Feb. 5, 2024

6 outstanding grad students selected as equitable and inclusive leadership interns

Program stands as a commitment to equitable pathways
A collage featuring the different graduates from the article
From left: Shena Kaul, Assad Ali Bik, Saaka Sulemana, Mojtaba Rostami, Tsion Berie, Molly Clare.

The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI) is excited to announce the second cohort of equitable and inclusive leadership (EIL) interns. Six graduate student leaders will join their EIL program this winter 2024. The EIL program was designed to support the development of equitable pathways and academic pipelines for the next generation of engaged student scholars committed to justice, pluralism, and more inclusive higher education and communities. After a successful launch of the program, and an outstanding EIL cohort in 2023, the OEDI is pleased to welcome the 2024 cohort.  

During their internships, students will gain hands-on experience in how to conceptualize, advance, and implement equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA). The interns will be working directly with, and receiving mentorship from, OEDI team members to support initiatives in EDIA-related research, policy development, event planning and implementation, and community engagement. Additionally, with the Presidential Task Force on EDIA heading into an intensive community engagement with the campus community, EIL interns will support upcoming activities as part of the next phase of the task force. 

Dr. Malinda S. Smith, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (equity, diversity, and inclusion), initiated the program to recognize and provide opportunities for students who wanted to contribute to transformative change at UCalgary and across the larger Calgary community. 

“The OEDI is excited to welcome our second cohort of outstanding student leaders who will enrich our ideas, perspectives and work by bringing their talents, diverse backgrounds, and unique lived experiences to advance EDIA at UCalgary,” says Smith. “We look forward to another year of mutual learning, strategic engagement, and action alongside our EIL interns. We believe the diversity of knowledges, lived experiences, and NextGen insights they bring to our work will position us to be ahead of tomorrow.” 

The six selected interns demonstrated a strong commitment to EDIA and desire to learn more in the transdisciplinary field of knowledge and practice, as well as excellent leadership skills to advocate for EDIA across the UCalgary campus community. 

Grace Kabengele, former EIL intern and UCalgary law student, speaks to her experience during the 2023 placement: "Throughout the process, I was given the opportunity to re-examine the use of the phrase EDI, reviewing policies and programing surrounding equity and inclusion initiatives, as well as engaging in problem solving.

“This internship significantly deepened my commitment to EDIA work by equipping me with the tools to effect tangible change within the university community and beyond, as evidenced by my continued contributions and involvement in the University of Calgary's larger community and as a future lawyer.” 

The program began Monday, Jan 29, and the OEDI is happy to welcome its new members:

Tsion Berie (she/her)
Cumming School of Medicine

Tsion Berie is interested in supporting the health and education opportunities for under-represented groups. She is actively engaged in her Ethiopian and Eritrean communities and dedicated to supporting youth in gaining equal access to technology and programming. Currently serving as the artist in residence at the Women's Centre, Berie employs spoken word and oil painting to assist others in overcoming conflict and adversity. Inspired by Dr. Gregor's work on the impact of artificial intelligence and technology on marginalized populations, Berie is keen to pursue EDIA research and practices to address these challenges.

Assad Ali Bik (he/him)
Werklund School of Education

Assad Ali Bik, a graduate student at the Werklund School of Education, focuses on the intersection of newcomer youth, sports, and leadership development. As a first-generation immigrant from Afghanistan, he discovered the value of leadership through sports in Canada. With a BA (Honours) in philosophy from the University of Calgary, his undergraduate thesis addressed environmental racism in North America. Dedicated to equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility,  Bik has held numerous student leadership roles including on the Students’ Union Executive, as a UCalgary senator, and Graduate Students Association Chair of the EDIA Committee.

Molly Clare (she/her) 
Faculty of Arts

Molly Clare is a sociology master's student at the University of Calgary. She holds a BA (Honours) in criminal justice from Mount Royal University. Her research interests include violence against women, deviance, risk theories, victimology and the role and perceptions of law enforcement. A dedicated volunteer, Molly has served as a victims' advocate for over three years and co-founded the MRU Justice Advocates club. With more than three years in public service and law enforcement, Clare brings a wealth of experience to her studies, shaping her commitment to assisting others.

Shena Kaul (she/her) 
Faculty of Arts

Shena Kaul, an anti-racist feminist and community advocate, is a PhD candidate in communication and media studies at the University of Calgary. Kaul’s work focuses on online activism of racialized girls in Canada. With a master's in economics, she has over seven years of experience in research and data-driven policy-making. Kaul instructs COMS 479: Feminist Media Studies, which includes an examination of key concepts such as intersectionality and queer theory. Passionate about community-based girl advocacy, she volunteered at the Women’s Centre of Calgary and serves on the Board of Directors for the Girls Action Foundation.

Mojtaba Rostami (he/him)
Faculty of Arts

Mojtaba Rostami, a dedicated PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Calgary, specializes in the social psychology of identity and intergroup relations. With a BA in English language and literature and a master’s in applied linguistics and sociology, his research focuses on factors influencing perceptions of social inclusion or exclusion and their impact on well-being in culturally diverse urban settings. Rostami’s PhD research addresses the challenges and opportunities of multiculturalism in Canadian post-secondary education, aiming to identify factors that contribute to creating an inclusive and emotionally safe campus environment.

Saaka Sulemana (he/him)
Faculty of Arts

Saaka Sulemana is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Calgary. His dissertation research, which has received Tri-Council Funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, focuses on ministerial appointments across Africa, specifically on the contributions of women cabinet ministers in policy-making. He earned a MA in political science from Brock University and a BA from the University of Ghana. As a student leader, he held the position of president of the Graduate Students’ Association at UCalgary in 2022/2023 and served on the Board of Governors.

Read the full bios for the OEDI’s 2024 EIL interns.

As an equitable and inclusive employer, the University of Calgary recognizes that a diverse staff/faculty benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers that have been historically encountered by some people in our society. We strive to recruit individuals who will further enhance our diversity and will support their academic and professional success while they are here. In particular, we seek to support the recruitment, retention and flourishing of members of the designated groups (women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, visible/racialized persons, and diverse sexual orientation and gender identities).

Learn more about the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

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