MA Student Shane Atienza Wins Killam Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

Congratulations to History MA student Shane Atienza on winning a 2023/2024 Killam Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. This award recognizes graduate students for their outstanding contributions to teaching and learning at UBC. Successful candidates must have a proven track record of teaching excellence in addition to a high level of esteem from undergraduate students and supervisors alike.

This academic year, Atienza has been a teaching assistant for HIST 414/CDST 350B: Constitutions in Canadian History, and HIST 236: Public History in Canada.

In his approach to pedagogy, Atienza seeks to help students cultivate a habit of going beyond moral binaries to think historically. “UBC students are incredibly bright and want to test their ideas in the classroom, so I challenge students to sharpen their critical thinking skills by prompting them to delve deep and challenge their normative assumptions,” he says. “As a teaching assistant of Canadian history in particular, I want to impart to my students that meaningful change requires a nuanced and three-dimensional engagement with this country’s past. In so doing, I believe our students can, and will, change this place for the better.”

“I have been so fortunate to see many of our kind and brilliant history instructors in action,” he continues. “Their pedagogies and practices of care, support, and academic rigour continue to influence and inspire me. As such, receiving this Award is not just a personal honour, but a testament to the dedication, mentorship, and teaching excellence within our department.”

Atienza is a first-year MA student in the Department of History and a research assistant in the Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies. His current research interests lie in Canadian constitutional and legal history, particularly the discourses surrounding the role of the Crown and the monarchy in Canada in the early-to-mid twentieth century. He is under the academic supervision of Dr. Bradley Miller and is a recipient of a CGS-M fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

“I am deeply humbled by this recognition and am committed to continue making a meaningful impact on our students’ learning. I am also infinitely grateful to my students: it has been such a pleasure both teaching and learning from them. Their dedication, enthusiasm, curiosity, and belief in me as a new teacher has genuinely made teaching worthwhile.”