Photos by Fangliang Xu (except Simon Kuttner and Nick Rowe)

A highlight of graduation is the awarding of Carleton University’s top medals. In a year like no other, the recognition of our top-performing students remains an important part of Carleton’s celebration.

The university announced the winners of the Governor General Medals, the Chancellor’s Medals and the President’s Medal for the graduating class of June 2021. The Senate conferred their degrees on June 18, 2021.

Janna Klostermann

Janna Klostermann

Governor General’s Gold Medal

The Governor General’s Gold Medal is awarded to the graduating PhD student at the head of the graduating class. The spring 2021 recipient is Janna Klostermann, a PhD graduate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Her successful dissertation, “Care Has Limits,” examined how care work is organized and imagined in Ontario through life history research with women who described reaching their limits and stepping back from paid care work or unpaid family care responsibilities.

The project was inspired by Klostermann’s experience as a care worker, including in L’Arche, where she lived with and supported people with disabilities.

“It was motivated by my own personal experience of reaching my limits as a care worker,” she explains.

“I was too physically or emotionally exhausted to continue caring for others but too attached to myself as a moral person to simply walk away.”

Such a dilemma led Klostermann to explore how gendered, moral expectations shape women’s lives, and how women engage in work to resist or rethink such expectations.

She credits her supervisor, Prof. Susan Braedley, who supported her in using her own experience and then asking bigger questions. She also welcomed Klostermann into a community of feminist scholars committed to investigating and transforming care work.

Christopher Karpinski

Christopher Karpinski

Governor General’s Silver Medals

The Governor General’s Silver Medal is awarded to two undergraduate students at the head of the graduating class. The spring 2021 recipients are Christopher Karpinski, who earned a Bachelor of Science Honours in Mathematics and Physics, and Cole Dennis Johnson, who earned a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology.

Karpinski’s love of mathematics started early. He was only 13 years old when he first stepped foot in Carleton’s Department of Mathematics to attend an enrichment program.

“It was eye-opening for me, and I was captured by what was being taught,” he recalls.

“I realized that mathematics is a process of discovery. It’s not like work, but like playing a detective game or a puzzle.”

Karpinski’s experience in the enrichment program inspired him to return to Carleton, where he found many like-minded colleagues. Among the highlights were seminars delving into a topic in mathematics just for the sheer fun of it. He also became an instructor in the same enrichment program he attended as a child. And he received research internships from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to assist professors during the summer.

“That was a great experience to work with faculty and learn things outside of the typical undergraduate curriculum.”

In September 2021, Karpinski began a master’s degree in mathematics at McGill University. He plans to follow that with a PhD, with an eye towards a research career in mathematics.

“The good thing is that it’s such a huge field, you can keep learning your whole life and there will still be lots more. There is always something new around the corner.”

Cole Dennis Johnson

Cole Dennis Johnson

The second Governor General’s Silver Medal was awarded to Johnson, who can clearly remember the moment at an early age when he knew he wanted to be a psychologist.

“I remember having a conversation with a very nice homeless gentleman who exhibited a peculiar pattern wherein he would seamlessly jump from topic to topic. That was when I first decided to pursue psychology as a career.”

One of the highlights for Johnson was the opportunity to take part in research, including a project in which he examined whether active creative expression improves students’ motivation to study and decreases their stress.

“Our preliminary results suggest that creative expression may improve certain forms of motivation to study and decrease students’ perceived stress,” he explains.

“I’m now in the process of developing follow-up studies to further investigate the effects we observed.”

Johnson attended McGill University the following September to begin his master’s degree in Educational Psychology, with the aim of completing a PhD.

Charles Hutchinson

Charles Hutchinson

Chancellor’s Medals

The Chancellor’s Medals are awarded annually to graduating undergraduate students with outstanding academic achievement. The spring 2021 recipients are Charles Hutchinson, who earned a Bachelor of Economics Honours, and Simon Kuttner, who earned a Bachelor of Mathematics Honours.

Prof. Nick Rowe

Prof. Nick Rowe

Hutchinson originally came to Carleton with a plan to study political science and perhaps go on to law school. Then he took a first-year economics course.

“Prof. Nick Rowe had this enthusiasm and passion about economics that was contagious,” he recalls.

“He explained that it was more than a discipline; it was a lens through which we look at the world. That was a revelation for me – and I never looked back.”

Rowe wasn’t the only faculty member to make an impression. Hutchinson counts professors Raúl Razo-Garcia and Maya Papineau among his mentors.

“They always had time to sit down with me and ‘talk shop’,” he says. “The Department of Economics’ faculty are some of the most passionate and supportive teachers that I’ve had the good fortune to come across. They consistently show a real compassion and care for the students in their charge.”

Hutchinson attended the London School of Economics the following fall to pursue a master’s degree. He says his enthusiasm spans all aspects of the field.

Simon Kuttner

Simon Kuttner

“I’m looking forward to having a chance to explore some of my academic interests and figuring out which niche of economics I will fit into most comfortably.”

Kuttner is pursuing a graduate degree as he continues his research with Carleton mathematics professors Zhicheng Gao and Qiang Wang.

“The best part of my experience was doing mathematical research with them over the summer months for the last three years,” says Kuttner, who is involved with counting irreducible polynomials over finite fields.

“This research helped me succeed in my courses and encouraged me to continue studying mathematics at Carleton.”

As an undergraduate, Kuttner also published an academic paper with his professors in the journal Finite Fields and Their Applications.

Justine Brown

Justine Brown

President’s Medal

The President’s Medal is awarded annually to the student with the highest standing in a general degree program of studies. The spring 2021 recipient is Justine Brown, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology.

Brown began her academic career at Algonquin College, earning a diploma in the Veterinary Technician program. After working as a registered vet tech, she decided to further her education, taking advantage of the opportunity to apply certain college credits to a university degree.

“This was huge for me because I worked hard for those credits and I appreciated that Carleton recognizes that a lot of what I learned in college is transferable to university,” says Brown.

One of the highlights of her Carleton experience was working in the biology labs.

“These were great learning opportunities as I had not had the chance to work in an experimental lab before,” says Brown.

“I also enjoyed the fact that all of the professors were passionate about the subject matter.”

Once it is safe to travel internationally, Brown plans to volunteer for conservation organizations in other countries.

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Monday, June 28, 2021 in ,
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