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Student Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 student award recipients in the School of Social Work.

Bachelor of Social Work Awards

Xiangqin Shen

Abe Schwartz Hope for the Future Award

Xiangqin Shen

Shen is an adult student who enjoys learning with great respect and appreciation from each instructor, staff, and student she has interacted with in Ryerson. Last academic year, she volunteered at the 519, Children's Aid, and community arts events. Now she joins the Tri-Mentoring program as a mentor passing on the support and mentorship she received from her own mentor. With a great appreciation of the opportunity to receive her education in the School of Social Work, Shen hopes to build mutual understanding with more classmates who also have passion for social justice and reconciliation.

Tania Abraham

Ana Sofia Nascimento Award

Tania Abraham

Tania Abraham [she/her] is a third-year Ryerson University student studying in the School of Social Work program with a double minor in Criminology and Politics. Her commitment and dedication to community engagement is reflected through her various volunteer roles both on- and off-campus, including as a Peer Mentor for first-year Ryerson students and as the President of a cultural student group named MARS. Tania loves to work with others and is passionate about advocacy and social justice. She is looking forward to applying the skills and knowledge acquired from her education and experience in her future practice working with diverse communities.

Adrianna MacNeil

Bachelor of Social Work Award

Adrianna MacNeil

Adrianna MacNeil has demonstrated her commitment to the Region of Durham by obtaining a position in multiple grassroot organizations and by developing the implementation of policies and procedures to promote protective factors within the social service systems. Adrianna works to decolonize the systems that oppress the community which she resides in.

The Estate of Jacqueline and Howard Edelson

Tiffany Ngo

Tiffany Ngo is an advanced standing, second year Social Work student who is passionate about enhancing the lives of older adults. She has volunteered and worked at long-term care homes, retirement homes, and a community organization that helps seniors live at home independently. She is committed to meeting the social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of older adults while developing skills, activities and attending workshops. Tiffany continuously strives to develop meaningful relationships with individuals and their families.

The Estate of Jacqueline and Howard Edelson

Leslie-Ann Valley

Leslie-Ann Valley served as a valuable member of the Yonge Street Mission, supporting marginalized seniors in her community. She facilitated weekly programs for seniors and partnered with various associations across Toronto to host monthly health seminars on Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, mental health, and elderly abuse. Leslie-Ann remains dedicated to serving seniors who need advocacy or face social isolation.

Alissa Varchaver

George Bielmeier Award Fund

Alissa Varchaver

Alissa Varchaver is a fourth-year social work student who is passionate about family support and has made outstanding contributions throughout her placement within a family support setting. As a former crown ward, Alissa has a unique understanding of service provision and uptake, and goes above and beyond to provide service user-focused supports. Alissa values and applies this connection between theory and practice  while always challenging herself to be critically reflective and reflexive within her practice.

Angellico Samuels

George Bielmeier Award Fund

Angellico Samuels

Angellico Samuels is a student with a passion for her community. Her placement provided her with the opportunity to utilize her life experiences while helping the community to deal with the effects of COVID-19. She was able to source multiple technologies and provide academic support for children in lower-income families.  Angellico extends this positive impact in her community by developing programs that addressed Anti-Black racism and by supporting families navigating the child welfare system.

Lyusine Ambartsumyan

Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

Lyusine Ambartsumyan

Lyusine Ambartsumyan is actively involved in many different communities through volunteerism. Some of Lyusine’s involvement on campus includes work with Ryerson Student’s Union Center for Safer Sex & Sexual Assault Support on the Eliminate Period Poverty & Ace Your Exams campaign. Also, the Student Labor Advocacy Coalition (SLAC) that consists of Social Work students who are organizing toward the value of labour  being recognized as worthy of compensation.

In April of 2017, Lyusine founded a registered not-for-profit organization that provides care kits to individuals who are experiencing homelessness called The Red Dot Project. With the simple goal of supporting people experiencing homelessness to manage their periods, while preserving their dignity. Also, Lyusine has been on the Take Back the Night committee for three years; helping  to organize and plan events that combat sexual violence and violence against women.

Kiaunna Spence-Bennett

Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

Kiaunna Spence-Bennett

Kiaunna Spence-Bennett is a fourth-year social work student that specializes in community engagement and Anti-Black Racism. With connections throughout Toronto, Kiaunna works to improve the living experiences of marginalized folks through power stories and policy advocacy. Her ultimate goal is to create a safe space for Black folks facing adversity that provides various essential services such as mental health and employment support.

Fabiha Tahsin

Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

Fabiha Tahsin

Fabiha Tahsin is a second-year social work student minoring in economics. She's passionate about volunteerism to serve the youth in her community and is committed to the values and principles of Anti-Oppressive practice in social work, in order to uplift disenfranchised groups through progressive policy writing. In her free time, she can be seen enjoying a good book, engaging in socially-distant hangouts with her friends, and contemplating on her next dessert.

Anthony Warren
Harry A. Newman Memorial Foundation Undergraduate Award

Anthony Warren

Anthony is a Two-Spirit, Indigenous fourth-year student in the School of Social Work. He is the Vice-Chair of the Social Work Students' Union as well as a member of the Ryerson Aboriginal Education Council. He is also a member of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee for the School of Social Work and was the Co-chair for the 2019 Ryerson Pow Wow.

Katie Hucklebridge
Jeff Edmunds Award

Katie Hucklebridge

Katie Hucklebridge is an individual who takes matters of social justice to heart. As an active activist and ally, Katie has years of experience working with individuals who have survived childhood abuse, at-risk youth and various community organizations. After graduating in 2022, Katie hopes to achieve her master of social work and work as a trauma therapist.

Mariyah Jaffer

Jenny and Jean Green Social Justice Award

Mariyah Jaffer

Mariyah Jaffer is passionate about women's empowerment internationally and is currently amplifying her leadership skills as the Community Engagement Coordinator at a rising social enterprise, My Sister's Keeper. Previously, Mariyah has volunteered at The Redwood, Kerry's Place, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of York. In addition to being actively involved in the community, Mariyah aims to write for women seeking inspiration in their personal and professional lives. She aspires to make a positive impact through her written work and hopes to form meaningful connections in all her endeavours.

Kara Wanoth

John David Parker Scholarship

Kara Wanoth

Kara Wanoth is a Haudenosaunee woman born and raised on Wahta Mohawk Territory outside Bala, Ontario. She attended the University of Guelph where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology degree, as well as a diploma as an Indigenous Social Service Worker (SSW) through St. Lawrence College and First Nation Technical Institute (FNTI) and is currently in her last year of the a bachelor of social work (BSW) program  through Ryerson University. Kara is also employed with Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services as a Family Service Worker in child welfare and a TA role with Algoma University for the program, Anishinaabe Peoples and Our Homelands.

Esther Ching

Judith Sandys Award in Community Inclusion and Intellectual Disability

Esther Ching

Esther Ching is a fourth-year bachelor of social work student who is passionate about addressing structural and systemic issues in society and promoting social justice in her everyday work with clients. Esther works with children and adults living with intellectual disabilities at an organization called Cherish Integrated Services, facilitating group activities and interacting one-on-one with individuals to enhance personal growth. In her work, she takes a critical lens to understanding social, political, and economic structural issues that act as barriers to the well-being of persons with intellectual disabilities. She actively engages in creating new projects and programs to help connect persons with intellectual disabilities to the community around them.

George Carter

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Award

George Carter

George Carter is a fourth-year mature student. He is a senior member of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Ryerson, a network of students and community members who are committed to harm reduction, drug policy overhaul, anti-oppression, and abolition through education and direct action.

Matthew Conroy

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Matthew Conroy

Matthew Conroy has utilized the mission and vision of the School of Social Work as the foundation for the leadership work that he has done within his time in the program. Matthew has held the position of Co-Chair of the Social Work Students’ Union for the last two years. Within this position, he has made it a priority to advocate for the rights of students within the social work program by ensuring that student voices are being heard, addressed, and followed up with. Matthew has also created opportunities for students to critically engage, learn, and reflect with marginalized populations and communities. These opportunities have included: a renovation of the BSW Student Lounge, the first FCS Pride Month, QTBIPOC panels, and competency trainings that have provided students with a wealth of knowledge and strategies to utilize upon graduation. Matthew looks forward to continuing to demonstrate his passion for student engagement in his final semester and creating a lasting impact for years to come.

Saarah Furmli

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Saarah Furmli

Saarah Furmli is a third-year student in the School of Social Work at Ryerson University. In her spare time, Saarah volunteers at the Kids Help Phone to help youth in crisis. She also works at a panel exam clinic to assist immigrants with completing their visa applications. Saarah hopes to complete her bachelor of social work and assist youth with mental illness.

The Hoang

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

The Hoang

The Hoang (he/him) is a queer, person of color currently in the third year of his bachelor of social work program. 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 as a Camp Counsellor and as the Volunteer Program Director within the past four years. There he works 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 is also part of the Young People's Advisory Council at the Children's Aid Foundation of Canada, where he shares 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.

Nidh Jose

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Nidhi Jose

Nidhi Ann Jose is a current fourth-year social work student. At a very young age, she has dedicated her life to volunteering and working at various community organizations. Nidhi is passionate about creating authentic and equitable connections within the faculty, the community and beyond.

Aisha Quraishi

Nancy C. Sprott School of Social Work Leadership Award

Aisha Quraishi

In between her academic studies and other activities, Aisha Quraishi finds the time to help and support her community as a volunteer teacher at TARIC Islamic Sunday School, Aisha carries out this role with patience and diligence. Aisha focuses her practice as a grounded, fair, and visionary leader who will be a formidable influencer of change.

 

Lareinea Ryan

Sheri Ahava Cohen Social Justice Award for People with Disabilities

Lareinea Ryan

Lareinea Ryan migrated to Canada during her late teens from the Caribbean. She is a Ryerson social work student and is completing a minor in psychology. She also volunteers with the Jack Layton Chair. Lareinea grew up as an orphan and experienced the struggles of being a marginalized minority, which led to depression and anxiety that she had to combat on her own. However, with the courage to seek medical and social support, she is now able to empower herself.

Lareinea aspires to make a positive difference in the life of individuals struggling with social and political oppression. She uses her experiences as motivation for change by seeking a career in social work. While volunteering, she highlights that disability and social injustice do not define individuals. She also empowers service users by informing them that they are not alone and that it is possible to seek assistance for social support.

Rae Paul

The Russell Jolliffe Award for Excellence in Social Work Practice

Rae Paul

Rae Paul is a fourth-year student in the bachelor of social work program at Ryerson. They are passionate about youth-driven recreation initiatives that bring communities together. Their community outreach is primarily focused on QTBIPOC (queer & trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), creating and advocating for inclusive and culturally relevant spaces where people can feel seen and be loved.

Natalie Sgambelluri

Tzu Chi Award for Community Service

Natalie Sgambelluri

Natalie Sgambelluri has many years of experience in the community service sector in the areas of homelessness, harm reduction services and client advocacy in various capacities. Natalie's experiential background has granted her the opportunity to bring these strengths with them to the advanced standing social work program at Ryerson University. Natalie is strongly committed to social justice frameworks, including disability justice and mad activism.

Master of Social Work Awards

Ranjith Kulatilake

Anti Oppression Master in Social Work Award

Ranjith Kulatilake

Ranjith Kulatilake is a graduate student with the School of Social Work. He has been working with 2SLGBTQ+ refugees and newcomers for more than a decade. For this work, he won the 2014 United Way Toronto Innovation and Creativity Award. He has presented at many venues in Canada and abroad. In 2020, he received the first prize (undergraduate category) in the annual essay contest of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS), and the second prize in the CASWE-ACFTS student article competition of the Canadian Social Work Review. He is on a number of advisory committees, including the 2SLGBTQ+ Community Advisory Body of the City of Toronto.

Olu Quamina

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers Graduate Award in Trauma Recovery

Olu Quamina

Olu Quamina is the Founder and Executive Director of Concrete Roses Youth Services, a non-profit organization that specializes in engaging youth in conflict with the law. He is a speaker, consultant and the host of the “Youth.Community.Culture.” podcast.

Olu's educational background in early childhood education and social work has contributed to an extensive history of developing therapeutic programs for marginalized youth populations. He has presented at the National Congress of Social Sciences & Humanities and has been quoted as an expert on youth violence prevention in numerous publications; including Education Canada, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star.

He is a recipient of the Mayor’s Community Safety Award, the City of Toronto’s Community Impact Award and the YMCA’s National Peace Medallion. Through consulting and supporting a variety of youth-focused agencies, he continues to address community violence with an emphasis on trauma recovery for frontline workers and service providers.