Governor General medal winners shine through hard work, ingenuity

Author: 
Cindy MacDougall

Brooks Hogya sounds surprised when he is congratulated for winning the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal.

“I just didn’t really think people would be interested in what I thought was cool,” he confesses with a laugh. “I am honoured and surprised to be recognized at that level for my crazy ideas.” 

Hogya, a graduate of the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management program, will be presented the award at Fall Convocation on Nov. 15. The gold medal honours the university’s most outstanding master’s dissertation, thesis or graduate project for that year.

Hogya is a paramedic, adventure sport professional and entrepreneur. As he worked on his master’s thesis on resiliency after disasters, Hogya felt somewhat constrained by the typical format for academic research.

“Research can often be esoteric. I was looking for a way to synthesize information and interact with it in a non-intimidating way,” he says.

Hogya, with help from fellow student Mark Altermann, developed a board game that integrated existing disaster resilience theory, while also allowing them to conduct research with volunteers as the game was played. They piloted the game at a social innovation workshop at the ResilienceByDesign Innovation Research Lab at Royal Roads. Forty young people played the game as part of the research and gave feedback.

“Brooks is a stellar example of RRU’s unique orientation to graduate studies with working professionals and our commitment to engaging and encouraging non-traditional students,” says Robin Cox, Hogya’s supervisor and director of the ResilienceByDesign lab. “Brooks exemplifies that which excites me about teaching and mentoring students. He is invested in learning, he is open to feedback that challenges his thinking and assumptions, [and] he is creative and innovative.”

Hogya is now working with a team on a second board game on emergency response for the government of Alberta.

The Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal will be awarded to Heather Amos, a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies program. Amos was awarded the medal for achieving the highest academic standing in a bachelor’s program this year at Royal Roads.

Amos says her experience at Royal Roads was truly life changing.

"I have a much greater breadth and depth of understanding of the justice issues Canada and the world are facing. Winning the Governor General’s Silver medal is an exciting honour and I would like to thank the outstanding professors I had throughout program, as well my cohort for sharing their learning and experience.”

As a result of her hard work and determination, Amos will be presented with several other awards at convocation, including the Chancellor’s Award, the Founders’ Award and the President’s Scholar Award.