June 10, 2021
Class of 2021: UCalgary’s President’s Award winners
Three inspiring students will be awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership at spring convocation on June 10. The award was established in 2008 to recognize exceptional graduating students who have a record of academic achievement, consistently demonstrate leadership and make significant contributions to our community.
Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)
Bachelor of Science (Psychology)
As well as achieving academic excellence in two majors, Amanda Cha has been leading positive change in her student community since arriving at UCalgary.
In her first year, Cha restored the UCalgary Philosophy Club, recruiting members, gaining departmental support and hosting biweekly discussions. She served as the club’s president throughout her degree. Other leadership roles she later took on include undergraduate representative on the Department of Philosophy’s Climate and Diversity Committee and chief returning officer for the Students’ Union, where she worked to ensure that students’ voices were fairly represented in the democratic process despite complications brought on by the pandemic.
Cha has also made significant contributions to national organizations. She served as the undergraduate representative for the Canadian Bioethics Society’s Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism Working Group, developing an action plan to help the society integrate diversity issues and anti-oppression practices into their initiatives. With Amnesty Canada, she helped plan a week-long workshop to educate youth across Canada about human rights violations and advocacy around the globe. As UCalgary’s undergraduate representative for the Minorities and Philosophy Organization, she helped identify and fight against factors preventing individuals from marginalized groups from engaging in academic philosophy.
Throughout her degree, Cha made time to personally support other students. As a Scholars Academy student mentor, she met regularly with first-year students to help them navigate toward their academic and career goals. She also served as a peer assisted study session (PASS) program leader and mentor.
Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Physiology)
A trained emergency medical responder, Cassandra Chisholm has logged over 1,000 volunteer hours with UCalgary’s Student Medical Response Team — and has served as the team’s director of operations. She is also a harm reduction responder for UCalgary’s Post-Alcohol Support Space, where students can safely sleep off the effects of alcohol or cannabis.
Chisholm has focused her academic work on harm reduction and helping those who suffer from chronic pain. She developed an education tool that helps patients manage their pain by understanding the science behind it and, with the Acute/Chronic Pain Group, continues to focus on improving approaches to pain management.
In the Calgary community, Chisholm volunteers as facilitator with the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Teens Talk Transition Workshop, which prepares adolescents with complex health histories for the adult health-care system. She volunteers as a patient adviser for the AHS Pain Committee, helping in its work to improve the lives of children experiencing chronic pain. Chisholm was also a medical crew volunteer for the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s annual Kidney March for five years and is a volunteer instructor for Stop the Bleed, a course that teaches people how to save lives in the event of a mass casualty incident.
Chisholm’s leadership in harm reduction at the national level includes serving on Health Canada’s Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy Advisory Committee, being the Western Canadian student representative for the Post-Secondary Educational Partnership on Alcohol Harms, and attending the Leadership Academy on Alcohol Harm Prevention in Slovenia.
Bachelor of Science (Plant Biology)
Manpreet Sahota has persistently worked to make her community better, whether it’s by demonstrating leadership at UCalgary or by volunteering in the community.
Manpreet’s family left India and resettled in Canada shortly after the 1984 Sikh Genocide. Not only has she thrived despite adversity, she has also helped others to connect and support each other. To create community among students who share a similar cultural background, she co-founded the Punjabi Students’ Association, which aims to reduce student isolation and promote a sense of Punjabi pride at UCalgary.
Serving as the Students’ Union Faculty of Science representative, Sahota led projects to make campus spaces more accessible, raised awareness of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, and implemented the first-ever Science Student Wellness Day. She has been a positive force on campus through a variety of other roles including a course peer leader, peer mentor with the Women’s Resource Centre, and new student orientation leader. She has been an advocate for making equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives a priority at UCalgary, including leading a promotional campaign to encourage diverse student participation in varsity sports.
In the community, Sahota has volunteered at Peter Lougheed Hospital and Foothills Hospital since 2015. Her work has included co-ordinating meal-time assistance and musical visitors, spearheading the Co-Act Audit program to improve patient experiences, and mentoring incoming volunteers in effective patient communication. She also dedicated many hours to providing support to children in developing countries as vice-president of communications and executive vice-president of UNICEF on Campus.