Arshea Amer recipient of the Robert Poulin Award for outstanding citizenship

Thunder Bay, Ont.

Arshea Amer at convocationIt was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when Arshea Amer began her Lakehead journey.

“I realized that the opportunity Lakehead would offer in terms of research and volunteering, and the ability to be involved in the community, would be different than if I chose to go somewhere else,” she recalls.

Today, Arshea is the proud recipient of this year’s Robert Poulin Award, an honour presented to a full-time Lakehead University student for outstanding citizenship.

It was here that she found her passion for helping others, particularly through her volunteer work at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) during the height of the pandemic.

“I volunteered at the hospital because I wanted to gain a deeper perspective on health issues in the North,” Arshea says. “It opened my eyes to the diverse experiences of people travelling from different communities to receive care. Being part of their journey to getting the help they needed was incredibly special.”

Her role at the hospital involved screening patients, guiding them to their appointments, and providing much-needed comfort during a challenging time. The experience inspired her to seek other volunteer opportunities, both within the community and at Lakehead.

“I feel as though Thunder Bay is my home, it's the place I've stayed in the longest out of all the places I've lived,” says Arshea, who has also called Dubai, UAE; Whitehorse, Yukon; and Toronto home. “It's given me so many opportunities in terms of academics, making friends, and so many other things that I just feel really passionate about giving back to that community.”

As a biology lab teaching assistant, she particularly enjoyed mentoring first-year students. “TAing was a unique experience for me,” she says. “I loved working with students to help them navigate their studies and explore potential career paths. It was rewarding to make a difference in someone else’s life and help make their experience a little bit brighter.”

Her passion for science and education also led her to volunteer with Superior Science, a student-run, non-profit program that sparks children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). “Superior Science was such a unique and special opportunity to be advocating STEM to children and showing them how special it can be,” Arshea explains. “Generally speaking, I’m very passionate about science, so it was another way for me to share that with everybody else. And, you get to learn from the children themselves. They say things and they ask questions that you might not have thought of either.”

Arshea has made many contributions during her four years at Lakehead – to the University and the community of Thunder Bay.

In addition to her work with Superior Science and the TBRHSC, she has been an executive member of the Lakehead Association for Biology Students and the premedical club (LUPMS); volunteered with student accessibility services and orientation; and advocated for local youth as a member of federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patti Hajdu’s youth council. She has also held undergraduate student research positions with the departments of Health Sciences, Biology, and Chemistry.

On May 30, 2024, Arshea graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and hopes to one day work as a physician.

Since 1952, Lakehead University has presented the Robert Poulin Award annually to a full-time student selected by their fellows, faculty, and administration, for contributing most to the welfare of the University through student activities.

Lakehead named the Robert Poulin Award after an outstanding forestry graduate from the Lakehead Technical Institute who died at the age of 20 due to a workplace accident.