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.

Ishita Aggarwal
Doctor of Medicine program at Queen’s University

Ishita Aggarwal is a public health professional and third-year medical student at Queen’s University. She is passionate about EDIIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigenization, and Accessibility) and medical education issues. She is co-leading a targeted needs assessment to evaluate the quality of anti-oppression and EDIIA curricular offerings at Queen’s School of Medicine, which received one of the first-ever Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) EDI Summer Studentships.

She has held many roles, including as a member of the Dean’s Action Table on EDI, Executive of QSOM’s Leadership Enhancement and Development Program, and Interprofessional Community Health Program Coordinator of KHealth. Outside Queen’s, she runs MOM’S THE WORD (MTW), a non-profit organization that hosts free prenatal workshops for homeless and low-income women and connects sexual assault victims with health professionals. To date, MTW has helped 1,500+ women. 

After graduation, she plans on becoming an OBGYN-activist providing clinical services for low-income women and hopes to become involved in maternal health research and policy work. 

Juliette François-Sévigny
Doctorate in Research and Intervention in Psychology Intervention Pathway at the University of Sherbrooke

Juliette François-Sévigny is a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Sherbrooke. As a part of her doctoral thesis, supervised by Pr Mathieu Pilon, she is committed to studying the parental self-efficacy of parents of gifted and ADHD children, seeing it as an interesting lever for managing their parental stress. One part of this research will focus on mothers, considering that the scientific literature shows that they are generally the ones who are on the front line in defending their child’s special needs.

Considering that the current lack of psychologists compromises access to individual therapeutic services, she hopes that her doctoral project will lead to the creation and implementation of a community intervention project promoting parental resilience of mothers in difficulty. Indeed, her goal is to give them back power and hope to regain control over their lives.

Mimi Shamin Brown
University of Manitoba. Masters in Social Work (MSW)

Mimi “Shamin” Brown (BSW, RSW) is a Master of Social Work student with lived. In addition to supporting youth at risk, she has served in the anti-trafficking field for over 20 years. She is an international speaker, a spoken word poet and the author of “I’m an Addict: In Bits & Pieces”. 
Shamin aims to play a role in creating safe spaces for the ongoing recovery support of survivors of gender-based violence.

She currently works with an agency that counsels adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She is supporting their development of programming and a peer mentorship model for women in third stage recovery.  She also plans to support a local Indigenous-led program that provides services to youth at extreme risk of violence in the sex industry in their development of additional programming and evaluation. 

Shamin’s current studies revolve around peer support and communities of practice for women with histories of sexual trauma (including sexual exploitation and sex trafficking) who are employed in trauma-intensive roles. By filling the gap in support services for post-exit lived experience women engaged in trauma-intensive roles, employee retention and the continuity in relationships between service-users and lived experience staff is enhanced, improving the overall delivery and impact of the organizations they are employed by.  

Sofia Melendez
Clinical psychology Master’s program at Toronto Metropolitan University (previously named Ryerson University

I am a researcher, advocate, and educator about gender, sexuality, and culture at X University (previously named Ryerson University). My work focuses on how we can transform the Canadian healthcare system to be more inclusive and accountable towards trans and nonbinary people, especially trans women who are ethnoracially diverse.

As a clinical psychology student, my life goal is to begin a community-based psychology clinic that services trans women and transfeminine people from diverse ethnoracial backgrounds. Given my background in education, I aim for the clinic to also serve as a training centre for mental health professionals to specialize in intersectional trans health.

Megan Fester
University of Calgary, Masters in Social Work (MSW)

Megan Fester is currently completing her Master of Social Work at the University of Calgary. She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a focus in Women and Gender Studies.  Her role as a social worker is a tangible way to create safe spaces in a world that can oftentimes be unsafe and full of uncertainty for the most vulnerable.  Her work in the field served refugees, immigrants, LGBTQ+ youth, those with different abilities, older folks and children.

A project that brings Megan immense pride and joy (beyond her 10-year-old daughter) is the work she has done in her community to create a Queer Straight Alliance.  Her project is a spin off from Gay Straight Alliances- clubs created within the school environment- as an alternative way to create safe spaces for queer youth who are not attending school or do not identify safe spaces in their schools.

Megan’s passion for justice and dreams of a world that respects the inherent dignity and rights of each human being prompt her to step into her MSW.  She hopes to focus on the social determinants of health, chronic pain, and how to create safe spaces where women can step into their power, again and again.

Angela Taylor 
University of Manitoba, PHD in Education

Angela Taylor is currently completing her PhD in education to enrich evidence regarding effective care for those who live with differently wired brains/neurodivergence. Those who live with brain differences, like Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourettes, experience significant psychiatric disorders. Much needs to be learned about this to increase the wellness of the world. My lived experience of being five times neurodivergent, raising children with complex neurology, including autism, and serving the community for over 22 years provides a unique lens.

Creating knowledge translated evidence to increase capacity of those living with complex neurology is something that benefits women and girls. Studies suggest that girls don’t get diagnosed and therefore lack understanding of themselves in regards to neurodivergence. Women maintain the majority of social services employment roles and will benefit from this knowledge as well. 

Live Your Dream Winners for 2022.

Christina Jackson

Christina is a young woman and mother from a small town in northern Alberta.  Her greatest role model was her Grandmother who was the epitome of unconditional love. Christina has always had the desire and innate ability to care for people. She was raised alongside her uncle with down syndrome, and through him, she learned compassion, empathy and acceptance. 8 years ago she was blessed with her son, Lennon who was born visually impaired. He inspired her to follow her lifelong dream to become a nurse. When she is done her schooling she would love to work with people with disabilities or she would love to work as a perioperative nurse. Maybe do both! The sky is the limit! 

Crystal F. Cardinal
High Prairie, Alberta

After I obtain my Early Learning Childcare diploma I will open up an Aboriginal Headstart for preschool children. I will provide quality care and exceptional learning for all areas of development to create future successful generations.  Once accomplished, I will continue to achieve my Bachelor of Education and open up a youth center.  I also want to raise awareness by speaking of my history of abuse, trauma and addiction. I will use my past to inspire people that addiction can be overcome, and success can be within reach. I want to prove, anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

Jordan Russell
Clairmont, Alberta

“My name is Jordan, and I am currently working towards a certification in Power Engineering, aiming towards a career in oil & gas, plant operations, or working in the health sector as maintenance and boiler control once my schooling is complete. I am a mother to a 4-year-old little girl and I’m a woman of many passions and goals who brings as much joy and love into peoples lives as I possibly can. I aim to show others and my daughter that you can achieve anything you put your mind to and overcome obstacles that may cross your path.”

Randi Janzen 
Winnipeg, Manitoba

When I began my social work program, I had a goal of working with families and helping them through the tougher times life can bring a person’s way. I have since realized that I want to focus on helping survivors of abuse.  As a student with a 4.5 GPA, I feel I am taking the most out of the education being provided to me. I am grateful for the information I have gained throughout my learning. It has opened my eyes to the good that we can each add to this world. When I have completed my course, my goal is to open a program that services both immediate and long-term needs for families leaving a hostile circumstance. This service will both duplicate a need being serviced, alongside adding to communities needs not yet being met. With the award I am receiving on behalf of the Soroptimist Foundation of Canada, I will truly be able to work at living my dream.

Lori Wolff
Slave Lake, Alberta

My goal is to be a competent registered Social Worker who can effectively help empower people experiencing hardships in their life and guide them to the resources they need to survive and thrive. It can be devastating, hard to cope and difficult to function in your daily life when you live year after year in an oppressive situation, especially with children involved. I have empathy for those who must start their life over again with absolutely nothing to their name. I strive to support and advocate for policy changes for those who do not have a voice.

Sonja Stone
Winnipeg Manitoba

Having grown up in poverty and an abusive environment both at home and in my community, and also spending my adulthood experiencing personal and systemic violence of all kinds, I have learned to cope in many complicated ways. Above all, I have been successful in using those coping strategies to heal and build a life of stability and increasing wellness. I am now working to use my significant life experience and growing education in social work to create a healing centre which will incorporate land back principles of truth and reconciliation with recovery from a full range of social problems, including but not limited to addictions, racism, homophobia, sexism, domestic violence, and poverty

Paige White

Paige is currently enrolled in the Addictions Counselling program at CDI College in Calgary. Upon completion of her degree, Paige will be pursuing a career working closely with families who are being affected by addiction. Paige has witnessed this experience first-hand as her late husband was an addict for over 6 years and eventually passed away in 2017 leaving her behind with their 2 little girls. This motivated Paige to seek help and change for herself so that one day she would be able to help others facing the same battle. Paige’s late husband went to many different treatment centers for help, and after a year of voluntary treatment, he was released. However, because there had been no counselling or support for Paige to prepare her for when he got out, the cycle began to slowly start over before she knew what was going on. Paige has a heart for change and is bringing awareness to the holes in the system that desperately need to be patched in order for treatment to be more successful for all those involved. This passion drives her to influence change on a daily basis. As a single mom of 2, Paige’s dedication to her schooling is a direct reflection of her drive and empathy to help others. There are no excuses for not pursuing what you’re passionate about!