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A black and white image of 16 open books laid out in rows of 4 by 4. Each book has the outline of a mountain drawn on it.

This winter launched the Office of Social Innovation’s first Student Experience Research Team (SERT:OSI) cohort. Led by Tesni Ellis, SERT:OSI is a group of 3 undergraduate and 3 graduate students from the School of Social Work at Toronto Metropolitan University, completing a research study investigating students' experiences with financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Participation in SERT:OSI provides a virtual environment for social work students to fulfill the placement hours required to complete their programs. The team engages in arts-informed methods of learning, inquiry, and data storytelling, for example through drawing, photography, collage, and digital media, in an effort to contribute non-traditional knowledge and meaning-making to social justice and research practice. 

SERT was originally launched as a pilot project in Toronto Metropolitan University Student Affairs Storytelling. 

Meet the Cohort

Dunni Aladejebi is a registered social worker and graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Dunni's career experience is within the areas of youth and community development, policy analysis and developmental services. Her research interests explore the connection between anti-black racism and trauma, as well as healing modalities and frameworks that promote health and wellness amongst Black Canadians.

Ellen Wiegand is a fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work student who previously graduated with a Social Service Worker Diploma from Sheridan College. Her experience thus far has been with "at-risk" youth, and pregnant women with unstable housing. She aspires to continue working within these communities upon graduation with a focus on mental health and harm reduction.

Lisa is a fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work student. She is intrigued by neoliberalism and the effects it has on social life and policy and takes a keen interest in illuminating hidden narratives.

Nicole is a fourth-year Toronto Metropolitan University student completing her Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in Psychology. Her academic research is focused on children's mental health and the normalization of anti-Asian racism in mainstream media.

Viaan David is a Masters of Social Work student at Toronto Metropolitan University who hopes to make meaningful contributions to the community. Her research interests include analyzing and deconstructing systemic issues that impact the experiences of racialized women.

Research Gallery

View the full research gallery featuring participant-made artifacts, research assistant reflections, and the background of this arts-informed research opportunity. Visit the virtual gallery at (external link, opens in new window) .