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Posted July 18, 2017

Governor General’s Silver Medal Award

Canada's most prestigious academic award presented to Woodsworth student

Re-posted with permission from the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Among the more than 18,000 students graduating from U of T in 2017, Arts & Science student Valeriya Mordvinova stands out as one of three undergraduate students with the highest grade point average (GPA) across U of T. For this monumental achievement, the specialist in financial economics has been awarded the Governor General’s Silver Academic Medal, one of the most prestigious awards that can be received by a student at a Canadian educational institution.

Graduating with fellow Woodsworth College students today, Mordvinova is no stranger to this type of honour. Four years ago, she won a Bronze Medal, for having the second-highest high school average in the city of Ottawa. Still, the 22-year-old claims she was surprised by her latest achievement.

“I knew my marks were high but didn’t think they were high enough to win a medal at U of T,” she said. She finished with a GPA of 4.0, the highest that can be achieved at U of T.

One hundred and forty four years ago, His Excellency Lord Dufferin established the Academic Medals in order to encourage academic excellence across Canada. The medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze at the post-secondary, diploma level; Silver at the undergraduate level; and Gold at the graduate level.

Because of its size, U of T is permitted to award three Silver medals. Mordvinova’s fellow recipients this year include Victoria College’s Zoe Sebastien and the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering’s Sandro Young. The trio joins an impressive array of the medals’ illustrious recipients, which include Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell and Gabrielle Roy.

Mordvinova credits her success to a supportive home atmosphere where her parents, both recipients of academic awards back in Russia, encouraged academics as well as extra-curricular activities. “Winning an award gives one a temporary dose of dopamine,” she modestly asserts. “It will pass quickly. It is not where the rewards in life are.”

Alongside her exceptional academic performance, Mordvinova has found time to be a competitive ballroom dancer, and vice president of finance for the U of T Aviation Club, as well as acting as a peer mentor at the Economics Study Centre.

Following graduation from Woodsworth College at U of T, Mordvinova will return for a second consecutive year to an internship in London, England, and will commence a master’s degree program in economics at U of T in the fall of 2017. 

With files from Woodsworth College and the Department of Economics.