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Advocating for change

Even at a young age, Mandy White was involved in her community. Staying after school in grade four and helping her teacher grade papers convinced her that she, too, wanted to work with people and shape the lives of others.

Clearly, some things never change. She is the seventh recipient of the Dawn Bucharski Graduate Award in Health Promotion.

While a student in the School, she served as president of the School of Public Health Students’ Association, a board member of the Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health and a participant on the National Youth Advisory Board.

"I wasn't intending to be as involved in extra-curricular activities in grad school, but I’ve always wanted to be a part of change and influence things around me, so these activities were welcome challenges. I get to meet so many fantastic students, faculty and staff and add that student perspective to important discussions."

“Mandy exemplifies the spirit of health promotion by actively participating in the School and the community, facilitating and empowering her fellow students and advocating on their behalf as needed,” said Cynthia Smith, then academic advisor and instructor in the School of Public Health.

After White heard she had received the award, she learned more about its namesake, Dawn Bucharski, the first graduate student in the Centre for Health Promotion Studies to receive a major award and who completed her research after being diagnosed with breast cancer. 

"Dawn was really involved with the school and an advocate for students. I think she was truly an amazing woman,” said White.

As a result, meeting the Bucharski family for dinner to receive the award was a little intimidating. “I was a little nervous,” said White, “but they’re a wonderful family and they really appreciated meeting someone who shares Dawn’s passion for health promotion. It was nice to learn that there are similarities between her and me."

When asked to reflect on the importance of this award, White sees it as symbolic. "It's not just from Dawn's family; it's also from people at the School and that’s very powerful. It shows that, even in the face of adversity, someone can make an impact on a School, a community, a family, and that’s something I'll take with me."