They are York University's cream of the crop. Out of more than 1,800 York doctoral students, three are selected annually to receive one of the university's most prestigious awards, the Elia Scholarship.
The Scholarship is valued at $30,000 per year renewable for up to four years of study at the doctoral level. This year's scholars, Ayyaz Ahsan Mallick, Anna Roberts and Melanie Wilmink, were honoured at a dinner this week hosted by Dean Barbara Crow of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
The dinner is viewed as an opportunity to celebrate academic excellence as well as recognizing the contributions of a visionary and generous man.
Mariano A. Elia, who died in 2006, was an outstanding citizen, a leading member of the business community and a philanthropist with a passion for learning. In 1984, he established the Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies at York, and in 1985, York recognized his philanthropy with an honorary doctor of laws degree.
The Elia Scholars Program was established in York's Faculty of Graduate Studies in 2007 through a gift of $1.8 million from the Elia Family Foundation. The purpose of the program is to attract doctoral candidates of the highest calibre from Canada and around the world. Since 2007, a total of 15 students have been inducted into the program.
Joining this year's students at the dinner were Mariano Elia's children Paul and Valerie and previous inductees Sarah Switzer (2013), Syeda Mariam Humayn (2013), Diane Sepa-Kishi (2013) and Brock Harpur (2012).
All the students present gave a brief description of their research area and what the Elia Scholarship has meant to them.
Anna Roberts - Administration, Schulich School of Business
Roberts is studying how women, lesbian and gay individuals, and other minorities create their professional identity and how they are able to navigate the evolving societal demands for professional work.
Melanie Wilmink - Art History & Visual Culture, Faculty of Fine Arts
Wilmink locates her research at the meeting points between academic and artistic practice, and examines conjunctions between space, architecture and media art, asking: how does architecture influence the way audiences engage with media art, and how does embodiment in the space and time of an artwork create an active spectator?
Ayyaz Ahsan Mallick - Environmental Studies, FES
Mallick grew up in a migrant family constantly on the move for three generations. Ideas of mobility versus fixity, the fluidity of identity, imagined communities and concomitant political mobilisation, have held for him a very practical significance allowing him to focus on emancipatory political praxis in the urban space, especially in the global south.