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.



Grants for Women
2021

Ishita Aggarwal
Juliette François-Sévigny
Mimi Shamin Brown
Sofia Melendez
Megan Fester
Angela Taylor

If you wish to be in contact with any of the winners please e-mail chair@soroptimistfoundation.ca.


Ishita Aggarwal
Doctor Of Medicine Program
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
Masters in Social Work (MSW)
University of Manitoba

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
Masters in Social Work (MSW)
University of Calgary

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
PHD in Education
University of Manitoba

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.



 
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