Acadia Business Student Wins Prestigious Sobey Award

Oskana Kovalenko

Fourth-year Acadia business student, Oksana Kovalenko, has been awarded one of six $15,000 Frank H. Sobey Excellence in Business Studies awards. Kovalenko, from Toronto, immigrated with her family to Canada from Latvia in 2003 and has demonstrated a commitment to high academic achievement while pursuing her passion for economic and social development in emerging markets.

"Receiving the Sobey Award is a tremendous honour, and I am eternally grateful for being one of the recipients,” said Kovalenko. “If it wasn't for the supportive and encouraging environment championed by every faculty and administration member at Acadia, this would have never happened."

In addition to maintaining an A average in her studies, Kovalenko has pursued several business and campus leadership opportunities. Kovalenko participated in a six-month Youth-Leader-in-Action program run by Canada World Youth where she spent three months volunteering at an elementary school in Powell River, BC, organizing dance and arts classes, staging a play to address bullying, and tutoring kids with disabilities followed by three months as an ESL teacher in one of many underfunded schools in China. While living in China, she became concerned about air pollution so, upon her return to Canada, she joined The Otesha Project—a youth-led charitable organization that mobilizes people to enable local and global change through conscious individual and collective choices. With 15 other Otesha youth, she spent one month cycling through the Maritimes and performing a theatrical play aimed at educating people about the issues of environmental sustainability and social justice.

Kovalenko later accepted a three-month internship in New Delhi, India, and worked as a researcher for Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international human rights advocacy organization. During her internship, she conducted research on the effectiveness of the Universal Periodic Review and the National Human Rights Institutions.  She also monitored human rights developments in the countries of the Commonwealth, focusing primarily on Pakistan and Jamaica, and prepared advocacy materials for the meetings of the Human Rights Council. Her exposure to India’s microfinance network inspired her to conduct an honours research project at Acadia University based on the theory that microfinance (MF) alone is not enough to enable poverty-stricken entrepreneurs in developing nations to grow their businesses. She developed a framework of best practices for leveraging the impacts of MF through more effective business development services. The research was presented at the Atlantic Schools of Business Conference in Charlottetown, PEI, in October 2011.

On campus, Kovalenko has been instrumental in the formation of the L’Acadie Linguists Toastmasters Club to provide a venue for local community members and Acadia students to improve their public speaking, leadership, and networking skills. She has volunteered with the Acadia Centre for Social and Business Entrepreneurship (ACSBE) where she built a database, which ACSBE uses to connect local business practitioners with Acadia researchers, and she published a survey on the needs of local businesses and helped produce an information guide for local entrepreneurs. Kovalenko also served as the features editor for the Acadia student newspaper, the Athenaeum; volunteered for various causes such as the CIBC Run for the Cure and the Rona Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour; and, served as a deputy chair for the Student Representative Council at Acadia.

"At this small university big dreams come true. My professors are not just great instructors; they are also caring mentors and life-long friends, “ said Kovalenko. “I owe all of my current and future accomplishments to them, and I'd like to say a special thanks to my research supervisor, Dr. Kelly Dye, who has been instrumental in my student career."

“Oksana Kovalenko has a genuine concern for a well-functioning civil society and a devotion to improving the lot of others,” said Dr. Ian Hutchinson, director of Acadia’s Fred C. Manning School of Business Administration. “I consider Oksana to be an extraordinary individual who will use her business acumen and finely-tuned sense of social responsibility to benefit the organizations that she will lead and to promote the betterment of the individual in society.”

For more information about Acadia’s Fred C. Manning School of Business Administration or how you can apply to Acadia University, visit 

About the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies
The Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies currently presents six awards of $15,000 each. All full-time business students attending Atlantic universities are eligible for consideration. Deans of Business at each university nominate candidates based on academic standing, entrepreneurial interest, extracurricular and community activities, employment history and career aspirations. Established in 1989, the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies have awarded more than $921,800 to business students in the four Atlantic Provinces. Each university in the region offering a business program has had at least one recipient of a Frank H. Sobey Award.

For further information, please contact:
Cynthia Thompson
Director, Communications and Corporate Affairs
Sobeys Atlantic
Phone: 902.752.8371 ext. 8455

Sherri Turner
Communications and Marketing
Acadia University
Phone: 902.585.1362



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