New to the College of Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies (CGPS), the Indigenous Graduate Leadership Award was announced in February 2018 and in May, College of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) student Melissa Dykhuizen was the first student to receive the scholarship.
The Indigenous Graduate Leadership Award is aimed towards Indigenous students who have taken an active role of leadership within their community. In addition to covering tuition costs, Master’s and PhD students are eligible to receive $16,000 and $20,000 respectively, making it a unique award.
“The college is thrilled to support our talented students and post-doctoral researchers,” said Trever Crowe, Interim Dean of CGPS. “Funding of this calibre will allow scholars to complete their studies and reach their research goals with minimal financial burden.”
Melissa is an avid volunteer, starting young at her local parks program and as a junior life guard at the age of 12. She has continued to give her time, volunteering at her children’s schools, with local community associations and AIDS Saskatoon and on two early learning centre boards.
“I am a passionate person who believes in being engaged with the communities I belong to, such as my school community, my professional and work community and the community that I live and raise my family in,” said Dykhuizen. “It was my early volunteer work and encounters with advisory committees that inspired me to continually be involved in informal and formal leadership activities, as well as influenced me to pursue my passion for nursing.”
Dykhuizen believes her formal community leadership has shaped her to be a leader in her life, not only in her community and with her family, but also at the University of Saskatchewan. “I have developed strong bonds with fellow students in the PhD program and work to create a strong and cohesive cohort through group chats, gathering for lunches and providing feedback on papers and presentations. I hope in pursuing and obtaining my Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, I will be provided with many more avenues in which I can cultivate and demonstrate exceptional community leadership.”
Melissa is an alumna of the University of Saskatchewan, completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with distinction in 2004 and her Master of Nursing in 2014. She is Métis and a descendent of Josephte Tourond, a strong woman and strong leader who faced significant losses during the Reil Resistance. “I am very grateful to her and very proud to be one of her many descendants, to have such rich Saskatchewan Métis heritage,” said Dykhuizen.
Congratulations once again Melissa – this is a huge accomplishment, one you should be very proud of! The College of Nursing is lucky to have you as a graduate student!