You are now in the main content area
Student Award Recipients
Congratulations to the 2022-2023 student award and bursary recipients in the School of Social Work.
Bachelor of Social Work Awards
Richelle Sauve is a third-year student completing a minor in psychology and a certificate in Indigenous knowledge and experience. She is an Anishinaabe Kwe from Rama First Nation and a single parent to an amazing six-year-old daughter. Richelle hopes to continue her education to receive her MSW in Indigenous trauma and resiliency, followed by a PhD in clinical psychology. Richelle plans to become a trauma therapist for children and youth, whilst teaching at various levels of education.
Sarah Girón is a Latina immigrant and a fourth-year student, who is passionate about the health and well-being of immigrants, refugees, and all newcomers to Canada. She has shown commitment to this population through her volunteer work at Planned Parenthood Toronto and West Neighbourhood House for their newcomer youth programs. After completing her third-year placement at the Newcomer Centre of Peel, Sarah received a full-time position at the same organisation; she provides employment services to senior and adult newcomers. After graduation, Sarah hopes to use her education to create more avenues for advocacy on the settlement issues and barriers that racialized newcomers, immigrants and refugees experience.
Alzahraa Hussun is a fourth-year student who has passionately been working with vulnerable communities for more than five years. From personal experiences as a first-generation Canadian, born to a refugee family who fled war and persecution; she dedicates her time to giving back to vulnerable communities by volunteering with community organisations, pursuing her education at TMU and fulfilling her goals of becoming a social worker. She extended her passion of being a social worker at TMU by creating facilitated programs during her practicum at PLMAG (Peer Led Mutual Aid Group) with her practicum advisors. “If we all give a helping hand, we can all make a difference in someone's life,” is a motto that Alzahraa believes in and strives to achieve.
Shahini Somasri is a fourth-year social work student. She is passionate about destigmatizing mental health through an anti-oppressive (AOP) lens. Shahini has completed her practicum at Newcomer Centre of Peel (NCP), and as a second-generation immigrant, she is passionate about supporting newcomer clients through their journey of settlement in Canada. During practicum, Shahini developed ESL-friendly, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) worksheets for clients, and collaborated with two other social work students to co-facilitate a workshop around the significance of AOP for staff. On campus, Shahini is an education and outreach associate for SMASH. Further to this, she is a communications assistant and outreach director for Best Buddies, TMU. Within her community, Shahini volunteers with Adult Day Services at Sheridan Villa Long Term Care, where she engages with senior clients.
Humayra Mukit is a fourth-year student in the program. Humayra has volunteered with many organisations and initiatives in the GTA. Some of these include the Tri-Mentoring Program at TMU, Muslim Children’s Aid and Support Services, and an online PAL program for seniors. She and her team are currently working on a social venture to reduce food waste. In addition, she has worked with several non-profit organisations and mosques to raise funds for developing countries.
Laurence Price is a second-year student in the program and describes himself as conscientious, dedicated, and determined. He intends to pursue a career in social work and is actively learning the accompanying values and ways of helping people. Laurence has volunteered for many causes and organisations including Reena Foundation for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Marlee Liss is a fourth-year student and an award-winning speaker, author, restorative justice advocate, somatic coach and lesbian Jewish feminist. She made history in the justice system when her sexual assault case became the first in North America to conclude with restorative justice through the courts. Since then, Marlee has supported hundreds of women and non-binary folk in healing shame and transforming trauma. Marlee's work has been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, Buzzfeed, the Mel Robbins Show and more. She has delivered talks for: The US Military SAPRO, Fordham School of Law, University of Toronto, Mount Allison University, Trauma & Recovery Conference and more. Marlee was one of 25 survivors participating on an elite panel for the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence informing federal policy. Her story is currently being made into a documentary directed by Kelsey Darragh.
Melissa Goodman describes herself as an outgoing, passionate and active volunteer in Toronto, often looking for ways to help others around her. When she is not focused on her studies, she is volunteering at Fort York Food Bank and supporting individuals and families in need. Melissa uses her voice to advocate for equality and social justice; she is committed to empowering people around her by raising awareness and taking action in her community.
Erin Wotherspoon is a third-year student in the program. As a former theatre school graduate, Erin brings a diverse skill set and unique background to her current studies. A passionate person by nature, Erin is an active community member. She is interested in municipal politics, affordable housing policy and Indigenous sovereignty.
Danielle Levesque is a third-year advanced standing student. Danielle has worked in the field of social services for over twenty-two years. In the last six years, Danielle has worked as a Youth Services Worker for a child welfare agency. In her role, she supports youth with challenging backgrounds. Danielle is committed to serving and empowering youth to achieve important milestones. She also understands the importance of engaging children and young people by involving them in the community. Danielle feels strongly about establishing trusting relationships with and encouraging youth to believe that they are worthy and capable of achieving their goals. Danielle is a member of two committees: The Youth Advisory Committee and serves as co-chair, Ontario Education Champion Team. As a passionate helper in the field of child welfare, Danielle prides herself in continuing to be a strong advocate for children and youth in the child welfare sector.
Jessica Bassil is a mature student in the fourth year of the program. She holds a diploma from Sheridan College in social service work, where she graduated with honours. Jessica has worked for the past four years supporting community inclusion with individuals that have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her work, in various group-living settings, focuses on supporting individuals in their daily activities and participation in community activities. She brings enthusiasm and empathy into her practice to foster a sense of belonging for all. Jessica works from a person-centred perspective in order to empower others. In her future endeavours, Jessica aspires to continue uplifting and inspiring others to reach their goals.
Alicia Douglas is a third-year advanced standing student. They are a member of Students 4 Harm Reduction and are passionate about housing and human rights. In the future, Alicia plans to pursue an MSW and continue to fight for social justice.
James Fauvelle is a fourth-year student. He graduated with honours from Centennial College with a social service worker diploma, along with obtaining an Indigenous studies certificate. James situates his practice from an anti-oppressive and social justice framework, with a skillset in group dynamics/facilitation, counselling, community development and social policy. He was born and raised in Regent Park and has overcome many personal, social, and structural barriers since this time. He intends to use his lived experience and education to advocate for more equitable changes that include universal basic income and a one-tier health system, focused on preventive healthcare for our most vulnerable populations. James has occupied roles as a harm reduction coordinator at Native Child Family Services and a student facilitator at the Institute for Change Leaders. He is also a certified addiction counsellor in good standing with the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation, having worked with organisations such as Addiction Rehab Toronto.
Lily Zepeda is a fourth-year student whose greatest passion in life is social work; in particular, the opportunity to help empower BIPOC children and youth, the vulnerable and marginalised, and newcomers from disabled communities. In the future, Lily hopes to facilitate, teach, and advocate for others using anti-oppression and anti-discrimination, inclusion of trauma-based pedagogies and trauma-based approaches to empower vulnerable populations. She hopes the outcome of disseminating this information will empower these vulnerable communities to navigate and understand systems of oppression that affect education and provide for better career opportunities and social inclusion. Currently, Lily is doing her student placement in the launching team of the Orange Heart Club (OHC) working as an outreach program designer/facilitator. OHC is an after-school program promoting reconciliation with non-Indigenous and Indigenous participants at Finding Our Power Together, an Indigenous-lead, non-profit organisation.
Merve Yalcin is a second-year student. She is passionate about mental health awareness and is working towards completing a minor in psychology. She has volunteered to serve as a peer mentor for the Tri-Mentoring Program, which is focused on supporting first-year students with their transition into university. She has also volunteered as an outreach case manager at Talk2NICE, an organisation that aims to reduce social isolation amongst older adults. Merve is actively working in her community to foster social inclusion and hopes to expand her knowledge with future experiences.
Nadjla Agahbanaei is a fourth-year student. She is a community activist and social service worker, who has worked in Toronto's mental health and community health centre sector for over 20 years, where she has been supporting individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds. She provides counselling, group support, case management, and system navigation in her practice to address her service users' mental health and social needs. Until recently, she was the co-chair of The Health Network for Uninsured Clients in Toronto, working to improve healthcare access for people without public health coverage. She uses a universal approach to knowledge and knowledge translations; incorporating a holistic approach to wellness while using an anti-colonial, systems theory, anti-racist and trauma-informed lens. Her strength lies in developing a therapeutic relationship with her clients, focused on using a humanistic, practical and pragmatic approach.
Shirin Naghizadeh is a third-year student. She volunteered with DOPEline, a project of AHA! – Addicts Helping Addicts Ontario. DOPEline was an overdose prevention phone line with the aim of advocacy, addressing systemic discrimination, and reducing the stigma of using drugs. DOPEline is anti-police, made up of people who were service users, students, health care workers, front-line workers, etc. Shirin believes in holistic models of healing that combine western medicine with healing practices that incorporate the person as a whole and are based on inclusivity, intersectionality and accessibility. As a woman of colour, she wishes to pursue a future in therapy that combats accessibility barriers such as cost, representation and mental health stigmatisation.
Moha Jire is a first-year student who has been doing humanitarian work since the age of eighteen. As a Ghanian Humanitarian Envoy, she has impacted the lives of orphans and children in need in Ghana. As a social justice advocate, Moha has also played an active role in the peace-building process between Sudan and South Sudan. She has also helped women of colour to navigate their first years of residency in Denmark. Moha has a passion for and makes continued effort towards the advocacy of the voiceless, marginalised, and vulnerable in our communities; these include among them, communities in the East and West African continent and in Northern Europe. She has served communities of colour, primarily newcomer families including women and children, who are learning to navigate Danish society. Moha has received multiple international awards and trophies for her continued efforts in providing help to others in need.
Doga Koroglu is a childhood cancer survivor who found passion in meeting and mentoring fellow cancer patients/ survivors, with hopes to ease the burden and stress caused by their cancer diagnosis. Doga uses her experiences as a guide to help others in her community at SickKids Hospital. As well, she has a podcast that allows her to reach bigger audiences and create awareness about childhood cancer. Doga integrates her social work practices into her advocacy to promote awareness.
Busra Kotan is a fourth-year social work student completing a sociology minor. She has used the School of Social Work's goal and vision as the framework for her leadership work. She came to Canada as a refugee in 2018 and decided to study social work to help other refugees. She has volunteered and worked for several non-profit organisations, including the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, which promotes mutual integration across all religions and cultures via collaborations with other cultural, religious and communal groups. She has also formed a peer-support group, Youth for Unity, to assist immigrant and refugee youth in integrating into Canada and navigating the services available to them. In the future, she hopes to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Sophia Schmitz is a fourth-year student and has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, long-term care facilities and not-for-profit organisations. She is passionate about using social work and recreation therapy approaches to empower older adults and their families to live their best life. Sophia's closeness with her grandfather, Hans Schmitz, sparked her initial interest in working with the older adult population.
Lareinea Ryan is a fourth-year student completing a psychology minor. She strives in her academic studies and volunteers with the Jack Layton Chair. During her studies, she has also received the FCS Undergraduate Black Student Award, the Sheri Ahava Cohen Social Justice Award, the CFPFP award, and the Ontario First Generation Bursary.
Lareinea is of African-Caribbean descent and migrated from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She is passionate about mental health awareness and social inclusion. Lareinea grew up as an orphan and experienced the hardships of living in a marginalised community. She often encourages others to pursue their dream or educational desires even if it seems impossible. She believes the seemingly impossible is possible, as adversity does not define our capability.
Babypreet immigrated to Canada in 2018 to study social work and is currently a third-year student in the advanced standing program. Babypreet graduated from Sheridan College with a diploma in social service worker-gerontology and has been serving the community in a variety of roles. Babypreet worked as a Recreation Assistant for two years, following this in the role of Admissions Coordinator within a long-term care home. Babypreet's passion has always been social work, she recently secured her dream role as a Social Services Coordinator within a long-term care home, helping and advocating for vulnerable populations. She looks forward to completing her degree and taking the next steps in advancing her career as a social worker.
Camille Thomas is a third-year advanced standing student who is passionate about working with homeless youth that have concurrent disorders. Camille has worked in the community as a paediatric nurse and as a mental health nurse in the First Steps to Home program in the GTA. Her long term goal is to open a shelter for Black youth girls, with a focus to nurture and initiate their holistic wellness.
Cassandra is a third-year student who has been experiencing financial hardships felt only deeper by recent inflation. She is extremely grateful for the immediate support this provides to her in a time of need.
Brittney Elliott is a fourth-year student, working as a death doula and is actively engaged with deathcare initiatives within the community. She is passionate about Indigenous rights and interested in furthering her studies in decolonization, policy and genocide studies/research. After graduating this year with a BSW, she hopes to relocate to Nunavut to work within their local social work field.
Flesticiah Amoah is in her fourth year of the program. She has been involved in many community projects; some of which include but are not limited to the Community Healing Project and activities that include community outreach, harm reduction, counselling and the facilitation of educational workshops. She has been an outstanding member of the community in terms of her work with at risk-youth and intends to go on to become an extremely dedicated and impactful social worker.
Neysa Fridy is in her third year of the program and enrolled in full-time studies. Additionally, she is enrolled in the community engagement lLeadership and development certificate program at the Chang School while simultaneously completing a criminal justice and criminology certificate. She intends to pursue a master’s program as well. Neysa volunteers with a shelter, and has a passion for engaging with newcomers to Canada; helping them integrate into our society, providing them with resources and services, and teaching them about Canadian culture, while she in turn, learns about their experiences, traditions, beliefs, values and taking in some of their cuisines.