CSAHS Gemma Victor Winner of Minister's Award of Excellence
International students have a lot to navigate. They need to adjust to a new place, a new school, a new culture, and perhaps even a language different from that of their home country. For Black and other racialized students, they may also have to deal with a lack of resources and supports in their new community. All in all, it can feel a little bit overwhelming. Gemma Victor, the newest hire at the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences knows a little something about those experiences and feelings.
Victor came to Canada, to Nipissing University, as an international student. As a Black student in a predominantly white school, she saw the need to make academic institutions a safe space – one where Black and racialized students receive the support that they need.
After graduating, Victor continued on at Nipissing University where she eventually became manager of student learning and transitions. While in her role, she was able to advocate for supports and policies to make her University a better place. She also helped launch anti-racism training to help staff be equipped to give support. Within the community, Victor helped organize a group of volunteers called Equity Inclusion North Bay which aims to “fill a gap in the community regarding supporting communities of colour as they experience diversity.”
For her outsized role in supporting Black students, Victor was recently awarded the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence in the category of Equality of Opportunity.
“Equity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility,” said Victor. “Over the years I have listened to many Black students who encountered racism in the classroom, on campus and in the community. I want to focus my work on implementing positive strategies and actions to ensure a sense of belonging is achieved for Black and racialized students. This will take work from all the wonderful people on campus and in the community.”
Victor, was recently engaged as manager of academic programs and special projects in CSAHS. Her ability to challenge others to think and rethink policies and procedures with an equity lens, to advocate for Black and racialized students and to speak out when she sees the need will be invaluable in her new role.
“Gemma brings with her some incredible experience and has a perspective that we can all learn from,” said Dr. Paula Barata associate dean (academic) of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. “She is surely deserving of this wonderful recognition, and we look forward to all the good work that she is going to do in her new position in our College.”
The Minister of Colleges and Universities Award of Excellence was presented in an online ceremony on January 21, 2022.