Alexa Navas Named 2021 Recipient of Tom McCann Memorial Trophy

A student leader known for her warmth, community building, and strong academics is the recipient of the top student award at St. Thomas University.

Alexa "Ale" Navas, from Managua, Nicaragua, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy. The trophy is presented annually to a senior student who possesses strong leadership, character, and personality traits, and best portrays the spirit of the university through their contributions.  


“Alexa truly embodies the spirit of the Tom McCann Award. In her four years at St. Thomas, she was a dedicated community builder on campus—either in an official capacity, or through her warm and generous personality. Alexa is a focused student and scholar, a dedicated volunteer, a campus ambassador, and a true friend to many students,” said Dawn Russell, President and Vice-Chancellor.

"I am truly honored to win this award, because it represents the most important things I learned at STU both inside and outside the classroom: the value of being a team player, getting involved with my community, and making a positive impact through my actions," Navas said. "At STU, I've made memories that I will cherish forever and this trophy is a symbol of those memories."


During her four years at STU, Navas’ contributions have been extensive. She has been involved with the Students’ Union, the St. Thomas University International Students Association, the STU chapter of Venezuela 180, Campus Ministry, was a Peer Tutor, an International Student Ambassador, a Campus Tour Ambassador, and the Secretary General for JPHMUN—all the while maintaining an impressive GPA. 


“I find it difficult to imagine anyone more perfectly exemplifying the ‘leadership, character and personality’ in the criteria for the Tom McCann Trophy,” wrote one of her nominators. “Because of her ebullience, friendliness, and smarts, but moreover, because of her compassion, kindness, and generosity, Alexa is a beloved presence on our campus. I am sure that scores of students can personally attest that Alexa was there for them when they needed a friend, some support, or an opportunity to connect with a community or try something new.”

Commitment to International Student Community

Many of Navas’ nominators noted her dedication to fostering a sense of belonging for international students, especially this past year during the pandemic.  


“Alexa has taken a leadership position in ensuring that international students’ experience at STU is the best. Especially during this academic year where we all faced different challenges due to the pandemic,” wrote a nominator. “As the Vice President of STUISA, Alexa has contributed to bringing the international community together through online initiatives that allowed students who could not come to Canada to feel integrated and enjoy their university experience despite the circumstances.” 


She collaborated with the International Student Coordinator to host activities for new international students during the virtual orientation in September 2020. These activities were designed to connect students and foster belonging. 

This past year, she also continuously reached out to international students to make sure they were connected and brought any needs and concerns to the attention of the International Student Office. One of the many ideas that came from these discussions was a four-part workshop series tailored specifically to international students. 


“No matter how busy she is, Alexa has always been there for international students who might find themselves struggling, providing a comforting ear and problem-solving skills to help however she can,” wrote another nominator.


Building Community Through Campus Ministry

Navas' community building at STU extends beyond international students. She has also been a devoted member of the Campus Ministry community, first as a parishioner and later as a student worker and volunteer. For two years, she acted as host at Campus Ministry’s weekly Drop-in Lunches, graciously making everyone feel comfortable and included. Even with this year of limited social contact, Navas’ has gone out of her way to invite new international students to mass and accompany them (at a safe distance!). 


She also conceived and organized new events for Campus Ministry that attracted students from all backgrounds and faiths, including the Valentines’ Day Skate and the Chapel Decorating Event at Christmas.  


“Following the cancellation of Campus Ministry’s weekly Drop-in Lunches last spring, Alexa expressed empathy for students who were no longer able to get together and enjoy home cooked food every week,” wrote one nominator. “On her own initiative she asked if she could make a cookbook, highlighting recipes from Drop-in Lunch to share on Instagram. This cookbook, lovingly crafted, was her way of continuing to give the gift of hospitality at a time when it was sorely needed.”   


Ambassador for STU

Navas has been an instrumental leader is the campus tour ambassador team and campus tour program. She has helped to mentor current students and in doing so, has imparted wisdom not simply about campus tours, physical spaces, or resources, but also about academics, study skills, living in Fredericton, and more.

“Her various work on campus allows her to speak to many aspects of the student experience, from clubs and societies, to volunteering experience, and academic involvement, Alexa has done it all during her studies,” wrote one of her nominators. “Alexa is always an enthusiastic supporter of STU, and her commitment to our institution is not only commendable but contagious.”