Hannah Zamora and Kayla Preston capped off their time at St. Thomas University with two of the most prominent awards offered to graduating students.

Zamora, of Niagara, ON, earned the Governor General’s Medal, while Preston, of New Maryland, NB, was the recipient of the University Medal for Arts.

“Family in the classroom and community around every corner”

The Governor General’s Medal is presented to the student with the highest academic standing in the graduating class and is the most prestigious award a student in Canada can receive.

Zamora said earning the award was an unexpected honour that she shares with her family, friends, and professors.

“Not only does it feel good to see my work pay off in this way, but it has made me reflect on the people—my steadfast family, brilliant professors, and wonderful friends—who have all played a part in getting me to where I am,” she said. “I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded with such kind, loving, supportive people and this award is as much theirs as it is mine.”

Zamora, who earned a double honours in English and Great Books, found a supportive and shared learning environment at St. Thomas—something that provided not only knowledge in the classroom, but personal growth.

“I’ve learned so much about the books I’ve read and written about here, but especially about myself and others,” she said. “It’s one thing to study fascinating subjects, but it’s another to do it alongside students, professors, and staff who have let me find family in the classroom and community around every corner.”

“Great closure to a wonderful four years”

The University Medal for Arts is the highest award offered by St. Thomas University.  Preston said earning recognition of this kind “means the world” to her.

“St. Thomas University has become a second home to me and to be given this award makes me feel even closer to STU,” she said. “Receiving this medal is great closure to a wonderful four years.”

Preston, who completed honours in Sociology, worked closely with her professors, especially Dr. Gul Çaliskan, throughout her Bachelor of Arts degree. The pair published a paper in the Postcolonial Studies Journal earlier this year and is currently working on second article.

The opportunity to get to know and work collaboratively with professors has been a highlight of Preston’s time at St. Thomas.

 “STU’s small class sizes allowed me to get to know my professors and have opportunities to further my education as a research assistant,” Preston said. “STU has opened my eyes to different ways of thinking which I was not exposed to before coming to university. It has made me a critical thinker and writer and has given me the confidence to pursue an academic career.”

Preston earned a large national scholarship and will be pursuing a Master of Arts in Sociology at Dalhousie University this fall.