2020 in Review: Students

The Faculty of Arts' Student Stories of the Year

Donna McKinnon - 07 December 2020

Celebrating and supporting the success of our students is at the core of what we do here in the Faculty of Arts. Their stories are remarkable — and in 2020, historical. Whether our students are new graduates or still working through their degrees, we are immensely proud of their achievements.

Here are the student stories of 2020:

PhD caps off stellar academic and literary success for Billy-Ray Belcourt

The Indigenous poet, scholar and national literary sensation (he won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize!) was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal, the University of Alberta's highest honour for graduating doctoral students. And the newly minted PhD (English and Film Studies) is only 25!

From rabbits to reindeer, studying animal-human connections drive Emily Hull’s life and work

Growing up in rural Georgia, Emily Hull immersed herself in the world of animals. Graduating with a PhD in Anthropology, Emily has focused her research on reindeer and caribou in Canada and Fennoscandia (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia), and their many connections to humans.

Anusha Kav: Studying to be a better citizenthe true value of an arts degree

This article published in Maclean's by Anusha Kav (‘20 BA Hons, Political Science) is simply one of the best articles we have ever read about the value of an Arts degree. The future looks very bright indeed with people like Anusha leading the way.

Global conflict never far away says Asal Andarzipour

New graduate Asal Andarzipour (MA, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture) found herself in a leadership role at the U of A and in the local Iranian community in the wake of the PS752 disaster. (BONUS CONTENT: read her convocation Q & A here).

Growing awareness of “systems of oppression” a call to action for new graduate

When Teagan de Seguin (‘20 BA, Women’s and Gender Studies) lost her summer job because of the COVID-19 shut down, she had a number of options, including waiting around until school started in the fall, or registering for spring and summer sessions at the U of A. She chose the latter, because waiting around for life to happen has never been an option for de Seguin.

Linguistics student Bryce Wittrock pinpoints differences in Western Canadian dialects

In Canada you probably have to cross the continent to hear dramatic shifts in pronunciation. And in Western Canada, we all sound the same, don't we? Not exactly, says undergraduate student Bryce Wittrock (Linguistics), who has published a study on Canadian Prairie dialects along with his supervisor, U of A linguist Ben Tucker.

Past becomes present for history graduate who studied Spanish flu

Why the COVID-19 pandemic feels surreal but familiar to Suzanna Wagner, who wrote her master’s thesis on Canadian nurses in the First World War. (BONUS CONTENT: read her convocation Q & A here).

Women’s and Gender Studies ideal training for med school

Three U of A medical students (Marina Giovannoni, Kiera Keglowitsch and Sauleha Farooq) may have different backgrounds and interests, but they share a passion for reducing inequities in health—and in the health system.

Reading the World Around You

When she first enrolled at the University of Alberta, Sofia Osborne had every intention of becoming an ecologist. Now a freelance writer, editor and podcaster in Vancouver, Osborne graduates with a BA in English (with distinction), a minor in Philosophy, and in her words, an unofficial journalism degree stemming from her work with The Gateway.

Jennifer Hinnell awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for linguistics research

Jennifer Hinnell has been fascinated by language since she was a child. This lifelong passion to understand how language influences and reflects what we think and feel, and how we interact with others led her to explore the subject at the U of A, eventually earning her the U of A’s top doctoral award.