The Office of the Rector announced on Monday that five students have received the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award this year.
The award, which is the highest honour for distinguished student service to the University, is given out to a selected number of students annually.
The five new inductees to the Tricolour Society come from a range of programs and have contributed to various societies, clubs and support systems on campus.
Thompson Hamilton, JD ’16 & ArtSci ’13
(Photo by Kendra Pierroz)
Seven years after arriving at Queen’s, Thompson Hamilton has accumulated an impressive list of extracurriculars in the Queen’s community, whether they’re legal, judicial or musical.
Hamilton, JD ’16, said his first major involvement at Queen’s as an undergraduate was on the AMS Judicial Committee as a member and eventually as the Chair.
“Queen’s is pretty unique with student discipline and I’ve always thought that a peer-based system says a lot about student responsibility [here],” he said.
Hamilton later served as the Vice President (Professional) for the SGPS, and has spent three years working with Queen’s Legal Aid, which he called his passion.
“Access to justice is one of the biggest problems we have in Canada right now and I can’t put into words the importance of helping those who need legal help but cannot afford it,” he said.
On top of this, Hamilton has been involved with Queen’s Telefundraising, the Grad Club Board of Directors, and Queen’s Model Court. He’s also volunteered as a campus tour guide.
Thompson also has quite the musical resume. He played trombone for Queen’s Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra, and was in the pit band for Queen’s Musical Theatre.
For him, Queen’s is about more than his classes.
“In fact, I missed quite a lot of class in the last seven years!” he said. Instead, he said Queen’s has been a place to work hard with his best friends.
“I’ve tried to learn as much as I can and pass that on to those who follow … Enabling others to contribute and help is a powerful tool.”
Michael Coleman, JD ’17
(Photo by Anna Maria Li)
“While at Queen’s, you have two obligations. One, be an excellent student. Two, use what you have learned in the classroom to be a stronger advocate for those who are in need,” Michael Coleman said.
Coleman, JD ’17, says he’s sought to embody that mentality during his years on campus through volunteer work and advocacy efforts.
Coleman has served as a student advisor for the SGPS, Co-Commissioner of Queen’s Law Equity and Diversity, and was Co-President for the Black Law Students Association.
Despite the demanding schedules of those roles, he carved out time to coach basketball and tutor immigrant students between grades 7 and 11 in the GTA.
“I have exposed them to university life in Kingston and the various things Queen’s has to offer, and have got two students who plan on attending Queen’s in two years as a result,” he said.
Coleman has also been a Queen’s Legal Clinic Volunteer Caseworker, a Prison Inmate Tutor, a member of the SGPS Equity Issues Standing Committee and a Youth Support Volunteer.
He says his role as a student advisor had the greatest impact on him by giving him a chance to connect with graduate students and discuss their problems and concerns.
“Although we may not always get to that final solution in every case, it has nevertheless helped me appreciate how intelligent and exciting the Queen’s graduate community really is,” he said.
“Everyone should feel welcome and safe on campus, and I hope my work in the community has at least contributed to that in some way.”
Catherine Wright, ArtSci ’15, MIR ’16
(Photo by Stephanie Nijhuis)
Catherine Wright’s involvement in the AMS has been a huge part of her time at Queen’s.
Wright, MIR ’16, served as Municipal Affairs Commissioner during the 2013-14 academic year, where she worked with community partners to advance the University District (UD) project.
The project included lobbying City Council to put up “University District” street signs and campaigning to change the way students referred to the area. It had long been referred to as the “student ghetto”, which Wright has worked to change.
“I hope that more students start to take up [‘University District’] instead of “ghetto.” When we call it like a ghetto, it gets treated like a ghetto — not only by us, but by landlords,” she said.
The change in name was a part of a larger campaign to foster a positive attitude from students and residents towards the neighbourhoods surrounding the university.
Wright also served as a residence don in McNeill House in 2012-13 and in Victoria Hall in 2014-15.
She said McNeill had a good sense of community and she loved the energy in Victoria Hall. Being a don was one of the most meaningful experiences she’s had at Queen’s, she added.
“The opportunity to support a team of first years as they transition into university life is truly unparalleled.”
Graydon Simmons, MD ’16
(Supplied by Graydon Simmons)
For Graydon Simmons, MD ’16, the past four years have been dedicated to leaving the medical school community better than he found it.
Simmons has been actively involved with the medical student government, where he has served in a position for each of his four years. In his final two years, he’s been his class co-president.
On top of this, he’s been the coordinator for the Queen’s Medicine Orientation Week, worked on curriculum development in the School of Medicine and worked on events such as Queen’s Medical Variety Night.
With such expansive involvement in the School, Simmons says he “always struggle[s] with singling out one particular involvement as the most meaningful or important.”
He said that each of them have a special significance to him, although he also admitted that he’s “the kind of person who has difficulty answering what my favourite band or movie is.”
However, he said his involvement in student government has been particularly important.
“Studies can be very stressful, and to be able to serve on the student government to support your peers in all aspects of their university life is truly an honour and a privilege,” he said.
He added that it has been rewarding to have been trusted and held accountable by his peers to improve student life, whether through extracurricular activities, social events, academic support or advice.
“Queen’s has an extraordinary history of excellence, tradition and spirit,” he said.
“I would want to be remembered as someone who respected that history, but was not afraid to push for change and work tirelessly to make that history even better.”
Jennifer Williams, ArtSci ’16
(Photo by Stephanie Nijhuis)
Jennifer Williams, ArtSci ’16, says her time at Queen’s has been nothing short of a “whirlwind”.
Throughout her undergraduate years, Williams has racked up a staggering number of positions within the University in a variety of services and clubs.
She has served in the Clubs Office as an intern, deputy and manager, a Life Sciences Student Council, a Majors Night student coordinator, and a Bounce Back Facilitator, along with a number of other positions.
“There was simply so much to try!” Williams said. She said she learned a lot at the Clubs Office and Student Life Centre, while her time as a Bounce Back facilitator was her most meaningful experience.
“I had the opportunity to watch one mentee in particular develop from a student who was heading towards academic probation to now excelling all expectations,” she said.
“This was the first time I felt like I had a profound effect on someone’s life. This experience actually inspired the creation of Majors Night.”
In the work that she’s done, Williams says she has focused on less-engaged students at Queen’s — those struggling academically or experiencing barriers to participating in extracurricular activities.
She says she hopes that Majors Night, the Orientation Volunteer program and the clubs bursary program will make getting involved more accessible and leave a lasting impact at Queen’s.
“[At Queen’s] people inspire you and push you to do great things, provide you opportunities to get involved, and, as many of my mentors and friends have done, support you unconditionally,” she said.
After dedicating the last three-and-a-half years to Queen’s, she said she’s “grateful for every moment — the good and the bad.”
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