Left to right: Angela Sweeney, Emily Martin, Adele Heagle, Marion Davies, Luke Parsons, U of G president Alastair Summerlee, Rudy Unni, Alison Dewancker, Dillon March, Julia Romagnoli and Ellen Song. Photo by Susan Bubak

U of G’s most prestigious entrance awards were presented Aug. 31 to 10 first-year students at a family-centred ceremony held at the Arboretum Centre. With their parents and faculty mentors as special guests, three first-year students received Chancellors’ Scholarships; seven were presented with President’s Scholarships.

The 2012 scholars were chosen on the basis of their high school achievements, leadership abilities and citizenship activities.

The scholarship program has recognized more than 300 students since the first President’s Scholarships were presented in 1987. The awards are funded primarily through donations from alumni, friends, faculty and staff.

Lincoln Alexander Chancellor’s Scholarships were presented to Dillon March, a graduate of St. James Catholic High School in Guelph, and Ellen Song from Horton High School in Wolfville, N.S. Established in 2002, these annual awards recognize students of academic distinction who are aboriginal, persons with a disability or members of a racial minority, and are intended to enhance student diversity at U of G.

The Pamela Wallin Chancellor’s Scholarship program was established in 2009 to recognize students who have taken a leadership role in activities that demonstrate an interest in international relations and development. The 2012 recipient is Emily Martin of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont.

President’s Scholarships were awarded to seven Ontario students of academic distinction who possess the skills necessary for student leadership and the ability to enrich the campus environment at Guelph. They are: Marion Davies, a graduate of Branksome Hall, Toronto; Alison Dewancker of St. Joseph’s High School, St. Thomas; Adele Heagle of Hillfield Strathallan College, Hamilton; Luke Parsons of Lakefield District Secondary School, Lakefield; Julia Romagnoli of Grimsby Secondary School, Grimsby; Angela Sweeney of Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, Toronto; and Rudy Unni of Robert Bateman High School, Burlington.

The 2012 Chancellors’ and President’s Scholarships are $26,000 each over four years and include the opportunity for a summer research assistantship after the first year of study for an additional $6,000. Recipients are also teamed with a faculty mentor from their chosen discipline.

Recipient bios are presented below. Click here to learn more about the history of the University’s undergraduate scholarship program, and here for Chancellors’ and President’s Scholarships application details.


Not one to stay stuck in her comfort zone, Marion Davies believes in challenging herself and seeking out opportunities to really make a difference at her school and in her community.  In high school, she was recognized with an award for exemplifying the characteristics of an International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner: a knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring and reflective thinker and communicator. She has a broad range of interests from photography and theatre to environmental sciences and was involved in numerous activities at her school. She has also been a committed volunteer with the Stephen Leacock Foundation, supporting literacy improvement programs at an elementary school, and volunteering with her United Church Youth Group.


Alison Dewancker believes that the more you put into life, the more you will get out of it. While achieving top grades in her high school classes, she was also captain of the field hockey and soccer teams and played tennis, volleyball and badminton. She was a member of the school band, led teams for Reach for the Top and Science Olympics, was school prime minister, and launched a successful anti-bullying campaign at her school. She has received many accolades for her leadership and community service, including the highest honour awarded at her school for extracurricular involvement. Most recently, she was the recipient of a Rotary Club “Service Above Self” award.


While Adele Heagle’s academic accomplishments are significant and noteworthy, it is her leadership abilities that set her apart from her peers. Her social conscience motivated her to join numerous clubs and to raise funds and increase awareness of pressing social issues. She has worked with inner-city youth refugees, helping with homework and teaching English and the dynamics of Canadian culture. At the age of 10 she founded a not-for-profit organization to raise money for abandoned animals in her neighborhood. She was a school prefect, competitive rower, volunteer camp counsellor and co-president of her school’s social action committee. She also travelled to Ecuador as a volunteer with Free the Children and trekked the Amazon rainforest.


Dillon March has used his creativity as a writer and director of school plays to support initiatives promoting justice and peace. As president of the environmental club at his high school, he integrated green initiatives into a variety of events and activities. He has a solid academic record but still found time to be actively engaged in his community. He volunteered as an English practice partner for new immigrants and was a program volunteer with the Guelph Museum. He planned Guelph Pride Week’s first youth pride event, a movie night, and founded the Guelph Youth Eco-Council, which aims to develop environmental consciousness in the community and increase youth involvement.


An outstanding student and original thinker, Emily Martin is strongly influenced by her compassion and concern for her community and the planet. She was a member of her high school student council, led the environmental concerns committee, co-ordinated a youth Earth Summit and represented her school in a community initiative to encourage sustainable lifestyle choices. She was at the forefront of the school’s annual food drive, travelled with the school choir, played on the senior volleyball team and joined a volunteer service group working in Guatemala. She was equally active in her community as a volunteer with a local food co-operative and a member of her church’s pastoral search committee. While living in France as an au pair, she partnered with a group that supports home-schooled children and developed workshops to teach English through songs, games and stories.


Achieving balance in life can be a challenge, but Luke Parsons makes it look easy.  He has an impressive academic record, a love of sports, a passion for music and a commitment to giving back to his school and community. A competitive cross-country skier and coach, he also plays soccer, rugby, hockey and baseball. He is a cross-country runner and volunteers with a track program for children. He was part of his high school student council for three years and played piano and trombone in the school’s senior concert band. He also received 14 academic awards for achieving the highest grade in the class as well as a number of awards for his leadership and volunteer work.


Her passion to succeed and learn through new experiences has placed Julia Romagnoli in many leadership positions, both in the community and at school.  Julia was president of her local 4-H club, served as a 4-H Ontario ambassador and co-ordinated the dairy team for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. She is also a talented musician, director of her high school’s steel drum ensemble and was section leader of the senior concert and jazz bands. She was also active on student council, mentored younger students and was on the planning committee for a three-day team building event for Grade 9 students. A church leader with the Calvary Gospel Church, she was recognized as a youth philanthropist for supporting a local women’s shelter.


Ellen Song has been impressing judges at science fairs since Grade 1. She has been a medal winner many times locally, nationally and internationally and through these experiences discovered that her true passion is sharing her love of science to benefit others. She was a peer tutor in math and sciences at her school and an active member of student council. Also an accomplished musician, she plays piano, teaches music theory, played trombone in a community jazz band and played flute in the Acadia University symphonic band. She founded an art club at her high school to promote communication. In 2011 she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia award for academic achievement and leadership in school and community.


Recognizing how fortunate she is to live in the community she calls home, Toronto student Angela Sweeney has made it her mission to advocate for others who are not so fortunate. She has worked tirelessly for the promotion of social justice issues: poverty reduction, gender justice, violence against women and youth bullying. Described by her teachers as a gifted student, she was selected as a leader of her school’s Grade 9 orientation program, was a regular presenter at the school’s open house, played on the varsity table tennis team and was a member of the cross-country team. Outside of school, she was an active volunteer with both the St. John’s Rehab Hospital and the Seneca Animal Clinic.


Rudy Unni recognizes that to become a better global citizen, his passion for science and technology will need to be informed by an understanding of politics and economics. This interdisciplinary approach has become a driving force in his life. He graduated from high school with a strong academic standing while serving on student council and representing more than 50,000 students across three municipalities as a school board student trustee. He collaborated with a group of students from several schools to plan an annual youth festival to promote volunteerism and created an organization to spread health awareness among teens. He is also a skilled musician, who played a variety of instruments in school ensembles, including the guitar, bass guitar and drums.