Faculty of Health Sciences Young Alumni Award

Young Alumni Award

About the Award

  • Awarded for the first time at Homecoming 2013 during the FHS Homecoming Brunch
  • Intended to recognize contributions made both while a student at Western and those that have continued or developed once outside the walls of the academy

Who is Eligible?

  • A recent Faculty of Health Sciences graduate 35 years of age and under

Nomination Procedure

  • Nominations will be submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean's Office
  • Instructions for submitting nominations will be posted once nominations are being accepted

Previous Award Winners

2018 Recipient: Jacob Sulkers

Jacob Sulkers received a Master of Clinical Sciences (Audiology) degree from Western in 2011 and since graduating has committed himself to making a difference in the daily lives of his clients and their families by providing them with support and expertise as they cope with the impact of hearing loss and disorders. 

After Jacob completed his degree at Western, he returned to his home province of Manitoba and now works as an audiologist at the Central Speech & Hearing Clinic at the Victoria Hospital in Winnipeg. As part of that clinic, he provides audiology assessment and intervention services to clients, children and adults, as well as their families to help them cope with the impact of hearing loss and disorders. Of particular note, he has been instrumental in getting Manitoba’s cochlear implant and Universal Infant Hearing Screening programs off the ground, and in concert, contributed to the community by increasing public awareness of cochlear implants and early hearing loss detection. He appreciates the opportunity to help people in a way that truly impacts every aspect of their lives.

Being part of a team that positively affects a person’s sense of hearing can be profoundly moving for not only that person but also family and friends. Accordingly, he is involved in not only addressing the sense of hearing, but also helping children, adults, and their families fully engage with the world. Additionally, Jacob has continued to support Western since graduating. That is, over the years he has been very active in providing observation opportunities for Manitoban applicants to the School of Communication Sciences and Disorder’s (CSD) MClSc programs, thus assisting with attracting well-prepared applicants to Western.

When asked why he chose Western, Jacob stated, “I wanted to work with and learn from the best clinicians and researchers in my field. Western offered academic and real-world experiences that could not be found elsewhere.”

2015 Recipient: Gina Uppal

AWARD CITATION (as read by FHS Dean Jim Weese)

This year’s recipient of the FHS Young Alumni Award exemplifies all of the desired attributes – and then some.

Gina Uppal entered our Faculty in 2010 as a highly accomplished student. She earned a number of scholarships including the prestigious President’s National Scholarship. These scholarships are reserved for the very best and brightest students and at the time, only six of these awards were allocated to the nation’s top students. She applied and was accepted into the Scholar’s Elective Program at our University. This program is designed to provide the most elite students with value added research experiences and individual project time with our top professors. Gina thrived in this program as well. She was a regular member of the Dean’s Honour Roll each of her undergraduate years and I have had the pleasure of introducing her at awards celebrations that recognized her academic accomplishments.

She enriched her undergraduate experience and preparation through her extensive involvement in many co-curricular activities. She served in student government, she held a number of key elected positions in the Faculty of Health Sciences Student Council, including serving as the Vice-President of Student Affairs. I have always found her to be a caring, committed and articulate young woman and role model, with unlimited leadership potential. She demonstrated a strong sense of social responsibility in everything that she did, including participating in Western’s Alternative Spring Break Program where she joined a number of other committed students and travelled to Costa Rica where she participated in a number of travelling health care clinics to deliver service to those in need. She continues to help us promote the Faculty to prospective students and their parents during our Open House events.

Naturally I was very pleased when upon graduation she was one of 20 Canadian students selected to participate in a Fulbright-Killam Fellowship in Washington, D.C. As expected, she excelled in that program as well, earning a GPA of 3.91. While in Washington she accepted an internship with the Centre for Health Market Innovators, further enriching her experience and preparation.

Since leaving us Gina has served as the Scholars Programs & Academic Outreach Coordinator in the Student Success Center – helping students enrich their post-secondary experience through workshops, leadership initiatives, and one-on-one counseling

She was 1 of 8 people selected for the Fellowship with the Ontario Non-profit Network – to help her better understand the non-profit sector and giving her the opportunity to gain experience working with senior advisors on policy & systems change working groups. She was also selected to participant in exclusive program in New Your Starting Bloc Social Innovation Fellow – in New York

The past two summers she has traveled to the New York Institute to support incoming fellows by facilitating workshops and reflection events.

She’s been a leader in the Innovation Works program – the first social innovation shared space in London where she and her colleagues create and execute strategic programming, events, and campaigns to support an innovative, fun, and forward thinking culture within Innovation Works.

And she has also worked with the London Food Bank and London Poverty Research Council  - demonstrating her commitment to equity and inclusion – and underscoring why she is such a good choice for this award.

It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce this year’s recipient of the Faculty of Health Sciences Young Alumni Award, Ms. Gina Uppal

2014 Recipient: Jannah Wigle

Read about Jannah in Health Sciences Matters magazine.

  • Western Degrees Received: BHSc ’08
  • Was presented the award for her work in Africa implementing maternal and newborn health programs

AWARD CITATION (as read by FHS Dean Jim Weese)

This year’s recipient of the FHS Young Alumni Award has dedicated herself to improving human health around the globe since leaving Western in 2008 with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. As a student leader, she was heavily involved in Students’ Council initiatives and helped found the FHS Dream Team, which is dedicated to funding the wishes of children facing life-threatening illnesses.

She has held positions with the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and the World Health Organization, and earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. More recently, she spent three years working across Africa to improve maternal health and newborn survival rates. And if that wasn’t enough, just this month she enrolled at the University of Toronto and is pursuing a PhD in social and behavioural health sciences.

It is my privilege to introduce this year’s recipient of the Faculty of Health Sciences Young Alumni Award, Jannah Wigle.

2013 Recipient: Tom Cheung

Read about Tom in Western News.

  • Western Degrees Received: BHSc ’07, MD ‘11
  • At the time of the award was an Emergency Room doctor with London Health Sciences Centre
  • Created the Health Sciences Dream Team in 2007 in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a way of making a difference in the lives of children facing life threatening illnesses
    • The first wish granted by the HSDT sent a young teen boy to Hawaii for vacation and a deep sea fishing adventure
  • Engaged in research investigating the “Power of a Wish” and how it helps patients cope and enjoy life to the fullest
  • A “Volunteer Wish Grantor” meaning that he makes a contribution out of his own pocket
  • Served as “Head Soph” for Health Sciences O-Week 2006, which got him a seat with FHS Students’ Council, and thus a platform to present the idea to student council