Fallon MitchellFallon Mitchell’s research revolves around making life better for people from vulnerable populations.

PhD student named HK’s first Vanier Scholar

Vulnerable populations such as older adults or people with disabilities will have fewer challenges in their day-to-day lives thanks to the research of UWindsor’s Fallon Mitchell.

Mitchell has been awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship to continue her research into barriers — both physical and attitudinal — faced by special populations. Mitchell has made UWindsor history in winning the prize as the first student from the Faculty of Human Kinetics to be named a Vanier Scholar.

“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected for this scholarship,” said Mitchell. “For me, it’s validation that my research is important, especially in terms of improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations.”

The scholarship, named after Major-General Georges P. Vanier, the first francophone Governor General of Canada, is valued at $150,000 — $50,000 a year for three years. The award is designed to help Canadian universities attract and retain outstanding doctoral students.

Vanier Scholars must prove academic excellence, research potential, and leadership. Mitchell has all three in spades, said kinesiology professor Paula van Wyk, her research supervisor.

Van Wyk called Mitchell a “top-tier doctoral talent.”

“I am incredibly proud of her and know that this scholarship will help her continue to flourish.”

A Leamington native who has called Windsor home throughout her studies, Mitchell earned her Master of Human Kinetics at the top of the class, with a cumulative average of 96.75 per cent.

Mitchell mentors undergraduate students on research projects, represented the Department of Kinesiology on the University’s Graduate Student Society, volunteered with the Windsor-Essex Compassion Care Communities, and has been a youth accessibility leader for the Connections Early Years Family Centre. She is also involved with a variety of local organizations, including Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario.

She conducted research into how graduate students on campus were coping during the pandemic and she lobbied for the installation of the crosswalk in front of the Faculty of Human Kinetics building.

Fallon has an incredible research record, said Dr. van Wyk.

“Upon finishing a master’s, the norm is to have maybe one publication and one conference presentation. Fallon currently has five publications, four conference presentations, two text interviews, and a community report, with many more in progress.”

Van Wyk said it’s important to note that Mitchell has excelled in her academic career, in her research, and in her leadership roles despite battling mental health issues that were at times debilitating.

Mitchell said she is open about those issues in the hope she can help others.

—Sarah Sacheli