Tionda Cain
Shannon Cushing
Omi Hodwitz
Colette Mrazek

Dalhousie University

Tionda is studying for a Master of Social Work degree. Her BA was in Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Having worked in human services with women for many years she decided to return to University to get a professional designation and to study social work in the context of the African Nova Scotian community where she has family roots.

She wants to understand how to resist the effects of contemporary and historical racism and violence to better serve her community and to be involved with the social justice movement in the African Nova Scotian community.

Upon graduation she will work in individual counseling, group work and community work specifically with Black women.

Tionda is interested in restorative justice processes and policy making that empowers Black women and recognizes their needs.

Her professor found her to be one of her best students and states that she is unquestionably well suited for a successful academic career. She is a talented clinician and does an excellent job of translating theory into practice.

Photo: Tionda training facilitators for an upcoming social justice youth camp that she is helping to coordinate.

Wilfrid Laurier University

Shannon is studying in a Masters of Community Psychology program. She is working towards her life-long career as a women’s issues researcher.

Shannon is a single Mom of a two year old daughter and also has a profound hearing loss. Despite these challenges, one of Shannon’s professors says she has a promising future in human services, social intervention, and applied research.

She feels her personal experiences qualify her to work with women dealing with adversity. She has a direct understanding of the challenges faced by women with disabilities, women who have been sexually assaulted, women who have been victims of violence, women who have struggled with mental illness, women who are youth parents, and women who are single parents.

Shannon believes her Masters of Community Psychology is helping her to develop a skill set to help women help themselves; she indicates Community Psychology emphasizes the importance of giving women the skills and the power to free themselves from oppressive situations.

Another professor who has worked with Shannon states that in addition to her strong academic record, Shannon has a remarkable level of community contribution. She has volunteered with exceptional children and individuals with a wide range of dis/abilities, youth in crisis, women and children in a women’s shelter, and served as a volunteer with a refugee settlement centre. Shannon is a remarkable young woman.

Photo: Shannon is holding her two year old daughter in her arms.

Simon Fraser University

Omi is studying in a Master of Arts program at the School of Criminology. When she returned to academic studies she already knew that she wanted to achieve a doctoral degree in criminology.

She has been an activist for social justice and the environment for a long time and has come to realize that she can be most affective as a trained researcher providing validating information for campaigns that focus on gender inequality within the criminal justice system.

She volunteers for several social justice organizations, such as Students for a Free Tibet, the Rukus Society, and Schools not Jails.

She is working and researching to contribute to achieving equality for ethnic minorities and women. She wants to provide persuasive research results that will influence policy especially in relation to ethnic minority women within the criminal justice system.

Omi sees her life work as supporting campaigns that focus on gender inequality within the criminal justice system. She plans to return to the non governmental, non – profit organizations as an academic and researcher.

One professor states that Omi is, one of the strongest, most impressive undergraduate students he has taught in 20 years at SFU. Another professor indicates that her skills and outlook make for a potentially formidable academic who will prove outstanding in research and teaching, but remain a decent , caring human being and a wonderful role model. The Director of one of the social organizations she works with says that her research will be beneficial in helping to catalyze important policy changes in gender disparities within the criminal justice system.

Photo: Omi in New York teaching Tibetan activists about their legal rights within Canada and the United States. The flags in the background are Tibetan Prayer flags.

University of British Columbia

Colette is studying in a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology. For ten years she has been working in the human services field, where she is now doing post graduate work. She is deeply committed to helping improve the lives of women.

During her practicum at Awareness and Networking Around Disordered Eating (ANAD), she dealt with researching and designing a community based program for adolescent girls with eating disorders. She now sits on the advisory council of Jessie’s Hope Society (formerly ANAD).

Through her degree, Colette will become a Registered Clinical Counsellor. She plans to work with Jessie’s Hope Society to expand the Now What ? Program she developed by offering it to women of all ages and by providing free individual and family Counselling along with the support group and mentoring program. Mentoring figures importantly in this program for people struggling to overcome eating disorders.

One of her professors stated that her pioneer work with ANAD, which combined a mentorship program and weekly psycho educational support through group work with youth who are transitioning out of the hospital program, received excellent evaluations, as well as media recognition.

Photo: Colette is reviewing a client's file in her office.

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