July 8, 2019

Class of 2019: UCalgary's 2019 President's Award winners

Exceptional graduating students recognized for their academic achievements, leadership and contributions to the community
The recipients of the 2019 President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership, clockwise from top left: Laura Fader, Tingting Yan, Kristen Barton, Anis Ben Arfi, and Rahul Arora.

Clockwise from top left: Laura Fader, Tingting Yan, Kristen Barton, Anis Ben Arfi, and Rahul Arora.

University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is pleased to announce the recipients of the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership for June 2019. The award was established in 2008 to recognize exceptional students who have a record of academic achievement, consistently demonstrate leadership and make significant contributions to our community.

Rahul Arora: Bachelor of Health Sciences, Honours (First Class)

Rahul Arora has already made a significant difference in his field, his community, and the lives of other students. As a student researcher in the University of Calgary’s Department of Oncology, he conducted cancer research studies with a focus on improving patient care through more personalized treatments. Recognized for his work, he has delivered peer-reviewed presentations at conferences in San Antonio, Chicago, Toronto and Banff.

In the community, Arora designed a project to help improve residence engagement at Bethany Care. He also served as the CEO for Operation Med School, a national initiative to educate young students about medicine, and oversaw the organization’s first international expansion.

While completing his undergraduate studies, Arora made it a priority to support and encourage other students. To create more opportunities for high school and university students to develop essential scientific communication skills, he cofounded the peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal. As a peer-assisted study session Leader at UCalgary, he prepared and led three weekly supplemental instruction sessions for students in first-year physics. He also personally mentored many high school and undergraduate students, creating individualized development plans to help them reach their goals and supporting them in their university, scholarship, and professional school applications.

Kristen Barton: Doctor of Philosophy, Medical Sciences and Doctor of Medicine

Kristen Barton is an award-winning medical student with a passion for helping others through both her field of study and her leadership within the student community. Her research focuses on osteoarthritis and helping patients manage chronic pain and prevent future injuries. She is a rising star in her field and has presented her work at over 60 international and national conferences.

Barton has been part of leadership teams for Dinos women’s soccer, the Graduate Students’ Association, the Medical Sciences Graduate Students’ Association, the Council of Foothills Departmental Graduate Association, and Leadership in Medicine (LiM). Recognized by her peers for her exceptional leadership skills, she was selected as vice-president, internal for the Clinician Investigator Trainee Association of Canada; in this position, she collaborated on projects with faculty members across Canada and worked with national policy-makers to advocate for funding opportunities for students. She was also selected as the Class of 2019 representative for the Undergraduate Medical Education Student Academic Review Committee. Amidst her busy academic schedule, Barton has given of her time to mentor students through LiM, the Graduate Leaders Circle, and the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.

Anis Ben Arfi: Doctor of Philosophy, Electrical and Computer Engineering

While completing his graduate studies, Anis Ben Arfi served as president of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Students’ Association, the Graduate Engineering Students’ Consortium, and the Calgary Optics and Photonics Students’ Society. He also co-founded the University of Calgary Amateur Radio Club.

As the Southern Alberta Young Professionals vice-chairperson for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), he led a team of graduate student volunteers to organize talks, industry mixers and monthly field trips for other students. Serving as the chairman of the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology Southern Alberta Section, Ben Arfi teamed up with a local maker movement to gather more than 60 graduate students to design solutions for people with special needs in Calgary. He also acquired funding and worked with his IEEE team to develop a variety of programs, including solar electrification and computer maintenance workshops, for children at Siksika First Nation.

Ben Arfi currently chairs the IEEE Canada Humanitarian Initiatives Committee and the IEEE 2020 Rising Stars Conference, an event where 350 of the top engineering students from around the world spend three days in Las Vegas learning from world-class speakers and mixing with industry leaders.

Laura Fader: Bachelor of Science, Chemical Engineering

Laura Fader is passionate about promoting engineering, particularly to high school students and young women — volunteering at local schools and events such as Women in Engineering Day or Girl Guide Science Days. While president of the Engineering Students’ Society, she created a mentorship program for more than 600 students. She also served as an orientation leader every year that she was in Canada during her degree.

Fader has represented UCalgary at various engineering competitions and was a member of iGEM Calgary, a team of students who created an award-winning diagnostic device to differentiate between diseases in developing countries. She presented the project on behalf of the Canadian government at the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention. Her capstone project team created a process to produce oxygen on Mars, winning the Schulich Chemical Engineering Capstone Fair and the Chemical Engineering Congress’ Hatch Plant Design Competition — and competing this October at the International Astronautical Congress.

Fader has helped build homes in Mexico through Homes of Hope and in Costa Rica through the university’s ucalgarycares program. During her studies, she completed an internship in Switzerland, studied in Singapore, and travelled to 48 countries. A committed musician, Fader served as VP events and VP finance for Schulich Soundstage. 

Tingting Yan: Bachelor of Health Sciences, Honours (First Class)

Tingting Yan has used her passion for the arts, science and journalism to improve the lives of others. Inspired by Humans of New York, she founded an on-campus photojournalism project, Humans of UCalgary, to build community and understanding through personal stories — co-leading 30 volunteers to capture over 250 stories and gain thousands of subscribers from 45 countries on social media.

As an accomplished student researcher in the Cumming School of Medicine, Yan has been actively engaged in neuroscience research investigating stroke, paediatric concussion and autism. She has represented the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at six conferences including the World Congress on Brain Injury. Amidst her studies, she also found time to serve as an orientation leader for new students and, as part of UCalgary’s Scholars Academy, formally mentor six other students.

Yan volunteered at Rotary Flames House to support terminally ill children and their families. Drawing from her education and her talent as a piano player, she helped brighten children’s days through companionship, special education and music. She has also volunteered with Alberta Health Services, and she will spend this summer in Mbarara working with Healthy Child Uganda.

To learn more about this award, visit the President’s Award for Excellence website.