The Hub Convocation 2020: Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou, Governors General’s Academic Gold Medal Winner
#AthaU20 Grads

Convocation 2020: Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou, Governors General’s Academic Gold Medal Winner

By: Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou is an EFL educator in the public sector, Hellenic Ministry of Education. She holds a Bachelor Degree in English Language and Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a Master’s of Education in Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University. Chryssa is a founding member and past president of the Association of State School Teachers of English in Kavala, Northern Greece, the general secretary of IABL (International Association for Blended Learning), and an IVLP and U.S. programs alumna with a specialization in media literacy, cultural awareness, and inclusive leadership and practices in education and community. Chryssa organizes and co-ordinates events and webinars, participates as a presenter and inspirer in national and international conferences and workshops, and facilitates MOOC courses with international students. Her teaching practices are based on the Universal Design for Learning principles and involve the incorporation of new technologies and project-based learning on various fields, leveraging CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) method and blended learning. Her most recent U.S. program participation and project implementation involves Alumni TIES Seminars with a specialization in media literacy and critical thinking in the digital age. She is the coordinator of the “Media Literacy for Teens.gr” (Bravo Schools 2020 distinction) and “DigiTEENS.gr” projects and trains undergraduate students of the English Language Department (Kapodistrian University of Athens) in online instructional design. She is a Northern Lights Award recipient (2017), a World Learning grant recipient (2019), ELT Excellence Awards 2020 recipient, and Education Leaders Awards 2020 recipient.

To celebrate #AthaU20 Convocation, we are profiling some of AU’s grads. The team at AU is so proud of everything they have accomplished and we are excited to celebrate each one of our graduates leading up to convocation and beyond!

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou is this years recipient of the 2020 Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, awarded annually to AU’s top graduate student. Chryssa completed her Master of Education in Distance Education and talks to AU about what it means to win the award and what’s next for her.

 

The Governor General’s Academic Medals were created in 1873 by Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General, to commemorate outstanding academic achievement on a national scale. The medals are awarded on an annual basis to scholars who are enrolled in approved programs from Canadian universities and colleges, as well as high school students.

Students who achieve the highest average are eligible to be recognized with a Governor General’s medal.

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Tell us more about you: (What you currently do, previous education experience, etc.)

I am a graduate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, School of Philosophy, Department of English Language and Literature (awarded for candidate excellence in the Pan-Hellenic University entrance exams from State Scholarships Foundation). At present, I am an English language teacher in secondary education in the public sector and I have been teaching for more than 23 years in both the private and public sector. My teaching practices are mostly based on CLIL method (Content Language Integrated Learning) and project-based learning (PBL) and as such, I have enjoyed numerous opportunities participating in seminars worldwide for my personal and professional development. I have attended summer courses for PD in the UK, travelled to the U.S. as an IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) participant and got acquainted with international schools practices (in Seattle, Atlanta and New York), and I am an Alumni TIES participant interacting and coordinating projects with colleagues worldwide.

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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What led you to Athabasca University (AU)?

Athabasca University is an international university that, though demanding, allows for flexible and inclusive education on an academic level. I was lucky to find out that there is an AU Greek cohort that supports two Greek students every year as to receive a grant, the Northern Lights Award for Athabasca University studies. Given that I always aspired to go on with my studies, and especially on Distance Education to inform my practices on an international design framework, AU was the best possible option. As such, I did my best, worked on the requirements to be eligible for the grant, and submitted my entry! The announcement of my successful entry coincided with my return from my journey from the U.S. and I was excited! I knew that it would provide me with the knowledge and skills much needed as to establish my cooperation with the international colleagues I had just met!

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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Who would you like to thank for helping you along your journey? How was your AU experience—especially as an international student?

AU fosters the development of a community of inquiry, that is, learning communities that share common academic interests through interaction with the content, fellow students, and instructors. During my studies, I enjoyed my peers’, study buddy’s, and instructors’ encouragement to voice my thoughts and originality of ideas and establish my position in a diverse learning context. This led me to gain new knowledge, collaboratively and constructively set high goals, and reach high levels of creativity and innovation. Despite spatial distance, there was no moment that I felt that I was a lonely traveler in this learning journey. I enjoyed the autonomy of an adult learner with numerous opportunities to transfer new knowledge in my own context, but at the same time, the social and emotional presence of my program’s learning community to rely on. AU professors were a source of inspiration to me. They kept encouraging me and acknowledging my efforts and commitment, making suggestions, leading my way to dig deeper in my academic research, and boosting my self-esteem and confidence as to achieve my full potential. Much appreciated!

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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What was the hardest part of your degree?

Wearing so many hats in my personal and professional life, especially given my full-time job and motherhood—I am mother to twin 15-year-old girls—my studies were very demanding. I had to sacrifice my social life to a large extent, ask for my family’s understanding and support, and spend long nights studying or collaborating with my peers from distant places and different time zones. Nevertheless, I would not change any of the experiences acquired in this learning process. They were so meaningful and well-deserved, always remind me of my unique learning journey that transformed me from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Whenever reflecting on the challenges involved until the achievement of my goals, it brings to my mind the Greek poem “Ithaka” by Cavafy.

“…pray that your road’s a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery…”

                                                                                                     (from “Ithaka”)

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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How does it feel to be finished with your degree?

Reaching the final stage of this wonderful learning journey, I feel the need to share that it seems to me that it will never have a finishing line. It was just the key to new doors and the path that will lead to new destinations. The skills, attitudes, and knowledge I acquired were the result of a painstaking, though well-rewarding, path which involved commitment to my goals, devotion of much time, and putting in hard effort. In retrospect, I can now infer that it is not the acquisition of another degree in my portfolio and CV that counts. My AU studies have transformed my life, and Ι will try to transform my community, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic challenges the global learning community. I have already used the knowledge and skills I have acquired during my studies in Distance Education to alleviate this challenge in my own context and will further do my best, as promised, “for the advancement of learning and for the betterment of all”. Education belongs to everyone and should be shared, especially in the hard times we face.

In light of this, quoting Aristotle, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity”.

 

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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Why is life-long learning important for you?

I am a life-long learner and I think that I will never quit from satisfying my inner drive for new learning paths. Learning can occur anywhere, intentionally or not. Learning instances are precious little stones that compose the mosaic of our evolution. Education is a powerful weapon we can use to change the world. Building on prior knowledge and working on newly acquired is always welcomed in my daily life, as a professional, a mother, and a partner in collaborations with my colleagues and professors, allowing for my active participation in the ever-evolving 21st century global citizenship. At the moment, I am taking courses relevant to my professional field. I have to acknowledge that my AU studies have already played a crucial role in my further learning experiences.

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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How does it feel to win the Governor General’s Gold Medal award?

Given that english is my second language, this award was an unexpected pleasant surprise. I always seek for excellence in my learning experiences, but this award, from an international, highly-esteemed academic institution will have a special place in my heart. I would like to share with you how moved I was on the announcement of this particular achievement, although this year my AU studies have been recognized and I have additionally won many distinctions among which four Silver Medals for: Innovation in Education, for Raising Teenagers’ Awareness for Social Issues, and for leveraging technology for successful blended learning practices. I feel honored and blessed that AU provided me with the chance to enjoy the best possible inclusion opportunity. AU has no boundaries. It transforms its students’ lives and I have personally experienced that!

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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How are you planning to celebrate convocation?

Due to the pandemic and experts’ advice, I cannot have the celebration I would wish. Nevertheless, I have already made arrangements for separate family and colleagues celebrations! Apart from my family, I will definitely celebrate with my peers from the AU Greek cohort! Our AU professor and chair of the cohort, Professor Tsinakos, who I would like to thank for all his kind support, will be our special guest!

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

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What’s next for you?

I already have plans for my professional growth that involve my cooperation with universities in Greece and associations. I have been invited by the Kapodistrian University in Athens, Department of English Language and Literature to train undergraduates in instructional design, work with professors from the Aristotle University on projects on Media Literacy, and have become a member of the Advanced Educational Technologies and Mobile Applications Lab of the International Hellenic University. In addition, I have just been elected member of the executive committee of the International Association for Blended Learning, offering my services from the position of IABL Secretary. I would much aspire to go on with my studies and pursue a PhD. I hope I will be able to make my dreams come true and keep offering in the learning community.

Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou

The Governor General's Academic Gold Medal
The 2019-2020 Governor General's Academic Gold Medal award to Chrysoula Lazou, MEd
Published:
  • October 2, 2020
Guest Blog from:
Chrysoula (Chryssa) Lazou