Marlo Paraboo was ready to declare defeat.
It was the fall of 2014 and the fourth-year Bachelor of Child and Youth Care student at Humber Lakeshore had reached her boiling point. The mother of two, who works full-time, was succumbing to the demanding workload of the program. She needed to step back and explain her situation to her professor, noting that on nights when she had class, she didn’t even find time for dinner.
Melissa McKenna, a classmate of Paraboo’s who overheard her plight, convinced Paraboo to hang on a bit longer. She promised things would lighten.
Paraboo agreed after some hesitation, and walked into their next evening class with her usual empty, growling stomach. Unusually, however, there was a steaming bowl of chilli waiting for her.
McKenna had cooked a meal and brought it to class for her, an act of generosity she repeats week after week.
Paraboo was taken aback by McKenna’s thoughtfulness. She began searching for a way to repay her, and an opportunity presented itself when she received an email outlining Humber’s Student Appreciation Awards.
“I was actually hoping something like this existed because I wanted her to get recognized someway, somehow,” Paraboo said.
Humber’s SAA, an annual event put on by second-year students in the Advanced Diploma – Public Relations program and sponsored by Humber Students’ Federation, was held at Humber North’s Seventh Semester on April 13.
“The focus of the event is to recognize students, faculty, and staff on their contributions to Humber,” said Jasmyn Ellis, 23, chair of the event this year. “We’re recognizing them for some of the excellent things they’ve accomplished, showing our appreciation.”
Students, faculty and staff could submit nominations for the Student Appreciation Awards, as well as the Volunteer of the Year Award, The Judy Harvey Student Spirit Award, and the Marci Fenwick Leadership Award. Nominations were submitted online.
Prior to the event this year, Matt Palmer, 22, vice-chair of the SAA, spoke highly of the function.
“We have a three-course meal, and intermittently through the meal are the awards as well as the entertainment. We made sure that all the entertainment was from Humber itself, and we didn’t just stick to the music program, either. One of our musicians is in our program, but in the year below us,” he said.
Ellis drew on this idea.
“We have Tom (Walton), the HSF President, who will host the evening,” she said. “We have a one-man band coming, so there will be a lot of singing. We have a fudge table and some chocolate popcorn, too.”
The considerate, chilli-cooking McKenna, who was to attend the event with her nominator, Paraboo, was impressed.
“It’s really fancy. It’s well-prepared. Everybody’s coordinated and they have musicians, which is really nice. I feel very important being here,” she said.
Nadia Murillo, a 22 year-old third-year student in Humber’s Massage Therapy program, was hoping the man she nominated shares McKenna’s sentiments. Murillo was there with Maiya Barrett, who together nominated their dedicated Massage Therapy clinic instructor, Andrew Clapperton.
“He goes above and beyond. He takes time off his own busy schedule – he runs his own practice – but he’ll come in on weekends so we can practice. He’ll supervise us and give us pointers…because there’s not enough actual lab time. He’s just great, very kind,” Murillo said of Clapperton.
Clapperton was recognized during the ceremony. He picked up one of the Student Appreciation Awards, which was presented to him by Murillo and Barrett.
McKenna also nabbed one of the Student Appreciation Awards. Paraboo presented her with the final award of the evening.
The event was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed, and featured an introduction by Chris Whitaker, Humber’s president and CEO. Whitaker said the occasion was the 30th anniversary of SAA.
A jury comprised of past recipients and representatives of HSF, Student Success and Engagement and University of Guelph-Humber decided winners of the awards.
Winners received a certificate of appreciation and miniature inuksuk statue.