Helen Connop has improved lives of thousands of law students in nearly two-decade career
Helen Connop, manager of education and equity services at Queen’s University Faculty of Law, has received a Distinguished Service Award from the University Council, for her efforts to improve the lives of thousands of law students over nearly two decades.
The award recognizes Connop’s advocacy and commitment to equity, diversity and student welfare. She has assisted in guiding and identifying solutions for vulnerable and historically disadvantaged students who need support and for students in distress who are dealing with problems such as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress and death in the family.
“Through her example of compassion and dedication she has influenced a whole generation of lawyers, people who are spread out throughout the world and who reflect on their experience at Queen’s through the language of community and service,” said Phillip Drew, lead nominator and assistant dean for JD and graduate studies, in the news release.
Drew noted that alumni regularly ask after Connop, who has helped to promote the law school’s reputation as accommodating and friendly.
“All students came to appreciate that there was always someone within the law school who could look out for their personal well-being in a manner that met their distinctive needs on a confidential basis,” said Mark Walters, law dean.
Walters added that Connop adopts a holistic approach to students’ wellbeing and tackles non-academic and academic issues together.
“Whether it be a crisis of confidence over a disappointing exam mark, a prolonged personal or family emergency, or any other grievance, Helen has always been there to support and guide students in need,” said a student nominator.
“I think this Distinguished Service Award signals the value that the Queen’s Law community, including the Dean, senior leadership team, faculty members and students, places on supporting students’ well-being and success,” said Connop.
Connop has said that her favorite part of her work is when she can assist students during their time of need, including by reminding them that they are strong and resilient enough to deal with the challenges that they encounter.
For the law school’s Tutoring Program, Connop has recruited and trained tutors from among the second- and third-year students who belong to the top 25 per cent of their class, who are interested in supporting others and who understand equity and diversity issues and the unique problems faced by first-year students. The program matches these tutors with the first-years and, to help assist with upper-year courses, pairs third-years with the second-years.
Connop calls the Tutoring Program her proudest accomplishment, given that it now involves 67 tutors helping 287 students in academic year 2020 to 2021, up from just five tutors assisting 12 students when the program launched in 2002. She has shared her training materials with other universities, including two law schools and a pharmaceutical school that have adapted the program.
“I believe that the Tutoring Program reflects the heart and spirit of the Queen’s Law community and I am proud to be working with such an outstanding group of students,” Connop said.
“Current students thrive on the program, and it is a key selling point to applicants during our recruiting process, with our post-admissions surveys telling us that Helen’s tutoring program is one of the determining factors for those who choose to study law at Queen’s,” said Drew.