Lakehead University Alumni Magazine

2012 Lloyd Dennis Award Winner - Lana Johnston

Published July 12, 2012
Lana Johnston
Lana Johnston (HBASc'12)

A multi-sport varsity athlete, tireless volunteer, and avid booster of Lakehead University Orillia, Lana Johnston is this year's winner of the coveted Lloyd Dennis Award recognizing outstanding citizenship.

"To win the Lloyd Dennis award is such an honour – it means so much to me," said Johnston, who graduated with an HBASc in May 2012. She plans to enrol in the Bachelor of Education program this fall.

During her four years at Lakehead's Orillia campus, Johnston played on the varsity hockey, rowing and curling teams. But she was much more than a student athlete; she was also a mentor and leader.

"As the athletics and recreation facilitator, I had the opportunity to interact with Lana through a variety of sports teams," said Liz Ross, Student Athletics and Recreation Facilitator. Ross nominated Johnston for the award. "When I had the chance to watch her with her teammates it was obvious to me that she always put the best interest of the team first. (For example), after sustaining a wrist injury early in the rowing season this year, she stepped into a coach boat and helped lead training sessions."

Her dedication and leadership were also evident during her time with the school's hockey team. In her first year, she was assistant captain/vice president and then moved up to captain/president in her second and third years.

"This past year, she stepped back into the role as vice president as she trained a younger student to take over the team for the coming years," said Ross, noting Johnston also leads a learn-to-row program at Orillia high schools.

Johnston has also become a leader among the school's Student Ambassadors and is always eager to help out with school tours and recruitment events. As a member of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and Environmental Sustainability Club, Johnston helped educate fellow students about Lakehead's LEED Platinum certified campus building and ways in which they can reduce waste on campus. She also planned and executed a clothing exchange for professional year bachelor of education students who were in need of clothing more suitable for their teaching placements.

"Lana is very community minded," Ross said. "She is involved in varsity sports, campus events, does well academically… she’s one of those students you love to have on campus."

Johnston downplayed her achievements.

"I do not really consider myself a volunteer," Johnston said. "There just happens to be activities that are going on that I am really interested in or I think would really be beneficial for either myself or others. I love seeking new experiences and the incredible opportunities that are created."

"I feel that being active in your community (in this case, university) is one of the most important things in life," said Johnston, 23. "Lakehead provides students with (an) opportunity to learn about the community as a school and encourages us to provoke positive change. I think the new Orillia campus has so much potential and I get excited about the idea that we can be a part of this ever growing transformation."

It's what attracted her to Orillia.

"I loved the idea of the environmental features, the concept of a brand new school, small student population and it sounded so different from what I heard about university from others," Johnston said. "I think the biggest part of my positive experience is that Lakehead allows me to be myself and provides resources for success. I have gotten jobs, travelled to Western Canada for a leadership conference, travelled to Northern Ontario (as part of her field studies course) and had many other incredible opportunities because I have gotten to know the staff and faculty at the university."

This fall, Johnston is hoping to do her placement in the Ottawa Valley where she grew up. And then, who knows?

"After I graduate, I hope to teach abroad. I have no idea where yet, but I'm open to almost anything."

About the Lloyd Dennis Award

The Lloyd Dennis Award recognizes outstanding citizenship and academic excellence and was recently renamed (from the Poulin Award) to distinguish it as a Lakehead Orillia award. The honour is named for Lloyd Dennis, who transformed education in Ontario with the reforms that he and his fellow members of the Committee on Aims and Objectives of Education in Ontario proposed in the 1968 Living and Learning report (also known as the Hall-Dennis Report). Lloyd Dennis was recognized in 1971 with an Order of Canada and in 2000 with an Order of Ontario for his outstanding contributions to Canadian education. Prior to his death in March 2012 at the age of 88, Dennis was an enthusiastic proponent for the establishment and growth of Lakehead University's Orillia campus. Dr. Dennis was recognized with a posthumous honorary degree at this year's convocation.

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