Students honour unsung campus heroes for service

Faculty, staff, students recognized for commitment

by Hilary Thomson staff writer

In a high-calorie celebration, members of the campus community with a big appetite for helping students recently received Just Desserts Awards that recognize outstanding service at UBC.

"These are people who are dedicated to enriching students' experience," says Alma Mater Society President Maryann Adamec. "They are the helpers, the listeners, the organizers--the unsung heroes."

Eighteen awardees were nominated by various student societies on campus in a tradition that started in 1985.

Outgoing, approachable, friendly and committed to students is how members of the Science Undergraduate Society describe Shona Ellis.

A UBC alumna, Ellis joined the faculty in 1992 as a sessional lecturer in the Dept. of Botany and says helping students find their way and seeing their enthusiasm gives her a lot of satisfaction.

One of this year's Science Week co-ordinators, she also organized Beyond First Year and Beyond the BSc, two events attended by hundreds of students planning their academic and professional careers.

Ellis also organized the faculty's involvement in last September's Imagine UBC orientation day and is now getting faculty participation in the new Ambassadors of Science program that sees students heading out to the community to talk about science.

In addition, Ellis co-ordinates plant biology labs, teaches a variety of courses and is an academic adviser.

"I can relate to students' experience here because of my own time at UBC," says Ellis. "Some students are being taught by profs who taught me and are my heroes to this day."

A self-described pseudo-perfectionist, Ellis de-stresses with hikes in the woods where she can indulge her passion for plants. Rob Breton, a PhD student in the Dept. of English, was recognized by the Graduate Student Society (GSS) for his involvement in both the GSS council and for producing the society's monthly publication, The Graduate Magazine. "It's the ultimate interdisciplinary project," says Breton of the magazine which has six regular contributors and volunteer staff from faculties across campus. "I've gotten to know people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise and developed a feeling for issues on campus."

GSS council meetings provide a key source of information for Breton who came to UBC in 1996 and is serving his second year as a department representative on council.

Administrative and political issues, concerns such as the perceived separation of arts and science on campus, opinion pieces, event information and movie reviews are all covered in the magazine which has a circulation of 5,000. Even with the support of volunteers, Breton produces much of the paper himself. He designed a new format for the magazine, sells ads, edits copy, does the layout and delivers copies across campus.

Still a bit surprised at the popularity of the magazine, Breton says "It feels great when someone says my baby looks good."

He expects to complete his thesis next year on the changing attitudes on work as expressed in English literature from 1840 to 1940.

Among the faculty, staff and students to win Just Desserts Awards are: Alma Mater Society: Roy Harding, Michael Kingsmill; Agriculture Undergraduate Society: Cathleen Nichols; Arts Undergraduate Society: Peter Babiak, Rick Gooding, Elizabeth Howarth, Bozena Karwowzka, Don MacInnis; Commerce Undergraduate Society: Stanley Hamilton, Cheyenne Stensgaard; Dental Undergraduate Society: Ian Matthew; Law Students Association: Robert Reid; Pharmacy Undergraduate Society: Helen Burt; Science Undergraduate Society: Bree Baxter, Ben Clifford, Mike Pungente. The Women's Faculty Club provided desserts for the recent celebration.