2023 Volunteer Award Recipient

Since joining the University of Lethbridge in 2018 as an international PhD student, Dr. Marta Gerasymchuk (PhD '22), a medical doctor with two additional PhDs, has made it a priority to positively influence her community by volunteering her time at local agencies and using her experience to assist incoming international students with their transition to Canadian living. At Spring 2023 Convocation, Gerasymchuk was honoured with the 2023 University of Lethbridge Volunteer Award.

Eager for new knowledge and a desire to study the molecular aspects of aging, Dr. Marta Gerasymchuk, a medical doctor and associate professor in the pathophysiology department of Ivano-Frankivsk Medical University, left her native Ukraine in 2018 to pursue another PhD in molecular sciences. Her introduction to Canada was difficult and she faced many barriers as she tried to navigate the difficult transition to a new country.

A postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Igor Kovalchuk’s lab, Gerasymchuk is using her early experiences in medicine and biological studies in a positive way by assisting other international students who are beginning their own academic journeys.

She began by volunteering for the University’s International Centre, offering to be a leader and mentor for incoming international students. She then sought further avenues to assist and volunteered to be the International Student Representative for the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). The role took on added significance during the COVID-19 pandemic and she advocated strongly for the specific needs of international students who were uniquely affected by the global pandemic.

Her volunteerism extends to the broader southern Alberta community where Gerasymchuk has spent countless hours supporting the Emergency Department at Chinook Regional Hospital, working as a Personal Disaster Assistance Team Responder for the Canadian Red Cross and lending help at Prairie Pets Rescue. Recently, she served as a board director for the Pro-Choice Society of Lethbridge & Southern Alberta.

Gerasymchuk has emerged as a team leader in the lab, supervising master’s and PhD students as well as training and teaching the fundamentals of biomolecular sciences to undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds. She also regularly helps students with disabilities as an exam proctor in the Accommodated Learning Centre on campus.

All the while, she has continued to support The Orphans' Aid Society in Ukraine, and, as her homeland continues to suffer the effects of war, has organized letter writing campaigns and rallies in support of the people of Ukraine. In 2022, she was awarded a Volunteer Lethbridge Community Leader Award.