Guelph Students Nab National 3M Awards

March 28, 2013 - News Release

Two University of Guelph students are among 10 recipients of a prestigious national fellowship for leadership and engagement in undergraduate learning.

Anita Acai, a fourth-year biochemistry student, and Naythrah Thevathasan, third-year biomedical sciences, were selected by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada from applicants from across the country. The awards honour students with outstanding leadership skills who aim to enhance undergraduate education.

“This is wonderful recognition for Anita, Naythrah and the University of Guelph,” said Maureen Mancuso, vice-president (academic). “They are strong examples of how students can take an active role in their learning and help transform the educational experience for all. We are proud of, and delighted for, each of them.”

Winners receive $5,000, and will participate in an educational retreat and a collaborative project in post-secondary education.

Anita AcaiAcai has been a Writing Services peer helper and academic support program facilitator, served as group leader of a summer orientation program and volunteered for Orientation Week. She is the first female editor-in-chief of a peer-reviewed undergraduate journal at Guelph and is a 2013 delegate to Canada’s first Student Mental Health Innovation Summit.

In her community, she sought to create opportunities for others by packaging birthing kits for women in developing nations and food items for Haiti and Mauritania, and by serving as a tutor in two adult learning centres.

“My leadership experiences at the University of Guelph and in the broader community have been the most transformative aspects of my education,” said Acai. “I am especially driven to make the most of my educational experience and to always remember to give back to the community. I hope to continue to inspire others to see education as the transformative path that it is, and to make the most of this experience by being successful scholars, learners and citizens.”

Naythrah ThevathasanThevathasan has led a supported learning group and served as student senator. She volunteers at the Guelph General Hospital and as a peer coach for the Special Olympics.

She has helped raise more than $20,000 in aid relief for Haiti through the Canadian Red Cross. In 2011, she travelled to India with “Me to We” and helped build a primary school in the village of Komoda. She also led a local initiative to send supplies to an impoverished school in Ghana.

“When I applied for the award, I knew that I would be competing against some of Canada’s brightest young leaders,” said Thevathasan. “I truly did not think that this honour would be bestowed upon me. When I got the phone call from the members of the selection committee, I was in complete shock.

“I am so excited that, out of the 10 awards given nationally, two of them went to students at the University of Guelph. This speaks volumes about the character and standard of excellence here at Guelph.”

The 3M fellowship winners will receive their awards in June during STLHE’s annual conference at Cape Breton University.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,, or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982,

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