UBC Okanagan psychology student Dakota Broadfoot wins Governor General’s award - InfoNews

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UBC Okanagan psychology student Dakota Broadfoot wins Governor General’s award

Dakota Broadfoot of Vernon has won the 2015 Governor General’s Silver Medal as top undergraduate student at UBC.
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June 11, 2015 - 11:01 AM

KELOWNA - It’s no easy feat to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement as a UBC undergraduate student, topping thousands of others for top honours. But Dakota Broadfoot, graduating with a bachelor of arts in Psychology from UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, has done just that.

Broadfoot has been named Governor General’s Silver Medal award winner, granted to the undergraduate achieving the highest consistent academic standing over a four-year bachelor’s degree program at UBC.

“It’s such an honour,” says Broadfoot, who is from Vernon. “I had no idea I would get an award like this.”

Broadfoot has also been a teaching assistant and mentor to her fellow students. Excelling in math, she was particularly helpful with their statistical and data analyses.

Her supervisor, Paul Davies, says it was evident early on that Broadfoot was able to grasp difficult concepts. “It was immediately clear that Dakota was an exceptional student,” says Davies, “so I asked her to start working in my lab that year.”

Her marks were consistently 95 per cent or better – until her final year of study. She completed her honours program receiving a perfect 100 per cent. “She's the kind of student and person you want to be affiliated with, and someone you aspire to be more like yourself,” says Davies.

In addition to her work as a teaching assistant, Broadfoot was a member of the Psychology Course Union, and also served on the Department of Psychology’s (UBC Okanagan Campus) Board of Researchers for the Canadian Psychological Association. As a senior member of Davies’s lab, she also oversaw students and helped with their day-to-day demands of running subjects, and taught them how to successfully navigate their undergraduate program.

Broadfoot’s research was in terror management theory (TMT). Part of this involved using test subjects of different ethnic backgrounds to assess perpetrators of a mock bank fraud crime. Participants, acting as potential jurors, were reminded of their own mortality and then asked to recommend a sentence for the alleged suspect.

Consistent with past research on TMT, she found that participants suggested harsher sentences for suspects from a racial outgroup, in comparison to those from their own racial ingroup.

“These findings suggest that reminders of mortality in the courtroom may be biasing the decision-making process. If this is the case, then future research would need to investigate possible ways to mitigate this effect,” says Broadfoot. She says the research, citing an earlier U.S. study by Greenberg, Pysczynski and Solomon, shows a need for further in-depth study.

With an interest in psychology since taking a course in Grade 12, Broadfoot may have an opportunity to explore these theories when she enrolls in the law program at Dalhousie University this fall.

“It’s fascinating. There’s so much to know,” she says.

For Broadfoot, success results from hard work. “I devoted a lot of time to my school work throughout the years.” Plus, she’s never been shy in seeking out the help of her supervisor, professors and peers, whom she credits with showing her the way. Broadfoot’s advice to new students? “Surround yourself with people who will make you better and support you. I am grateful to all of the people who have supported me throughout the years, not the least of whom being my family and friends.”

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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