Four Students Named Excellence Award Finalists

STUdents Samantha Jesso, Kelly Green, Dustyn Forbes, and Diana Chavez have been selected as New Brunswick's Experiential Learning Initiative Student Excellence Award finalists.


The award recognizes undergraduate students who participated in a university-organized experiential learning opportunity, have taken initiative to contribute to their community, and demonstrated personal and professional growth.


Samantha Jesso: New Brunswick Association of Social Workers

Jesso, a Social Work student from Benoit’s Cove, NL, is a finalist for the New Brunswick's Indigenous Experiential Learning Initiative Student Excellence Award. With the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers (NBASW), she is currently developing a set of standards for social workers in the province.


“A lot of what we talk about in the Social Work program applies to my work with NBASW,” she said. “We’ve talked about ethics, social work stigmas, promotion of the profession, and the need for cultural awareness when working with clients from different backgrounds and cultures.”

Jesso has gained firsthand experience with professional ethics and how the association supports social workers. She’s also been able to advise classmates on how to apply for student membership within the organization. 

“I’m so privileged to work somewhere where I learn more about my chosen profession each day,” she said.


Kelly Green: The Nature Trust of New Brunswick

Kelly Green, a third-year STUdent from Hampton, NB, worked as a Communications and Engagement Intern with the Nature Trust of New Brunswick. Her focus was aiding in the development of a new website, which exposed her to graphic design and content creation.


“I improved my professional writing, content creation abilities, public speaking, leadership, and so much more,” she said. “This has allowed me to provide a fresh perspective in my classes and made me realize how much I love my chosen degree.”


The Environmental Studies and Communications and Public Policy major also developed press releases, attended events, wrote blogs, and revitalized the organization’s social media channels.


“Time management, prioritization, and the ability to multitask are crucial in this field,” she said. “This experience has allowed me to get hands-on experience in my field. I now have great experience under my belt for whatever career opportunities come to me after graduation.”


Dustyn Forbes: Solo Chicken Productions

Forbes, a fourth-year STUdent from the Kingston Peninsula, NB, worked with local theatre company Solo Chicken Productions. He was a full-time dancer with the company and was also responsible to teach classes at multiple organizations in the city.


“This was the first opportunity I was given to work as part of a theatre company as a full-time employee,” Forbes said. “The experience gave me a better understanding of what it takes to run a theatre company and I finished the summer knowing how to professionally advance in my career.”


Forbes also took on the role of acting Marketing Manager/Assistant Producer. This provided exposure to a different side of theatre—promotion, funding, health and safety standards, and community building.


“This experience provided a sense of stability in my ability to follow this career after my degree at STU,” he said. “I’m reassured that the arts is where my heart lies.”


Diana Chavez: Huddle Today

Diana Chavez, a third-year STUdent from Ecuador, covered business news in the Fredericton area as a writer for Huddle Today—an online business publication based out of Saint John, NB. She was responsible for pitching story ideas, preparing questions, conducting interviews, taking photos, and submitting her work in a deadline-driven environment.


“This experiential learning opportunity tested all the skills I had learned in class,” Chavez said. “I made extensive use of my writing, comprehensive reading, and critical thinking skills.”


Chavez, who is studying Journalism and Great Books, learned the value of networking, teamwork, and time management. She also developed a new sense of confidence.


“With every passing week and interview, I gained more and more confidence and I reached a point where I felt comfortable with approaching strangers or addressing big crowds,” Chavez said.


Winners of the Excellence Awards will be announced November 12.