Eighth Annual Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award recognizes 10 students

Ten students at York University were recently honoured with the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, which recognizes students’ contributions to the growth, development and vitality of the York University community through their leadership, enthusiasm and dedication.

Now in its eighth year, the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award was created in honour of Robert J. Tiffin, who served as York University’s vice-president, Students from 2005-12. Students were nominated by members of the University community (students, faculty, staff and alumni) for their engagement and leadership roles at York. Due to the COVID-19 situation, an in-person ceremony was not possible this year; however, Tiffin congratulated the winners in a personal letter sent to each student.

“Each year students are encouraged to become proactively engaged with their educational experiences through their academic studies, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. You definitely embraced that challenge and have not only enhanced the student experience of your fellow students but also shaped the foundations for future students to become engaged within the York community,” wrote Robert Tiffin. “I’m always impressed by the diversity of ways in which leadership occurs at York, and this was truly evident in the ways you contributed.”

Vice-Provost, Students, Lucy Fromowitz, also extends her congratulations to the award winners. “I want to acknowledge, congratulate and thank the outstanding recipients of this year’s Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Awards,” she said. “The commitment you made to academic excellence and community service is incredible, and I’m confident that this is only the beginning of the wonderful contributions you will go on to make. You have gone above and beyond by enriching the university experience for the community. Your efforts are not only acknowledged, but truly inspiring.”

This year’s recipients of Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Awards are:

Aly Fawzy

Aly Fawzy

As president of the Kinesiology and Health Science Student Organization (KAHSSO), Fawzy – a kinesiology student in the Faculty of Health – created a new cohort within KAHSSO called the “Ambassadors” who facilitate KAHSSO and Stong College events. Fawzy was also a KAHSSO peer tutor and peer tutor program coordinator, a service used by more than 300 students. He was also recruited as a Stong College course representative (CR), and was later promoted to CR meeting Chair, where he provided CRs with tips and strategies to enhance their presentation and communication skills.

Crystal Heidari

Crystal Heidari

Heidari, a law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, was the first Osgoode student to serve as a president’s ambassador. She was a student senator, a member of York’s Student to Alumni Advisory Committee and coordinator of Osgoode’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. She also helped to provide legal assistance to small business owners financially unable to retain legal services through her work at the Osgoode Business Clinic. As president of the Osgoode Tax Law Association, she grew engagement in Osgoode student events 10-fold by creating a hashtag marketing campaign. As a recognized researcher in mental health, Heidari also conducted mental health and wellness research for Osgoode’s associate dean (Students).

Elizabeth German

Elizabeth German

German, a psychology student in the Faculty of Health, has been committed to building community. She served as president of the Undergraduate Psychology Student Association and helped to restructure the Faculty of Health’s Peer Mentor program. As a club mentor in Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD), she mentors students and provides access to resources used by over 350 student organizations to build community on campus. German also co-founded her own organization, called Rethinking Mental Health at YU – a non-profit student organization that aims to raise awareness, reduce stigma and educate people about mental health.

Emily Secnik

Emily Secnik

Secnik, a Civil Engineering and BEST (Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology) Certificate student at the Lassonde School of Engineering, has been actively involved in the Lassonde Engineering Society, serving as president, vice-president, and chief returning officer. She also represented York University at the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students. In her role as Chair of Orientation Week, she revamped the Lassonde Internal Training program to train leaders on crisis management, community safety and inclusivity for the first time, and facilitated sexual violence education and prevention training. In addition, she co-founded and co-produced a show for the Lassonde Engineering Play. She also chaired the largest student-run engineering competition in Ontario with over 200 participants, and three teams making the nationals.

Issa Abdi Jamaa

Issa Abdi Jamaa

Jamaa, a student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) majoring in economics, re-launched the International Students' Association at York (ISAY) and coordinated revamping the Dean's Ambassador Program (LA&PS). He was actively involved in Vanier College Council (VCC), increasing student-friendly, accessible and equitable events, and broadening VCC’s engagement with its constituency and college head. He was also elected as a student representative on the York University Senate, and on the Student Council of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (SCOLAPS), LA&PS Faculty Council, LA&PS Decanal Search Committee and the Economic Students’ Association (ESA).

Jc Elijah Madayag-Bawuah

Jc Elijah Madayag-Bawuah

A student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, Madayag-Bawuah has served as the Graduate Environmental Studies Students Association (GESSA) Chair, where he coordinates events to create a space for voices from racialized, low-income, and other vulnerable groups to be valued and empowered. As student liaison for the Ontario Professional Planner Institute (OPPI), he started the first student-led newsletter, connecting over 500 planning students from various universities across Ontario. He has advocated for more affordable housing through his collaboration with Gentrification Tax Action, Ruangrupa and the Art Gallery of York University (where his efforts helped to implement an artistic installment).

Kelly Fung

Kelly Fung

Fung, a BBA student in the Schulich School of Business, served as a president’s ambassador and president’s ambassador program assistant. She also took on active leadership roles as a residence life don, where she directly supervised over 170 students in the last three years. She was student co-chair of the United Way York Cares campaign, where she helped raise over $170,000 through increased student participation.

Fung also proposed a new mental health resource for York U English Language Institute (YUELI) students called “What’s Up Walk In.” The program provides mental health counselling to 200-plus international students.

Mark Subekti Tan

Mark Subekti Tan

Tan, a master of arts candidate in the Department of Humanities and graduate of the Financial and Business Economics undergraduate program, has acted as a senior residence life don, a fitness coordinator, vice-president for the Dragon Boat Team and a president’s ambassador.

As a volunteer for the Male Identified Group at The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education (The Centre), he was also an advocate and ally against sexual violence.

Moboluwajidide (Bo) Joseph

Moboluwajidide (Bo) Joseph

Joseph, a student at Glendon, has held various roles, including Glendon director on the York Federation of Students, executive roles on the Glendon College Student Union, and member of the Student to Alumni Advisory Committee and the Glendon Principal Search Committee and president’s ambassador.

He also participated in the Glendon Model United Nations and headed the first-ever bilingual Model United Nations conference at Glendon for high school students. He is currently a Fellow at the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies

Theresa Nguyen

Theresa Nguyen

Nguyen, a mechanical engineering and international development studies student at the Lassonde School of Engineering, has served as the president of the York Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. She increased student participation in the club, led the group to place silver in the Hello2030 campaign and coordinated an opportunity to engage in the Engineering in Developing Communities Program in Ethiopia. A strong believer in mentorship, she mentored in the Helen Carswell STEAM Mentorship and the BEST Lab Experience programs. She also co-initiated, directed and produced an original play about the student experience in the Lassonde Engineering Play.

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