Gender & Social Justice Awards


Every year in April, the Department of Philosophy hosts an awards ceremony celebrating the best and the brightest students in Philosophy and Gender and Social Justice, at both the undergraduate and graduate level (philosophy only). 

The awards ceremony also gives the department a chance to recognize students that have been awarded other honours and any faculty who have received awards.


darts embedded in a dart board- one bull's eye

2022 Awards

First Year:

Jointly awarded to: Jenna Porter and Elly Schyven 

Elly performed at a consistently high level throughout the course. I was tremendously impressed by how they embraced feedback and excelled in their coursework through notable dedication and commitment. Based on their performance in this class, I'm excited to see Elly's future contributions to the GSJ program and the University of Waterloo more broadly. —Shannon Stettner

Jenna performed at a consistently high level throughout the course. For their major project, Jenna produced a graphic research poster on the 504 sit-in, showing a lot of perseverance and creativity in pursuing this subject. She produced a phenomenal final project that was engaging and sophisticated. Jenna is well-situated to excel in future GSJ offerings and I'm excited to follow her student career. —Shannon Stettner

Sandra Burt Research Award

Joint award winner Callum Mac Rempel 

Callum Mac Rempel

Callum for “Sexual Violence Against Women Within The Mennonite Community” (GSJ 472, Sex and Gender in Early Modern Europe with Dr. Greta Kroeker) 

Congratulations, Callum!  Your outstanding digital museum exhibit and accompanying report, “Sexual Violence Against Women Within the Mennonite Community” provided a nuanced and detailed overview into the history of sexual violence in the Mennonite community from the early modern period to the present.  Your innovative approach to presenting the well-researched project made your project both accessible and informative (through Prezi) and provided a sensitive introduction to a challenging and important subject.  Well done! —Greta Kroeker

Sandra Burt Research Award

Joint award winner Care Rummer

Care for “Burden” (for GSJ 472: Health, Punishment and Carceral Medicine taught by Dr. Andrea Pitts)

see the congratulatory video below

Remote video URL

Upper Year:  Jointly awarded to Chinye Obiago and Sophia Amstutz 

See congratulatory videos below

Remote video URL
Remote video URL

Previous years awards winners


sually, at the end of an academic year, we gather together for the Department Awards Ceremony. We are very sorry to miss doing so this year! In place of that, we are celebrating our students through a series of videos and text. 

These awards are made possible by generous donors. We are deeply appreciative of their support. In particular, for years Bob Ewen, a valued Philosophy alumnus, has donated toward making the class prizes and essay prizes possible, and recently Bob gifted to our Department an endowed fund that will support these awards for years to come. These awards make such a difference not only to our students, but also to our broader community, which benefits so much from the supportive message of the gifts themselves -- that in these difficult times, what we are doing has meaning beyond the classroom. Thank you, Bob Ewen, for making these awards possible.

First Year Prize in Gender & Social Justice - Isobel Flindall

"In a course with an impressive number of engaged students, Isobel Flindall was a leader in GSJ 102, Winter 2021. She took very seriously the discussion boards in each of five modules, contributing textbook-informed, thoughtful replies in multiple threads -- many more than the required single reply in each thread. Isobel always asked astute questions in office hour drop-ins while making intellectually generous space for others in every interaction (discussion boards and drop-ins). She stretched herself by working with another student using a new platform to both of them for the final Centering Voices project, even though it would have been easier and permissible to work alone like most of the class. Isobel is critically self-reflective, exhibiting an intellectual and ethical maturity rarely seen in first year — she even submitted an extra reflection not for marks but for the learning experience. Her thoughtful self-positioning throughout the course was an example for others, including more senior students." (Trevor Holmes)

Upper Year Prize in Gender & Social Justice - Olivia Kelly

Shannon Stettner shares that "It is my honour to congratulate Oliva Kelly for winning the GSJ Upper Year Prize; it is well deserved. Very early in my first course with Olivia, she stood out because of her thoughtful, smart, and earnest contributions to class discussions. Olivia has been an engaged student, seeking to understand and apply what she has learned in class in her daily world and broader community. It has been an absolute pleasure to get to know and teach Olivia throughout her undergraduate degree and I look forward to hearing about post-graduate adventures."  

Sandra Burt Research Award - Gillian Wagenaar

"Congratulations on the Sandra Burt Award to Gillian Wagenaar! Gillian’s final project for History 422 (Early Modern Sex and Gender), highlights the diverse experiences of early modern women.  The project explores women’s lives through an original role playing game called 1649, in which a player takes on the identity of a woman living in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1649.  Grounded in excellent historical research, the game takes players through many of the challenges, opportunities, and life stages of early modern women, and as Gillian explains in the introduction, enables “a player to step back into history and view the past from a different, more tangible, and ultimately more engaging point of view.”  The game guides players through both the seasons of life and the historical setting of seventeenth century Edinburgh and offers players the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of early modern women through a creative and engaging game. Congratulations, Gillian, on this outstanding work!" (Greta Kroeker)


Usually we would gather at the end of Winter term for our Department Awards Ceremony. The ceremony had to be cancelled this year, but we still have deserving prize winners to celebrate! 

With these gifts, not only does the money make such an important difference to the students, but in addition our community benefits so much from the supportive message of the gifts themselves -- that in these difficult times, what we are doing has meaning beyond the classroom. The awards also allow us to come together, even if only in virtual space!

First Year Prize in Gender & Social Justice - Quinn Andres

Upper Year Prize in Gender & Social Justice - Jillian Barlow and Lauren Pazzano

Sandra Burt Research Award - Madison Van Es


First Year Prize in Women's Studies - Reshani Abayasekara 

(presented by Doreen Fraser on behalf of Katy Fulfer)


Upper Year Prize in Women's Studies - Clair Baleshta 

(presented by Shannon Dea)


Sandra Burt Essay Award - Jillian Barlow 

"The Performativity of Black Queerness Transforming Hip-hop Culture"
*not in attendance


First Year Prize in Women's Studies - Vinita David

(presented by Trevor Holmes)


Upper Year Prize in Women's Studies - Savleen Grewal 

(presented by Trevor Holmes)



The Department of Philosophy hosted its eighth annual award ceremony on April 12, 2017. This year, two new prizes for Women's Studies students were added, a first-year prize and an upper-year prize. The event celebrates philosophy and women's studies students' achievement over the past year and includes the Angus Kerr-Lawson prize in American or Naturalistic Philosophy and the Sandra Burt Essay Prize in Women's Studies.

The award winners this year are:

First-year prize
Manjot Kaur Dhindsa
Recognizes outstanding performance in Women's Studies by a first year student.

Trevor Holmes and Mary Synnott present the Women's Studies first-year prize to Manjot Kaur Dhindsa.
From Trevor Holmes: In 12 years... I have rarely seen such consistently high-level creative work that stages the debates from the textbook so well, and so concisely. Ms. Dhindsa has handled assignments in the course with a personal and conceptual maturity that is rare among her peers at any year level.

Upper-year prize
Megan Whalen
Recognizes outstanding performance in Women's Studies by an upper-year student.

Carla Fehr and Mary Synnott present the Women's Studies upper-year award to Megan Whalen.
From Women's Studies Undergraduate Advisor, Shannon Dea: Megan is passionate about Women’s Studies, and about doing excellent scholarly work. It is no surprise that she was nominated for this prize by more than one of her professors. Her professors praise her engagement in class discussions, her high caliber of written work, and her dedication to her courses and to social justice.

Citizenship Prize
Nicole Sandford
This special award recognizes the recipient's distinguished contributions to the Department, both as a scholar and as a citizen.

Greg Andres presents Nicole Sandford with the Citizenship Prize.
From Women's Studies Undergraduate Advisor, Shannon Dea: Nicole was nominated for a Philosophy class prize, for the inaugural Women’s Studies upper-year prize, and for this “special prize.” That her professors found her academic contributions in both Philosophy (her major) and Women’s Studies (her minor) worthy of nominations is already an impressive feat, and evidence of her scholarly excellence. But Nicole is not just an excellent student in both of her chosen disciplines, she is also an amazing departmental citizen. From her service to Phil Soc last year to her leadership this year in the Women’s Studies Society, Nicole has made the Department a better place for students in both disciplines.

Sandra Burt Essay Prize in Women's Studies
Sara Radley
for her paper, "Using the Pedagogy of the Oppressed to Queer Gender Norms"
The Sandra Burt Essay Award honours Dr. Sandra Burt, the first Coordinator of Women’s Studies at Waterloo. It is awarded to an upper-year Women’s Studies major who has written an outstanding paper.

Sandra Burt and Carla Fehr present the Sandra Burt Essay Award to Sara Radley.
From Women's Studies Undergraduate Advisor, Shannon Dea: In her paper “Using the Pedagogy of the Oppressed to Queer Gender Norms” Sara combines the frameworks of Paolo Freire and Maria Lugones to “queer” gender. One of her professors wrote: “I think that she does good work with Freire in this paper. The combination of Lugones and Freire is creative and has the potential to have legs for a longer-term research project. I like that she is using this combination in a way that tackles a problem that is real and that is personal to her.”

This year we also honoured Mary Synnott for 30 years of outstanding service, particularly to the Women's Studies program.

 Mary Synnott honoured for 30 years of outstanding service

Gerry Callaghan presents Mary Synnott with a commemorative plaque honouring her for her service to Women's Studies.

The text of the plaque reads:

Mary Synnott made an enormous contribution to Women's Studies at Waterloo over the course of her career. She joined the program in 1985 as its first full-time staff member. She remained its only staff member until her retirement in 2016. Three decades of students, instructors and program directors benefited and learned from Mary's wisdom, passion, professionalism and generosity. Women's Studies is indebted to this exemplary feminist leader.

The photo on the plaque is a quintessential Mary photo in which she holds up a sign which reads:

"I need feminism because equality is for everyone! I was a feminist before I had ever heard the word!"

To see our full gallery of photos, visit the Department of Philosophy 2017 Awards Ceremony Gallery.
2017 Awards Ceremony Program.