Psychology graduate Jonathan Mendel earns Dean’s medal after 10 year hiatus from post-secondary
As a student, Jonathan Mendel knew he wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. But it wasn’t until he volunteered at a drop-in centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) where he found his knowledge and interest in social psychology could be leveraged to challenge the socio-economic barriers faced by people in that community.
“Through my volunteer experience, I was made aware of the systemic challenges that people living in poverty face and became particularly interested in the application of psychological principles to challenge economic inequality and poverty-based stigma.”
Mendel brought the knowledge gained from his volunteer experiences into his work as a research assistant in Stephen Wright’s Intergroup Relations and Social lab. There, he dove into examining the effectiveness of a poverty simulation intervention as a means of reducing prejudice towards people living in poverty. His honours research later focused on the data collected from this poverty simulation.
Since then, Mendel has had the chance to present his research at the SFU Undergraduate Research Symposium as well as at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference in Portland, Oregon.
Aside from this research, Mendel also had the opportunity to mentor students as a teaching assistant throughout his undergraduate career.
“This experience has been extremely rewarding and it has been a pleasure to mentor so many talented students who share an enthusiasm for psychological research.”
Mendel will be graduating with a BA Hons with a major in psychology, and is the recipient of the Deans’ Undergraduate Convocation Medal. This prestigious medal awards a graduating student from each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five percent of the class. Mendel and fellow psychology graduate Emily Thornton are the 2020 award recipients from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
In September, Mendel will enter the Social Psychology graduate program at SFU, and continue his research under the supervision of Michael Schmitt.
Having taken nearly a ten-year break from academics after graduating from high school, Mendel encourages students not to give up on themselves.
“Five years ago, the prospect of enrolling at SFU to finish my undergrad degree seemed impossible. So, if I can do it, so can you!”