Trent University – in providing an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree and experience studying abroad – has been key in preparing her for this next step.
Haley Gilchrist ’17
B.Sc. Honours Mathematics with a specialization in the Teacher Education Stream
“My favourite Trent experiences were those that allowed me to explore educational settings and confirm my love for both Mathematics and teaching. These include being an academic assistant for different statistics courses, as well as the different volunteer placements I completed as part of the Teacher Education Stream.”
Trent’s close-knit Mathematics program meant Haley Gilchrist was able to have more one-on-one time with professors leading to a better education and more job opportunities including being a teaching assistant. Ms. Gilchrist was also able to gain real-world experience throughout the pandemic by using Zoom to teach coding language to local Grade 12 students.
Initially, Ms. Gilchrist chose Trent because she grew up in a tight-knit community and Trent felt like “home,” although she found that other students, no matter where they came from, had the same feeling.
What’s Next: Ms. Gilchrist will stay on at Trent to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree and plans to become a high school Mathematics and Physics teacher.
Emma McGinnis ’17
When studying Biomedical Science, Emma McGinnis found that Trent provided the meaningful opportunity to complete an undergraduate thesis on topics that she’s passionate about such as the connection between physical activity and mental health.
During a placement at a cardiology and radiology clinic, she gained hands-on opportunities that allowed her to work directly with healthcare professionals and patients. Ms. McGinnis also received the Trent National Renewable Scholarship, the Charles Omole Medical Scholarship and an NSERC USRA scholarship to complete a full-time research position in a Trent lab during the summer.
“During my time at Trent, I developed various interpersonal skills such as professionalism and sensitivity, and greatly increased my confidence for working in a health care setting,” she says. “I also learned extensively and in a hands-on way about topics and procedures involved in medical fields that really interested me.”
What’s Next: Ms. McGinnis is continuing work based on her undergraduate thesis project and is preparing to present at a national research conference. She’s also working at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute on a new study that will help assess causal factors related to the development of coronary artery disease and/or related heart health issues.
Emma Johnston ’17
Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting
The Muldoon Medal
What stood out for Emma Johnston from her experience as a Business student at Trent Durham? Outstanding professors who made each course truly memorable by providing robust and real-world application of the material.
Ms. Johnston also gained hands-on experience by interning at an angel investing firm, run by a Trent professor, which provided her with relevant and useful experience to draw upon after she graduates.
She adds that Trent’s intimate class sizes make students feel comfortable learning, asking questions, working with others and seeking additional assistance from professors.
“The professors are knowledgeable, experienced, and welcoming,” she says. “But most importantly, they care.”
What’s Next: Ms. Johnston will pursue a Chartered Professional Accountant designation this summer and hopes to secure a job in the fall. Eventually, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree.
Sarah Squires ’18
Communications and Critical Thinking
The Muldoon Medal
“[My third-year capstone course] offered me the opportunity to make real-world connections alongside my peers while conducting research for our project that year, an Electric Vehicle Strategy for the Municipality of Clarington. The longer we worked together, the closer we became as a team, and we often shared snacks and stories while developing our final report. Most exciting was our chance to present our findings to the Municipality, who will be incorporating much of our work into the Electric Vehicle plan for their community.
Trent Durham graduate Sarah Squires says she enjoyed the Communications and Critical Thinking program because it did not limit her learning to a single discipline, allowing her to discover a new passion for philosophy and take many diverse and interesting courses throughout her undergraduate career.
What’s Next: In her final year, Ms. Squires was offered a position with a large multinational organization as the Communications and Marketing Specialist for Canada. She is also in the process of closing the latest of several real estate investments. Eventually, she’d like to start her own consulting business.
Nikisha Thapar ’18
B.A. Gender and Social Justice
King City, Ontario
“My favourite part of being at Trent definitely has to be my time as a Rebound Guide. The pandemic, with all the struggles associated with online learning and disconnection from social interaction, added an extra layer of challenge in connecting with students this year. However, my time as a guide introduced me to so many amazing students who taught me a lot of life lessons in resilience, patience and adapting to hard circumstances that made this role so unique and meaningful to me.”
Trent’s Gender and Social Justice Studies program opened Nikisha Thapar’s eyes to a new and more equitable way of seeing the world and she says she loved waking up every morning knowing that, by the end of the day, she’d come home with new perspectives.
Outside of the classroom, Ms. Thapar also learned many lessons while working as a guide for the peer-support program Rebound and serving on the Gzowski College cabinet, the Trent Central Student Association and the Gender Studies Society.
What’s Next: In the fall, Ms. Thapar will join Western University's Faculty of Law. “I look forward to applying all I've learned at Trent to the next stage of my education and in my coming professional career,” she says.