Ph.D student Kayla Preston named C. David Naylor Fellow at the University of Toronto

November 23, 2020 by Jeremy Nichols

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Kayla Preston, who was recently named a C. David Naylor Fellow. The Naylor Fellowships support exceptional students who come to U of T from an Atlantic Canada university. The fellowship is in honour of U of T’s 15th president, David Naylor, a leading voice for the importance of Canadian research who is presently the co-chair of a federal COVID-19 immunity task force.

Kayla is currently enrolled in her first year of Ph.D. studies in Sociology at the University of Toronto.  After completing her BA (honours) in sociology at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, she went on to complete an MA in Sociology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  Kayla has co-authored an article in the journal Postcolonial Studies and has also co-authored two chapters in the edited volume Gendering Globalization, Globalizing Gender: Postcolonial Perspectives.   Kayla is a Junior Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.

Kayla’s current supervisor is Dr. Jack Veugelers. Her research centers around far-right extremism in North America. Her research explores deradicalization programs in North America and Europe.

The C. David Naylor Fellows were featured in U of T News.  The story details Kayla’s community work involvement and her research on right wing deradicalization in Canada.

Below is an except from the U of T News story outlining some of Kayla’s work and life experiences and accomplishments:

Preston has been a soccer coach, food bank worker and a workplace rights activist, but the volunteer work that’s touched her most was the time she spent at a nursing home. “I would go around and talk, sometimes for hours on end, to people who were feeling a little bit lonely,” she says. “About their lives, their interests… I learned so much about the importance of older generations, the importance of community, which I take with me to this day.”

Fredericton-born Preston comes to U of T from Dalhousie University, where she completed her MA in sociology—reaching the finals of the 2019 SSHRC Storyteller competition. In her doctoral work, she plans to build on her research into how people leave right-wing extremist groups in Canada by investigating effective ways to prevent radicalization and help those who have been involved in extremism.

“Extremism is definitely a problem that doesn’t impact just individuals. It impacts all of us when it happens,” she says. “I believe deradicalization is definitely bringing people back into the community.”

“Winning the scholarship has given me a lot of peace of mind, financially,” says Preston. “But also it felt good to be recognized by Arthur and Sandra as a scholar worth investing in, and who will hopefully be able to work with partners in the Atlantic provinces to help my community there. I’m also looking forward to being part of the Naylor community, and I thank Arthur and Sandra for bringing the East Coasters in Toronto together.”