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Dalhousie University recognizes five outstanding students with university'€™s most prominent student leadership award

Posted by Media Centre on March 23, 2018 in News

(Halifax, NS) - Five students from across Dalhousie University were awarded the university’s most prestigious student leadership award, the Board of Governors Award. The awards, which were handed out last night at the university’s IMPACT Award ceremony, celebrate students’ contributions to the quality and vitality of the university through both academic and extracurricular accomplishment.

All students - undergraduate, graduate and professional faculty students, full time or part time, at any stage in their academic career - may be considered for an award provided they have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or equivalent. Nominations for this award come from across the university. Winners are selected by a committee consisting of the president, three members of the Board of Governors and the vice-provost student affairs.

This year’s honourees include:

Yaser Alkayale, (Computer Science)
When Yaser Alkayale launched the Syrian Student Society in 2015, he hoped to showcase Syrian culture and heritage within Nova Scotia. Yaser used the society as a platform for Syrian newcomers to have a positive impact at Dalhousie. He worked with colleagues in Computer Science and the College of Continuing Education to lead a free coding camp for Syrian refugees, giving them both computer skills and a window into the possibilities of higher education. Thirty participants graduated in the first year, and the program evolved into an organization called Maritime Labs which hosts annual camps.

Yaser also led a team of students to fill a 20-foot container with clothes to be sent to Jordan as part of the Clothes for Refugee program and worked with the Somali Relief Network of North America to raise over $100,000 for drought victims.

Yaser’s parents immigrated to Canada in 2006, seeking a better education their five children. Inspired by his father, who ran a mail delivery and shipping company in Syria, Yaser developed a fascination with entrepreneurship when he was just six years old. That interest led Yaser to become a University Innovation Fellow, attending and leading workshops at Stanford University and helping improve innovation and entrepreneurship offerings at Dalhousie. Following graduation this year, he heads to Washington State to work for Microsoft.

Leah Carrier, (Nursing)
As an Indigenous person and member of the LGBTQ community, fourth-year Nursing student Leah Carrier strongly advocates for diversity and inclusion on campus and within the health-care system.

As vice-president of student support for the Dalhousie Nursing Society during her second year, Leah noticed gaps that needed to be addressed — in particular, someone who could represent marginalized communities, act on their needs and engage in political advocacy. After helping to create the role’s terms and conditions, Leah was elected the society’s first VP of inclusion and equity this past summer, helping the school and its students make events and activities more inclusive.

Leah has also drawn upon her own personal experiences to tackle mental health initiatives for Nursing students. She co-founded “Secure Your Own Life Mask” with Jamie Carrier, which focuses on self-care and targeting the unrealistic expectations a lot of students face. The initiative uses a nursing lens to assess one’s own health and encourages students to reflect on root causes and triggers to identify ways they can best address them.

Following graduation, Leah hopes to maintain an active clinical practice while working in research and policy. Her placement this year working with a community health nurse in Sipekne’katik First Nation solidified her ambitions.

Jeremy Stroud, (International Food Business)
Jeremy Stroud credits his grandmothers for strongly influencing who he has become. One survived a Siberian labour camp during World War II and eventually came to Canada to start a family. The other narrowly evaded a Japanese detention camp where her parents were later killed. Jeremy says their stories have led him to better appreciate his life and be thoughtful of what others might be going through.

A native of Toronto, he came to Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus to complete a dual degree in International Food Business. He’s travelled to 39 different countries and has spent time volunteering in agriculture and various charities on four continents. This spring Jeremy is set to volunteer for a month in Uganda on a World Bank agricultural innovation initiative for college students.

Jeremy has held multiple positions in student government, including VP finance and is currently president of the Dalhousie Agricultural Students’ Association. He was a student chair of the Farm Credit Canada annual food drive, helping to facilitate the largest donation in the Faculty of Agriculture’s history.
After graduation this spring, Jeremy will be working for an agricultural investment management firm in Toronto and hopes to one day support agricultural investment initiatives in developing countries.

Martha Paynter, (Nursing - PhD)
Martha Paynter spent nearly a decade working for the Department of Health in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick when two events set her life on a new path. The first was the birth of her two children, and witnessing first-hand the health care provided to them by various nurses. The second was learning about the experiences of Julie Bilotta, who was forced to give birth in a jail cell at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre in 2012.

She started a collaboration with Public Health Nurses’ in North End Halifax, offering peer breastfeeding and postpartum support. In 2017, she enrolled in the fast-tracked Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and, that same year, began the PhD program, with a goal of bridging the gap between academia and clinical practice.

Martha currently works as a Family and Newborn Unit nurse at the IWK Health Centre. In 2012, Martha founded Women’s Wellness Within (WWW), a registered non-profit organization that supports criminalized women during their perinatal period through educational workshops, doula services and providing imprisoned women a voice from within.

She also volunteers regularly with the Chebucto Family Centre Doula Program, providing one-on-one support for newcomers to Canada, and is a director on the Board of the Atlantic Milk Banking Coalition, working to advance the donation and use of human donor milk in Nova Scotia. She’s also a member and former chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund Halifax Branch(LEAF), advocating for greater access to medical abortions in Nova Scotia and assisting on the LEAF-supported case that pushed for abortion access in PEI in 2016.

Jad Sinno, (Psychiatry Research - Master’s)
Studying neuroscience as an undergraduate fed Jad Sinno’s curiosity about the brain. Inspired by fellow students and keen to make a difference, Jad dove headlong into extracurricular activities during his Dal undergrad, despite having added a second major (Statistics) and minor (Philosophy). He served as an executive with the Dalhousie Arts and Social Sciences Society, a member at large for the Dalhousie Student Union council, and as treasurer, vice-president and president with the Rotaract Club of Halifax, a non-profit community service group for youth.

It was only after a fellow student broke down in tears at a Rotaract meeting that Jad felt compelled to share his own family’s struggle. The woman was upset that her father had been deported, something that had happened to Jad’s father the previous year. Jad, whose family first arrived in Halifax from Kuwait in 2004, organized and moderated a panel on immigration, bringing together experts, students and the deported man’s wife.

While Jad attained nearly $60,000 in scholarships and funding as an undergrad, he had to spend the final year of his bachelor’s degree working nearly 40 hours a week to assist his family financially. He took on a research assistant role in Dr. Amy Bombay’s Indigenous Mental Health and Social Awareness Lab at Dal, subsequently signing on to do his masters with Dr. Bombay as supervisor. His current thesis research focuses on transcultural psychiatry, specifically the treatment preferences and experiences of various ethno-racial groups in Halifax.

Jad plans on attending law school at the University of Toronto this fall and will be able to do so with peace of mind now that his father has finally secured a return to Canada.

For full profiles on each award recipient, please visit Dal News.

Media Contact:
Lindsay Savelle
Media Relations Officer
Dalhousie University


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