When Trent’s Dr. Mark Skinner and Dr. Elizabeth Russell spot serious talent in the classroom, they go all in. Nowhere was this clearer than at a recent symposium they led at the International Federation on Ageing’s (IFA) 14th Global Conference on Ageing in Toronto.
Professor Skinner, acting dean, Social Sciences and Canada research chair in Rural Health, Aging and Social Care, kicked off the discussion, titled, Aging Rural Communities: Policies, Practices, and Discourses, followed by Professor Russell, assistant professor in Psychology, both of whom are also members of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS). The three remaining presenters were all past students of Prof. Skinner and Prof. Russell and included: Dr. Rachel Herron ‘04, assistant professor, Geography and Canada research chair in rural and remote mental health at Brandon University; Amber Colibaba ’10, a graduate of the master’s program in sustainability studies with a specialization in aging studies and currently a TCAS research associate; and Kara Rutherford ’16, who is starting her M.Sc. in Psychology at Trent University in September after graduating with a B.Sc. (Hons.) this past spring.
“I met both Rachel and Amber early in their undergraduate careers,” recalled Prof Skinner. “Both were impressive students who stood out from the crowd and showed enormous promise as researchers. When I meet students of their caliber, it’s my practice to support them in whatever way I can on their academic journey. Rachel is now a professor doing inspiring work in Manitoba, not to mention a valued colleague, and Amber is working on an exciting community research project for TCAS. It’s very rewarding to be able to say that and have us all together for a symposium at a global conference.”
Prof. Russell subscribes to the same philosophy of support. “I invited Kara and three of her colleagues to work on a challenging community-university research project, embedded within two of my fourth year Psychology courses,” she said. “The report they produced was extremely high-level, and exceeded my undergraduate-level expectations. Their professional output allowed me to fully support Kara presenting this important work at the IFA – an extra special experience given that it was an international conference.”
One-on-one engagement with faculty and enthusiastic support for academic excellence is a hallmark of the Trent University experience. “It’s a big part of why I am where I am,” said Prof. Herron.