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Student leaders recognized for creating a sense of belonging at OCAD U

A group photo of award winners and long-standing peer mentors

At a dinner reception hosted by the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers on March 26, OCAD University's Campus Life office honoured dedicated students who are making a difference in their communities. 

The evening included musical performances by O Capella’s Sifon Karinate Ukpeh and a duet by Zoha Panahikhanshir and Kay+Tee Tom, and a poetry reading by Creative Writing student Cameron Chiovitti, and an Ojibway-style meal provided by chef Shawn Adler of Pow Wow Cafe.

OCAD U recognized our longest serving Peer Mentors for their work supporting our newest students. Holly Bygrove, Luisé Cisneros, Jessica Lui, Katherine Mendonca and Daniel Shui were celebrated for four years of service. Receiving three-year commitment pins were Elif Asal, Ke Chai, Amanda Demelo, Julliette Giron, Ivy He, Spencer Higdon-McGreal, Judith Librach, Zoe Oliveira, Shail Ramoutar, Edyn Rubbens, Yara Selman and Rylee Tan. 

Peer Mentor Excellence Awards

These awards, supported by Alumni Relations, acknowledge those Peer Mentors who have made outstanding contributions, supporting new and first-year students with their transition to OCAD U, and helping build community.


  • Elif Asal
  • Kelly Chen 
  • Aspen Dao
  • Mauricio De Los Santos and Sally Nguyen (nominated together)
  • Sina Labbaff

Congratulations to Mauricio De Los Santos and Sally Nguyen, Peer Mentors since 2023!

Mauricio De Los Santos is a fourth-year student in Experimental Animation, and Sally Nguyen is in third-year Advertising. Celebrated by their nominator as a dynamic duo who cooperate meaningfully to foster student support and engagement across the campus, they are also very dedicated members of the Welcome Squad. Their peers admire their ability to go above and beyond, and to inspire others to get involved in creating a strong sense of belonging in our community.

Guests at the Student Leadership Awards dinner.

Guests at the Student Leadership Awards dinner. Photo: Brian Medina.

Student Group Leadership Award

The Student Group Leadership Award is presented to a student group leader who excels, above and beyond, in their leadership role. Through facilitation and involvement, the leader demonstrates outstanding contributions, commitment and support to their group members and the OCAD U community.


  • Callum Donovan-Grujicich, SCIN Club
  • Rebekah Feliciano, RenderED: Environmental Design Student Association
  • Julica Guo, OCAD U Chinese Student Association
  • Shoam Kahn, OCAD U Jewish Club
  • Judith Librach, Mature Student Collective
  • Christy Wang, UX Student Association

Congratulations to Judith Librach for her work leading the OCAD U Mature Student Collective.

A fourth-year Drawing & Painting student, Judith Librach was recognized for how her work with the Mature Student Collective has helped to recognize and celebrate the courageousness of older students, and the unique challenges faced by OCAD U’s mature students. The Mature Student Collective helps create connection among mature students who may be juggling a range of different roles that other undergraduates may not, such as being parents/caregivers, or continuing their studies while also maintaining their professional careers. As the group’s leader, Judith has contributed to the recognition that mature students have different needs from younger students. 

Ana Serrano, Lanita Layton and Cameron Chiovitti.

OCAD University President & Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano, Board of Governors Chair Lanita Layton and Peer Wellness Excellence Award recipient, Cameron Chiovitti. Photo: Brian Medina. 

Peer Wellness Excellence Award

This award, supported by the President’s office, celebrates an OCAD U student who demonstrates passion and commitment to promoting student wellness. With a collaborative and inspiring spirit, this student fosters inclusive, brave engagement, empowering BIPOC student voices, to support student wellness, build community, and encourage connection.


  • Tasnimah Ahmed
  • Cameron Chiovitti
  • Christina Yang

Fourth-year Creative Writing student Cameron Chiovitti was recognized for their work as a Peer Facilitator on the Mindful Campus team. Their nomination described the intensive personal and professional development they have undertaken in mindfulness training, and their passion for supporting the wellness of their peers by empowering them in their own mindfulness practices. Cameron, your dedication to supporting sustainable approaches for community-based wellbeing is to be commended, and your work in contributing to peer wellness through the Mindful Campus program has made OCAD U a better place.

Student Employee Excellence

The Student Employee Excellence Award, supported by the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers and OPSEU Local 576, acknowledges the considerable contributions made by OCAD U student employees — also known as monitors — towards the operations of the University, by recognizing their employee excellence, achievement, leadership, and skills development.


  • Eunbi Cha
  • Nadia M. Da Silva 
    Numan Gultekin
  • Yara Selman
  • Nader Soliman

Fourth-year Drawing & Painting and Expanded Animation student Nader Soliman, who works as the Events and Programming International Student Monitor in the International Student Services office received many nominations, making it clear he has had an indelible impact on students’ sense of belonging and community. Nader’s nominations detailed the work he has done to develop meaningful programming for international students, including the Lives Apart exhibition, introducing basketball pick-up games to help students make new social connections and stay active, his work with OCAD U LiVE, and his efforts to help international students with transitioning to life in Canada, whether it be how to use the TTC, the University Health Insurance Plan, or simply by providing grocery shopping tips.

Julia Rose Sutherland, Francine Peltier, Tristan McTague and Emilia Nahdee

Julia Rose Sutherland, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Visual Culture, Francine Peltier, Coordinator, Indigenous Community Outreach, Indigenous Student Leadership Award recipient Tristan McTague and Emilia Nahdee of the Indigenous Student Association. Photo: Brian Medina. 

Indigenous Student Leadership Award

This award, supported by the OCAD U Indigenous Student Centre, recognizes an outstanding Indigenous student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills. Nominees will have actively participated in and contributed to the Indigenous student community at OCAD U, exemplifying a commitment to supporting its growth and development.

Congratulations to Tristan McTague, an Ojibway third-year Drawing & Painting student with a minor of Art History. Tristan grew up in Toronto with family roots located in Whitefish River First Nation. He is celebrated for his work curating the exhibition Odemin in the Ada Slaight Gallery last summer, which featured work by current Indigenous students and recent graduates. Tristan also participated on the jury for the Indigenous Visual Culture 10-year anniversary exhibition, and recently took on the role as President of the Indigenous Student Association. 

Clifford Caines, Blake Reategui

OCAD Faculty Association Acting President Clifford Caines with inaugural Beautiful Trouble Award recipient Blake Reategui. Photo: Brian Medina.

Beautiful Trouble Award

New in 2024, the Beautiful Trouble Award, supported by OCAD Faculty Association, recognizes a student who courageously advocates for social justice and material change in defiance of structural and systemic inequality and the powers that uphold the status quo. This award recognizes changemakers’ activities on or off campus.


  • Suhaib Bamaarof
  • Blake Reategui
  • Jugraj Khinda 

A fourth-year Illustration student, Blake Reategui’s nominators detailed their work building community and advancing equity for queer communities of colour. Their work has had a far-reaching impact, both inside OCAD U and beyond. Blake was cited for their involvement in the Eco, Gender and Sexuality Alliances and Zonta International Toronto branch communities, with Associated Youth Services of Peel’s Youth Beyond Barriers, and through their role as a youth leader in the YES4MH initiative. Inside the classroom, Blake’s nominators celebrated their contributions to discussions about how illustration has been used as a tool of oppression, subversion and activism, and how their authentic voice has helped build a community that engages in social justice. Blake was honored by their nominators for their dedication to advocating for queer communities of colour in a time when this can be dangerous work, and for their ability to validate others, and a leadership approach that centres love and kindness. 

Excellence in Student Leadership Award

This award, supported by Office of the President, aims to recognize the outstanding contributions of student leaders across the university in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to representing student perspectives in positions on OCAD U committees, working groups, task forces, governance bodies (such as the Senate or Board of Governors), or through publications, advocacy groups or the Student Union.


  • Senthurri Thiruchenthooran
  • Nadia M. Da Silva 
  • Rebekah Feliciano

Rebekah Feliciano is a fourth-year Environmental Design student who also leads the RenderED Environmental Design Student Association. Rebekah’s nominators celebrated her work to empower students and enhance their portfolios through the Association, by bringing together instructors and students to improve their sense of community among the Environmental Design program.

Congratulations to all nominees and 2023-24 award recipients. Thank you for all your contributions to the OCAD U campus community!

A very special thank you to all our jury members, presenters and supporters, on behalf of the Campus Life office.