Grant Recipients

Grants for Women 2021

The Soroptimist Foundation of Canada annually offers several $8,500 grants to female graduate students in Canada to assist them with university studies that will qualify them for careers that will improve the quality of women’s lives. These are the grant recipients for 2021.

Arlin Cherian
Master of Data Science
University of British Columbia

Arlin Cherian is a candidate for the Master of Data Science (MDS) program at the University of British Columbia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Nutritional Sciences degree from McGill University in Montreal and later also obtained a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of British Columbia. Her research experiences are in the field of perinatal epidemiology and maternal health and nutrition. In the past, she has worked with the UNICEF in the Pacific Islands, The Centre for Global Child Health at the Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Department of Family Practice at UBC. She has co-authored a few publications in the field of obstetrics and maternal health and nutrition in various scientific journals.  

Arlin developed her interest in the field of maternal and women’s health during her MPH degree. She learnt that while gender equality and health inequity remain elusive goals in many parts of the world, it is often limited by the data availability or lack of interpretability. Through her research projects, she was able to work with big clinical data sets, use statistical analysis and software to answer the research questions. Arlin became fascinated with the field of data science and how data tools can be used in developing clinical decision support tools and research development in perinatal and maternal health. She hopes to use the knowledge and skills she obtains from the MDS program to contribute to the field of maternal and women’s health research in understanding perspectives, insights, decision-making tools and actions to promote women’s health.

Celina De Biasio
University of Ottawa

As a current University of Ottawa medical student, I am a passionate advocate for the equality and advancement of women in all spheres, especially healthcare. Through my education, I will continue to work towards healthcare inclusivity. I believe that the promotion of women’s health is an essential piece of inclusive healthcare, which historically has not been given the attention it deserves. Following my graduation from medical school, I will work as a physician in Canada to help shift the paradigm of Canadian healthcare from patient-centered to person-centered.

Throughout my education, I have made a conscious effort to advocate for the equality and the well-being of women through educational leadership, advocating for underserved populations and women’s health, and women’s health research.
Throughout my education, I have had amazing female mentors and because of these experiences, I strongly believe in the importance of mentorship, especially peer- mentorship. After being elected to become the BAS Student President, I collaborated with students and faculty to develop the BAS peer-mentorship program. As a mentor, I supported and empowered my mentee throughout her education. I am proud to say that two years following my graduation, my mentee successfully became BAS President.

I believe education is a powerful tool that can be used to empower the lives of others, especially women. During my time at the University of Windsor, I was a Teaching Assistant for three courses supporting students to reach their academic potentials. As I progress in my educational journey, I will continue teaching my peers and patients throughout my medical career, so I can empower others through education.

COVID-19’s impact on Canada’s senior population has been devastating, especially since many seniors are facing social isolation. .Collaborating with three amazing female Ottawa medical students, I co-founded and am co-leading the first bilingual Ottawa Chapter of the national Student-Senior Isolation Prevention Partnership program. By ensuring the needs of Ottawa’s Francophone community are met, our bilingual foundation allows our Chapter to pursue diversity while also supporting inclusiveness.

In 2020, I was nominated as a National Student Representative for the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC). My passion for advocating for women’s health and equality motivated me to join the FMWC’s Women’s Cardiac and Cerebrovascular Health Committee (WCCH) and Women, Peace and Security Committee (WPS). As a WCCH member, I am dedicated to raising awareness for women’s heart health on a national level. I have promoted and worked on the national Wear Red Campaign, which aims to empower all Canadians “especially women, to be mindful, curious, and proactive in the management of heart health and wellness.”
In 2020, I was the recipient of the Athena Fund Scholarship Windsor. This award is for exceptional community leaders “who increase leadership opportunities for women, [enhance] the quality of life in their community, [mentor], team [build], and [pursue] diversity.” As I continue my educational journey towards becoming and working as a physician in Canada, I am inspired to change the Canadian healthcare landscape towards inclusive person-centered care by advocating for and empowering women.

Cessidia De Biasio
Master of Business Administration
Queen’s University

Cessidia De Biasio is currently a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Candidate at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business. She is the Co-President of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity Club, a Smith MBA Student Ambassador, and a Smith Women in Leadership Club member. In 2015, Cessidia obtained her Bachelor of Arts, Social Work degree from the University of Windsor (with Great Distinction) and was awarded the Board of Governors Medal at Convocation. In 2018, she graduated with an Honours Business Administration degree (with Great Distinction) and became a Golden Key International Honour Society member.
She is a Board of Director for Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Big Brothers Big Sisters Windsor-Essex, a Sole Focus Project Ambassador with the Windsor-Essex Canadian Mental Health Association, a Daughters of the Vote Delegate, and the former Vice President of Communications for UNTOLD.

Cessidia is passionate about mental health initiatives, educational equality, and advocating for immigrants, women, and youth. As the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, she learned about honoring her heritage, strong work ethics, and using her education to help those less fortunate. In 2015, Cessidia established The Addolorata De Luca Leadership Scholarship in honor of her Nonna Addolorata, a widow who immigrated from Italy to Canada with her five children. To date, the charity has raised over $53,000. The foundation aids first-and second-generation university student leaders while paying homage to our ancestors who immigrated to Canada. Understanding the impact of storytelling, Cessidia launched the #OurJourneytoCanada campaign, which showcases Canadian immigration stories.

Post-MBA, she aspires to work at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, or the United Nations. She plans to continue devoting her time to

Jordan Monks
Master of Science
University of Victoria

Jordan Monks is currently completing her Master’s of Science in Social Dimensions of Health at the University of Victoria, which comes after her completion of a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics with a minor in Health and Society. Her thesis research focuses on the extent to which social determinants of health are associated with sexually transmitted infection prevention, testing and treatment among single older (>60) women in British Columbia. This topic was inspired by her previous volunteer work in this area, as well as her goals to help understand and reduce health inequities among women.

Raised in the Comox Valley, she is a proud daughter, sister and granddaughter. She is an advocate for women, both within her academic work as well as within her commitment to the community. Her connection and passion for helping older women developed at an early age, blossoming from the strong relationship held with her grandmother.

Along with her individual research goals she has worked as a volunteer research assistant on an Island Health Community Wellness grant, working with Island Sexual Health, in engaging older adults and youth in applied theatre and interactive workshops to address sexual stigma across the life course. She also works as a teaching assistant for Healthy Sexuality at the University of Victoria.

Maryam Sorkhou
Master of Science
University of Toronto

Maryam Sorkhou is pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of Toronto. Her thesis utilizes a sex-informed approach to unveil the clinical and cognitive outcomes of a cannabis abstinence intervention in patients with major depressive disorder. Relative to males, females with cannabis use disorder report more severe dependence in addition to greater cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Although these sex differences have been documented consistently, few studies have explored how these factors influence treatment adherence and outcome. Maryam’s project aims to fill this gap and help form the basis of an urgently needed best practices guideline that outlines patient care for females with cannabis use disorder.

Maryam’s ultimate goal after completing her Master’s and PhD is to lead research employing an intersectional lens to provide a richer view on the ways in which drugs and alcohol affect all women. She hopes that these findings will inform appropriate and tailored treatment interventions for women who abuse or misuse substances.

Reyna Zaremba
Master of Physical Therapy
University of British Columbia

Reyna Zaremba is pursuing her Master of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia. Upon completion of a Business degree in 2014, Reyna worked at several law firms and developed a passion for connecting people with their goals. She understood at an early age that perseverance coupled with support is a powerful catalyst for change, having witnessed a loved one’s recovery from a debilitating spinal cord injury. She plans to open a clinic focusing on women’s health and chronic conditions.

Reyna has volunteered with women of all ages. She led a Girl Guides group, distributed care packages to homeless women, wrote a newsletter for stakeholders in a women’s shelter, and assisted with shelter fundraising. She also worked with organizations that provide outdoor accessibility programs to persons with disabilities. Participating in her community has only fueled Reyna’s passion to support women in attaining their highest goals. She recognizes that women encounter unique challenges but may not acknowledge their personal successes. Despite profound strength, many women struggle with a sense of self worth and efficacy. Reyna will champion women to celebrate who they are, coaching them to optimize their well-being by promoting holistic strategies that maximize recovery.