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UFV students achieve academic excellence

With graduation for the 2011 class having concluded its ceremonies weeks earlier, several students went home with awards and recognition for their academic achievements at the University of the Fraser Valley. One of the most prestigious awards taken home was the Governor General’s Academic medal, which was awarded to three UFV students who showed distinct academic excellence in their studies by earning the highest grade point average at their level of study.

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By Trevor Fik (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: July 8, 2011

With graduation for the 2011 class having concluded its ceremonies weeks earlier, several students went home with awards and recognition for their academic achievements at the University of the Fraser Valley. One of the most prestigious awards taken home was the Governor General’s Academic medal, which was awarded to three UFV students who showed distinct academic excellence in their studies by earning the highest grade point average at their level of study.

For Brian Young, who graduated with his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, his 4.25 GPA came at a time when he was still working as a Kamloops-based youth probation officer.

“I wanted to do the best academic work that I could, but I also wanted to set it up so my family wouldn’t notice, or would hardly notice, that I was in school,” Young told UFV media.

So for one weekend a month Young, who was this year’s Governor General Academic gold medal award winner, traveled from his home in Kamloops to study with his cohort at the Abbotsford UFV campus.

Young’s research delved into his own experience as a probation officer, looking at different models for intensive supervision of high-risk young offenders and at how these models have been applied throughout the country.

Commenting on the receiving of his award, Young noted that it was a “humbling experience.”

“I figured out early on that I wanted to put out the best product I could, and the grades I got were a positive reinforcement for the effort. Receiving the medal is even more validation for the effort and work and time away from family. I had the attitude that if you’re going to take on the program you should put in the best effort you can, and take it seriously,” he told UFV media.

Melissa Prachnau, a Bachelor of Science Chemistry major from UFV, was the recipient of the Governor General Academic silver medal award.

Prachnau, who graduated with a 4.33 grade point average, noted her surprise at receiving the award when interviewed.

“It was not, by any means, something that I was expecting. At the time I was studying for the OAT (Optometry Admission Test) and was contacted by Dr. Eric Davis by phone. But I am very pleased, excited, and honoured at this prestigious award.”

Hard studying sessions combined with group and one on one interaction helped Prachnau excel in her chosen field.

“Spending time doing other things, such as hiking, running, and travelling, were times that I relished – a break from the busyness of school,” she added.

For the future, Prachnau has her sights set on either optometry or medical school, and is looking into enrolling at optometry school at Waterloo University.

Donna Enos, who received her diploma from UFV in the field of Computer Information Systems (CIS), was this year’s Governor General Academic bronze medal winner.

For Donna, who took on the diploma program after being laid off from her job at a customs brokerage firm, the resulting bronze medal award came as a result of keeping ahead of the material through strict organization.

“I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I tried to stay ahead of the work that was being presented in class. I read the material, did the exercises, and basically dedicated myself to my studies for the two-year program,” noted Enos.

Enos also pointed out how figuring out her own study habits and when her work was at its most optimal helped her to achieve a better study schedule.

“There was a lot of reading involved and sometimes that was hard to do, but I found that I read best first thing in the morning so that’s the routine I got into. I found it was all about knowing when I worked best and was most productive. If I was really tired, I slept and then started again,” said Enos.

While it did not come easily, Enos managed a 4.33 grade point average in her final 15 credits of study. Enos is currently hoping to take a part-time Bachelor of Technology program for investigations in Computer Crime.

The Governor General’s Academic Medals were put into place in 1873 by Canada’s third Governor General, Lord Dufferin. The award was conceived to promote excellence in the world of academia, and is given out at each high-school and university across Canada. past Governor General Medal winners include Kim Campbell, Pierre Trudeau, and Gabrielle Roy.

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