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One day before the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in 2020, OCAD University held its last major in-person student event, the Student Leadership Awards. Last night, the University once again recognized and celebrated those who hold up our student community with our first significant in-person student celebration since the pandemic began. Welcome back!

This year’s awards celebrated students who volunteered their time and energy, leading both from afar and right here at home, by supporting their peers’ wellness and sense of community by advancing student food security, bringing awareness to the experiences of international students during the pandemic, improving services and supports for BIPOC students and so much more. 

Last night's wonderful ceremony included delicious Ojibway-style food and beverages provided by chef Shawn Adler of the Powwow Café, performances by Tina Giang, Rita Tsetsekas and Emily Black of O Cappella, and a poetry reading by Creative Writing student, Cameron Chiovitti.

OCAD University's multi-year volunteer Peer Mentors were recognized for their ongoing commitment to supporting first-year students as they transition to university life — no small feat during these turbulent times. A huge shout out is due to the following students: Andres Navas for five years as a Peer Mentor; Carmen Yuen for four years; Zeinab Ahmed, Kalore Cao, Wesley Huang, Arpit Nigam, Anvaya Samir Deshpande, Maryam Sadeghpour, Winnie Su, Atika Tariq, Tooba Tariq, Estefani Tito, Bojana Tudorovic, Ying Zhong and Donald Zhu for three years. Thank you to you all!

Peer Mentors recognized for multiple years of service.
Peer Mentors recognized for multiple years of service. Photo: Martin Iskander.

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.

Nominees: 

  • Elif Asal
  • Dharini Kapoor
  • Sara Khalil-Bayley
  • Yara Selman

Congratulations to Sara Khalil-Bayley and Yara Selman, who are this year’s recipients. 

Sara Khalil-Bayley, a peer mentor since 2020, was nominated by multiple individuals for her work as a peer mentor, and is noted for her warmth and constant availability, helping new students feel connected during a partially online semester. Through her work on the Welcome Squad, Sara helped to organize campus tours, scavenger hunts and study sessions. Sara is also a collaborator, working with student groups like the OCAD U Muslim Student Association to support an Islamic Geometric Art workshop, and a 'Pitch This!' workshop in collaboration with the OCAD U Story Circle, connecting her work as a mentor with her own experience in the Expanded Animation program. 

Participating remotely from Dubai due to the pandemic, neither distance nor technology have been a barrier to Yara Selman's work as a mentor, or an advocate for international students. A peer mentor since 2021 who is also a member of the Welcome Squad, Yara has supported mentees and other students who may be facing food security issues with baking tutorials and halal pita pizza workshops. She has organized events like 'Let's Get Creative,' where all students were welcomed to talk about creative passions, and organized photo submissions through which students were invited to share images from wherever they were in the world.

Student Group Leadership Award
This award, supported by Alumni Relations, 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 University community.

Nominees: 

  • Tina Giang, O Cappella
  • Simrah Mahmood, OCAD U Muslim Student Association
  • Anas Mehta, OCAD U Muslim Student Association
  • Emerald Repard-Denniston and Lo Tran, Asian Artists Collective
  • Reihandokht Tabandeh, OCAD Storyboard Circle

Congratulations to Emerald Repard-Denniston and Lo Tran of the AZN Artists Collective! Emerald and Lo were nominated together, and overwhelmingly – many times – as co-leaders of the AZN Artists Collective. Their nominators describe them as passionate, engaging leaders who are great listeners. They use their lived experience to support the members of the artists collective, offering a safe and supportive environment to help their peers achieve balance between life and school, create new opportunities and achieve a sense of community.

Peer Wellness Excellence Award
This award, supported by the Office of the President, 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.

Nominees: 

  • Andres Navas
  • Rei Pierre
  • Jessica Zhu

Congratulations to Rei Pierre, who radiated passion and joy while engaging over the last year as a volunteer and a student monitor. Pierre has also been an integral student representative to inter-departmental working groups, all themed around peer wellness. As a Student Wellness Navigator, Rei successfully created original health promotion, harm reduction resources, facilitated countless workshops, implemented new outreach strategies, fostered brave spaces, collaborated with the Learning Zone on student-led sustainability programming, worked with the Student Union Food Pantry to address food insecurity and offered ongoing peer support to colleagues and volunteers. Rei took initiative to envision a Black future in Student Wellness Centre programming by pitching a project for Black students, by Black students to create brave spaces to connect over shared values invested in wellness and health, and hosted the inaugural Juneteenth BBQ held on the Student Wellness Centre Instagram Live.

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.

Nominees:

  • Harcharan Jagdev 
  • Vladimir Kanic 
  • Em Moor 
  • Jaz Rajput 

Congratulations to Em Moor, who in her role working as a monitor in the Photography Cage, demonstrates a commitment to interpersonal relationships that strengthen the team. Em is always willing to offer support, demonstrates empathy, allyship and compassion to fellow employees and brings a welcoming energy and positive attitude to every shift. She takes the time to learn every piece of equipment offered so that she can demonstrate its use to student borrowers, always growing her knowledge and generously sharing what she's learned with others. 

Indigenous Student Leadership Award
This award, supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation and the OCAD U Indigenous Student Centre, recognizes an outstanding Indigenous student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills. Nominees 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 Damon Couto-Hill, who is Mohawk and Portuguese, and a fourth-year student in the Drawing and Painting program, minoring in Art & Social Change. As a monitor in the Indigenous Student Centre, Damon developed strong relationships with Indigenous faculty, students and alumni, coordinating interviews that introduced the broader Indigenous community to OCAD U's faculty members through social media takeovers. Damon is a student representative on OCAD U's Indigenous Education Council and is collaborating on several projects with the Indigenous Student Association. Damon has also contributed to the University's Academic & Strategic Plan, and contributed to the success of the Indigenous Student Centre's second Indigenous Wellness Week, where he co-moderated the "What brings you joy" event with Visiting Elders Catherine Tammaro and Liz Osawamick, exploring questions on burnout, self-compassion, isolation and hope. Damon takes every opportunity to engage with Indigenous peers at OCAD U and is committed to the success of the wellbeing of Indigenous students.  

Diversity & Equity Excellence Award
This award, supported by the OCAD Student Union, Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International, acknowledges an outstanding student whose advocacy and leadership promote and advance human rights, equity and social justice.

Nominees:

  • Asra Khan
  • Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia
  • Paulete Poitras
  • Japjot Singh 

Congratulations to Asra Khan and Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia who were both selected as this year’s winners. 

Asra Khan is dedicated to supporting equity-seeking students at OCAD U through her work as Executive Director of Campaigns and Advocacy at the Student Union, through her involvement with the Canadian Federation of Students, and her contributions to equity-based initiatives such as the International Student Advocacy Committee at OCADSU, the Sexual Violence Working Group, and with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives. Asra also served on the hiring committee for OCAD U's new Sexual Violence Education & Support Coordinator. On OCADSU's Campaigns and Actions Committee, Asra ensured that historically marginalized members, such as the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community, were part of the committee work. Asra also works with external organizations that promote food security and advocate for healthy eating in post-secondary schools. 

Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia is an exceptional advocate for international students, advancing their OCAD U experience. Mia is committed to challenging the stereotypes associated with being a racialized, multilingual English Language Learner and demonstrates her leadership by promoting wellness for all students and engaging in decolonizing efforts across the institution. Noticing a lack of spaces for international students to come together and connect over shared experiences, Mia took initiative to create Team_International Students, a private virtual community for OCAD U students on Microsoft Teams. Connecting international students safely during the pandemic, the platform also served to strengthen the support between the Student Wellness Centre and the Office of International Students. One example of the platform's success was how it helped connect students with vaccine clinics that would immunize folks without OHIP or Canadian citizenship. Mia's dedication to international students also contributed to the development of new staff roles designed to better support the diverse international student community, such as an International Student Community Worker and BIPOC Counsellor. 

OCAD U President Ana Serrano, Excellence in Student Leadership Award winner Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia and Vice-Provost, Students & International Deanne Fisher.
OCAD U President Ana Serrano, Excellence in Student Leadership Award winner Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia and Vice-Provost, Students & International Deanne Fisher. Photo: Martin Iskander.

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.

Nominees: 

  • Pauline Aksay
  • Shreya Chopra 
  • Abby Kettner
  • Moksha Khanna
  • Mehnaz Lamia
  • Kalina Nedelcheva
  • Olive Pitschner
  • Michelle C. Wong

Congratulations to Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia and Olive Pitschner, who were both named as recipients of the award this year. 

As we have already described, Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia is deeply committed to improving the experiences of international and marginalized students at OCAD U. Mia's leadership excellence is further demonstrated through her passionate and informative presentations at town halls, committees, and meetings of the Senate and Board of Governors. Outside OCAD U, Mia also engages in events and initiatives that elevate and support certain communities, such as her work with the Parkdale-Queen West Community Health Centre's initiative to support nail technicians experiencing anti-Asian racism and toxic exposures in nail salon work in Toronto. Mia also works as a student monitor across various units in the university, contributing her enthusiasm, ideas and energy to bind and drive the OCAD U community towards advancing the university's values, goals and aspirations. 

Olive Pitschner is deeply committed to representing marginalized students at OCAD University, especially in her work on food security issues and support for disabled students, making OCAD U and the SU more accessible overall. Olive works as Food Services Coordinator in the Student Union, a role that typically supports in-person, campus-based services such as the student pantry and grocery gift cards. After the introduction of Wellness Food Boxes as a pandemic response to student food insecurity, Olive was instrumental in advocating for and securing the financial sustainability of the continuation of Wellness Food Boxes because they have been fundamentally more accessible for students with disabilities. Further to this work though, demand for the food boxes was higher than what could be supported. Olive developed a proposal for university administrators to try to secure more funding for food programs. Through her hard work and thorough research, Olive was able to secure $12,000 in additional support to offer more Food Boxes and diversify the food services at OCAD U through the creation of a community fridge and menstrual product cupboard. 

Congratulations to all nominees and 2022 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. 

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News Summary
On April 7, OCAD U recognized student leadership and volunteer excellence, celebrating their contributions to the campus community.
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Students who received Student Leadership Awards holding their certificates
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Whether it be through producing dozens of episodes for OCAD U LiVE, amplifying the perspectives of BIPOC students to affect change, representing student concerns on governance bodies, or helping first years navigate this extraordinary start to their university studies, there is no shortage of accomplishments for OCAD U to celebrate at this year’s Student Leadership Awards.

While OCAD U’s traditional dinner celebration wasn’t in the cards in during these COVID times, university staff and students gathered online to raise a toast in honour of our dedicated student leaders -- with a cranberry sangria recipe provided by the Cooking Club, to hear poetry readings by students in the Creative Writing program, and to listen to achingly beautiful song tributes performed by talented members of our O Cappella student group.

Student Leadership Awards event
Student Leadership Awards event

Peer Mentors who have dedicated multiple years of volunteer service supporting our newest students were recognized with commitment pins. Congratulations to Daniel Naraindas for five years of service; to Andres Navas and Becky Wu for four years of service, and to adé abegunde, Sydney Cooling Sturges, Gabriela Antonini Escovedo, Felicia Evangeline, Salisa Jatuweerapong, Roshan Thiruchelvam and Carmen Yuen for three years of service.

Adrian Liu, of the O Cappella student group, performing Change on the Rise
Adrian Liu, of the O Cappella student group, performing Change on the Rise

Peer Mentor Excellence Awards
Supported by Alumni Relations, these awards acknowledge Peer Mentors who have made outstanding contributions, supporting new and first-year students with their transition to OCAD U, and helping build community. Our nominees were:

  • Tusharika Arora
  • Ivy Chen
  • Gabriela Antonini Escovedo
  • Felicia Evangeline
  • Wesley Huang
  • Sara Khalil Bayley
  • Marina Shchekacheva
  • Eunseo Sung
  • Carmen Yuen

Congratulations to our Peer Mentor Excellence Awards winners: Eunseo Sung and Carmen Yuen!

Eunseo Sung
Eunseo Sung

Eunseo Sung is a fourth-year Drawing & Painting student, who, despite not being able to meet in person, successfully built a sense of community among her mentees and peers. She creatively sought out ways to connect to provide a safe and inclusive environment to help and assist, share information and feedback, and communicate — in a positive, open dialogue. Eunseo is an outgoing and active student who manages her time thoughtfully. She can always be relied upon to check in with others for a friendly chat, to respond quickly with support and advice, and inspire engagement with other students, faculty and staff.

Carmen Yuen
Carmen Yuen

Carmen Yuen, a fourth-year Digital Painting & Expanded Animation student, brings others into her orbit. If something is interesting, fun or worthwhile, she wants others to enjoy it along with her. Carmen is always willing to spend the time making her mentees feel welcome, with thoughtful, considerate and timely advice. Carmen’s is a friendly voice reaching out — not only with routine inquiries, but to see how others are handling the challenges of online learning or the stress of COVID’s impact on OCAD U’s community. The mentor program has been such a meaningful experience for Carmen, that she has recruited students into the program as Peer Mentors and enthusiastically engages with them too; building their comfort and confidence, and supporting them in their new leadership roles.

Student Group Leader Award
Supported by Alumni Relations, this award is presented to a student group leader who excels, above and beyond, in their leadership role. This year’s nominees were:

  • Hanin Ibrahim of the OCAD U Muslim Student Association
  • Shahaab Khan of the OCAD U Muslim Student Association
  • Ola Oyenuga, of O Cappella
  • Ya’el Rae-Kastiel of the OCAD U Jewish Club
  • Allysa Rutenberg of the OCAD U Jewish Club
  • Suzanne Simoni from the Art in Public Spaces group

Congratulations to Ya’el Rai-Kastiel of the OCAD U Jewish Club!

 

Ya'el Rai-Kastiel
Ya'el Rai-Kastiel

Ya’el Rai-Kastiel, a third-year Graphic Design student, is extremely friendly, encouraging and outgoing, and goes out of her way to make everyone feel welcome. She has actively shaped a sense of community for the Jewish students of OCAD University, empowering participants through a shared culture and sense of belonging. She helped establish an executive board for the group, and over the last year, developed virtual programming for both Jewish and non-Jewish students around arts and current events.

Student Employee Excellence Award
Supported by the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers and OPSEU Local 576, this award acknowledges the considerable contributions made by OCAD U student employees — also known as monitors — towards the operations of the university. The nominees this year were:

  • Sydney Cooling-Sturges, working as a monitor and as a Student Community Ambassador in the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers
  • Hunter Crouse, working in Marketing & Communications
  • Claire Heidinger, a Student Community Ambassador for the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers
  • Sofija Lupert, working in several roles including at the Writing & Learning Centre, as a peer notetaker, a monitor at OCAD U CO
  • Ernesto Ramirez, a Student Community Ambassador for the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers
  • Blaine Thornton, a student monitor for Creative Writing in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Congratulations to Sydney Cooling-Sturges!

Sydney Cooling-Sturges
Sydney Cooling-Sturges

Sydney Cooling-Sturges, a fourth-year Industrial Design student, worked as a Student Community Ambassador in the fall, and is currently a student monitor in the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers.  She adapted very quickly to the remote learning and remote support model, was incredibly eager to learn, and very helpful in supporting incoming students with services, key info and procedures. Sydney’s efforts to understand what students needed, how to best accommodate their varying time zones, questions and preferred communication formats demonstrated empathy and understanding, patience and generosity.

Diversity & Equity Excellence Award
Supported by OCAD Student Union and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International, this award acknowledges an outstanding student whose advocacy and leadership promote and advance human rights, equity and social justice. This year’s nominees were:

  • adé abegunde
  • Mehnaz Lamia

Congratulations to adé abegunde!

adé abegunde
adé abegunde

adé, a fourth-year Environmental Design student, is Executive Director, Diversity, at the OCAD Student Union, as well as President of the Blxck Student Association. She actively plans programming that builds relationships with the Black community inside and outside of OCAD University through exhibitions, talks, and parties. She is a consistently strong student advocate for human rights, equity, and social justice. adé was a co-organizer of the two Speak to Power events last year: one focused on Black students, and one focused on BIPOC students. She has also been instrumental in gaining students' trust in the process and the articulation of clear outcomes, such as the necessity of a Black therapist in Student Wellness Centre.

Indigenous Student Leadership Award
Supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation and the Indigenous Student Centre, this award recognizes an outstanding Indigenous student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills.

Dehmin Cleland
Dehmin Cleland

Congratulations to the 2021 recipient, Dehmin Cleland! Dehmin, studying third-year Indigenous Visual Culture, is an exceptional student, artist, leader, and community member. An integral part of the Indigenous Student Centre (ISC) team as a student monitor, Dehmin advocates for the well-being and success of her fellow students, particularly amidst challenges brought on by the pandemic, spending extra time updating COVID-19 resources for students. She is an active member of the Indigenous Student Association and leads the ISC Beading Circle.

Excellence in Student Leadership Award
Supported by Office of the President, this award recognizes the outstanding contributions of student leaders across the university in a variety of contexts, including representing student perspectives in positions on committees, working groups, task forces, governance bodies, or through publications, advocacy groups or the Student Union. This year’s nominees were:

  • adé abegunde
  • Pauline Aksay
  • Sarah Gravelle
  • Alex Gregory
  • Moksha Khanna
  • Jevonne Peters
  • Ramsha Zaman

Congratulations to winners Jevonne Peters and Moksha Khanna!

Jevi Peters
Jevi Peters

Jevi Peters, a second-year Master of Fine Arts in Digital Futures student has served on more than ten committees, including the Board of Governors; the Audit, Finance and Risk Committee; and the Senate Executive Committee. She is committed to social justice. At the Student Appeals committee, she demonstrates sensitivity towards appellants, and her clear and thoughtful contributions to deliberations demonstrate close listening.

Moksha Khanna
Moksha Khanna

Moksha Khanna, a third-year Cross-Disciplinary Art: Printmaking & Publications student, has been involved with the Student Union first as an Event Planner, then being elected as Executive Director, Academic Affairs, and as Executive Director, Operations. Moksha is a valued and trusted team member dedicated to supporting students. She has collaborated with the OCAD Faculty Association, the Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre and with Campus Life on orientation planning. She led the SU’s Undergraduate Studies Caucus committee, which helps connect students with their faculty to talk about issues. Her advocacy for students on gradual re-opening, access to healthcare and dental plans; the SU’s COVID-19 toolkit and her facilitation of events like Winter Feast, Black Love, and the Dandelion Initiative for survivors of sexual violence have enriched the OCAD U student community.

Margarita Tsetsekas of the O Cappella student group, performing Rainbow
Margarita Tsetsekas of the O Cappella student group, performing Rainbow

OCAD U extends a humble thank you to all our student volunteers, group leaders, peer mentors, wellness educators, nominators and nominees for their engagement with life at OCAD U. Your contributions and dedication have helped buoy and carry our community forward through very strange times indeed.

Special thank you to all our award supporters and presenters, and to Brent Everett James in Campus Life, and to our Campus Life student monitor Monica Zhong for their great work on this wonderful event.

Finally, a huge thank you to our talented student poets, Mehnaz (Mia) Lamia and Drucilla Gary, and our singers Adrian Liu and Margarita Tsetsekas of O Cappella. Your performances truly elevated this online event.

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News Summary
Whether it be through producing dozens of episodes for OCAD U LiVE, amplifying the perspectives of BIPOC students to affect change, representing student concerns on governance bodies, or helping first years navigate this extraordinary start to their university studies, there is no shortage of accomplishments for OCAD U to celebrate at this year’s Student Leadership Awards.
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Join us for this year’s virtual celebration, recognizing students whose outstanding contributions to student life, leadership, advocacy, equity and social justice, contribute to improving the OCAD University campus community.

Tuesday, March 9
5:45 p.m. ET

Sign in. Virtually mingle.
View the award nominees slide show.

6 p.m. ET
Remarks, performances and presentations.
Duration: 60 to 90 minutes

Featuring special performances by:
Mehnaz Lemia, Poetry Slam
Adrian Liu, O Cappella
Name TBA, Poetry Slam
Margarita Tsetsekas, O Cappella

Thank you to the following for their generous support:
Alumni Relations
Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers
Indigenous Student Centre
K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation
OCAD Student Union
Office of the President
Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International
OPSEU 576

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Platform: Microsoft Teams
Email
bjames@ocadu.ca
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Celebrating community and excellence.

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Student leadership awards 2021
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Join OCAD U Peer Mentor Tusharika for an exciting day-game of Insta-Bingo! Watch @ocaducampuslife Instagram for Bingo numbers drawn and posted to Instagram Stories hourly.

Sign up to participate and request your bingo card today:
https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=0WnkBiotj0aum33wlo6217OKyZR0PHxDhPLi_oDe04NUNVczOVhIQjIwMTBPWDNSV0JDVkdHM0I3Ri4u

1: Fill your game card with numbers drawn.

2: Direct message “BINGO!” to @ocaducampuslife Instagram with a photo of your full game card (numbers must still be visible)

3: Have fun!

The first two participants to call “BINGO!” will each win a $25 Above Ground Art Supplies gift card and Fisherman’s Friend gift box (containing Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges, a branded piece of clothing and a tie-dye kit so you can customize!)

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Join OCAD U Peer Mentor Tusharika for an exciting day-game of Insta-Bingo!

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New to OCAD U? Have you accepted your offer to study at OCAD University, starting in September 2020? Welcome!

Introduce yourself to our community and participate in face2face 2020: a unique annual tradition, now a first OCAD U virtual exhibition for new and first-year undergrads.

Introduce yourself to our community!
Create a self-portrait and show us who you are!

Draw, paint, collage, photography, video, animation... or other!
Photograph or scan your work... or create it digitally!
Make it a literal likeness or a metaphorical representation!
Have fun! Play around with the idea of your self-image.
Express your own unique style. How would you like to be seen?
Be modest, outrageous, fanciful, or elegant!

SUBMISSION DEADLINES & PRIZES
Thank you to Above Ground Art Supplies, the OCAD U art supply store of choice for supporting face2face: 2020!

Send us your self-portrait by 11:59 p.m., Monday, July 27, 2020, for a chance to win the Early Bird Prize: an Above Ground Art Supplies gift bag!

All self-portraits received by the final submission deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday, August 31, 2020, will qualify for a chance to win one of two additional prizes*:

Runner Up: an Above Ground Art Supplies gift bag.
Grand Prize: an Above Ground Art Supplies $125 gift card.

We look forward to receiving your self-portrait!

*Prize winners are chosen randomly from all submissions received. Selection is not based on quality, process or individual style.

Good luck!

Read more: www.ocadu.ca/face2face

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New to OCAD U? Have you accepted your offer to study at OCAD University, starting in September 2020? Welcome!

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On Tuesday, March 10, OCAD University’s most outstanding student leaders for the academic year 2019/20 were celebrated at our annual Student Leadership Awards dinner.

Generously hosted in the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD) on the third floor of the Experiential Learning Centre in the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion and catered by Pow Wow Café with Indigenous inspired cuisine, the dinner honoured the contributions of the university’s peer mentors, student groups and other student leaders for excellence in diversity and equity, as student employees, and Indigenous student leadership.  

OCAD U Peer Mentors recognized for their ongoing commitment.
Left to right: Daniel Lugo Travieso, Andres Navas, Patricia Luk, Liz Sullivan, Francis Ho, Mathisan Paramanathan and Daniel Naraindas. Photo: Christina Gapic.

Emceed by Campus Life Coordinator Brent Everett James, remarks were given by the President, Dr. Sara Diamond and Vice-President, Academic & Provost Caroline Langill. OCAD U’s student representatives on governance bodies, peer mentors, peer wellness educators in the Student Wellness Centre, and student group leaders were all acknowledged for their great work. Peer mentors Patricia Luk and Daniel Naraindas were recognized for serving four years, while Francis Ho, Daniel Lugo Travieso, Mahpara Mobin, Andres Navas, Mathisan Paramanathan, Liz Sullivan andBecky Wu were recognized for three years, all receiving a special commitment pin. 

2020 OCAD U Student Leadership Award Winners
From lett to right: Rahul Bagdai, Patricia Luk, Natia Lemay, Kaya DaCosta, Emma Klassen-Brule and Ahmad El Sarraff. Photo: Christina Gapic. 

Additionally, awards selected through a nominations process were given out in several categories: 

Ahmad El Sarraff - Student Group Leader Award
Roshan Thiruchelvam, Executive Director, OCAD SU and Sarah Mulholland, Manager, Student Communications & Campus Community announced Ahmad as the recipient the Student Group Leader Award, supported by David Holland, for his work leading OCAD U’s Muslim Student Association (MSA). This award is presented to a group leader who, through facilitation and involvement, demonstrates outstanding contributions, commitment and support to their group members and the OCAD University community.

Ahmad is a dedicated, diligent leader who has strived to improve OCAD U Muslim Student Association for the next generation of new, incoming students. Monthly meetings have become bi-weekly and Ahmad has made successful strides to collaborate with other student groups, OCAD U programs and services, and outreach programming with MSAs from across the province that have raised awareness and motivated others to get involved on campus. 

Jihyun (Jessie) Lee and Patricia Luk - Peer Mentor Excellence Awards
The awards were supported by David Holland and presented by David Thomas of OCAD U’s Alumni Association and Brent Everett James, Campus Life Coordinator.

Jessie was recognized for her outstanding patience, timely and inclusive approach, and warm and friendly attitude, helping new students navigate new information, new social relationships and new expectations. Her advocacy, guidance and encouragement truly help make OCAD U a welcoming and supportive community.

Patricia was recognized for her commitment, inclusive and reassuring approach, and the wealth of knowledge and insight she shared with any new students, her assigned mentees, and fellow peer mentors. Patricia’s energy and positive attitude shines through her many roles on campus – from providing enthusiastic support during Peer Mentor recruitment and training, through remarkable leadership at O-DAYS!

Natia Lemay - Diversity & Excellence Student Award
Supported by OCAD Student Union and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International, this award acknowledges an outstanding student whose advocacy and leadership promote and advance human rights, equity and social justice. 

Natia is an advocate, facilitating tools for social change. Through her art practice, she encourages and contributes to change by reflecting on the negative imagery and communication that perpetuates myths about communities of colour and contributes to racism and social injustice. Her leadership role in the coordination of human rights initiatives and projects such as Common Collective, a network of fellow BIPOC students who work together to work and exhibit their work, evolved into TINT, a group show. Natia took a very active role as student representative on the Search Committee for Associate Chair, Drawing & Painting, and again on the OCAD U Working Group for combatting sexual- and gender-based violence. She has served as a Peer Note Taker in the Writing & Learning Centre for the last two years, specifically as a scribe for students with disabilities. Her involvement with off-campus charities and underprivileged communities is equally impressive—ensuring that diverse voices have an opportunity to be heard.

The award was presented to Natia by Kais Padamshi and Roshan Thiruchelvam of the Student Union, with Cathy Cappon from OCAD U’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives. Other students nominated for this award were Adé Abegunde, Kadine Lindsay, and Nicole Hull.

Kaya DaCosta - Indigenous Student Leader Award
Supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation, this award recognizes an outstanding Indigenous student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills by actively participating in and contributing to the Indigenous student community at OCAD U.

Kaya DaCosta is a multi-disciplinary Afro Caribbean Indigenous artist whose work focuses on healing, transcending ancestral knowledge and creating dreamscapes rooted in spiritualism from the lands of their ancestors. A fourth-year Indigenous Visual Culture student, Kaya is involved in both the Indigenous Student Association and Black Student Association and is at the forefront of work produced by these groups, which along with their Student Monitor role in Indigenous Student Centre, fosters a supportive environment and safe cultural space for dialogue and production. In 2019, Kaya take an active role in Our Stories Our Truths, an art-as-healing program dedicated to   creating safe space that links various medicine people, educators, knowledge keepers and artists from diverse Indigenous nations across Turtle Island to urban Indigenous Youth, to connect with and build meaningful relationships with Mentors in the Indigenous Community and share teachings that ultimately aid in healing, reconnection and decolonization.

Melissa General and Reagan Kennedy from OCAD U’s Indigenous Student Centre presented the award. Student Megan Feheley was also acknowledged as a nominee.

Rahul Bagdai - Student Employee Excellence Award
Supported by OCAD U’s Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD) and OPSEU Local 576, this award acknowledges the considerable contributions made by OCAD U student employees (monitors) towards the operations of the university by recognizing student employee excellence, achievement, leadership and skills development.

Rahul is a student monitor working with the office of International Student Support & Exchange Programs, and Manager, International Projects & Partnerships. An international student himself, Rahul has taken a pro-active role in helping address gaps in the provision of information and services to international students at OCAD U. He recently completed a major rebranding project to showcase the three areas of the University now under one umbrella: International Projects & Partnerships; International Recruitment; and International Student Support & Exchange Programs. Rahul also took initiative to create a pocket-sized booklet about UHIP, the University Health Insurance Plan, containing important information about healthcare to help students understand enrolment, plan details and the benefits. Written with a student-perspective, the booklet was inspired by Rahul’s participation in a healthcare workshop for international students, where he happily shared his experiences and strengthened the presentation. 

The Student Employee Excellence Award was presented by Shellie Zhang, Community Animator, CEAD and Brian Joe, President, OPSEU Local 576. Other nominees for this award were Annie Chen, Karla Justo, Rachel Morris and Anisa Nagakawa.

Emma Klassen-Brule - Excellence in Student Leadership Award
Supported by David Holland, this award recognizes 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.

Emma has a relentless drive and wealth of compassion. Her creative practice, reflective curiosity and optimism are an asset while embracing student-driven initiatives. She contributes her voice to challenging stigma: mental health; sharing the power of lived experience; celebrating body positivity; supporting survivors of gender-based violence; and sharing the power of recovery through her experience. As Peer Health Educator in OCAD U’s Student Wellness Centre, her passion for student wellness and innate ability to produce original wellness programming, share experiences and strategic insight offer students novel pathways to personal growth and mental health in her role. As a Peer Mentor in Campus Life’s Student Mentor Program, Emma has a drive to improve student experience. Emma makes tremendous contributions and inspires others—whether it be the success of Journaling Club, a grounding method to focus on wellness; collaborative enthusiasm during PRIDE month, with a special focus on a Pronoun Bracelet Workshop, and event planning with Student Union; or advocating for more queer spaces and trauma-informed, survivor-centered programming on campus.

Caroline Langill, Vice-President, Academic & Provost and Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International awarded the final award of the evening. Other nominees were Charlotte Durnford-Dionne, Roshan Thiruchelvam and Ramsha Zaman.

Thank you!
OCAD U’s Campus Life office extends a sincere thank you to those who contributed to our selection committees: Connie Arezes-Reis, Stephanie Dayes, Kathryn Ellis, Deanne Fisher, Melissa General, Alexandra Hong, Amanda Hotrum, Simone Jones, Nadia McLaren, Jason Northway-Frank, Kais Padamshi, Robyn Shaw, Roshan Thiruchelvam and Monica Zhong.

The event would not be possible without the generous financial support of Alumni Relations, Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers, Financial Aid & Awards, Indigenous Student Centre and Student Wellness Centre 

Watch for the 2020/21 academic year student recognition nominations period to open in the new year 2021, and consider nominating a student you know for these important accolades. 

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Peer mentor commitment, student leadership, student monitors and student volunteers celebrated with awards in annual dinner in the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers.
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Image of attendees at the student awards dinner

On Tuesday, March 12, OCAD University’s most outstanding student leaders for the academic year 2018/19 were celebrated at our annual Student Recognition awards dinner.

Coordinated by OCAD U's Campus Life office and generously hosted in the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD) in their new space on the third floor of the Experiential Learning Centre in the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion, the dinner was catered by Pow Wow Café with Indigenous inspired cuisine. The dinner honoured the contributions of the university’s peer mentors, student groups and other student leaders for excellence in diversity and equity, as student employees, and Indigenous student leadership.  

Emceed by Campus Life international student monitor Monica Zhong, remarks were given by the President, Dr. Sara Diamond, representatives of the Student Union and Interim Vice-President, Academic & Provost Caroline Langill. OCAD U’s student representatives on governance bodies, peer mentors, peer wellness educators in the Health & Wellness Centre, student group leaders were all acknowledged for their great work. Peer mentors Danielle ColemanPatricia LukDaniel Naraindasand Kenny Tranwere all recognized for serving three or more years with a special commitment pin. 

Additionally, awards selected through a nominations process were given out for several categories. 

Ahmad El Sarraff - Student Group Leader Award Farah Basha and Sabid Ali of OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst announced Ahmad as the recipient the Student Group Leader Award for his work leading OCAD U’s Muslim Student Association (MSA). This award is presented to a group leader who, through facilitation and involvement, demonstrates outstanding contributions, commitment and support to their group members and the OCAD University community.

Ahmad was recognized for his strong leadership skills and dedication to the MSA, where he has demonstrated professionalism in coordinating regular meetings with best practices like using agendas contributed to by the team. He contributed to rewriting the MSA’s constitution, coordinated various fundraisers and potlucks, and Islamophobia and bystander intervention workshops, and is noted for his patience and willingness to work with others. 

Salisa Jatuweeapong and Roshan Thiruchelvam - Peer Mentor Excellence Awards The awards were supported and presented by David Thomas of OCAD U’s Alumni Association and Sandra Janzen, Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving.

Salisa was recognized forher timely and effective communications, for being open to and encouraging, face-to-face meetings, for her genuine interest in getting to know mentees personally, for demonstrating knowledge and insight on curriculum, and for highlighting the benefits of community involvement as a resource leading to success. 

Roshan was recognized for his patient, inclusive approach, and the wealth of knowledge and insight he shared as a mentor. He was also recognized for his caring and encouraging nature, his initiative to help mentees navigate the university, its systems and programs, and off-campus community resources.

Nora Bahgat - Diversity & Excellence Student Award This award acknowledges an outstanding student whose advocacy and leadership promote and advance human rights, equity and social justice. 

Nora was honoured for her work as a Peer Health Educator in OCAD U’s Health & Wellness Centre (HWC), where she has been involved in the Centre’s Cooking and Journaling Clubs. She has also contributed to OCAD Student Union’s Hot Lunch, where she promotes equitable access to nutritious meals, inclusive of gluten-free and vegan options. She has also held active roles with outreach events such as Willows for Wellness and the peer thesis Midnight Project. Nora consistently promotes inclusion and well-being, working towards equity and advocating for marginalized communities. Her work as a board member on the MSA included coordinating a campus workshop on Islamophobia and bystander intervention. She is dedicated to identifying barriers of inclusion and advocates for ways to make OCAD U programming more inclusive and welcoming for Muslim students and students with physical disabilities.

The award was presented to Nora by Gino Marocco and Roshan Thiruchelvam of the Student Union, with Victoria Ho from OCAD U’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives.

Megan Feheley - Indigenous Student Leader Award This award, presented for the first time, recognizes an outstanding Indigenous student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills by actively participating in and contributing to the Indigenous student community at OCAD U. Melissa General and Connor Pion from OCAD U’s Indigenous Student Centre honoured Megan as the first recipient of this new award.  Megan was honoured for their contributions as a core member of the Indigenous Students Association and deep involvement, commitment and engagement in Indigenous student event planning, community building and advocacy. Megan has contributed an immense amount of time, labour and love into the community at OCAD U, which is reflected in the many events, shows, student feasts and socials, both on and off of campus, that they have taken part in and/or organized. Megan has participated in, and/or co-organized and co-facilitated Indigenous student exhibitions (Primitive, 2016, Arrive, 2017, and Flux Refusal 2018) as well as student social events such as Creative Native Nights, Halloween parties and end of semester feasts. They have also worked as a Student Monitor at the Indigenous Student Centre, where they go above and beyond to assist with the daily upkeep of the centre, as well as supporting their peers. 

Amanda Amour-Lynx received an honourable mention for the Indigenous Student Leadership Award. 

Setayesh Babaei (Fatemeh) and Danielle Coleman - Student Employee Excellence Awards Also new this year, this award acknowledges the considerable contributions made by OCAD U student employees (monitors) towards the operations of the university by recognizing student employee excellence, achievement, leadership and skills development. The first ever Student Employee Excellence Awards were presented to Setayesh Babaei (Fatemeh) and Danielle Coleman by Interim Vice-President, Academic & Provost Caroline Langill and Assistant Director of Human Resources, Connie Arezes-Reis.

Setayesh has been employed as a student monitor in various areas (Admissions, Onsite Gallery, Student Union) where she demonstrated strong dedication, commitment, professionalism and high quality work. Her imaginative creativity and ease with collaboration across disciplines have contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of OCAD U operations and services. Her positive and enthusiastic persona, demeanor, and high level of inclusivity and respect help create a safe, friendly and encouraging environment. She is noted as a tremendous role model who embodies OCAD U’s fundamental values and themes.

Danielle is high-spirited, warm and dedicated. Approachable and knowledgeable, Danielle brings a strong sense of pride and leadership to her work and campus involvement. She has held an active position at Ignite Gallery for three years, mentoring and supporting other student monitors. She has provided support for the Drawing & Painting program Chair and student representative for Drawing & Painting Thesis. She speaks eloquently to the benefits of attending OCAD U. As Career Ambassador in the CEAD and peer mentor, she supports the success of her peers, makes connections, and supports the skill development of her classmates. Danielle’s positive attitude creates a safe space for diversity, wellness and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Honourable mentions for the Student Employee Award for 2018/19 are Christina Castellano, Michaela Coyoli Basman Monterrubio, Melissa Gaa, Sabrina Iacono and Nomi Juhasz.

Nora Bahgat and Joel Lee - Excellence in Student Leadership Awards Finally, this new award recognizes 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. President Diamond and Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International awarded the final awards of the evening to Nora Bahgat and Joel Lee. 

Nora was honoured for her work for her active roles as a Peer Health Educator in the HWC, the Student Union’s Hot Lunch program, her involvement in the Willows for Wellness event, her commitments as a board member for the Muslim Students Association, and her approaches to advocating for marginalized communities. 

Joel is noted for his deep belief in reciprocity and commitment to sharing knowledge, contributing towards his strengths as a student leader and community member. He is involved in variety of projects, programs and services on campus. As a student monitor, he is involved in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with Writing & Learning Centre, and Editor-in-Chief of NEST literary journal, a Writing Across the Curriculum initiative. He was also a Student Career Ambassador in the CEAD, where he was instrumental in providing a student’s perspective in the creation of new tools and resources for experiential learning projects and the new Work/Place program. His dedication to advancement and community galvanizes his peers to connect and take advantage of opportunities across campus and beyond.

Honourable mentions for the Excellence in Student Leadership Award for 2018/19 are Khadija Aziz, Setayesh Babaei (Fatemeh), Uttara Ghodke and Roshan Thiruchelvam.

Thank you! OCAD U’s Campus Life office extends a sincere thank you to everyone who contributed to our selection committees: Connie Arezes-Reis, Farah Basha, Lynn D’Souza, Deanne Fisher, Melissa General, Alex Hong, Amanda Hotrum, Brent Everett James, Tori Maas, Nadia McLaren, Sarah Mulholland, Robyn Shaw, Roshan Thiruchelvam, B.h. Yael and Monica Zhong.

The event would not be possible without the generous financial support of the Alumni Association, Alumni Relations, Financial Aid & Awards, the Indigenous Student Centre, the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers, the OCAD Student Union, the Imagination Catalyst, and the offices of the President, the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, and the Vice-Provost, Students & International.

Watch for the 2019/20 academic year student recognition nominations period to open in the new year 2020, and consider nominating a student you know for these important accolades.

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Group photo - student leaders; photo by Mathisan Paramanathan.
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