April 28, 2022
2022 Graduating Student Awards announced
Three exceptional law students have been recognized for their contributions to the law school with the 2022 Graduating Students Awards. All three winners are graduating from the joint JD/MPP (Master of Public Policy) program.
The Grant McKibben Prize: Ava Danyluk
The Grant McKibben Prize, created in honour and memory of a highly popular member of the Class of 1979, is presented to a graduating student who epitomizes the energy and spirit of the UCalgary Law community.
Ava Danyluk is not only an extremely busy student, leading her class with one of the top scores, but she is also a very accomplished individual in many legal topics, including Black Law and Indigenous Law. In both 1L and 2L, Ava held an executive role on the Indigenous Law Student’s Association, supported by her background in Indigenous Medical Research. Her undergraduate research was published in a report from the Alberta First Nations Governance Centre (AFNIGC) regarding the opioid crisis in Indigenous communities in Alberta. During her 1L, and eventually her 2L year, Ava participated in the Indigenous Legal Education Project with PBSC and took on the Team Lead role in 2L.
In her 2L year, Ana completed her master’s degree in Public Policy and was the first student to complete both the master’s and law requirements in only two semesters.
During the passionate movement of Black Lives Matter (est.2013), Ava volunteered to work with the Calgary Legal Guidance to create wallet cards explaining an individual’s legal rights upon arrest during the height of the protests. She has written on advocacy and the law, specifically in the area of HIV criminalization. In August 2021, Ava received the Sheldon M. Chumir Memorial Award in Ethics and Human Rights and Civil Liberties from the Faculty of Law for her paper “Insights from Feminist and Queer Theory on Ethical Lawyering in Family Law in Canada.”
Ava works part-time at Vogel LLP and is in the process of publishing her master’s capstone, “A Case Study of the 2021 Amendments to the Divorce Act: Implications for Family Violence in Canada,” in the Alberta Law Review.
Her fellow students have commented on both her kindness and friendliness. She has assisted many students in building a community around the pandemic, helping to alleviate the seclusion that came with both working and learning at home. Most importantly, her colleagues commented that Ava creates a “friendliness” in the cut-throat nature of Law, providing classmates with copies of her notes, showing them around campus, assisting with registration, and being a friend when a friend is needed.
Winning this award shows me that there is mutual respect between the professors and students who put their all into legal education. I am so grateful to have been recognized amongst such a high achieving cohort.
Dean Michael Wylie Social Responsibility Award: Keshia Holloman-Dawson
The Dean Michael Wylie Social Responsibility Award is presented to a graduating student who has made a significant contribution to the understanding or resolution of social or human rights issues while acquiring a legal education at the Faculty of Law.
As a first-year law student, Keshia came to the Law school with previous leadership skills as the former Vice-President of the Student’s Union. She carried this leadership forward when she became the 2021-2022 President of the University of Calgary’s Black Law Student’s Association and immediately began working on the association’s “Calls to Action.” This project focused on addressing issues facing the Black Law Society. A 29-page document titled “Addressing Systemic Racism in Law” that included strategies for addressing the underrepresentation of BIPOC students in the faculty of law and within the legal profession was born. It calls for reform in the areas of Student Diversity, Education, Support and Faculty Diversity, and it was this document that helped to create the BSAEP (Black Student Equitable Admissions Process). The BSAEP provides space and visibility for Black applicants to speak about their lived experiences and the barriers they have overcome. Keshia’s involvement in this change contributed to the number of matriculated Black 1L students at the Faculty of Law to increase by 300%. Yes, 300%. The media attention BLSA received attracted and elicited Calgary resident, Agnes Cooke, to create a legacy of scholarships for Black law students. Lastly, Keshia was influential in raising the profile of the BLSA through countless community engagement opportunities that allowed her to fundraise over $7,000 to support the club’s activities.
Keshia has not only been an influence among her peers, but also to the staff within the faculty. Keshia influenced the faculty’s redesignation of one of the law school’s larges entrance scholarships to go specifically towards BIPOC applicants. With the facilitation of ILSA co-President Amelia Harman, Keshia also negotiated with a local energy company and large law firm to create three $10,000 scholarships for Black and Indigenous students entering law school with the motion to complete a summer internship.
Finally, Keshia is also a member of multiple boards in Calgary and is devoted to wellness, reconciliation, equity, and inclusion. She advocated for proper integration and subsequently was part of the organizers for the anti-racism arts festival. She is an ever-busy student who will no doubt raise the bar for future BIPOC students at UCalgary Law.
We used this African proverb in the BLSA's Calls to Action: "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." I truly believe nothing we achieve is alone, whether it is hard learned lessons or a helping hand on the road to success. The legal profession brings with it privilege, and so it is our responsibility to make that road a little wider and a little smoother for every student with intention. Their potential might look different than the status quo, but how do we grow without change. This award is not just my own, but everyone's who helped along the way.
Campbell McLaurin Achievement Award: Selwynne Hawkins
The Campbell McLaurin Achievement Award is presented annually to a graduating student who has not only achieved high academic standing, but who has made a significant contribution to the life of the law school during the three years of their JD degree.
Selwynne Hawkins is a successful student who has excelled in her studies, the associations she is part of, and a guiding mentor to other students. In her third year, Selwynne took part of the Laskin moot competition, but did so in French. French is not her native language, but Selwynne took on the challenge to complete this competition while she was still learning the language. In 2L, Selwynne won the prestigious McGillivrary moot competition.
Exceeding expectations in the classroom and competitive platforms, Selwynne played on the Rugby team for the faculty of law until she tore her ACL. Her third year at the Law School saw Selwynne participate as a coach/spectator for the intramural soccer team. Having previously been a varsity athlete for the soccer team at McGill University, it was a perfect fit for UCalgary.
In her 1L year, Selwynne was selected as the 1L Representative for the Gender Equity in Law Association (formerly the Calgary Women Studying Law Association). She went on to be the Director of Community Relationships for the Gender Equity in Association and has organized the mentorship program that the Association runs. If one society wasn’t enough, Selwynne then took on a role as the Director of Communications with the Environmental Law Society. In her second year, she became a member of the Alberta Law Review which progressed into her third year when she became the Associate Editor-in-Chief for not only the Alberta Law Review, but Project Lead with The Hearsay Podcast. Within The Hearsay Podcast, Selwynne leads a team of students in planning, recording, and producing legal education podcasts.
As well as being a dual Master of Public Policy student, she is also an active member of Pro Bono Students Canada. Selwynne has tutored students in one-on-one sessions and led tutorials in the first-year foundations course. Her numerous awards and accolades also demonstrate Selwynne’s high academic standing, as can be seen by her placement on the Dean’s List in both her first and second year. Students who have the pleasure of studying or working with Selwynne have call her “a bright, talented, kind, and caring” individual; one student claiming that Selwynne “also makes me a better student.”
The community at the Faculty of Law was the best part of my three years at UCalgary, so I am honoured to be the recipient of this award.