Ashley Yoannou (HBA 2012, MT 2014)
Juris Doctor Candidate 2017
A graduate from the Class of 2012, Ashley Yoannou holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree with High Distinction as a History Specialist with an English Minor. After convocation, Yoannou returned to the Department of Historical Studies as a graduate intern, in addition to working with a professor as a research assistant. Remaining connected has been a priority for Yoannou. She believes it was the rigor of her courses, in conjunction with the unconditional support of her professors, which prepared her for graduate school and legal studies.
Taking elective courses ranging from forensic anthropology to psychology, Yoannou was impressed by the variety of subjects offered at UTM, and how they provided the ideal environment for her to find her niche. Trying new things has always been a pursuit for Yoannou, so when it came down to investigating research techniques and areas of study, she considers UTM to have been the ideal place for her exploration.
“I credit my involvement in a Research Opportunity Program at UTM for exposing me to qualitative research and connecting me with the professor who played a significant role in my own academic journey. This program provided the opportunity to investigate topics of interest and get an idea of what to expect in grad school,” says Yoannou, who went on to complete a two-year Master of Teaching (MT) degree at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Her research, for which she was granted a Social Sciences Research and Humanities Council (SSHRC) Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Program Master’s Scholarship, focuses on academic integrity as it intersects with honour codes and plagiarism detection in secondary school humanities classrooms.
While at UTM, she held progressive executive positions on multiple boards, councils and student organizations, including terms as President of the Historical Studies Society, Vice President of the Women and Gender Studies Action Group and Chair of the Undergraduate Student Advisory Board of Directors of the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre. In recognition of her efforts over the four years of her undergraduate studies, she received a Principal’s Involvement Award. It annually recognizes the outstanding volunteer contributions of students toward enhancing campus spirit and student engagement.
A position in which Yoannou felt great fulfillment was conducting learning style workshops as a Facilitated Study Group Leader for SOC100. She encouraged students to hone their strengths and test a variety of study methods they might not have otherwise considered during their university courses. “Working with students one-on-one or in study groups allowed us to unpack theories in ways that were in tune with different learning modalities, thereby making the content more accessible” said Yoannou. “Building student capacity for critical thinking and productive study techniques was our goal, and it was gratifying to be part of that process. Under Tom Klubi’s initial leadership at the RGASC, UTM students now have a program to support their learning, which is a tremendously beneficial service.”
Yoannou has participated in volunteer work both in school and the neighbouring community since middle school, and truly believes that involvement is a principle component of leadership and responsible citizenship. “Volunteering was greatly encouraged at UTM, so it was difficult not to get caught up in the remarkably welcoming spirit of the campus and get excited at the prospect of giving back to our student-faculty-staff community.” As part of the ‘Head Start’ program coordinated by the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (RGASC) at her alma mater, she volunteered to share her experiences with prospective students and their parents/guardians during formal panel discussions and presentations. Furthermore, as a volunteer note taker for students with disabilities, she registered over 300 hours of volunteer work with the university’s AccessAbility Centre. “In my experience, UTM does an excellent job of supporting students who learn differently, and my volunteering has allowed me to recognize how critical benefits of these services. Advocates in education, especially those who have a commitment to youth and their guardians, are a key piece in helping students succeed at any age.”
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