Congratulations to the following King's students whose papers were named as Highly Commended as part of the 2023 Global Undergraduate Awards.

  • Olivia Holland, fourth-year Honours double major in History and English as part of the King's Scholar Program
  • Kevin Southgate ’23, Honours Specialization in Childhood and Youth Studies
  • Riley Buist, a double major in Social Justice and Peace Studies and Fine Arts (at Western)
  • Alexis Andrade, a Double Major in English Literature and Classical Studies
  • Alexa Van Cuylenborg '23, Honours Specialization in Political Science with a Major in Disability Studies.

Holland was recognized in both the Literature and History categories. Southgate and Buist were named in the Social Sciences: Anthropology and Cultural Studies category. Andrade was named in the Classical Studies and Archeology category. Van Cuylenborg was named in the Politics and International Relations category.

The international awards program recognizes creativity, excellence, and innovative thinking within student coursework. Entrants whose paper or project ranked in the top 10% of submissions in their category are shortlisted as Highly Commended Entrants.

“This accomplishment, in large part, can be attributed to the support I have received from my King's family – both academic and otherwise,” says Holland.

“It feels amazing to be recognized and exciting that my paper will be shared with a wider audience. I would encourage any other students at King's to submit their work if they're eligible,” says Southgate.

This year, the Global Undergraduate Awards received 2808 submissions from 409 institutions worldwide. The full list of Highly Commended winners for 2023 can be viewed on their website.

In the Literature category, Holland received Highly Commended honours for her paper, “Dressed to Impress: The Markets of Marriage and Labour in Cicely Hamilton’s Diana of Dobson’s,” which analyzes the intersection of dress, labour, and marriage in Cicely Hamilton’s Diana of Dobson’s. Holland explains that “ultimately, this essay strives to demonstrate how Diana, though never fully successful in breaking free from the market, begins to unravel society’s fabric, fashioning change one pulled thread at a time.”

In the History category, Holland received Highly Commended honours for “The Magdeburg Maiden: The Siege of Magdeburg as a Microcosm for the Thirty Years’ War.”

Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, “The Magdeburg Maiden analyzes the validity of Peter Wilson’s observation that Magdeburg acts as a microcosm for the Thirty Years’ War by comparing the religious, political, and militant aspects of the war to the internal dynamics of Magdeburg. 

The paper arose from her coursework at King’s. “By discussing my ideas with my professors and friends, I was able to produce a paper of which I am proud,” she says.

Holland says she is both honoured and humbled to be placed among such elite contestants. “It feels very validating to know that all of those long hours spent in the library have been recognized. Yet another memory from my time at King's that I'll never forget,” she says.

Southgate’s paper, “Drag Kids: When Outfits Become Activism,” was inspired partly after watching the 2019 CBC documentary Drag Kids, which features children, primarily boys, who enjoy wearing sparkly clothing, high heels, makeup and/or adopting a feminine persona. Southgate explains that he wanted to explore this niche subculture, and as he did, unexpected themes emerged related to child advocacy and social change. After finding that almost no academic literature specifically on children who identify with the term “drag kid” existed, Southgate interviewed a seven-year-old and his mother from the United Kingdom. His paper brought together various concepts, including ideas of participation vs. protection, courage regarding challenging gender stereotypes, and limitations in the current research of children. 

“My time at King's was incredible, and I never would have been able to complete a paper like this before everything I learned from all the wonderful professors and students I met throughout the last four years. My classes related to childhood studies changed how I view children and have inspired me greatly to continue researching issues impacting children in all contexts,” says Southgate, who is now attending the University of Toronto, completing a master’s in Child Study and Education.

Buist's paper, "Gothic Queer Theory: The Haunting (After) Effects of HIV/AIDS and Gothicism in Canadian Queer HIV/AIDS Art and its Importance in Queer Trauma and Resilience," uses gothic themes, tropes, and atmosphere, queer theorists and artists evoke Gothicism to gain an understanding of their trauma and resilience.

Buist explains that "the field is small yet emerging, exploring the unique relationship between queerness and the Gothic. Through the lens of gothic queer theory and haunted epistemologies, my paper analyzes two cultural events regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic and queer experience: (1) how queer Canadians are configured during the epidemic, and (2) how queer artists use Gothicism in HIV/AIDS-related art to respond to trauma. My paper maps out the public response to HIV/AIDS in Canada, rising stigmas, and queer trauma and resilience."

Andrade's paper explores the essence and importance of the Feriale Duranum – a fragmented papyrus text that offers insight into Roman army celebrations and anniversaries. The paper questions the premise that the document is relevant to Dura-Europos as a whole, arguing that it serves exclusively military reasons rather than reflecting the site's local norms.

Van Cuylenborg's paper, " The Underrepresentation of Disabled People in Local Government: Why it is a Problem in Canada and Possible Solutions," examines the lack of research on disabled representatives in the Canadian government; the effects of low disability representation on policy, civic participation, and public confidence; and possible solutions to increase disability representation in local government.

Van Cuylenborg says she was astonished to receive the honour. "I hope that this brings attention to the problem of underrepresentation of disabled people in government and other disability issues," she says.

Congratulations to all of the King's students who received the honour.

Stories about previous Global Undergraduate Award winners from King’s: