Murray G. Ross Award recipient describes undergraduate studies as 'rich academic experience'

Along with earning a BSc (specialized honours) in the Kinesiology and Health Science Program, recent alumnus Aly Fawzy is also the recipient of York University’s Murray G. Ross Award, one of the highest honours for a graduating student.

The award, which is typically presented during spring convocation, recognizes one student for outstanding academic excellence and notable contributions to the University.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Aly in his role as a president’s ambassador and witnessing first-hand his passion for improving the student experience at York,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “An engaged campus leader who lives his values, Aly has made a profound impact on student life at the University and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next."

Aly Fawzy

During his time at York, which he describes as a “rich academic experience,” Fawzy took several upper year kinesiology electives and pursued practical research activities. He received an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to conduct vascular research with Professor Tara Haas using molecular biology techniques. His work was presented as a poster in a research conference at the University, and he went on to complete his undergraduate honours thesis with Haas.

"I presented my work as an undergraduate thesis manuscript, which taught me a lot about scientific writing," said Fawzy.

Outside the classroom, Fawzy was immersed in many student success programs and student clubs, many at Stong and Calumet Colleges. He was a peer tutor and a peer mentor with the Kinesiology and Health Science student Organization (KAHSSO), and become president of KAHSSO in his fourth year, overseeing its free peer tutoring and peer mentoring programs and student success events. Fawzy also held roles as a president's ambassador, a student health ambassador and an executive at two student clubs: The Canadian Association of Research in Regenerative Medicine (CARRM) and SickKids. Additionally, he held governance positions including as a student representative at the Faculty of Health petitions committee and the Faculty of Health Council. He also sat on the Student Success Council at Stong and Calumet Colleges.

A point of pride for Fawzy is his role in the creation of the Ambassador Program under KAHSSO with the help of the executive council and support of Stong and Calumet colleges. The program, he said, was initially created to enhance events on campus, but is now evolving to go beyond campus and engage high school students as well create a kinesiology alumni network and many other initiatives in the local community geared around mental health and career exploration.

"It is really difficult for me to pinpoint one learning experience that was most valuable," said Fawzy. "Rather, the most valuable things I learned came from my mentors at York University, outside the classroom. My time interacting and working with Drs. Mazen Hamadeh (Head of Stong College), Jennine Rawana (Head of Calumet College), and Tara Haas (Kinesiology Professor) as well as President Lenton when I was a president's ambassador were the most valuable learning experiences for me at York. I learned a wide range of skills ranging from leadership, communication and networking to culturing cells and working with mice models for research. Truly a rich and diverse learning experience."

York, he said, is an "outstanding educational institution," noting the kinesiology program ranked No. 1 in Canada and 16th in the world in 2017 (ShanghaiRanking). "York provided me with endless opportunities, from research, to student success programs, to having a say in decisions and providing my ideas/proposals directly to the University president. I am very grateful for those opportunities that allowed me to excel and develop life skills during my time at York."

As for earning the award, he says he feels thankful and humble.

"It is quite an honour to be recognized with the past recipients of this award who have done tremendous things during their time at York. It really motivates me to continue to excel both academically and also with my involvement in student success programs and other extracurriculars."

Fawzy hopes to pursue a career in medicine as a physician scientist.

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