OCAD U student leaders were celebrated on March 22 for their outstanding extracurricular leadership contributions at Campus Life’s annual recognition and awards dinner. Emcee’d by Campus Life Student Monitor Daniel Naraindas, and included remarks from President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Sara Diamond and Vice-President, Academic & Provost Gillian Siddall.
The Diversity & Equity Excellence Award for Students, supported by OCAD Student Union and Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International, acknowledges an outstanding student whose advocacy and leadership, promoting and advancing human rights, equity and social justice.
This year’s recipient, Meghana Ravi, co-led The Kaleidoscope Project, a multi-part arts-based participatory research project that included community consultations, an interactive public arts installation, and a full-length documentary that reflected the experiences and stories of OCAD U’s international student community. “Meghana is an exemplary student leader who uses her expertise in visual communication to engage in community building, education, and advocacy on issues of race and ethno-cultural identity, the international student experience, and decolonizing design,” said Sharmina Chherawala, Programs, Outreach & Human Rights Advisor in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives.
As an advocacy initiative, The Kaleidscope Project amplified the voices of equity-seeking communities on campus and situated all participants as experts and educators in sharing their critical analysis and lived experiences. “Meghana’s project helped build a stronger international student community on campus, and was highlighted in Now Magazine, showcasing how OCAD U community members are advancing decolonization in the curriculum and beyond. The highly anticipated documentary screening and panel discussions premiered to a packed house of students, faculty, staff, senior leadership and community members,” explained Chherawala.
Peer Mentor Awards, supported by First Generation Programs, acknowledge Peer Mentors who have made outstanding contributions to the Student Mentor Program over the past program year. This year’s recipients, Daniel Lugo Travieso and Matt McCleery, have both demonstrated an inclusive approach in sharing their wealth of knowledge and insights. They have taken initiative to help other students navigate the university, it’s systems and programs and off-campus resources, and exercised patience when responding to questions. Their commitment to keeping in touch with their mentees, and to help students connect with each other and opportunities have helped build our student community. An honourary mention was given to Becky Wu.
Special Commitment Pins were presented to Peer Mentors who have shown commitment to the Student Mentor Program. For the first time ever, a four-year pin was presented to Arashdeep Chahal, while three-year commitment pins were given to Elisabeth Chan, Jacqueline Lee and Adria Maynard.
The Student Group Leader of the Year Award, made possible by Imagination Catalyst, is presented to a student leader of a group who excels, above and beyond in their leadership role. This year it was awarded to The Grind’s Russell Chiu. The Grind is an incubator for students who want to start their own small business, with goals to encourage networking and collaboration between students, provide workshops, guest speakers, and resources to assist in the development of new skills and portfolio building.
“Our student group leaders embody the entrepreneurial qualities of creativity, innovation, risk-taking and independence,” said Ahmed ElBedaway of the Imagination Catalyst. “Russell works consistently on bringing The Grind team together to curate a variety of inclusive entrepreneurship and creative business events on campus through encouraging open-floor discussion of ideas, while ensuring the core team members are on the right path of growing the group, supporting personal growth of each individual member, and making sure that he is able to help others achieve their goals as well as his own.”
Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International, acknowledged the commitment and leadership of OCAD Student Union executive and student participants in Board of Governors and OCAD U Senate.
Andre De Freitas, Manager, Financial Aid & Awards, presented a special Excellence in Student Services Award to Michelle Pereza, who, since 2016, has served students with expertise, empathy, enthusiasm and excellence. “An extraordinary student services representative, Michelle’s skills and dedication have helped to break down financial barriers for her student peers,” said De Freitas.
Special interest, student-run clubs and the six-year old Intramural Program at OCAD U allow interaction among students, support faith and culture, and create an atmosphere of diversity while encouraging self-development, entrepreneurship, social responsibility, environmental awareness, and fitness and well-being. Brent Everett James, Campus Life Coordinator, acknowledged student group leaders and intramural team captains for their leadership and contribution to community.
Thank you to Financial Aid & Awards, First Generation Program, Office of the President, OCAD Student Union, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International, Imagination Catalyst and Campus Life for making this evening possible.