Graduate students from the University of Ottawa and Trent University recognized with Mandelbaum Fellowships

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TORONTO, May 26, 2021 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that the recipients of this year’s Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowships for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts are Amy Shawanda from Trent University for the doctoral level of study and Laura Paolini from the University of Ottawa for the masters level of study.

“The Mandelbaum Fellowship recognizes graduate students who combine exceptional scholarship with deep engagement in their communities,” said Susan Wurtele, Vice-President of OCUFA. “Each year, we receive many excellent applications, and this year was no exception.”

Amy Shawanda, who is enrolled in the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University, is a formidable candidate whose academic work explores Anishinaabe maternal teachings in a contemporary context to better understand how gaashiuag (mothers) can share their teachings and knowledge with children. Her dedication to the community is moving. She creates care packages for homeless people in Sudbury, meal kits for low-income families, beading auctions to support Indigenous action, and volunteers with at-risk youth.

“The depth and breadth of Amy’s volunteering and leadership is impressive and inspiring,” said Wurtele. “The project she has undertaken to understand Anishinaabe maternal teachings is important research that deserves recognition.”

Laura Paolini, who studies Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa, is focused on the ability of art to transmit new ideas and create new relationships and understandings. She is committed to exploring how her social location and history influences her art and works to orient her art towards reconciliatory and reparative activism. She has a long history of volunteer work, serving on various university committees, teaching safe cycling, and organizing friends and followers on social media to donate goods and services to support the most vulnerable in her community.

“Laura’s work shows a remarkable understanding of feminism through time and geography,” said Wurtele. “Her scholarship and volunteer work demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the pursuit of her art and helping those around her both on and off campus.”

The Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowships for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts were established to honour Henry Mandelbaum, Executive Director of OCUFA from 1996-2011. The Fellowship is awarded to graduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence, show exceptional academic promise, and have provided significant service to their community during their university years.

“Henry was passionate about social justice and improving the lives of those who faced formidable social and economic barriers,” said Wurtele. “Sadly, Henry passed away in 2012, but we are honoured to continue his work through the Mandelbaum Fellowship.”

Shawanda and Paolini will receive their awards at a virtual ceremony on May 28, 2021.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


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