Gold Key Award

The Macdonald Gold Key Award is given annually to those students who show exceptional leadership and excellence in the promotion and development of extra­curricular activities which benefit the Macdonald community as a whole. Selection is also based on the extent and effectiveness of their involvement, the leadership they have shown, their ability to work with peers, and the continuity of their initiatives. The Award competition is open to all students who are currently registered and have studied at Macdonald Campus for a period of at least one year, and who are in good academic standing.

From 1983 to 2021, the Gold Key was awarded by the Macdonald Branch of the McGill Alumni Association. In 2021, the program was integrated into the faculty to ensure the continued recognition of student leadership on campus. The Recognition Event for the Gold Key Recipients is financially supported by the Macdonald Stewart Foundation.

2024 Gold Key Award Recipients

The Gold Key Award Selection Committee extends warm congratulations and sincere appreciation to the Award Recipients for 2024:

Daniil BatanauDaniil Batanau

MSc Candidate, Plant Science
Graduate Supervisor: Prof. J.-B. Charron

To Daniil, contributing to Mac Campus student life is no trivial matter!

Mac graduate student Daniil Batanau founded the Mac Campus Trivia Series in September 2022 to help revitalize student life and activities post-COVID. He has hosted this trivia event primarily in the Ceilidh, for a crowd of about 40 students (grad and undergrad alike), every two weeks for the past two years! Daniil has basically been a one-man show: setting up the calendar and booking the venues, curating and creating original trivia content and material, purchasing and coordinating prizes for winners, setting up the seating, lighting, sound, music in the Ceilidh and other locations, hosting and announcing during the event, managing the event time, and providing refreshments for participants. Community members have commented on Daniil’s hard work and dedication which has kept the event going on consistently for the past two years.

“During my time in undergrad, I would play trivia with my friends and had a wonderful time,” Daniil shares. “I wanted to bring and encourage that experience to our local campus and foster a space on campus where people could come together.” With the successful start to the Mac Campus Trivia Series and an enthusiastic reaction from the student body, he was encouraged to continue the event on a regular basis, following the positive feedback and support he received from those who consistently attended. Daniil, expressing his thanks to the trivia “regulars” who come to each event, says: “The beneficial impact of the Trivia event series has been the sense of community it has fostered.”

Daniil’s message to fellow Macdonald Campus students:

“Macdonald Campus is a space that we create together. Through our interest in agricultural and environmental science, we collectively share a passion to direct and improve agricultural and environmental stewardship. I would say that any interest or passion you have is most likely held by members of our campus who are as equally as passionate as you. If you get the ball rolling, momentum will take over!”

Daniil holds a Bachelor of Science from McMaster University. He began his MSc at McGill in 2021.

Henry Cordoba NovoaHenry Cordoba Novoa

PhD Candidate, Plant Science
Graduate Supervisor: Prof. V. Hoyos-Villegas

Since the second year of his graduate program, Mac student Henry Cordoba Novoa has found meaningful ways to be involved and contribute to student life in the Macdonald Community.

“Graduate life and the PhD journey are life-changing stages of our life,” Henry shares. “During our studies, we further develop in the professional and personal aspects of our life. We may develop some of our major interests, life-long friendships, and criteria to make decisions. Having this amazing mix of feelings and experiences made me want to share it with others, but mostly, contribute to making other’s journey even better from the lessons I learned. I find it rewarding when I can turn someone’s gray day into one a bit lighter. Pursuing a graduate program and life itself can be challenging. Bringing some joy by improving students’ well-being at Mac campus has always been a main driver to continue creating leadership environments for students to be heard, develop additional skills, and create a vibrant and supportive community.”

As an International Student Buddy Mentor with McGill’s International Student Services, Henry has helped several newly admitted international students acclimatize to Canada and become familiar with Montreal and McGill. “Moving from a different country to start a major stage of your life such as a graduate program is not an easy challenge,” Henry shares. “For the last 3 years, I have volunteered in the Buddy Program to provide advice and guidance to new international students at Mac. It makes me happy to help others have a smooth experience based on what I learned on my own.”

Henry has also been closely involved with the Macdonald Campus Graduate Student Society (MCGSS), having taken on the roles of Secretary (2021-22) and Treasurer (2023-2024). He says: “These roles have allowed me to co-organize activities aimed at creating spaces for students to create support networks at Mac. Additionally, I have co-led mid-term initiatives such as the renovation of the graduate students’ lounge, a very needed space where students can spend some spare time together. Furthermore, I have worked on improving funding conditions for graduate students through MCGSS with the funds we receive back from PGSS from the tuition fees.” Henry has also contributed his time as an Orientation Leader for the Fall 2023 Macdonald Campus Graduate Orientation.

Henry’s message to fellow Macdonald students:

“Each one of us has a unique set of skills, experiences, and thoughts that we improve and transform during our time as students at Mac. We can tailor this to serve others, improve our community, and develop our leadership skills. At the Macdonald campus, we have the privilege of having a smaller and united community of students, professors, and staff where we can do as much as we can imagine! All that is needed is to talk to others and pursue common well-being.”

Henry holds a BSc in Agricultural Engineering from the National University of Colombia. He began his MSc in Plant Science at McGill in 2020 and fast-tracked to a PhD program in 2021.

Sara KosumiSara Kosumi

U3, Life Sciences - Animal Health and Disease

Community-minded Mac student Sara Kosumi has been deeply involved in a variety of activities at Macdonald Campus since she began her Bachelor’s program in Fall 2021.

Sara has volunteered as an Inventory and Order Coordinator for “Buy your Own Bulk”, a student volunteer-run organization that provides affordable food to the Macdonald Campus community. As Vice-President (Equity Affairs) for the Macdonald Campus Student Society (MCSS) (2022-23) her role was to promote an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment within the Macdonald community, acting as a liaison between the student body and the University. Among the many initiatives she led in this role were a “Gratitude Tree” event in collaboration with the Food Science Association and the Art Club, an eco-anxiety and grief workshop in collaboration with McGill’s Office for Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL), and an International Food Festival at Mac Campus. Sara is particularly proud of the latter event, well-appreciated by the community, which she says, “helped bring people together, to create an environment that showed appreciation for diversity in culture.”

Significantly, Sara has also re-founded the defunct Macdonald Yearbook in Fall 2023. She is also currently the co-President of the Happy Belly Club, a cooking club dedicated to reducing food waste by using perishable food items received from local retailers to cook healthy meals which are then served to members of the Macdonald Campus community.

Sara says she was first inspired to become involved in extracurricular activities at Mac Campus when she arrived as a new student. “It was my first time living away from my parents and I felt lonely, and I thought the best way for me to meet new people was to join something to broaden my community,” she shared. “I tried every opportunity I had and applied for positions in BYOB, Happy Belly, and MCSS. I was nervous at first not knowing what to expect but in all the communities I joined, there were always awesome people I met who guided me through things when I was not sure. The happy faces I see in response to the events [I organize] is really rewarding and motivates me to keep on going.”

Sara’s message to fellow Macdonald Campus students:

“Don’t be scared to try out. Start as a volunteer or a member position to see if you like the activity or not. If you like it, you will probably come back, maybe for that exciting work you are doing, maybe to meet the amazing people involved, and maybe you might get interested in exec positions! Everything starts from you, participating in the activities on campus.”

Philippe LeblondPhilippe Leblond

U2, Bioesource Engineering

Only in the second year of his Bachelor’s program, and Mac student Philippe Leblond has been very busy engaging students in the Mac Community!

“I wanted things to change, to be better for Macdonald Campus,” Philippe shares. “I wanted to enjoy the best university experience I could have and the way to do it was to get my hand into it.”

Joining the Business Operations Committee for the Ceilidh (2022-23), Philippe helped the campus restaurant plan events and promotions. Philippe, himself a musician, also joined the Macdonald Music Club in Fall 2022 and has been co-President since 2023. When he took co-leadership of the Music Club, he felt that the structure and services could be improved. “I feel that music holds an important place at Mac, with many very talented students,” Philippe says. This past year, Philippe, together with his co-President, have reorganized and strengthened the structure of the Mac Music Club by implementing weekly practices on campus, purchasing new instruments for use by Club members, developing a regular monthly concert schedule at Mac Campus, and beginning to offer refreshment sales at concerts. They hope to see this club continue in the future for the enjoyment of all Macdonald Campus students.

Philippe has also been active in facilitating engagement in Departmental student activities. Philippe was instrumental in organizing and leading the Macdonald Campus delegation for the 2023-24 Quebec Engineering Competition (QEC), including organizing the pre-competition at Macdonald Campus. “The QEC competition helped bring together the Bioresource Engineering community,” Philippe shares. Macdonald Campus finished the competition 4th place overall with additional awards received for Sustainability and QEC Spirit. This recognition “also served to raise the professional profile of Macdonald Campus and its Department of Bioresource Engineering among engineering students from all areas of Quebec,” Philippe says. He proudly adds that three Mac Campus teams went on to compete nationally at the Canadian Engineering Competition.

Philippe has also been a member of the McGill Agricultural Robotics Club as VP (Sponsorships and Finance) since Fall 2023 and in January 2024 become Vice-President of the Macdonald Campus and Machine Engineering Games, where he will be responsible for recruiting a delegation of engineering students to build a robot for the Games.

Philippe is grateful to those who have helped him along the way. “So many people have played an important role at Macdonald Campus in my life, and to just thank one person, well, is impossible!” he says. “On that note, however, I think this is a perfect reflection of the community impact of Macdonald Campus.”

Philippe’s message to fellow Macdonald Campus students:

“Being involved at Macdonald Campus is wonderful! The community here is the best one I have seen in all the schools I have been to. I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. I think this, above all, has made university the best time of my life.”

Henry LeeHenry Lee

U3, Bioresource Engineering

Softspoken and hardworking, Mac student Henry Lee has given many hours to try to make undergraduate students feel welcome on campus since she began her Bachelor’s program in 2019.

She first contributed to student life “close to home” as a Volunteer Residence Life Coordinator (2021-22), organizing residence-wide social activities when COVID-19 restrictions were still in place, and launched the Mac Residence Instagram account. Henry expresses that she felt intimidated, at first, to get involved in university activities. “But once I realized how small Mac was and how similar the community was to a high school one, I wanted to put myself out there,” Henry shares.

Following this, she was heavily involved in leading Mac Frosh activities for 2022 and 2023. “As MCSS Frosh Equity and Sustainability Coordinator,” Henry shares, “I helped to continue Frosh activities during pandemic, and advocated for equity, inclusivity, and sustainability during the activities, despite COVID regulation fatigue. I was as able to hold a successful hybrid Frosh so the maximum number of newly admitted undergraduate students were able to feel welcome at Macdonald Campus.”

“After being a coordinator for Frosh,” Henry shares, “I realized the fulfillment of getting involved. I really enjoyed working with ambitious and passionate students and was happy that I could give back the experience I had in my first year to new students, especially as they were coming back after COVID.”

Henry joined the Executive Committee of the Macdonald Campus Student Society (MCSS) in June 2023. In her role as VP (Communications and Student Life), Henry advised and empowered new clubs as well as former student clubs on campus, many of which were experiencing discontinuity in their functions due to previous club leaders having graduated. Henry also oversaw social media advertisement and engagement for the MCSS restaurant and bar. She improved MCSS’ social media presence by posting more regularly and more clearly, enabling MCSS to better understand Macdonald Campus’ social media presence and the limits of social media, so she could in turn optimize the communication of messages to Macdonald students.

Henry has been the President of MCSS since June 2023, with all the duties and responsibilities the leadership of this student society entails. Henry shares, “I now have a better understanding of how the society works in a wider perspective, as well as seeing the relationship MCSS has with McGill and the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. I am working on developing guidelines to ensure that the transition for future MCSS executives is smoother, more efficient, and less intimidating, clearing the path for future student participation.”

Henry’s message to fellow Macdonald Campus students:

“Please get involved! I know that the biggest hesitation for students about getting involved is not having time, but there is a special kind of happiness that comes with community involvement. Working with others who share the same passion as you and seeing the impact you can make by contributing some of your time will surprise you. Getting involved here immensely improved my self-confidence and mental health.”

The 2024 Gold Key Receipients pose with their certificates

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