Tricolour awarded to spirited students

Dave Thomas, PhD ’06, Jennifer Holub, ArtSci ’06 and Ahmed Kayssi, Meds ’09, won this year’s Tricolour Award.
Dave Thomas, PhD ’06, Jennifer Holub, ArtSci ’06 and Ahmed Kayssi, Meds ’09, won this year’s Tricolour Award.

Passion for social issues, student leadership and diplomacy have landed three more students in the Tricolour Society.

Jennifer Holub, ArtSci ’06, Ahmed Kayssi, Meds ’09, and Dave Thomas, PhD ’06, have been recognized for their distinguished service to the University as this year’s recipients of the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award.

“[The recipients] inspired the community to make the nominations,” said outgoing Rector Grant Bishop, who was a recipient of the Tricolour Award in 2004.

Bishop said all three recipients were unaware they had been nominated, evidence that their efforts for the University had gained the wide recognition of community members.

The award is named after Dr. Agnes Benidickson, chancellor of Queen’s University from 1980 until 1996. It recognizes students who have made outstanding non-athletic, extracurricular contributions to the University.

The selection process was “rigorous and thorough,” Bishop said, adding that the Tricolour Award Committee looked for spirited individuals.

“What they do has to be lasting and have a truly selfless impact on the community,” he said. “Their endeavors have exhibited effort, passion and dedication, and the level of leadership in the community, mentoring and inspiring others, has proven their genuine passion to contribute.” Holub, the only undergraduate recipient, is currently AMS Social Issues Commissioner, as well as being involved with the Public Relations and Communication Committee for Queens’ Project on International Development (QPID). She has been active with the Kingston Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, both as a Board of Directors member and a volunteer for their crisis phone line.

“[The Tricolour Award] has given me a feeling of great responsibility,” Holub said. “Much like the honour of a degree, this award, for me, has bestowed a tremendous sense that I must use this distinction for future initiatives of humanitarian substance and merit, as I have tried to do at Queen’s.”

Bishop said her work this year founding the Women’s Task Force and advocating for transgender issues on campus was particularly remarkable.

“She has conveyed a students’ language at Queen’s that allows people to discuss issues of diversity in all respects,” he said.

Kayssi was a founding member of the Queen’s Arab Students Association and has worked with the Main Campus Residence Council (MCRC), AMS, EngSoc and ASUS before serving as rector from 2002 to 2004. This year he served as chair of the Queen’s Journal Board of Directors.

As rector, Kayssi changed the nature of the position, Bishop said.

“He not only broadened a wide range of issues, but also increased the level of student engagement surrounding topical issues on campus,” he said.

Thomas, who is finishing his PhD in political studies, said his involvement with the campus has been a combination of collaboration and cooperation.

“My work has depended greatly on the hard work of others,” he said. “I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge from those who I have had the pleasure of working with.”

Thomas was president of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) this year and before that, a member of their council. He has been a member of The Grad Club Board of Directors for four years and actively pushed for TA/TF unionization.

Bishop said Thomas’ efforts were always diplomatic.

“He fostered a sense of community and created a network among graduate students,” he said.

Bishop described the recipients’ wide array of contributions as “selfless.”

“They have done what they have because the community is important to them and they have a passion for effecting change,” he said.

“This passion has inspired others, and seeing [Holub, Kayssi and Thomas] receive this award is intensely meaningful for their peers.”

The recipients will receive the Tricolour Award at convocation.

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