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Andrew Hartman (BA'14, MEduc'19) is currently a PhD student in psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo: Submitted)

USask graduate student receives national award for master’s thesis

Andrew Hartman (BA'14, MEduc'19) is currently a PhD student in psychology at the University of Saskatchewan


By Shannon Boklaschuk

A University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate is thrilled to be the first student from this province to receive the Master’s Thesis/Project Award from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE).

Andrew Hartman received the award for their master’s thesis in USask’s College of Education, which focused on the role of shame in student persistence and help-seeking. Hartman graduated with their master’s degree in leadership in higher education, from the Department of Educational Administration, in 2019 and is currently a psychology PhD student in USask’s College of Arts and Science.

“The news was really jarring at first. I was in the middle of doing something important and I looked at my phone noticing some congratulations texts, which triggered me to check my email. I saw the email and I’m pretty sure I read the letter four or five times just to make sure it was true,” said Hartman, who uses they/them personal pronouns.

“Once the news finally sunk in, the award still felt impossible. I came to university in my undergrad as a first-generation student and ended failing my first year, meaning I was required to discontinue. Luckily my appeal was accepted, and I fought year after year to slowly increase my average. So to go from failing to receiving this recognition was incredible. I hope my story provides hope for other students who are struggling that, with the right supports, they can achieve their dreams, too.”

Hartman is the 2020 recipient of the CSSHE’s annual award for the outstanding master’s thesis or project in Canadian universities in the area of higher education. According to the CSSHE, nominated works should focus on topics in higher education relevant to Canada, including the societal context, access, organization and governance, teaching and learning, institutional studies, or education and employment.

As a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, Hartman is currently exploring the psychological processes of shame and disenfranchised grief in 2SLGBTQ survivors of traumatic gender-based violence.

“For myself, education and research are very intertwined, as they both relate to acquiring new knowledge, where the latter requires learning about the unknown. I find myself constantly learning from my research and participants, who are teaching me from their experiences. These individuals are inviting me into their personal narratives; some of the stories I have been permitted to witness is such a privilege,” they said.

“My love for learning was definitely instilled by my mother. I was actually homeschooled from K-12. My mother’s main goal was to make sure we had a love for learning; if we loved learning, she knew she did her job. Unfortunately for my parents that meant having to deal with a lot of ‘but why’ questions—statements I continue to ask in my research. I’ll be forever grateful my parents fed my curiosity and always encouraged me to research the answers myself.”

Hartman is currently in the running for another post-secondary award: the Canadian Evaluation Society Educational Fund (CESEF) Student Excellence advancing Evaluation Knowledge (SEEK) Award for a 2SLGTBQ youth homelessness evaluation project. Hartman’s pilot evaluation of OUTSaskatoon’s Pride Home started as a class assignment.

“When I provided the agency with the proposal after the class was done, the executive director asked if I would volunteer to conduct the research, and I was honoured to even be asked,” they said.

“The project was supervised by the course instructor and my now PhD supervisor, Karen Lawson (PhD). I spent a lot of time with the youth before inviting them to interviews because I wanted us to build a relationship and trust with each other first. I developed close connections with the youth; they are amazing, smart, talented humans. I’ve been invited back for two of their Christmas suppers now and it’s by far my favourite family meal of the year.”

Hartman describes themself as a proud queer, Métis individual born and raised here on Treaty Six Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. Hartman has been the recipient of a number of awards and honours during their graduate studies, including a Saskatchewan Indigenous Mentorship Network (SK-IMN) stipend.

“The stipend was a travel fund to help cover the travel costs for two international conferences I was accepted to present at in Prague: Preach 2020: International LGBTQ Psychology Conference and International Congress of Psychology. They were supposed to happen this summer, but have been postponed to the summer of 2021—which will be my first time travelling away from Turtle Island,” they said.

In their career as a student affairs employee, Hartman has enjoyed connecting with and supporting fellow university students. This is reflected in Hartman’s past role with the College of Arts and Science’s Indigenous Student Achievement Pathways (ISAP). Established in 2012, ISAP welcomes First Nations, Inuit and Métis students to the college through academically grounded programming that builds confidence, knowledge and skills, while connecting students to one another and to the campus community.

“Previously my role was the ISAP programming officer, where I supported incoming students in their transition to university, coordinated the ISAP learning communities and summer bridging program, as well as guided our upper-year Indigenous peer mentors in developing their leadership identities and facilitation abilities,” said Hartman.

“Working in ISAP was a wonderful experience. I loved working with my students and further exploring my own Métis identity. I left my role to pursue my PhD full-time, but am lucky to stay connected with the program through being a teaching assistant for one of the ISAP classes—and I get to lead weekly tutorials with the students.”

This month, Hartman is planning to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 as well as Pride throughout June. Hartman said they will be spending this year’s Pride month listening and educating themself on the experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) and thinking about how their work and research can help address systemic racism.

“Pride often places cis-white gay men in the spotlight, whereas trans and BIPOC folx were leaders in pushing queer rights forwards, starting the first protest that we know today as Pride,” said Hartman. “These folx continue to benefit the least from their efforts, as Black trans women are still at the highest risk of experiencing violence. So I am looking to how I can do my part in addressing racism this Pride.”

As the new school year approaches, Hartman will continue their PhD studies with the goal of one day opening an evaluation firm with a colleague and continuing their community-based work in Saskatoon as a program evaluator. They also plan to apply for the Credentialed Evaluator (CE) designation.

In 2014, Hartman completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology in the College of Arts and Science prior to beginning their graduate studies. Throughout their academic journey, they have been grateful for the support they have received from colleagues and mentors. Hartman notes USask’s Dr. Vicki Squires (PhD) in particular.

“She changed my life, as I never thought I would be ‘smart enough’ to be a researcher. She is an absolutely brilliant scholar, teacher and mentor. Thank you for providing me the encouragement and guidance to become the researcher I am today,” said Hartman. “As well, I want to give a shout-out to Drs. Karen Lawson and Linzi Williamson-Fox for being wonderful mentors, colleagues and friends.”

For Hartman, one of the best parts of studying at USask is the beautiful campus. In the summer they enjoy going to a coffee shop and then for a walk through the picturesque Bowl, located at the centre of campus.

“It’s just gorgeous,” Hartman said. “Secondly, I think the best part would be the size of our institution. We are large enough that we are conducting amazing research, but small enough that you can make connections and partnerships with other departments that allows for some great interdisciplinary research.”

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