A graduating commerce student has been recognized for exceptional achievements in academics and volunteerism with a $30,000 award that ranks her among the best in Atlantic Canada.
Shaelynn Barry, 22, from Corner Brook, has been named one of eight winners of the 2019-20 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies, which recognizes business students across Atlantic Canada for achievements in entrepreneurship, community impact, leadership and employment in Atlantic Canada.
Ms. Barry is the seventeenth student from Memorial to receive the award in its 30-year history.
Winning the award is “overwhelming but exciting,” says Ms. Barry.
“I know there’s probably so many amazing business students throughout Atlantic Canada, so being chosen as one of the eight is just amazing. It kind of validated all the hard work that I do every day,” she said. “It’s just amazing and [I’m] grateful.”
Ms. Barry has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program, which landed her on the Vice-president’s List at Grenfell Campus, where she began her business studies, and on the Dean’s List since transferring to St. John’s.
“They gave back a lot, so I think I grew up thinking that was normal.”
She’s won several awards and scholarships from Memorial and the Faculty of Business Administration, including the Dr. Leslie Harris Memorial University Alumni Association Scholarship, the Wycliff and Elizabeth Robbin Memorial Scholarship and the Alice Buckingham Leadership Award.
Ms. Barry was also part of case competition teams at the business faculty that won the 2017 J.D. Irving Case Competition and Dr. Chansoo Park’s 2019 in-class Global Business Plan Competition.
Ms. Barry’s first experience with entrepreneurship was in high school when she established a recycling program to help fundraise for a volunteer trip to Ecuador.
Over two years, she collected more than 20,000 recyclables and raised $5,000 towards the cost of travel and materials. The group dug well trenches and laid the foundation for a medical centre.
“I didn’t really think of it at the time, but I was basically running my own mini-business,” she said.
Ms. Barry believes she won the award because of the entrepreneurial characteristics embodied through her volunteer work and academic achievements.
“I think that’s something they look for in the application: hard work, determination and overcoming obstacles – the entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.
Ms. Barry currently volunteers with St. John Ambulance, the Safe Works Access Program of the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador and is vice-president and a teaching assistant with Memorial’s Ballroom and Latin Dance Club.
She’s also been involved in the Memorial community in a variety of other ways including with the Office of Engagement at Grenfell and with the Memorial University Students’ Union in St. John’s.
In the community, she has volunteered with her church’s Sunday school program, the Canada Special Olympics National Winter Games and as a member of the Premier’s Youth Council.
‘Like a dream’
Ms. Barry says her volunteer activities provide a way to learn outside the classroom while also offering a way to help others.
“I grew up seeing that in my mom and other important people in my life,” she said. “They gave back a lot, so I think I grew up thinking that was normal. I just grew up with that spirit.”
Ms. Barry plans to go into the health-care field and is applying for medical school at Memorial after graduating from the commerce program this year.
A member of the Qualipu First Nation, she wants to influence health-care policy while also improving access to health care for marginalized groups.
“In the long run, I’d love to open a clinic somewhere. That seems like a dream right now, but it’s something that I think about often and really excites me. I could open an accessible clinic in a rural area that services these different populations. Of course, if that materializes, then the business skills will come in handy!”
Ms. Barry was recognized with the other seven Sobey Award recipients at a ceremony in Halifax, N.S., on March 7.