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Caley Hewitt in front of triumphal archThe European Union Study Abroad program brought UWindsor student Caley Hewitt to Belgium, where she visited the Arcade du Cinquantenaire in Brussels.

Program encourages experiential learning activities

Each year, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (FAHSS) recognizes students who seek out opportunities beyond the classroom in the areas of Leadership, Engagement, Application, and Discovery as FAHSS LEAD Scholars.

Danielle Soulliere, associate dean, academic and student success, says the program is intended to reward students who engage in activities that provide meaningful and memorable learning experiences.

“Notably, the program encourages students to participate in high-impact practices and experiential learning opportunities aimed at empowering undergraduate students to become engaged learners and future leaders,” Dr. Souilliere says.

Since the faculty spans 13 academic units offering more than 50 academic programs, students are involved in a wide variety of activities.

Here is a sampling of this year’s graduating gold medal winners’ activities, and the impact these experiences had on them.

Many on campus will recognize Crystal Bryan, a student of liberal arts and professional studies. Her smiling face has graced many of the University’s official images. Bryan led the student organizers of the annual African Diaspora Youth Conference for high school students for three years, and then transitioned to mentoring her successors, among other leadership roles.

“As for the skills I’ve learned and honed over the past four years at university, I would have to say that leadership and engagement would have to be the most prominent,” says Bryan.

The conference with helping her to build a network of contacts that enabled her to give back not only to her immediate community, but others across the world.

“I started out as a somewhat shy and behind-the-scenes person but later grew into a vocal and, I would say, a strong leader,” she says. “I have represented my university, peers, family and community in ways I did not imagine. I am truly grateful for the opportunities I was afforded during my time at the university. I’ve been even more humbled to be recognized for my contributions and to know that the work doesn’t just stop here but will continue to grow.”

Caley Hewitt, majoring in international relations and development studies with a minor in communication, media and film, has served as an executive member of the On-Campus Student Club; completed the European Union Study Abroad program; gained experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant; and completed a senior project in CMF.

She says each of these activities shaped her undergraduate experience differently, but the European Union Study Abroad program had the greatest impact.

“The study abroad program gave me the ability to take everything I had learned through the first three years of my undergraduate degree and put it into application in the real world,” says Hewitt. “I made some of the greatest friends on this trip and saw things I would never get to experience otherwise.”

Evan Ripley-McNeil, who just graduated with a psychology degree, focused his activities.

“I started volunteering for the Wellness Outreach Office on Campus Mental Health Day. My initiative was recognized leading to a team lead position, and subsequently a volunteer co-ordinator position,” explains Ripley-McNeil. “I helped develop the office in its early stages, building a volunteer program, spreading wellness through various initiatives, and participating in the Mental Health Strategy Committee. I became much more involved with the University and really feel as though I made a difference in the mental health of students.”

Last summer, Jade Piper, a social work major, gained experience as a research assistant to professor Betty Barrett. Piper has also been very involved in the Windsor-Essex community.

“I would say that my involvement with the Liberty Project over the course of the last two years has had the biggest impact on me,” she says. “The Liberty Project is run under the umbrella of Enactus Windsor, a student-led organization that focuses on giving back to the Windsor-Essex community.”

The Liberty Project provides transitional employment to women who have overcome substance use, domestic violence, human trafficking, and trauma. Piper also consulted with clients, working through a self-help curriculum. She says the experience allowed her to pursue her passion for working with women while applying her social work skills.

“It provided me with an opportunity to learn leadership skills that I otherwise may not have acquired. It gave me the opportunity to work with other like-minded students to effect change in our local community, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Piper starts graduate study in social work this fall at the University of Windsor.

—Susan McKee