The York University Alumni Board has recognized four distinguished York students with 2022 Alumni Awards and Scholarships for their academic excellence and leadership.
Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship
The Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship is awarded to a graduating student who has demonstrated excellence both in and out of the classroom. This year’s recipient, Zahra Mawani (BEd ’22), has been recognized for her significant contributions in the teaching community and the considerable leadership she displayed during her time as a student in the Faculty of Education.
In 2021, Zahra was elected as the first-year Keele Primary Junior representative of the Faculty of Education Students’ Association. She was responsible for facilitating operational coordination in all the events and making sure that the group’s communication platforms were utilized for maximum outreach. Seeing the immense value she added to the team, she was also elected as the association's second-year representative. She continues to make an impact using her leadership skills by helping graduating students with their overwhelming virtual job hunt during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside of York, Zahra has been supporting the students at Peel District School Board for more than five years. Most recently, she designed and taught two cooking and one wellness virtual camps for students with special needs. Zahra was also awarded the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, recognizing her leadership, dedication, integrity, enthusiasm and pursuit of excellence through her endeavours.
Encouraged by her recent York experience, Zahra has decided to return as a York student to complete her Master of Education degree to further pursue her interest in teaching.
“The reason I want to continue my post-secondary education at York is because of the people I have met,” she says. “The instructors were so encouraging; they gave me so much guidance despite everything being virtual. They have supported me and my career aspirations in ways I could not have imagined.”
Alumni Golden GRADitude Award
The Alumni Golden GRADitude Award recognizes graduating students who leave York University a better place thanks to the significant leadership they demonstrated during their time on campus. This year, there are two recipients.
Economics graduate Issa Abdi Jamaa (BA ’22) has been recognized for his vast contributions to the student community during his time at York. He held various senior positions within several student organizations, including his roles as president and orientation chair at Vanier College Council, student senator at the Senate, and Councillor at Faculty Council of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. He was also involved in several search committees for senior York administrative positions such as Dean of the Faculty of LA&PS, Vice-Provost Students and the search for York University’s next Chancellor. Through his many leadership endeavours, he was able to advocate the needs of the student body and facilitate efficient collaboration between students, faculty and administrators.
“York provided me a rich academic experience both inside and outside the classroom,” he says, “and it not only helped me prepare for my academic journey but also the journey of an experienced leader who understands the changes that are taking place in the world and ways we can contribute to them.”
In addition to his involvement in student governance, Issa was also founder and president of the International Students’ Association at York. While in this role, he improved the visible representation of international students on campus. He worked towards an enhanced engagement of international students in the university-wide decision-making processes so that their concerns get vocalised seamlessly.
“I am truly grateful to York for recognizing my journey as a student leader and as a changemaker,” he said, regarding his Alumni Golden GRADitude Award win. “This award motivates me to be stay involved in York’s betterment and inspires me to be the change I am hoping to see in the world.”
Recent graduate Tiana Putric (BDEM ’22) of the Disaster & Emergency Management (DEM) program has been recognized for her research involvement and contributions to the York brand and community. While at York, Tiana maintained various positions, including her role as an Emergency Management Assistant with York’s Office of Emergency Management, where she helped modernize York’s Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA). Tiana later became lead editor of the HIRA and co-authored six papers with the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research on the ethics of digital contact tracing for COVID-19.
She said her motivation to do research was “not only about developing an expertise, but it’s about discovering new knowledge and becoming a thought leader.”
Tiana also helps York international students navigate their experience at York and continues to be a proud ambassador of the University. She actively promotes York and its DEM program at various events, including Collision, one of the world’s largest tech conferences, and abroad, as the first DEM student in Canada and the United States to be awarded the Fulbright Killam Fellowship, where she completed an exchange program at Wellesley College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and participated in the Harvard University Women in Foreign Policy Conference.
Currently, Tiana is employed at the Ontario Ministry of Health as a policy analyst, where she works on policy projects concerning Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She hopes that her work with the ministry will advance the “prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of Ontarians.”
As one of this year’s recipients, she says, “receiving the Alumni Golden GRADitude award is evidence that my research and contributions as an undergraduate student were recognized. This is incredibly encouraging and for this I am very grateful.”
Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Entrance Scholarship
The Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Entrance Scholarship is awarded to an incoming undergraduate student who is the child, sibling, or grandchild of a York University graduate and who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and accomplishments in community service, volunteerism, or other endeavours. This award is renewable in years two, three and four of undergraduate study, provided that the recipient maintains a minimum grade point average of 7.8.
The recipient of this year’s scholarship is Taline Apelian-Sutor, an incoming Faculty of Science student who will be majoring in biology at York’s Keele Campus. Taline’s mother is a proud York alum who entered York as a first-generation student, and Taline was motivated to apply after hearing about her mother’s experience at York. The University’s distinguished programs and faculty, unique research and leadership opportunities, welcoming community, and French-language course offerings at Glendon were key factors that led her to choose York.
While demonstrating academic excellence in school, Taline is also a multifaceted individual who is involved in various activities. She served as vice-president of her school’s student council, where she strengthened the school community by engaging both staff and students in various capacities. She also operates a French tutoring business, where she creates curricula specific to each of her students’ needs, and volunteered with the Armenia Tree Project, an organization that aims to respond to environmental challenges in rural areas in Armenia.
Taline’s motivation to perform well in and out of school she partly attributes to her mother, who inspired and motivated her to persevere as a student and to build strong connections with her community. As an incoming student, she is thankful for York’s support during her application process, saying the “advice, support, and people at York really contributed to my decision.” Taline is immensely grateful for being named this year’s recipient and looks forward to exploring the numerous opportunities, both in and outside classroom settings, offered at York.