Masters student chairs conference in Barcelona

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Masters student chairs conference in Barcelona

Published on July 24 2012


For most students, a trip to Barcelona, Spain would come as part of an exchange program or maybe some summer travelling, but Masters of Education student Stephanie Tukonic isn’t ‘most students’.

Receiving a Graduate Scholar Award, Tukonic was afforded the opportunity to do more than simply observe and absorb while attending the 2012 Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.

“I had the opportunity to chair parallel paper presentation sessions, facilitate a themed talking circle and co-present a paper presentation at the international conference,” said Tukonic about some of her responsibilities. “Although it was a new experience for me, I embraced the role fairly quickly and openly, and I received a lot of positive and supportive feedback from the presenters and audience.”

Working with Dr. Debra Harwood and Dr. Mary-Louise Vanderlee in the Department of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, Tukonic was encouraged to apply for the award, however it wasn’t until after the conference that she realized the magnitude of being named one of the awards recipients.

“Initially, I was pleased and satisfied to have received the award given the context of the conference and the responsibilities that were attached to the award,” she said. “Yet, the true merit of receiving this award was not recognized and understood until the conclusion of the conference when I had the opportunity to reflect on this experience, and on the overwhelming amount of support and motivation I received from the academic and conference community.”

With financial support being offered by Dr. Fiona Blaikie via the Dean’s discretionary fund, Vanderlee and Harwood were extremely pleased to see the growth in one of their students.

“It has been wonderful to see Stephanie’s scholarship capacity emerge over the course of the past year,” said Harwood.

While the conference was a new and exciting experience, a series of research workshops held by the Faculty of Education in the fall of 2011 provided some comfort in what to expect, most notably a workshop on Productive Engagement in Academic Conferences.

“The workshop illuminated various roles that are available for students attending academic conferences, including the role of the chair,” she said.

Having worked as a graduate research assistant since the fall of 2011, Tukonic has been working on a study that focuses primarily on early childhood education research and believes her recent experiences will bode well for her future.

“The conference experience has positively shaped future research prospects as a student and researcher,” she says. “I am working towards the completion of my Master of Education thesis and I am looking forward to the opportunity to present and publish my own research in the future.”

(left to right) Dr. Vanderlee, Dr. Harwood and Tukonic pose by banner
Brock in Barcelona

Stephanie Tukonic (right) was encouraged by Dr. Vanderlee (left) and Dr. Harwood (middle) to apply for an award that granted her the opportunity of a lifetime at the 2012 Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.