Meet the Wilson Leaders
Sarah Adjekum is a Health & Society PhD student, practicing social worker, and author of multiple op eds. Her community-based participatory research looks at the phenomenon of displacement trauma and how it impacts the wellbeing of migrants and refugees. She has served on the boards of Hamilton’s Social Planning and Research Council and OPIRG McMaster, and worked to reduce barriers through the Hamilton Community and McMaster Womanists, New Generation Youth Centre, the Good Shepherd, Mad Student Society Hamilton, and McQueston Community Centre.
Monica Banayoty is a Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences student drawn to opening up bottlenecks in healthcare and wellness. This includes past work leading initiatives on streamlining the kidney donation process, and her planned community project on exploring ways to reduce cardiology clinic patient no-shows. She revamped CleanSlate UV’s quality control process, allowing it to ramp up production at the start of the pandemic without a reduction in quality. Her volunteer commitments and community initiatives focus on mentoring and education, healthcare, and biomedical innovation.
Hanna Chidwick is a Global Health PhD student and previous Pathy Foundation Fellow. Her research explores the process of developing adolescent sexual and reproductive health education among NGOs in Rwanda. Hanna recently returned to the Coady Institute to explore how asset-based community driven development approaches can increase access to sexual health services among young women in Tanzania. She is passionate about creating respectful, informed, practical ways to engage in global health in Canada and abroad.
Samantha Li is a Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization student exploring the use of effective visuals to share scientific concepts and combat misinformation. Her volunteer work focuses on helping people reach their potential and navigate resources available to them. She has adapted and provided virtual literacy and numeracy education to kindergarten students during the pandemic, and has co-developed a mentorship program for peer coaches in the McMaster Dragon Boat Club. Currently, she serves as president of the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization Society
Software Engineering and Society student Christopher Schankula is pursuing a minor in French. He has a five-year history of offering free coding lessons to K-12 students both locally and internationally. On campus, he has served as the VP of Software Architecture for McMaster Start Coding, and has contributed to research on teaching computer science and design thinking to K-12 students. In collaboration with newcomers to Canada, he developed a mentorship and job search app. He is also first author on a paper published in the Cambridge University journal, Microscopy & Microanalysis.
Jill Van Damme is a dual-degree Master of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Science PhD candidate who earned a Canadian Frailty Network Interdisciplinary Fellowship. Her research explores virtual chronic disease management programs and their role in improving outcomes for Canadians. Jill’s volunteer efforts include co-chairing the annual Charity Ball hosted by the School of Rehabilitation Science, coaching and mentoring athletes, and assisting with various community-based rehabilitation programs.
Meet the Wilson Leader Alumni
Honours BSc Kinesiology graduate Kwasi Adu-Poku was a men’s basketball varsity athlete, four-time Academic All Canadian, and winner of the Dr. Ray Johnson Award. Through volunteering, he focuses on mentoring youth, working with older adults, and promoting leadership in athletics. During his time in the WLSA, Kwasi launched the Reach Series, an organization providing personal development opportunities through workshops and panels across Canada, and became involved in research on COVID’s impact on the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. He also worked with Athletics & Recreation’s Anti-Racism Advisory Group. Kwasi is exploring careers in social and economic policy and will begin a Master’s of Public Administration at Ryerson in September 2021.
Janna Getty graduated from the Humanities undergraduate program in Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law program. She worked with the Hamilton Crown Attorney’s Office and led after school programs with the Hamilton Boys and Girls Clubs. Her volunteer efforts include program coordination with MCYU and executive roles with Pro Bono Law McMaster and the McMaster Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law Society. During her time in the WLSA, Janna met with stakeholders including police officers, harm reduction specialists, researchers, and pharmacists to develop recommendations on how to effectively implement the decriminalization of drug use. She works with the Attorney General with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
Emma Krentz is an alum of the Math and Biostatistics co-op program, and undertook part of her degree at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, as a McCall MacBain International Fellow. Through volunteering, she promoted youth engagement in math and statistics and helped facilitate new language acquisition for refugees. In addition to serving on McMaster’s Math Society executive, she drew on WLSA mentors to research options for establishing a language café in Canada. She and fellow Wilson Leader Michelle Ogrodnik authored an Op Ed on lasting changes that universities can make post-pandemic to increase accessibility and make institutions resilient against future pandemics.
Yarden Levy is a PhD student in the Research and Clinical Training program. She is conducting research into novel treatments for PTSD in collaboration with mental wellness start-up InteraXon. Throughout her research, she has worked with multiple community organizations that serve people dealing with trauma. She has also trained and supervised 30 students while co-leading multi-year research projects. During her time in the WLSA, she began collaborating on research on the concept of alienation in family law. The resulting research is intended to support change in the use of the concept, and to inform the work of family lawyers, social workers, and policy makers.
Michelle Ogrodnik is a PhD candidate in the NeuroFit lab, where her research integrates psychology and kinesiology to better understand ways to boost attention and memory. She served as a Team Lead at McMaster’s Research Shop, heading projects for community organizations including program evaluations and rapid research reports to inform funding decisions. She is passionate about supporting student learning and educational policy, and has the opportunity to do both as a Lead Educational Development Fellow at the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching. As part of the WLSA, in collaboration with Emma Krentz, she explored ways that universities can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to increase accessibility for students.
Luke Yaeger is a Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences PhD student, whose research into new antibiotics is complemented by an interest in creating a publicly owned and accountable antibiotic R&D pipeline. During his time in the WLSA, he researched options to better support antibiotic development, in order to address the anticipated antibiotic resistance crisis. He contributes to an international, interdisciplinary consortium of researchers lobbying for the facilitation of antibiotic research. Luke is an alumni of McMaster's varsity track and field team and worked on addressing local food insecurity with the Hamilton Victory gardens. He is currently pursuing learning in participatory budgeting and structural organizing.
Monish Ahluwalia graduated from Integrated Sciences and is now a MD/MSc (Systems Leadership & Innovation) student at the University of Toronto. At McMaster, he served as the Co-President of the McMaster Science Society, McMaster Pops Orchestra, and McMaster Model United Nations Team. At U of T, he co-leads the medical improv’ troupe and is currently pursuing research projects in health economics, machine learning, models of care, and access to care during COVID-19.
Ahmednur Ali is a Health Policy PhD candidate and winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Doctoral Scholarship of Excellence. As a policy assistant with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ahmednur synthesized current research to inform policy development. Through his work with the McMaster Health Forum’s Impact Lab, Ahmednur further helped make available evidence to support policymaking.
Sarah Brooks graduated from the Arts & Science program and is pursuing an MA in Social Justice Education at OISE. Through an internship with the Caribbean Community Secretariat, she explored the impacts she can make through the public service. In 2019, she co-coordinated the New World of Work Forum at McMaster. Most of her work and volunteer efforts have centred on building welcoming communities, whether supporting individuals with brain injuries, or establishing a social network for new students. She joined TRAD as their volume editor and is now their Director of Education.
Elise Desjardins was a student in the Master of Public Health program during her tenure as a Wilson Leader. She is currently a PhD student in the School of Earth, Environment & Society. Her PhD projects explore how best to plan and design cities that support children's independent mobility, health, and well-being. She is the vice-chair of McMaster's Multi-Modal Transportation Advisory Committee, as well as the recipient of the 2020 Hamilton Community Impact Award from McMaster's Alumni Association. Elise is actively involved with and supports various bicycling promotion and education initiatives with community stakeholders in Hamilton.
Stephanie Hatzifilalithis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health, Aging, and Society who brings an interdisciplinary lens to challenges facing aging populations. During her studies in Canada and abroad, she has led student groups, free public seminar series, and intergenerational projects that have been recognized internationally and by all levels of government. Her commitment to making a positive impact in the world has prompted her to find innovative and creative means to foster connections across generations.
Kylie Hopkins works as a pediatric nurse with Hamilton Health Sciences, continuing her long-standing commitment to children’s wellness. She is continuing both prongs of her community project, which focus on improving interprofessional communication on healthcare teams in emergency situations. She co-created a Nursing module on interprofessional communication during medical emergencies. In collaboration with students and faculty from McMaster’s Centre for Simulation-Based Learning and Nursing, and MD programs, she is developing experiential learning scenarios.
Alyssia Jovellanos is a Product Manager with Microsoft. During her degree in Computer Science, Alyssia led award-winning projects in educational technology, accessibility and AI. Much of her work aims to bring technology to as many people as possible, whether through the international consultation she has provided on increasing diversity in tech education, the free tech interview mentorship group she launched, the coding modules she developed for children, or the hackathon she co-founded, which remains Canada’s 1st and largest student-run hackathon for change.
Chemical & Bioengineering graduate Erik Joy developed a partnership between Engineers Without Borders: McMaster and Empowerment Squared to support their mission in providing mentorship to local youth and young adults. During his time in the WLSA program, he founded "The Porch", a student club hosting Canadian democracy round table discussions on campus. He was also an Assistant Coach for the McMaster Varsity Wrestling Team after competing competitively for 5 years, and is now completing sustainable nanotechnology graduate work at UBC's Vancouver campus.
Carol Markos graduated from Indigenous Studies and Political Science, and participated in the Jane Goodall Institute’s Uncovering Common Ground initiative. In advance of the 2019 federal election, she co-created accessible, non-partisan political information nights for newcomers to Canada. She also developed and led an arts project that brought together McMaster students, faculty and staff with local community organizations, and with professional and amateur artists from across Canada. She is now completing a master’s degree at Carleton University in Migration and Diaspora Studies.
Yung Lee continues to train as a medical student at McMaster University. He is involved in producing evidence-based reviews, population-based studies, and position statements in general surgery to inform and improve future practice. Yung hopes to pursue general surgery (minimally invasive surgery) as his specialty after his medical degree. Outside of medicine, Yung is a cellist in multiple orchestras, ensembles, and student-led groups such as Music in Medicine. As a freelance photographer, he was involved in The Silhouette and Humans of McMaster.
Andrew Richards graduated from Communication Studies with a minor in Globalization. As former captain of McMaster’s men’s volleyball and Canada’s men’s junior volleyball teams, Andrew demonstrated the way athletics builds leadership skills. To help others access this potential, he volunteered as a team representative with McMaster Athletes Care, established McMaster’s now annual participation in the #NoGoodWay Day campaign, and brought together 120 student and Special Olympics Athletes to raise over $6500 for inclusive athletics.
Josh Young graduated from Commerce with a focus on Finance. During his year-long internship in corporate strategy with Celestica, he honed his ability to research complex situations and quickly propose feasible solutions. Josh's participation in the Model UN and DECA encouraged his enjoyment of exploring multiple perspectives. In his community project, he explored how to incentivize corporate responsibility through green technology buying consortia for small- to mid-sized businesses.