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Giving to UNB

Community builder gives back

Ashlee Morrell, third-year psychology student and 2019-20 recipient of the Craig S. Haynes Award for Distinguished Community Builders.

Ms. Morrell would like to respectfully acknowledge the unsurrendered and unceded traditional Wolastoqey land on which she lives and works.

Third-year psychology student Ashlee Morrell is a very busy person.

Ashlee, the 2019-20 recipient of the Craig S. Haynes Award for Distinguished Community Builders, would have full days by any measure, with full-time paid employment on top of a full course roster. She also invests time volunteering on campus and in her community of Saint John.

The Craig S. Haynes Award, funded by former president of the Students’ Representative Council Craig Haynes (BA 1994), is awarded annually to a Saint John student who is active on campus and in their community. For her part, Ashlee said that a community builder “looks for ways to help and be kind to others.”

Volunteering brings Ashlee happiness, and she is always excited to get involved in her community. In the 2019-20 school year she was vice-president of Kreating Conversations, a mental health and wellness advocacy group on campus. She volunteered for jack.org and helped kids learn to read through the Promise Partnership, and was the Speakers and Delegates Director for the TedxUNBSaintJohn event. Off campus, she helped increase awareness of food allergies through the Sweet Caroline Foundation, volunteered with Hoop Dreams for the IWK, and assisted in the Saint John Regional Hospital’s geriatric unit. Along with these commitments and her full-time job, Ashlee worked 10-15 hours per week as a research assistant for Dr. Caroline Brunelle.

With COVID-19 limiting volunteer opportunities over the summer, Ashlee did not give up on helping others – she got creative. She offered free resumé and cover letter assistance for students and those financially affected by the pandemic, and attended various remote workshops on topics related to mental health and change leadership to assist with community wellness.

Things have not slowed down for Ashlee this academic year. Along with her volunteer work and her class schedule, she now works remotely for MADD Canada, presenting daily to Ontario high schools about impaired driving and harm reduction. She also works as French Resource Specialist for 211 New Brunswick, helping to build New Brunswick’s public database of community services. In September, she hosted Voices of UNB, a TED Talks-inspired event for new students.

Ashlee felt compelled to give financially when she saw COVID-19 affecting her fellow students. “I was so blessed and fortunate to be able to keep my full-time job and continue paying my bills,” she said. “Being a student is overwhelming enough without this additional stressor. I donated what I could [to UNB’s COVID-19 Student Relief Fund] because I had the resources to make somebody’s life just a little bit easier.” 

What’s next for Ashlee? She wants to pursue graduate studies, but the specifics are not yet certain. What is clear is that her future community will be improved by her energy and involvement, much as we have been at UNB.

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