From left: Julianna Sparks has been selected as the Most Outstanding Graduate award in USask’s College of Kinesiology. Annaka Chorneyko has earned the Dean’s Medal in USask’s College of Kinesiology this year. (Photos: Submitted)

Sparks and Chorneyko earn major kinesiology grad awards

Each year at University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation, the College of Kinesiology recognizes its Most Outstanding Graduate and Dean’s Medal Recipient. This year, the college is proud to award the Most Outstanding Graduate to Julianna Sparks and the Dean’s Medal to Annaka Chorneyko.

By Alyssa Wiebe | Kinesiology Communications

The most outstanding graduate recipient must demonstrate leadership and participation within the college, on campus, and in their community, with academic performance also taken into consideration.

Making a difference on campus, in her college, and in the community, has earned Sparks the honour for 2022.

“I am extremely thankful to have been named the Most Outstanding Graduate of 2022, especially since I was surrounded by many incredible people throughout my degree who I believe are deserving of this award. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to learn alongside them throughout my degree, and I know that I would not have been able to succeed without their support. The college has become home to me over the years and to receive this recognition from the place that has taught me so much means the world to me,” said Sparks.

Sparks was born and raised in Saskatoon and chose to pursue a degree in kinesiology because from a young age, she recognized the positive impact that being active had on all aspects of one’s life.

“When I got to high school, I especially noticed that when I was active, my academic ability, and emotional and physical health vastly improved,” she said. “I became curious as to why this was and knew that a degree in kinesiology would answer some of those questions.”

During her time spent in the college, Sparks was involved in the Kinesiology Students Society, MotionballU, DoSomething U of S, and the creation of a community fridge in Saskatoon’s Riversdale community.

“Being a student in the College of Kinesiology has meant many things to me over the years. I feel like throughout my degree, I’ve become wiser in several areas, but I also recognize just how much knowledge the world still has to offer. My time spent in the college can be summed up in a single lesson: stay curious and never stop learning. I’m so grateful for all the college has given to me over the years and the knowledge gained will be a part of me for life.” 

Next fall, Sparks will be pursuing a degree in the College of Education at USask with the hopes of one day working in the Saskatoon school systems with the goal of making a difference to better meets the demands of our changing society and the needs of our students.

The second kinesiology award presented at Spring Convocation is the Dean’s Medal, awarded to the graduating student with the highest grade-point average. The recipient of the 2022 Dean’s Medal is Chorneyko, who has always been thorough in her studies, which she attributes to helping earn the highest academic average this year among her peers.

“Receiving this award is a great honour for me. I have always been dedicated to my academic career, so it is very encouraging to have those efforts acknowledged,” said Chorneyko, who is from Saskatoon.

When exploring degree options, Chorneyko knew she wanted to pursue the medical field but struggled to determine in which capacity. She chose kinesiology because of the strong foundation it would set up for her to continue her medical studies as a student and that her peers had said great things about the program.

“My expectations going into my degree were a little bit skewed, but throughout these four years my perceptions changed completely. Now, I am just grateful for whatever motivated me to choose kinesiology, because I do not think I would have been able to have the same school experience anywhere else.”

The last few years were challenging as student during a global pandemic. Chorneyko credits her family for being her biggest influencer when the stress and unknowns mounted.

With her degree in hand, Chorneyko is looking forward to continuing her studies in the College of Medicine at USask in the fall.