UBC student Shirley Hutchinson is the winner of this year’s Pushor Mitchell Gold Medal Leadership prize. Pushor Mitchell LLP created the $10,000 award which is given annually to a top graduating student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.
Hutchinson, who was born in Watson Lake, Yukon, but calls Kelowna home, graduates this week with a BSc in Psychology (Honours) with a Forensic Specialization. She already has big plans for the award.
“I am starting my Master of Arts in the fall, and this prize will really help to cover the cost of my degree,” says Hutchinson. “Over the next couple of years, I will investigate issues associated with the criminal justice system, and some of the prejudicial biases toward offenders I have seen as a result of some of my work in the community. I believe all people, including offenders, need to be treated with justice and compassion.”
Hutchinson was selected for the prize based on exceptional academic achievement and demonstrated leadership – especially in the area of community service. She has been volunteering with the John Howard Society and the Okanagan Halfway House Society since 2009, and has volunteered in the Adolescent Psychiatry Unit at Kelowna General Hospital, helping youth with severe mental illness.
“It is for people like Shirley that Pushor Mitchell created this award,” says the managing partner of Pushor Mitchell LLP. “We wish to recognize graduating students who not only have excelled academically, but who are also making a difference in the community by demonstrating exceptional leadership skills. On behalf of the lawyers at Pushor Mitchell I wish to offer my congratulations to Shirley for the hard work, dedication and passion she displayed to win this award.”
In addition to her community involvement, Hutchinson has also worked as a teaching assistant since 2008, is an executive member of the Psychology Course Union, and is the volunteer campus representative for the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), encouraging students to do research and get involved in the field.
“The Barber School is proud to recognize Ms. Hutchinson’s exceptional undergraduate achievement through this award,” says Cynthia Mathieson, Dean of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. “This is the second year the Pushor Mitchell Award has been offered, and we look forward to continuing on the tradition of recognizing exceptional undergraduate students in the future.”
Upon completing her Master’s degree, Hutchinson plans to pursue a PhD, and use her education, skills, and experience to continue doing work in the community and academia.
“I would like to sincerely thank all the representatives of Pushor Mitchell LLP for their overwhelming generosity,” says Hutchinson. “This award will significantly help to finance my upcoming Masters degree at UBC, and accomplish my research goals of reducing prejudice and promoting understanding in the criminal justice system. I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to make a difference in my community.”
In Shirley’s own words: “a leader is someone who is courageous, just and compassionate.” It is clear from the testimonials of people who worked with Shirley, as well as from her many activities and achievements, that she demonstrates exceptional leadership worthy of this prestigious award.
The Gold Medal Leadership Prize is a $10,000 prize offered by Pushor Mitchell LLP to a graduating student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. In addition to academic achievement in the students final fifty-four credits, candidates for the award must demonstrate leadership in one or more of the following areas: community service or volunteerism, cross-cultural relations, promotion of diversity, intellectual pursuits, and artistic or athletic endeavours. The prize is awarded based on the recommendation of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.