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Student Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2021-2022 student award recipients in the School of Social Work.

Bachelor of Social Work Awards

Abe Schwartz Hope for the Future Award

Vida Arthur

Vida Arthur has always tried her hardest to ensure that her kids saw her not only as a great mother, but also as someone who strives to do well in her education. Everything that Vida strives to achieve in the social work program, is for her children and other single mothers to see that you can succeed in anything that you put your heart and mind into. Vida hopes to one day help other single mothers and youth see that any goal is attainable, no matter your circumstances.

Ana Sofia Nascimento Award & Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

M.Natasha Arcentales

M.Natasha Arcentales, of Indigenous Kichwa descent with mixed heritage, is the daughter of Ecuadorian immigrant parents. She is a single parent, advocate and community organizer. She is an undergraduate student at X University majoring in social work and minoring in family support and community practice. Natasha’s passion lies in supporting families and advocating for the 2SLGBTQ+ and BIPOC community with a special focus on gender expression and gender non-conformity among children. Currently, she runs a community group called LIBRE for families from Latin America and the Caribbean diaspora, who care for children under the gender spectrum. The group is a safe space to foster kinship through culturally relevant resources, teachings and activities.

Bachelor of Social Work Award

Leslie-Ann Valley

Leslie-Ann Valley has become a strong advocate for marginalized and underserved communities. As a frontline worker within a residential group home setting, she provides direct supports for individuals living with dual diagnoses. As a volunteer, she worked with seniors living in the James Town community to address social isolation by facilitating bi-weekly programs, such as a community choir, to connect with their peers to build meaningful relationships and communities of belonging. As a future social work practitioner, Leslie desires to mitigate barriers and empower historically marginalized communities.

George Bielmeier Award Fund

Hyunjin Cho

Hyunjin Cho is a fourth-year social work student who is completing her field practicum at a community legal clinic. She is passionate about providing client-centered approaches from an anti-oppressive framework. Her areas of work range from housing support to case management. Outside of field placement, she is involved in shelter work and research around child and youth rights.

Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

The Hoang

The Hoang (he/him) is a fourth-year student. His social work framework consists of a post-modern perspective, a critical perspective and a trauma-informed lens. The has worked at Fraser Lake Camp for the past five years taking on different roles including program director and assistant director. In these capacities, he's worked with children and youth, including those involved with child welfare. The is also a volunteer at the AIDS Committee of Toronto, where he works with individuals living with HIV/AIDS. As well as being a volunteer, he was also part of the Young People's Advisory Council at the Children's Aid Foundation of Canada from 2019-2021, where he has shared his lived and professional expertise, wisdom and experiences to help guide the foundation on how to best serve Canada's young people involved in child welfare.

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Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

Humayra Mukit

Humayra Mukit is a third-year social work student. Humayra has volunteered with many organizations and initiatives in the GTA. Some of these include serving as a mentor for the Tri-Mentoring Program, where she provided resources, support and aid as needed to a first-year student. She worked as a teacher supervisor, where she prepared lesson plans and co-facilitated programs. She also volunteered with several non-profit organizations and mosques to fundraise for developing countries.

Jacqueline and Howard Edelson Award

Tamana Faisal

Tamana is a third-year student, excited to work towards completing her degree in a profession that prioritizes ethics, human rights, and social justice. Tamana further aligns with the social work profession as a values-based, action-oriented group that stands up and speaks up. Tamana is committed to a future of global and local advocacy and action. Tamana aspires to do work with others to make a positive change in their lives, with their family, or in their community. Each day is about embodying the values of equity, dignity and respect to make a difference for other people. In the future, Tamana plans to support elders with dementia and promote their well being. Tamana believes that life can be fully lived with dementia if people are educated on how to do it. Therefore, social workers can do that by providing support, education, and resources to individuals' families, and individuals impacted by Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.

Jacqueline and Howard Edelson Award

Katie Hucklebridge

Katie Hucklebridge has spent the previous two summers working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. A passion for Katie has been improving the mental health of the elderly participants by providing them with a welcoming and safe environment.

Busra Kotan
Jacqueline and Howard Edelson Award

Busra Kotan

Busra is a third-year Social Work student. As a newcomer she loves to help other newcomers in their integration to Canada. Busra came to Canada in 2018 as a refugee with her family. She volunteered in many organizations to help other refugees. She also started a group named Youth for Unity where a youth help each other in their process of integration to Canada. Busra is hoping to work at United Nations in the future.

Jeff Edmunds Award

Ria Arora

Ria Arora is a fourth-year student, who has also completed a certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development at The Chang School of Continuing Education.

Ria has demonstrated a commitment to the School of Social Work’s values by developing a social media platform called The South Asian Yard to amplify the voices of second-generation South Asian Canadians. She organized a national campaign called #TalkBicultural and collaborated with X University South Asian students, such as influencers, writers, and future social workers to spark a conversation about the bicultural experience. In addition, she collaborated with the Jack Layton Chair, X University’s Sociology Union, and X University South Asian Law Student Association to host the campaign, and consequently received over 250 views.

She went on to incorporate her platform into a not-for-profit organization, becoming the founder and executive director of The South Asian Yard. She now works to grow the organization further and provide a service delivery that supports children of South Asian immigrant parents.

Jenny and Jean Green Social Justice Award

Mariyah Jaffer

Mariyah Jaffer is a fourth-year student working to receive a minor in Psychology. She has completed her certificate in community engagement, leadership and development. She currently serves as a Placement Student at Muslim Children's Aid & Support Services, in which she is actively involved in children/youth empowerment and women's empowerment projects. In addition to that, Mariyah volunteers at rising social enterprise, My Sister's Keepeer, as director of community engagement, in which she meaningfully connects with external organizations, builds genuine partnerships and actively seeks out innovative ways to engage community members. Mariyah is also a passionate writer who aims to inspire communities through her authentic written work that is influenced by her reflections, learnings and lived experiences. She aspires to make a positive impact in all areas of her life and hopes to form meaningful connections in all her endeavours.

John David Parker Scholarship

Rachel Flores

Rachel Flores is a fourth-year student working to receive a double minor in French and Psychology. Her passion and dedication to youth advocacy and amplifying youth voice can be seen through her work on and off campus. This includes being a peer mentor for first-year students, as well as her work as project manager for the Nobody’s Born A Racist 2.0 project at the Students Commission of Canada. Her commitment and love for working with youth started at a young age, and it continues to grow as she progresses in her professional career. As she finalizes her last year of her undergraduate degree, she hopes to continue to pursue work in the youth sector and continue to make meaningful connections with young people.


Judith Sandys Award in Community Inclusion and Intellectual Disability

Alicia Douglas

Alicia Douglas enthusiastically takes on the challenge of deconstructing the structural and systemic barriers that make participating in the community difficult for people with disabilities. Alicia has worked and volunteered with L’Arche, Inclusivity in the Arts Collective and DramaWay. She has assisted in facilitating arts programs, including theatre, dance, vocal and multi-arts for people of all abilities. Her strength lies in her ability to encourage everyone to express themselves in their own way and to support their personal growth. She also strongly believes in working alongside people with intellectual disabilities to empower them to pursue any goal.

Karol Steinhouse Memorial Social Work Award

Aiman Malhi

Aiman Malhi (she/her) is a fourth-year student working to receive a minor in Psychology, who carries a deep passion for community development. Through cultural competence and empathy in her interactions with community members, she strives to ensure that all individuals have an equitable opportunity to participate and voice their concerns. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aiman has also presented great initiative and resilience in order to help her team and community members achieve vaccine equity in North Etobicoke. She has ensured marginalized communities have barrier-free access to vaccinations. Additionally, Aiman assisted in addressing food insecurity with the Collaborative Pandemic Emergency Food Access Project, by helping distribute food hampers across North Etobicoke.

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Nadjla Agahbanaei

Nadjla Agahbanaei is a social worker with 20 years of experience supporting individuals from diverse cultures and with diverse needs. She provides counselling, case management, and system navigation to support addressing her service users' mental health and social needs. She is also co-chair, The Health Network for Uninsured Clients, 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 integrating a systems theory, anti-racist and trauma-informed lens. Her strength lies in developing a strong, therapeutic relationship with her clients using a humanistic, practical and pragmatic approach.

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Jessica Bassil

Jessica is a third year mature student in the Social Work program. She has remained dedicated to her studies, and works diligently to maintain her grades. Jessica has previously graduated from Sheridan College in 2015 and achieved a diploma in Social Service Work with honours. She has worked with adults and children that have developmental disabilities and is very passionate about advocating for others. In her career, Jessica strives to foster a sense of community inclusion for all marginalized people. Jessica plans to continue her studies and pursue a Master’s in Social Work and hopes to work with youth to inspire them to chase their wildest dreams and reach their fullest potential in life.

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Dareen Fatimah

Dareen Fatimah’s leadership skills have been sharpened by her efforts within the broader community, her determination to be a role model for her children, and her years at the university. She is a true advocate with passion for racial justice and equity. Dareen has been devoted to supporting racialized minorities to reach their full potential in Canada. She is determined to earn her master’s degree in public policy to maximize her impact and fulfill her childhood dream.

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Nishtha Israni

Nishtha Israni is currently in her 4th year studying social work. The social work framework that guides her is anti-oppression practice, intersectional feminism, and a trauma-informed lens. She has worked extensively within the LGBTQ2S+ community, as well as with women from all walks of life, and folks with disabilities. She is a social justice warrior that is passionate about making a difference. As a writer/zinester, she writes about her lived experience at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality and disability from her own unique lens.

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Kyle Williams

Kyle Williams is a fourth-year student passionate about mental health awareness and social inclusion. Self-identifying as Black and Chinese, his commitment to advocacy for racialized and marginalized groups stems from his lived experience as a biracial person. Kyle aims to create meaningful relationships with marginalized communities to amplify their voices and experiences with mental health, dispelling stigma and fostering acceptance. This past summer, he participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities program, where he worked alongside Valerie Borum on her research about African American women's perception of mental health services. Kyle is currently completing his practicum as a constituency assistant at the Office of Wayne Gates, MPP; holds a membership to the Ontario Association of Social Workers' Student Advisory Group; and volunteers with Talk2NICE.

Sheri Ahava Cohen Social Justice Award for People with Disabilities

Lareinea Ryan

Lareinea Ryan is a social work student completing a minor in psychology and politics. She is of African-Caribbean descent who migrated to Canada from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She is also a first-generation student. She grew up as an orphan and experienced the hardships of living in a marginalized community while struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. She has a diploma in Community Services and is a volunteer with the Jack Layton Chair. Lareinea’s adversity influences her interest in the helping profession. She is a persistent, caring individual who wears her heart on her sleeves and believes everyone deserves a chance to show their potential.

Theresa & Xavier (Frank) Bielmeier Memorial Award

Aisha Quraishi 

Aisha Quraishi is a fourth-year advanced standing student, and she worked hard to build herself as a better person and a responsible social worker who supports people with mental health in her community. Aisha self-describes herself as an authentic, self-reflective, self-aware, observant, empathic, respectful, analytical, compassionate, brave, resilient, an effective listener and an independent thinker who challenges the status quo. She believes that leaders are made, not born, and as a woman, she went through many difficult experiences that made her learn the skills to become a leader. She started her journey as a young woman in Afghanistan, and her experiences related to her social location in Canadian society motivated her to become a social worker and social justice activist in her community. Aisha is actively working with marginalized women and children and people with mental health problems to empower them, and she aims to advocate for human rights globally.

The Russell Jolliffe Award for Excellence in Social Work Practice

Brianna Anderson

Brianna Anderson is an outstanding fourth-year student and an active member of her community. She strives in her academics and participates in conversations and initiatives committed to social work values. She is also passionate about her work and seeks to expand her knowledge and experiences.

Master of Social Work Awards

Anti-Oppression Master of Social Work Award

Kelly Lavallee

Kelly Lavallee is an Anishnawbe Metis Kwe, the mother of two boys (12 and 5) and works in the Indigenous community in Tkaronto. Kelly has committed herself to advocating and implementing Indigenous knowledges within her social work practice, education and personal life journey. She works diligently in the community and advocates for others who are also deeply embedded in colonial institutions. She hopes to continue to break down those barriers and bring her knowledge and ways of knowing and doing into the systems of oppression that continue to fail Indigenous people across Turtle Island.

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers Graduate Award in Trauma Recovery

Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones recently graduated with a master’s of social work and has been hired as a social worker for Women’s Health In Women's Hands Community Health Centre - an organization serving racialized women. Most of the women and the families the centre serves have experienced traumatic events and intergenerational trauma that have placed unbearable burdens on their lives. Claudia has more than 14 years of experience in the social work field and provides services from a client-centred feminist approach while honouring the client's stories, experiences and wisdom.