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Danielle D’Amico, PhD graduate in Psychology awarded the Governor General Gold Medal Award

By: Elani Phillips
October 25, 2023

Danielle D’Amico, PhD graduate in Psychology was awarded the Governor General Gold Medal Award at fall convocation. The Gold Medal is the university’s highest academic honour and is awarded to one student from each faculty in recognition of their academic excellence.

Danielle’s involvement with her community is extensive. She was a trainee member of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, had the opportunity to conduct secondary data analyses from the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Healthy Aging, coordinated the Get Psyched course at the LIFE Institute at TMU, and was the Ontario Co-Lead and Co-Founder of the Wisdom Exchange Project.

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TMU President Mohamed Lachemi and Danielle D'Amico

What were you thinking about as you crossed the stage at convocation?

I was thinking about my grandmother, a really important person to me who is the impetus for my work. We were very close while I was growing up, but unfortunately, she had Alzheimer's disease and passed away when I was a teenager. Seeing the disease take her life was devastating, but it inspired me to pursue a career dedicated to preventing dementia. I know she would be proud of my accomplishments because I feel her presence with me every day. 


What is your favourite memory of your time at TMU?

I really value knowledge translation and bringing the science of healthy brain aging into the community, and I often sought out opportunities to do so during my time at TMU. Getting to connect with community members, learn about their life experiences, and share my research with them has been incredibly rewarding and has enriched both my research and my perspective on life. I credit my success, in part, to these wonderful people I've met along the way, so I'm really grateful. 


What was the best advice you have ever received and from who?

The best piece of advice that I received is from my supervisor, Dr. Alexandra Fiocco, who reminded me during some challenging times throughout my graduate training that this too shall pass. I have carried this advice with me as a lesson and reminder that struggles and adversities are temporary and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. This is now my personal mantra! 


What advice would you give to an undergraduate student?

I have two pieces of advice for undergraduate students - the first is to be proactive and seek out opportunities that excite you. People are really eager to share their experiences, offer help, and find ways for you to get involved in their work. Use this to your advantage during a time of learning and growth! My second piece of advice is to surround yourself with a supportive community, both personally and professionally. Life is full of ups and downs, but having a solid foundation to fall back on during hard times and celebrate with during the good times is key for success and wellbeing. 


What is next for you?

I'm currently doing a postdoc at the Rotman Research Institute and Kimel Family Centre for Brain Health and Wellness at Baycrest funded by the Alzheimer's Society of Canada. I am evaluating the feasibility and efficacy of a community-based personalized dementia risk reduction program for adults who are at-risk of developing dementia. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity, which I feel well-prepared for due to the training and mentorship I received at TMU.  


When you think of your time at TMU, what 3 words come to mind?

Community, mentorship, and growth. The common thread here is that I could not have done this without support from others - my incredible supervisor, my lab mates, the other graduate students in my cohort, the faculty and staff in the Department of Psychology, my friends and family, and I can't forget my dog!