The McGill Alumni Association (MAA) honoured inspiring accomplishments in the McGill community and beyond at a festive awards ceremony and annual spring tradition that sported a new look this year.
About 150 McGillians gathered on May 4 at Maison Manuvie in downtown Montreal for the 2023 MAA Honours and Awards Celebration, a cocktail and presentation ceremony that paid tribute to alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University for their outstanding service and achievements to McGill, the MAA and in their respective communities.
Hosted by MAA President, Joey Odman, BEng’11, and Past President and Chair of the Honours & Awards Selection Committee, Luciano D’Iorio, BA’99, guests had a chance to hear from McGill’s new Principal Deep Saini at one of his first alumni gatherings since he began his mandate on April 1.
Saini noted that in his first message last month as Principal to the McGill community, he mentioned that the University's reputation is owed particularly to its people – “the incredible students, professors, staff, alumni, and volunteers who make this community so special. And you are all that.”
If the award recipients are any indication – “and I want you to know I read the citations for each one of you” – we can be assured that the future of McGill is really bright and the prospects for the world are also encouraging, Saini said. “You are out there doing amazing things for this world.”
The MAA’s highest honour, the Award of Merit, went to alumna extraordinaire Ann Longhurst Vroom, BA’67, for her remarkable dedication, leadership and service to McGill spanning more than 60 years. Her many volunteer leadership roles include serving as a governor of McGill, as President of the McGill Alumni Association and President of the McGill Society of Montreal. She is also a champion of the Library, and previously served as Chair of the Friends of the McGill Library and Chair of the Friends’ Fiat Lux fundraising campaign, leading efforts to raise crucial funding for the transformation of the Library.
“McGill has been so much more than a school to me. It has been a place where over the years, I have explored new passions, learned from exceptional people and forged lifelong relationships,” Vroom said.
“The breadth of my involvement with McGill over the years – where I have studied and I have worked and I have volunteered – has allowed me to interact with remarkable faculty and staff and students and alumni who have enriched my life immeasurably," she added.
The list of honorees included the Honourable Eleni Bakopanos, PC, BA’76, who received the Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding dedication to her community as a Liberal Member of Parliament (1993-2006) and to the McGill Women’s Alumnae Association (MWAA). For more than 40 years, she has helped the MWAA promote the leadership potential of McGill's female graduates and has also served as a mentor and fundraiser.
Sharon Stern, BA’07, and Aaron Stern, BCom’06, were presented with the E.P. Taylor Award for their exceptional volunteerism and philanthropy in support of the Desautels Faculty of Management where their efforts are creating a rich learning environment for students.
Jérémy Boulanger-Bonnelly, BCL/LLB’15, an incoming Assistant Professor at McGill’s Faculty of Law, received the James G. Wright Award, which is presented to a young graduate who has demonstrated exemplary service to and made a difference in their community. Passionate about access to justice and dedicated to community service as a lawyer, Boulanger-Bonnelly is providing pro bono counsel in constitutional challenges.
Two McGill students were among the honorees: Lashanda Skerritt, an MD/PhD candidate in the Department of Family Medicine, and Law student Patrick Keeler, who received the Chancellor Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award.
Motivated by the lack of Black representation in the medical field and in McGill’s health programs, Skerritt has led efforts to increase opportunities for Black students in the health sciences. For his part, Keeler founded Le Cercle Orange, a novel, cost-free referral and support service for people living with HIV in Montreal.
To close the celebration, Joey Odman extended thanks to fellow presenter Luciano D’Iorio and members of the MAA Honours & Awards Selection Committee, Nicole Wilson, BSc’09, Cert.Prof French’13, Wanda Bedard, BCom'82, Jeremy Clark, BSc'98, Pina Marra, BCom’06, DPA’06, and Ryan Tomicic, BEng’04, BCL/LLB’10, together with Manulife’s Carmelina Manno, National Sales Director, Affinity Markets, for her gracious hospitality.
Read the descriptions of all the honorees at the 2023 MAA Honours & Awards Celebration.