Posts Tagged: leadership

Compassion in action: Meet 2022 Troost ILead Difference Maker Award winner Khadija Rana

Khadija Rana looking to camera and smiling, standing in front of an ivy-covered wall

Khadija Rana is the 2022 winner of the Troost ILead Difference Maker Award. (Photo: Negar Balaghi)

 

By Natalia Noël Smith

To Khadija Rana (Year 4 EngSci) being a difference maker is not heroic.

“I want people to know that anyone can do it,” she says. “It’s about recognizing people as the whole beings that they are.”

Rana is the 2022 recipient of the Troost ILead Difference Maker Award. Sanjay Malaviya, a long-serving member of the Troost ILead Board of Advisors, established the award in 2020 through the Bodhi Tree Fund, a private giving foundation. The award recognizes a U of T Engineering undergraduate student for their leadership achievements and their vision for change. It provides $50,000 to help a promising young leader accelerate their steps after graduation.

Rana’s path has not always been easy. When she began her studies, she says she felt isolated and thought she had “a productivity problem.” But that began to change in 2019, when she took advantage of the Troost ILead Summer Fellowship, followed by an engineering course from ILead called The Power of Story. These experiences helped Rana combine her love of engineering with her passions for caregiving and leadership.

A long-time volunteer with Hospice Toronto, Rana has accompanied people through the dying process.

“The skills you apply in engineering and caregiving are not so different,” she says. “In both, I’m listening to people and being present for them. You have to hear someone else’s story and be willing to take action to address that need.”

Rana’s leadership is strongly influenced by the concept of loving kindness.

“I found a definition of this in the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck, and another one from author bell hooks, who wrote All About Love: New Visions in 2000. They talk about it as, ‘the will to extend yourself for the growth of other people, and for your own growth.’”

For Rana, the idea of extending yourself to help others resonated with her understanding of the practice of engineering.

“We hear about it during Frosh Week on the first day in the story of Lady Godiva,” she says. “We learn about it through engineering design, in our courses. We celebrate it during the Iron Ring ceremony at the end of our programs. Professors demonstrate it for students when they advocate with them. Club leaders and mentors practice it when they volunteer their time for one another. It’s everywhere.”

Putting this idea into practice, Rana soon became involved in Skule™ life. She joined CUBE, the Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering, eventually becoming its president. She worked with her team to rebuild the organization’s structure, foster self-determination and empower members to shape their own roles.

She also served as a senior Director of U of T’s Biomedical Engineering Design Team, where she led three project teams to collaboratively develop assistive devices for clients across the Greater Toronto Area.

Rana was also able to put the loving kindness ethic into practice as a research trainee at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where she worked under the supervision of Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi and Dr. Douglas Bradley. Her tasks included guiding patients with severe asthma through voluntary but grueling experiments related to sleep apnea.

In her final year, Rana became President of the U of T chapter of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), leading a 40-member team working to reframe conversations of gender equity by prioritizing allyship and sensitivity to culture and race. She chaired the 2021 U of T WISE flagship international conference, which drew more than 600 participants from 15 countries.

After graduation, Rana plans to pursue research in narrative approaches to community-led design. Grounded in her caregiving experiences, her work will explore how engineering professionals and community stakeholders derive meaning from complex ideas through storytelling to inform technical change.

In the longer term, she has her sights set on a career in medicine where she will advocate for the advancement of narrative approaches to enhance empathy among health-care practitioners and ultimately transform patient care.

When asked how she works with those who may be resistant to her philosophy of compassion, or with whom collaboration presents challenges, she says “It’s important to be curious about what’s making it difficult for them. And to do that, you bravely ask them.”

“Once you’re able to make space for people to be more open about their challenges, you have an intentional conversation with them that’s prioritizing their growth and yours too. It’s not zero sum.”

This story was originally published in the U of T Engineering News.


EngSci students receive leadership award

Headshots of all six UTSLA winners smiling and in front of different backgrounds.

Six graduating EngSci students received a University of Toronto Student Leadership Award. From top left to bottom right: Jacqueline Fleisig, Bipasha Goyal, Aditi Maheshwari, Joanna Melnyk, Khadija Rana, and Rima Uraiqat. (Photos courtesy of the students)

 

Six graduating EngSci students are among 18 U of T Engineering students that have been recognized with University of Toronto Student Leadership Awards (UTSLA) for their leadership, service and commitment that have had a lasting impact on their peers and the university.

The UTSLA continues a long-standing tradition which began with the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, established in 1994 by the University of Toronto Alumni Association in honour of Mr. Gordon Cressy, former Vice-President, Development and University Relations. During the award’s 25-year history, it celebrated the exemplary contributions of more than 4,000 students whose commitment and service had a lasting impact on their peers and the university.

In 2022, 18 U of T Engineering students earned the honour, which recognizes leadership, service and commitment to the university. Their diverse activities include heading up co-curricular organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, leading design teams such as the University of Toronto Aerospace Team, creating a welcoming Frosh Week despite the pandemic, and taking on executive roles in the U of T Engineering Society. They are joined by 166 students from other Faculties across U of T.

U of T Engineering will celebrate this year’s UTSLA recipients with a virtual ceremony hosted by U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip, to be held April 27.

“Students like these embody everything that makes our Faculty so special,” said Dean Yip. “Through the activities and accomplishments we are celebrating today, they have made a positive impact on our community, while also discovering new strengths and abilities that will serve them well as they join the next generation of global engineering leaders. I’m so proud of them, and excited for what lies ahead.”

Meet EngSci’s UTSLA winners

As President of the Engineering Society (EngSoc) during these tumultuous times, Jacqueline Fleisig worked with other student groups, health & safety, and the Faculty of Engineering to ensure a safe return to student activities campus. Her work helped ensure that students could interact safely in person outside of the classroom was instrumental for building community after a year of online learning. Among many other activities, she previously served as Co-President of U of T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), where she founded a three-day conference on social change and leadership in collaboration with three EWB chapters across Ontario.

Bipasha Goyal joined the Club for Undergraduate Biomedial Engineering (CUBE) with the goal of creating an inclusive biomedical engineering community for engineering undergraduates. Through various executive roles she organised networking events with professionals and revamped CUBE’s mentorship program to foster meaningful connections with U of T professors, graduate students, and alumni across the world.  As Co-President she expanded CUBE’s reach beyond engineering to different departments at U of T and shifted its mandate from professional development to complete biomedical engineering immersion, creating the “go-to” student club in this field.  Bipasha also served as Co-Conference Chair for the U of T Society for Stem Cell Research, organizing U of T’s first-ever virtual stem cell undergraduate conference.

Aditi Maheshwari is a dedicated leader in the engineering community who strives to provide a meaningful and enriching community experience. As chair of the Engineering Science Education Conference in 2021, she organized the first-ever virtual version of this cornerstone event for over 600 first- and second-year EngSci students. She helped recruit a diverse and engaging set of speakers, including a Nobel Prize winner. Aditi also served as co-chair of the EngSci Alumni Dinner, an event that strengthens the EngSci alumni community and provides students with valuable networking opportunities. She also contributed to Frosh Week, the HiSkule outreach program, among many other activities.

The contributions that Joanna Melnyk is most proud of are those she made to environmental sustainability work and developments at U of T through technical design projects, research, and sustainability curriculum advocacy. She spearheaded a sustainability curriculum advocacy project while serving in various roles with Engineers Without Borders. The project was further advanced through her change project in the ILead Summer Fellowship. Joanna also helped support students in challenging academic circumstances, through her work with the Toike Oike, Skule Lettuce Club, Orientation Week, and NSight, emphasizing empathy and relational leadership.

As President of the U of T chapter of Women in Science and Engineering, Khadija Rana advocates for gender equity in STEM fields and strives to reframe equity discussions at a global scale in this community of over 1,600 members and over 30 industry partners. During her time as Co-President of the Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering (CUBE), she helped build a new space to connect biomedical engineering undergraduates with graduate mentors. As part of the Engineering Orientation Committee she also helped implement a new training program for 600 volunteers, helping them to welcome over 1,000 engineering students virtually for the first time at Orientation Week 2020.

Rima Uraiqat has put her passion for aerospace into action as a Thermal Systems Lead and Airframe Lead in the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT). She led the design and testing of several technical projects, while managing the external presence of the team. As the Director of Outreach, she organized several events for current students within the Faculty, high school students, and the general public. She contributed to the growth of the team, and increase student engagement in UTAT. As an EngSci Ambassador she also shared her enthusiasm for engineering with prospective students at many recruitment events.

Story, including the full list of U of T Engineering UTSLA winners, from U of T Engineering News


Serving their community: EngSci students win University of Toronto Student Leadership Awards

UTSLA 2021 winners

Year 4 EngSci students Katie Allison and Kevin Zhang were recognized for their commitment to their community and to student organizations.  (photos courtesy of Katie Allison and Kevin Zhang)

 

Two EngSci students are among this year’s recipients of the prestigious University of Toronto Student Leadership Award (UTSLA).  The awards recognize graduating students who have shown outstanding leadership, made sustained or high-impact volunteer contributions, and provided exemplary volunteer service to the University of Toronto.

Katie Allison (Year 4) created improvements to student resources and club operations that will have an impact for years to come.  She served in several leadership roles in the Engineering Society (EngSoc), including as Design Team Association Director, At-Large Representative on the Board of Directors, and Vice-Chair Operations for Orientation.  Working with the Faculty, she prepared advanced safety training and a shared workspace in the Myhal Centre for the Engineering Society’s design teams.  It will be used to create innovative projects and teach students valuable skills. She also started a discussion group to address student safety through better prevention of and response to incidents of sexual violence.

Allison also served as Director of Operations for EngSci’s annual Engineering Science Education Conference (ESEC).  She recruited and trained dozens of volunteers and organized logistics for this important event serving 500 first and second year EngSci students.  She also served as volunteer first responder and was previously recognized with a Certificate of Meritorious Service for her work in the line of duty as part of U of T’s Emergency First Responders (UTEFR).

As chair of IEEE’s U of T chapter, Kevin Zhang (Year 4) believed strongly that financial barriers should not prevent students from accessing skill improvement workshops and career development opportunities.  He helped quadruple support from industry partners and the university, allowing hundreds of students to attend over a dozen technical and professional development events for free.

Zhang also led the Developer Student Club (DSC), which provided free workshops to students about cloud technologies.  He spoke at the DSC leads conference in San Fransisco to share this U of T success story with hundreds of student leaders.

Zhang also served as EngSoc’s Gradball Director and EngSci Club’s Dinner Dance Director, bringing his creative talents and organizational skills to these popular annual social events for hundreds of engineering students.

The UTSLA continues U of T’s long-standing tradition of recognizing outstanding student leadership, service, and commitment to the university. This tradition began with the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, which was established in 1994 by the UTAA in honour of Mr. Gordon Cressy, former Vice-President, Development and University Relations.

The awards will be presented to the winners later in the spring.

For a full list of all recipients and to learn more about the awards, visit the UTSLA webpage.


EngSci’s 2020 Student Award Winners

June 1, 2020

Graduating EngSci students Ben Mucsi, Lia Codrington, Rosemary Jose, and Victoria Cheng are this year’s award recipients in recognition of their service to their communities.

 

Four outstanding graduating students are the recipients of EngSci’s 2020 student awards in recognition of the significant impact of their volunteer work within and outside of the university community. Students were nominated by their peers.

The Spirit of EngSci Award and the Engineers for the World (E4TW) Award are presented to graduating students for exemplary non-academic contributions within the University or the community-at-large, respectively.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ben, Lia, Rosemary and Victoria as this year’s winners of the Spirit of EngSci Award and Engineers for the World (E4TW) Award,” says Professor Will Cluett, EngSci Interim Chair.  “These are the Division’s most prestigious, non-academic awards made to graduating EngSci students who have made outstanding contributions to their communities both inside the University and beyond.”

Spirit of EngSci Award

Victoria Cheng (1T9 PEY) has worked tirelessly to promote diversity at Canadian universities and to provide students of all types with opportunities for growth. Through her extensive involvement in Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and as Chair of its flagship WISE National Conference, she greatly increased student engagement by expanding the diversity of speakers, and launched several initiatives such as the Stories of WISE blog. As an executive for NSpire she organized networking nights for professionals and students from five universities across Ontario. She is passionate about exposing engineering students to global issues, and led the expansion of Global Engineering Week to the University of British Columbia. Outside of her leadership involvement, Victoria has also been an informal mentor to many. “Victoria’s ambition to support and create opportunities for others is exceptional,” says nominator Bohan Zhang (1T9 PEY). “Her advice and guidance have helped me secure internships abroad, which has drastically improved my career path.”

Read more about Victoria.

His classmates joke that Ben Mucsi (1T9 PEY) chose energy as his major for a reason—he never seems to run out of it! He has been a supportive presence for Skulemates since first becoming an NSight mentor, helping first year students adjust to university life. During his time in EngSci, he served as Vice President of Finance and Interim Chair of the EngSci Club. As 2019 Orientation Chair he coordinated the largest engineering Orientation Week to date, with a focus on inclusion. An accomplished Varsity Athlete on the fencing team, Ben served as External Director, Tournaments Director, and Vice President Administration of the Engineering Athletic Association. He was also the sponsorship lead for Blue Sky Solar Racing, helping to raise significant amounts of monetary and material donations. “Every day that I’ve known him, Ben has shown me how leadership means working in service of others,” says nominator Khadija Rana (Year 4).

Read more about Ben.

Engineers for the World (E4TW) Award

As a Junior Fellow with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Lia Codrington (1T9PEY) spent a summer helping students tackle health care and food security problems in Ghana more efficiently. Her deep interest in improving the relationships between engineers and indigenous peoples led her to establish EWB’s Indigenous Reconciliation Portfolio, educating students on how to collaborate with and support Indigenous peoples. She contributed to a design project developing compost and water systems for Cat Lake First Nation’s new greenhouse, used her thesis and capstone projects to work on housing challenges in First Nation communities. In 2019, she traveled to Iqaluit to take part in the Arctic Youth Ambassador Caucus. “Whenever she talks about these projects, I can see her eyes light up,” says nominator Kimberly Lai (1T9 PEY Aerospace). “You can clearly see how dedicated she is to use her engineering skills to help others and do something meaningful.” In addition to her involvement in EWB, Lia was also a Varsity Athlete and was an executive of Blues Engineering for 3 years.

Read more about Lia.

Rosemary Jose (1T9 PEY) is passionate about renewable energy and climate change issues. She has served on the boards of several environmental organizations, including Toronto Green Community and Waterlution, where she co-created the Great Waters Challenge. Through her roles with these and other organizations, she supported local non-profits and businesses towards their goals of improving our environment. “She has had such a positive influence on the people around her,” says nominator Najah Hassan (1T9 PEY). “She has encouraged other students to pursue interests and paths within engineering that were meaningful to them and could add value to the things they saw as important.”

Read more about Rosemary.


Animal rights and climate activists: Meet EngSci’s 2019 Loran Scholars

Oct. 29, 2019

Year 1 EngSci students Abnash Bassi and Shiqi Xu are among just 35 student selected as 2019 Loran Scholars from over 5,000 applicants. (Photos: U of T Engineering and Johnny Guatto)

 

 

This fall, EngSci welcomed two 2019 Loran Scholars as part of the incoming Year 1 class. Abnash Bassi and Shiqi Xu received the prestigious scholarship for their leadership and community involvement in high school.

Bassi and Xu, who both hail from British Columbia, are dedicated advocates for environmental and sustainability issues. Bassi focused on climate action and sustainable energy through work at her school, with charitable organizations, and with her local B.C. Member of Parliament. Xu spearheaded initiatives on animal rights and plant-based foods at her school, working with food service providers and the school board to devise menu options and new policy for animal dissections in the classroom.

“The Division’s motto is Engineers for the World (E4TW) and both Bassi and Xu have clearly demonstrated the character, service and leadership found in Loran Scholars and valued in our EngSci community,” says Interim Chair of Engineering Science, Professor Will Cluett.

Both students are continuing their commitment to their community through student clubs and organizations.

Learn more about Bassi and Xu’s path to becoming Loran Scholars.

Want to get involved in student clubs yourself?
Check out U of T Engineering’s student clubs and design teams.


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