From left: Alexander Andres has been selected as the Most Outstanding Graduate award in USask’s College of Kinesiology. Abd Alras has earned the Dean’s Medal in USask’s College of Kinesiology this year.

Andres and Alras earn major kinesiology grad awards

Each year at the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Spring Convocation ceremony, the College of Kinesiology recognizes its Most Outstanding Graduate and Dean’s Medal Recipient.

By Kinesiology Communications

This year, the college is proud to award the Most Outstanding Graduate to Alexander (Alex) Andres and the Dean’s Medal to Abd Alras.

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 his college, and in the community, has earned Alexander Andres the honour for 2023.

“Being named the Most Outstanding Graduate of 2023 is a tremendous honour. There are many well deserving and highly successful graduates. I applaud all my peers for their hard work and achievements. I hope to continue to represent the mission and values of the College of the Kinesiology,” said Andres.

Andres was born in Vancouver, BC but has lived in Saskatoon for the past 18 years. He chose to pursue a degree in Kinesiology because he was interested in learning about living a healthy and active lifestyle and enjoyed coaching and being involved in sports.

His upbringing was nothing short of challenging. His father is a Vietnamese refugee, and his mother raised him as a single parent while facing family health issues. Alex has battled adversity his entire life but attributes his success to his mother.

“My biggest influence is my mother. I watched her raise my sister and I as a single mother since we were kids. She has always been selfless, caring, compassionate, and dedicated,” he said. “She sacrificed a lot to help me succeed. I hope to use her example as a reminder of how to live and treat others as I pursue a career in medicine.”

During his time spent in the college, Andres was involved in the PAAL program and SWITCH, was a student-athlete with the Huskie Athletics wrestling team, and a captain of his Campus Rec basketball team. As an undergraduate student, Andres was able to showcase his academics and leadership through research experiences. As an honour’s student under the supervision of Mr. Bart Arnold, he led an independent research project on “Promoting Positive Eye Health Behaviours Among University Students.” In addition, he held an undergraduate research position working in Dr. Hassan Vatanparast’s Nutritional Epidemiology Lab.

“I was a researcher on the project, “Working together to promote healthy living and prevent type 2 diabetes: a community-led initiative with Cowessess First Nation." Using my skills in Kinesiology, I worked in an interdisciplinary team to research and develop community-based programs and initiates to improve life for individuals living in Cowessess First Nation.”

Outside of the college, Andres dedicated his time to co-founding the Al Amal Humanitarian Club. The club provides students with the opportunity to volunteer on campus and in the community with initiatives that support the United Nations Sustainability Development goals. Andres planned events such as food drives, winter care packages for the homeless, a dental care workshop for elementary schools, and a mental health and an Indigenous health awareness event on campus.

“Overall, my time spent in the College of Kinesiology has been rewarding and encouraging. We are all here to learn, grow, and succeed, and the college recognizes this. It provides opportunities for success and challenge. It also offers supports to keep you on the right path. The growth I made in academics, maturity, self-learning, and self-care are attributed to the fine faculty and peers of the College of Kinesiology.”

Next fall, Andres will be pursuing a degree in the College of Medicine at USask with the hopes of one day working as a physician to help patients through some of the toughest times of their lives.

If he could tell incoming freshman one thing it would be, “get involved and experience all you can on campus. Try joining a club, volunteering, researching, or even starting your own organization. You will never regret the experiences you had as much as the experiences you didn’t have.”

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 2023 Dean’s Medal is Abd Alras. Abd demonstrated sustained academic success, having had the highest academic average in his cohort throughout his time with the College. Abd attributes his success to God and the resources and opportunities afforded to him that others may not have had.

“Being the recipient of such a prestigious award is a deeply humbling honor that surpasses words. It reminds me that I did not achieve this alone, it is by the countless gifts from God, who blessed me with a family to support me, financial means, and a strong community to push me forward,” said Alras.

When exploring degree options, Alras chose kinesiology because it offers multiple benefits. From providing a strong foundation for professional schools to offering engaging courses taught by exceptional professors, he strongly felt it equips students with valuable knowledge and skills.

“The faculty team is dedicated and supportive, creating an environment where learning becomes enjoyable. In short, pursuing a degree in kinesiology is a fulfilling and exciting journey filled with endless opportunities for growth and success.”

Not only was Alras successful in his academics, but he also found ways to be involved on campus and in his community. He was a co-founder and president of the award-winning U of S Amal Humanitarian Club, a second-year representative and vice-president of the College of Kinesiology Student Society, a PAAL volunteer, an Orange You Ready? participant, a mentor and leader of weekly learning community, a member of the Islamic Relief Canada program, an active member of the Muslim Student Association, and a volunteer at the Saskatoon Dawah Center.

“Throughout my journey, I encountered students who significantly surpass me academically, in work ethics, discipline, and talent. Many of my peers faced adversity in ways that I cannot begin to imagine. I am blessed by God, family support, and the financial means to lift the weight of employment during my studies, allowing me to solely focus on my academics,” said Alras. “I am very honoured to be receiving this award knowing there were many qualified candidates.” 

After he walks the stage in June and has his degree in hand, Alras is looking forward to continuing his studies in medicine at the University of Regina in the fall.