VIU Criminology grad Liam Kenney posing in his grad hat

Catching up with this year’s recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal

July 5, 2021
Author: Eric Zimmer

Meet VIU grad Liam Kenney

A life-long fascination with the law and “how it works to shape the lives of our community” has resulted in a career with the Canadian Armed Forces for VIU  graduate Liam Kenney.
Kenney is a military police officer, a role he says entails policing “military members, military property and the families who live nearby as well as ensuring security both domestically and internationally.”
During his time at VIU, he studied Criminology, which opened his eyes “to the inequalities throughout our world.” It also gave him “the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to change it for the better.”
This outlook went beyond just the traditional classroom, and Kenney became involved with a variety of community programs, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as well as VIU’s Inside-Out prison exchange program.
With his combination of coursework and community service, Kenney was chosen as the recipient of this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation, an award that recognizes a top graduating student who has excelled in their studies while positively contributing to life at VIU and/or in the broader community.
We caught up with Kenney for some personal insights on his time at VIU, thoughts on being this year’s award recipient, and his advice for new and current students. Here’s what he had to say:

What does being chosen as this year’s winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation mean to you personally?

Inclusion, democracy, and reconciliation are three principles that I consider in my everyday life and work hard to promote in everything I do. To be recognized for promoting these essential components of a happy and healthy world is an honour.

Tell us about how and why you got involved with the Big Brothers program and how that helped shape your VIU experience?

The Big Brothers and Big Sisters program is an amazing community-based program that provides mentorship to young people who need it. My Mom had been a little sister as a child and is passionate about how much the program influenced her life. I initially began volunteering with the program in high school as an in-school mentor and transitioned to the community program after I graduated. Throughout my four years as a mentor with them, I have developed a life-long relationship with a young person. This experience helped me in my VIU studies as it taught me how to be extremely compassionate and patient. These skills were critical to studying the inequalities in society and helped a lot with group work.

For those who don’t know, can you explain what the Inside-Out Program is? Why did you decide to get involved, and what was this experience like?

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange program is an amazing opportunity where Social Sciences students and people who are incarcerated share a classroom and learn about various social issues. Throughout my course, I attended the Nanaimo Correctional Center weekly to sit down with my classmates and discuss several books that we read, different political and social issues, and complete group work. This course allowed me to interact with people who have different perspectives than me and had first-hand experience with the justice system. I decided to get involved in this course as it was another unique opportunity to expand my understanding of our world.

What were the highlights of your time at VIU?

The highlights of my time at VIU include participating in the Inside-Out program and the Community Based Applied Interdisciplinary Research course. These experiences allowed me to engage with real people in our community and learn how my skills can be used to improve the lives of others. During my project, I had the amazing opportunity to work with the Nanaimo Association for Community Living, a local organization who supports people with disabilities in our community. My research focused on the barriers that businesses face while employing people with disabilities. Being able to work with them was an amazing experience that taught me alot about the value of community based research.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic shape your overall experience, and how did you adapt?

At the onset of the pandemic, I switched to virtual schooling, which took some time to adapt to as I learn best through social interaction. As the pandemic progressed, I learned how to best work with my friends to learn together and became even more connected than I previously had been through virtual tools. For me, this included doing Zoom study and hang out sessions. These sessions were easy and quick to arrange and allowed me to meet with my peers much quicker.

Looking back on your time here, any advice for new students, or those considering pursuing their post-secondary education at VIU?

VIU provides a unique opportunity to be able to build relationships with instructors and students from other faculties that is not possible at other universities. I would recommend taking every chance you can to create those relationships as they will greatly help you to get where you want, both during and after your time at VIU. I would also recommend seeking out the courses that VIU offers that provide a hands-on learning experience. Participating in those courses was the highlight of my time at VIU. Take advantage of all there is to offer as that will make your experience far more fulfilling. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Take care of yourself, take care of others and be safe.

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