Governor General’s Academic Medal and Centennial Gold Medal recipients

Recognizing excellence in academics and strong community involvement


The 2019/2020 school year may not have ended as expected, but students from faculties across Mount Royal University found a way to persevere and maintain their high quality of academic work. Six MRU alumni have been recognized for their exceptional achievements with either a Governor General’s Academic Medal or MRU’s Centennial Gold Medal.

The Centennial Gold Medal is an award given to eligible students at MRU based on a nomination system. The students must be graduating from diploma and degree programs, have a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher and demonstrate leadership through involvement in campus and community activities. Those who are nominated submit a resume of their work and extracurricular activities as well as a short essay demonstrating their leadership in the Mount Royal community. The Student Awards committee selects one student from each faculty to receive the Centennial Gold Medal.

“The Centennial Gold Medal Winners are always a pleasure to review. These are student leaders that are constantly working to give back to their school and the community at large,” said Scholarship Coordinator and MRU Golden Key Chapter Advisor Cyndi Cave. “They demonstrate personal growth through hands-on learning while continuing to thrive academically. I'm sure I speak for all on the committee that these are always challenging to select as we always have very compelling nominations.”

For more than 125 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have been awarded to outstanding students from high schools, colleges and universities across the country. Canada’s third Governor General, Lord Dufferin, first awarded the Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence.

Students graduating with the highest average from their respective schools receive the prestigious medals.

The award is given at the following four levels: bronze for secondary students, collegiate bronze for post-secondary students registered in a diploma program, silver for undergraduate students and gold for graduate students.

Congratulations to the six recipients on their outstanding accomplishments.

Centennial Gold Medal Recipients

Andrew Nguyen: Nyuyen, the former president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University, is graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing and has been selected as the 2020 Centennial Gold Medal Recipient for the Faculty of Health, Community and Education.

Photo of Andrew Nguyen.

Q: Do you have any study tips or thoughts for current or future students?

AN: One of the important things I found useful was to find a strong supportive group of friends who are like-minded and will keep you on top of your studies ― friends to go through the good and the bad with you. A group of friends provides shared experiences and mental health support. I would encourage current and future students to find your study group of friends as early on as you can. If you have trouble finding your study group of friends, Student Learning Services offers great programs for you to find those people.

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

AN: I will remember the people the most ― students (my peers), faculty, and staff. MRU has the kindest and most supportive faculty and staff who have cheered me on since first year which makes graduating without a convocation a bit easier. Whether from my program, clubs, intramurals, mentorship, or SAMRU, these relationships will no doubt be lifelong.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your nursing degree?

AN: I am going to be working as a registered nurse in intensive care, internal medicine, and orthopedic surgery before starting my Masters of Nursing in Health Systems Leadership and Administration from the University of Toronto in the Fall. My hope is to serve and lead people in transformative healthcare delivery.


Jan Ronel Santiago: Santiagois graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration ― Accounting and has been selected as the 2020 Centennial Gold Medal recipient for the Faculty of Business and Communication.

Photo of Jan Ronel Santiago.

Q: Do you have any study tips or thoughts for current or future students?

JS: An important tip I have for current and future students that has made me successful is to find a method of organization that works for them. Scheduling the important dates once a student has received their syllabus is extremely important and serves as the “base” of the academic semester.

I’d also really like to tell current and future students that asking for help from their support systems or through MRU’s Wellness Services is ok and something to take advantage of. University is a stressful time no doubt, but there are resources in place to help us succeed.

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

JS: Besides in-class instruction, I was able to learn from our professors outside the classroom through involvement in case competitions, tutorials and coffee chats. I can sincerely say they have made such a positive impact on my life and I would not be here today if it weren’t for them.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your accounting degree?

JS: I’m working towards my designation to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). I’m actually going to be starting Core 1 of the CPA program this upcoming fall at the CPA Western School of Business through the support of my firm.


Jamieson Zunti: Zunti left Mount Royal with a Bachelor of Arts ― Anthropology and has been selected as the 2020 Centennial Gold Medal Recipient for the Faculty of Arts.

Photo of Jamieson Zunti.

Q: Do you have any study tips or thoughts for current or future students?

JZ: There are two things that I recommend. First is the skill of writing, which is absolutely imperative for all students. Whether it is conveying emotion in a personal essay, crafting an argument in a business proposal, or effectively displaying data in a technical document, all are inevitably grounded in the same manner.

Second is to seek feedback at all times, especially before submitting a document for grading. I always make it a point to ask professors if they would be willing to read a draft, or hear my current thoughts on a subject. While it is not a fun experience having one's work picked apart, feedback will always result in a stronger end product and an extra opportunity to learn.

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

JZ: The relationships I have built here. Because MRU is unique as an institution with its smaller class sizes, it offers students an unprecedented ability to build more intimate relationships with their peers, and professors alike. As a result, I have had the opportunity to meet and connect with so many brilliant and inspirational individuals, many of which have left a profound mark on me that I will carry for the rest of my life.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your anthropology degree?

JZ: I plan on utilizing an applied anthropological approach with my degree and help craft an increasingly inclusive and just world for all. Whether this ultimately lands me in policy, law, government, administration, a non-profit, marketing or academia, anthropology has granted me a unique lens with which to view the world, and hopefully aid it over time.


Justin Nicholson: Nicholson is a new alumnus of the Bachelor of Science ― Health Science and has been selected as the 2020 Centennial Gold Medal Recipient for the Faculty of Science and Technology. 

Photo of Justin Nicholson.

Q: How did you manage to achieve such an impressive GPA? Do you have any study tips or thoughts for current or future students?

JN: I was surrounded by hard working and devoted students. Together we motivated each other and challenged each other to be successful. As a result, I built strong study habits and learned how to effectively manage my time early on in my degree. By prioritizing my academics and maintaining a healthy balance between school and the other things I enjoy, I was able to reach my academic goals.

If I were to recommend anything to other students I would tell them to take advantage of all the amazing resources Mount Royal offers that are tailored to helping students succeed.

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

JN: What made Mount Royal University special to me was the amazing community. From the staff and faculty to the students, everyone works together to make MRU a wonderful place. Over my four years at MRU I had the opportunity to meet numerous outstanding individuals who made my time at MRU very memorable.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your health science degree?

JN: Ever since I was a kid I have loved to help people and watch them succeed. Therefore, I decided a career in medicine would be a good fit for me. Consequently, I have been applying to several medical schools. Although it is a very competitive field, I am hopeful that I will be accepted in the near future.

Governor General’s Bronze Medal Recipient

Jordan Pandarinath: Pandarinath graduated with an Aviation Diploma and has achieved the highest academic standing of all graduates in a diploma program. His GPA is 4.0.

Photo of Jamieson Zunti.

Q: How did you manage to achieve such an impressive GPA?

JP: My advice to other students would be to find your passion. In my case, my passion for all aspects of aviation really helped motivate me to learn as much as I could on the subject. That being said, the easiest way to make a difficult task (i.e. studying and learning) easy, is to find some way to enjoy doing it. I accomplished this by constantly trying to find a practical use for the information I was learning, and finding common ground across my classes. It is much easier to remember information if you find ways to apply it in your everyday life. On another note, a valuable attitude I would also recommend is to seek continuous improvement and use your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Finally, don’t be afraid to be curious and learn something new, even if it will never be on a multiple choice test. There is a complex and fascinating world around you for you to discover. Take advantage of that.

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

JP: What I will remember the most about MRU is the vast diversity of expertise my professors had to offer. From ex-fighter pilots, airline pilots and flight test examiners, to marketing, supply chain and management professionals. Everyone had valuable experiences and stories to offer when asked the right questions.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your Aviation Diploma?

JP: In the near future, I intend to continue sharing my passion for aviation with other future pilots by becoming a flight instructor. I would also like to explore different areas of aviation as well, finding new adventures to diversify my experience. Pilots can do more than just fly passengers from place to place, they can seed clouds to suppress hail, tow gliders, fly medical evacuation and humanitarian missions, perform airshows, and many other things. Personally I would like to try as many of these options as I can in my career.

Governor General’s Silver Medal Recipient

Sarah Green: Green is a new alumna of the Bachelor of Communication — Journalism program and has achieved the highest academic standing of all graduates in a degree program. Her GPA is 4.0.

Photo of Sarah Green.

Q: How did you manage to achieve such an impressive GPA?

SG: Looking back on my time at Mount Royal, I believe I achieved a 4.0 GPA primarily through taking ownership of my education. I saw my time at university as a gift and an opportunity, and I worked as hard as I could to make every moment count. I also believe that having an unwavering work ethic is extremely important — I would continually remind myself that if I’m not ahead, then I’m behind. In terms of tips for current and future students, I would recommend breaking down your workload into manageable chunks instead of tackling it all at once. Not only will this help you feel less overwhelmed, it will help you gain a sense of satisfaction every time you cross something off your list. Above all, remember that having a healthy balance in your life is crucial — grades aren’t everything, I promise!

Q: What will you remember most about your MRU experience?

SG: It may sound cliché, but I will always remember the relationships I formed with my peers and professors during my four years at Mount Royal. From my first day on campus, I felt like I was part of a meaningful community, and this feeling only grew over time. Having such small class sizes throughout my degree enabled me to feel increasingly connected to my peers, and encouraged me to form meaningful friendships. Additionally, my journalism professors were empathetic, intentional, and dedicated, which further contributed to my learning experience.

Q: What are your plans for the future with your journalism degree?

SG: I have been accepted into City University’s MA Magazine Journalism program and have plans to move to London, UK within the next few months. In the meantime, I am working as a freelance writer and designer.

Fall convocation will incorporate the spring ceremonies that were missed because of COVID-19. The final day to apply to graduate is July 31 and the last day to apply to attend Fall 2020 Convocation is Oct. 15.

June 26, 2020 ― Zach Wordon

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