Current Students

Students come to the program with a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, interests and goals. Some of our students this year are:

Year I Students (2020–2022)

Emil Aliyev

photo of Emil AliyevEmil graduated Summa Cum Laude from ADA University in Azerbaijan with a B.A. in Public Affairs. Awarded with Academic Excellence grants during his undergraduate studies, he developed a passion for Development Studies by gaining a theoretical background in public management, sustainable development, economics and governance. This passion grew further through participation in several volunteering and internship programs at public organizations, including the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). A position as a Research Assistant during his studies at ADA University contributed as well to foster a deep interest in topics related to natural resource extraction. During his time as an undergraduate student, Emil also completed an academic exchange with an Erasmus+ scholarship in Budapest, Hungary to study in the Faculty of Science of Public Governance and Administration at the National University of Public Service. Currently, he is working as an intern at the World Health Organization in Azerbaijan, where he gives his contribution in developing advocacy materials, including WHO messages for the implementation of awareness campaigns. Emil is particularly interested in researching the experience of more advanced economies in shifting to renewable energy sources. He is confident that the DVST program will equip him to conduct research and gain the knowledge necessary to understand strategies required for achieving sustainable energy transition in the Global South.

Haset Akilu

photo of Haset AkiluHaset graduated from University of Toronto with an Hons Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and minors in African Studies and Diaspora and Transnationalism. As an undergraduate student she partook in courses such as International relations & law, Africa in the 21st century, and Development in the Global South that broadened her perspective and understanding of the many forces that are at play in decision making that directly or indirectly affect the rest of the world. Haset has always been passionate about development in the Global South. Having been born and raised in Ethiopia, she witnessed incredible economic leaps in the country while stark contrasts continued to exist between different classes of society. Her drive and passion then was to be able to close that gap and provide access to resources to all people. After graduating, Haset had the opportunity to intern at an international Edu-Tech NGO in Ghana supported by the Canadian Global Affairs program. She was able to gain field-work experience in collecting data and analysis while supporting the expansion of e-readers in improving literacy. As a result, Haset’s Pan-African ideals has shaped her into being a part of the growing African Social Entrepreneurs community having started her blog and podcast called Golden Roots which expands on the history of the African Continent and sheds light on the incredible strides of the present. Her current research interests include the Ethiopian agricultural economy and its efficiency in providing food security as well as China’s involvement in this process. She hopes to expand her knowledge further through this program and engage with other academics within this space.

Ines Gomez Perez

photo of Ines Gomez PerezInés graduated with honors from King Juan Carlos University with a B.A. in International Relations. During her undergraduate studies, she worked at Fundación Esperanza y Alegría, where she started to understand the responsibilities of managing resources in the planning and execution stages of social inclusion projects. Her primary functions covered the communication with local partners, institutional and private donors fundraising, monitoring calls, and developing strategic alliances. During her junior year, Inés studied abroad at SciencesPo Lille in France where she had the opportunity to expand her international experience and complete course work in different regional issues such as conflicts and development in Latin American countries or political transitions in the Middle East. She also worked as a volunteer at different development organizations in Kenya (housing sector), India (education sector) and Jordan (food provision sector), which encouraged her to critically think about development, local partnership and fieldwork. Through the DVST graduate program, she hopes to work with local and international organizations in Canada, in order to get a better understanding of key issues affecting refugee settlement and integration.

Nathalie Halcrow

photo of Nathalie HalcrowNathalie graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in anglophone and francophone literature and cultural studies. Her Honors projects focused on transnational black identities in the early 20th century, specifically as related to the Harlem Renaissance and Négritude movements. From 2016-17, Nathalie served as a Fulbright Fellow in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where she served primarily as an English Teaching Assistant and tutor. Her time in Côte d’Ivoire also helped further her examination of how the vestiges of imperial regimes perpetuate systems of exploitation, inequity, and injustice in francophone West Africa and across the African diaspora. Nathalie’s research will continue in this vein by focusing on policy analysis, forced migration, and ethnocentrism as it relates to decolonizing humanitarian aid to Haiti.

Anifat Ibrahim

photo of Anifat IbrahimAnifat graduated with First Class Honors from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, with a Bachelor's in Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology. She obtained a Master of Philosophy (MPhil.) degree in the same field in 2017. As an undergraduate student, Anifat was a fellow of the Harambe Incubator for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development- a highly competitive fellowship for students who wanted to develop practical solutions to problems faced by farmers in rural communities. Through this fellowship, Anifat began to engage in other community development activities. After graduation, Anifat worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Ibadan. There, she assisted in conducting baseline studies for some rural farming communities in Nigeria as well as evaluating some community development projects. Later, Anifat worked as a Research Associate for Bridge International Academies in Nigeria- a social enterprise that provides education for children in low-income communities. Anifat is an active advocate for children and youth empowerment. She has served as a peer educator for high school girls, mentored some youths, and developed workplace preparation programs for recent graduates through her volunteer work with The Spring Development Initiative, and Connected Advocacy for Empowerment and Youth Development Initiative in Nigeria. Her research interest includes inequality, migration, education, and grassroots development. She wants to study the livelihood strategies of migrant youths in Lagos, Nigeria by examining issues such as vulnerability and inequality.

Najiba Khaliqi

photo of Najiba KhaliqiNajiba has graduated with a B.A degree in International Development Studies from York University and an Honours B.A in Sociology and a diploma in Media studies from Afghanistan. She also attended some short-term courses related to Human rights, gender equality, health care, and business management organized by international institutes and organizations. Najiba previously worked with local and international organizations in various areas including, capacity building, health, gender equality, and women empowerment programs and different projects in Afghanistan. She worked for “Gender and Equality Project” GEP with UNDP, and in the "ASGP" project with USAID in Afghanistan. These projects mainly focused on improving policies and legal documents, and boosting gender equality, women empowerment, and ensuring access to justice and human rights. Also, some other projects that included activities related to the establishment of different ‘community groups’ focusing on problem-solving and conflict resolution to support women's participation in the peace process. Najiba is excited to be a graduate student in the DVST program, as this program incorporates theory with hands-on training in fieldwork and an internship. Najiba is interested in the research on migrants and their living conditions during the pandemic and their access to health care. She is also interested in gender equality and gender mainstreaming, health, and sustainable development.

Riaz Khan

photo of Riaz KhanBorn and raised in Bangladesh, Riaz comes to York’s Development Studies program with a solid mix of passion and skills for development issues. During his undergraduate studies in International Development, Riaz showed strong commitment to finding answers to critical development questions. After finishing his degree, Riaz received training in Designing and Running Randomized Control Trial from Abdul Jamil Poverty Action Lab and MITs joint program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy to learn evidence-based approaches to Development problems. A recipient of Ontario Graduate Scholarship during his first year of studies, Riaz seeks to conduct research related to innovation in improving the quality of education in developing nations.

Naureen Lakhani

photo of Naureen LakhaniNaureen graduated Cum Laude from York University with a BA Honors in International Development Studies. She also holds an MSc degree in Food and Nutrition Studies. Naureen has strong analytical understanding and practical experience of integrated MCHN programming strengthened by working with teams from diverse communities across the Middle East and Eastern European Region. These learning opportunities have helped her attain insight on various developmental challenges from the perspectives of women and children living in marginalized (Pakistan) and war-torn communities (Afghanistan) to countries going through rapid policy transitions (Eastern Europe) and displaced populations (Lebanon). Naureen has worked with various institutions such as World Vision, Aga Khan University - Human Development Program, Sindh Education Foundation and Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan. She has facilitated capacity building programs based on the Conceptual Framework of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention along with focused nutrition-based training programs, using methodologies such as Positive Deviance, BCC and IEC. Naureen’s background has informed her research interest which seeks to identify linkages of how policies and indigenous practices can be coalesced to create development projects which are research driven, sustainable, inclusive and aim to empower vulnerable communities beyond project timelines. As a DVST Graduate student, Naureen is seeking to enrich the dialogue of development, in terms of aid and policy making by ensuring the cultural, social and indigenous fabric as viable policy influences.

Leigha MacDiarmid

photo of Leigha MacDiarmidLeigha graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in International Development Studies. During her studies Leigha became heavily involved with the growing Syrian community in her hometown. She helped with the sponsorship of three Syrian families. From this experience, she began focusing her studies on refugees and resettlement. She strives to bolster the voices of those who have been displaced. Volunteering within the Syrian community was the primary motivation for her Honours thesis. For her Honours thesis, she researched how education could be used as a method of rehabilitation for Syrian refugees in Turkey. After seeing the impact that school and education can have on the mental health of refugee children, Leigha became an English tutor for Syrian kids in her community. At York Leigha hopes to continue her research on refugees and resettlement. Her intended research will be looking at the emergency aid that is being provided along the U.S./Mexico border for Latin American asylum seekers.

Reenas Mohamed

photo of Reenas MohamedReenas graduated with distinction from The University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies and Political Science. On campus, Reenas was President of the East African Students Association and a Hart House Human Library Outreach Assistant. Her passion for international development and advocating for sustainability was heightened in 2017 when given the opportunity to visit Tanzania as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar. This fieldwork experience as a Communications and Documentations Advisor pushed Reenas’s interests towards a focus in Sub-Saharan Africa. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Reenas began a position at DT Global as a Program Analyst and Communications Officer on a USAID project titled Towards Endured Peace in Sudan (TEPS). TEPS supports Sudanese-led initiatives of good governance, peacebuilding and democratic engagement. Reenas intends to expand her professional background in Sudan through the examination of diaspora mobilization, power inequalities, democratic state-building and policy development. Upon completion of the DVST program, Reenas is confident she will able to coalesce her academic and professional background with new skills gained in the program to foster a career in international development.

Nabila Rahman

photo of Nabila RahmanAfter completing her Bachelor's degree in Business administration, Nabila worked for various international non-profit organizations such as Plan International and British Council (based out of Bangladesh) and for a Canadian charity, Canada Learning Code after she moved to Toronto couple of years back. The focus of her role has been Resource Mobilization and Grant management across multi-disciplinary sectors such as digital literacy, modernization of public libraries, child protection and early childhood development. Nabila regularly prospected new funding and partnership opportunities for various organizations and has worked with a wide range of funders including Corporations, Foundations and Government Aid agencies. And, over the years, she has helped impact-led organizations to grow by fundraising, designing programs and projects and working with decision-makers to make sure positive changes continue to happen. Passionate about the dynamics of international development and interaction of various actors in the international arena (government, non-government, civil society actors, INGOs, NGOs etc.), one of her biggest motivations for applying for this program is to complement her professional experience with theoretical and technical skills. Nabila is confident that the DVST program will help her advance her career in the international development sector and hopes to work with dynamic organizations working towards finding innovative and sustainable solutions to pressing social problems.

Solomiya Sharun

photo of Solomiya SharunSolomiya Sharun is a graduate of York University, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Law & Society. During her undergraduate years she had interned at the House of Commons of Canada, Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Program with a Federal Member of Parliament, which strengthened her knowledge in governance and policymaking. In her final year of undergraduate studies, she focused on International Development, which also led to an internship with the Canada Ukraine Foundation and an opportunity to work on a team with the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Solomiya worked as a project support assistant for the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support project (CUTIS), a Canadian development assistance initiative designed to lower poverty in Ukraine. Inspired by CUTIS’ gender strategies aimed towards women’s inclusiveness in trade and the prevalence of traditional gender business stereotypes in Ukraine, her research focus intends to investigate gender discrimination towards women in management positions in Ukraine’s agricultural sector. Solomiya’s academic background and experiences contribute to her ability to analyze the gender issue, and explore existing agricultural development programs between Ukraine and donor countries, and the progress or successes of these programs in provincial regions where women are leaders in the agricultural sector.

Samia Syed

photo of Samia SyedSamia holds a BA (Hons), in International Development Studies from York University. Upon completion she had returned to Bangladesh to work with Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Brac University. Its partners include the Government of Bangladesh, academic institutions and international donors. The exposure to the industry has allowed Samia to gain knowledge on development practice and Bangladeshi context. Under the supervision of development practitioners and social science researchers, she has learned how to work with a research team. She has developed hard and soft skills, and gain knowledge in research methodologies, data collection/archiving, transcribing interviews, note taking, translating, communication and team activity.

Taken under the wing of expert consultants, Samia helped to develop the ‘Gender-Transformative Microfinance Program Pilot’ with Brac’s microfinance team. Working to mobilize information between different stakeholders, she assisted in the project document writing, facilitation of staff training and administration.

She assisted the research project ‘Sustaining Power for Women’s Rights’ where she was to closely monitor and track labor party activity within the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. Samia was given the responsibility to analyze findings and draft media-tracking reports to be published by the university.

Samia hopes to work in fields of women economic participation, unpaid care work, gender equity, child marriage, labor movements and support the growth of development studies in Bangladesh.

Dechen Tenzin

photo of Dechen TenzinDechen Tenzin is a graduate of University of Toronto, St. George where she completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Political Science. During her studies, Dechen served in different student leadership capacities as the Assistant Vice President, Campaigns with the Students’ Union which helped further grow her interest in the areas of equity and social justice. Through her position, she launched initiatives like the Equity Collectives to serve the needs of marginalized students and assisted in the World University Student Centre’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program that allowed her to play an active role in the sponsorship of a refugee student from Kenya. Currently, she serves as a Board member of Students for a Free Tibet Canada, an international non-profit, student-led group that fosters freedom, democracy and human rights inside Tibet. She is a Constituency Assistant to a Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario and works with constituents at the grassroots level that have taught her the value of being involved in the democratic process from the ground up. Dechen is confident that the DVST program will allow her to build upon her experiences as she seeks to research the policy development and governance structures of displaced peoples in the diasporas.

Faith Torres

photo of Faith TorresFaith is a graduate of Tyndale University where she completed her Bachelor's in International Development. As a student, she has actively been involved in various organizations. She has worked as a fundraiser at the Canadian Red Cross. She has also volunteered her time at World Vision Canada working closely with the Child Sponsorship Department. This past summer, she interned at Tearfund. Her role as the Donor Care Coordinator has helped her gain a deeper understanding of working in the nonprofit world. With her cultural experiences from Malawi, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Kenya, she has learned many skills. She is eager to continue to grow in her passion in global development and to aid in community development to empower and transform the lives of others. In her spare time, you can find her seeking new places to travel and enjoying her time with her friends and family.

Year II Students (2019–2021)

Maham Aqil

photo of Maham AquilMaham graduated with high distinction from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in International Development Studies with a minor in Anthropology and Political Science. Maham was on the Dean’s List in her undergraduate career and was recognized with the Prudential Ability Award in 2016. As a student, she has actively advocated for the rights of females through several of the leadership positions she held including the Board of Directors for the Women and Trans Center, President of International Development Student Association, and Vice President and later Regional Board Member for Paper Kite Children’s Foundation. Maham’s passion for advocating females’ rights began at an early age, focusing on the promotion of education for marginalized females. As a child, she often dedicated time at her grandfather’s public school and supported initiatives aimed at reducing the high female dropout rate in rural Pakistan. After graduation, Maham gained fieldwork experience as the Project Assistant with Sindh Capacity Development Project USAID- Deloitte, continuing this type of work with Ruhil, an organization that aims to provide education for the children of sex workers in the historic red light district in Lahore, Pakistan. Maham hopes to base her research around education, refugee settlement, female empowerment, and citizen’s participation.

Michaela Bell

photo of Michaela BellMichaela graduated cum laude from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. During her studies she participated in the University of Ottawa’s Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights club, which organizes events for fundraising and awareness campaigns, and collaborates with Ottawa’s branch of Independent Jewish Voices organization to hold events and aid in education. Michaela saw a special interest in campaigning for the Palestinian led BDS movement, as well as encouraging students to vote for the university’s student federation to adopt BDS legislation into the constitution. Michaela took numerous academic courses during her studies which allowed her interests in human rights to find academic footing, focusing on topics of globalization, ethical and philosophical approaches to human rights, and theories of law, conflict, and politics. She was able to work as a research assistant under Professor Christoph Zeurcher at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She also was accepted to participate in a field research course overseen by Professor Jonathan Paquette during the summer of 2018. Her participation in researching heritage policy in Australia reintroduced to her the important concepts of identity, and identity politics. Michaela’s research will be focusing on concepts of identity and hope within Palestinian refugee camps.

Keiron Cobban

photo of Kieron CobbanKeiron is a graduate of Western University where he completed his BA (Honours) in Kinesiology. His interests revolve around sustainable development, cultural production and sport for development. Having been perennially involved in sport, Keiron has developed a keen interest in the concept of sport for development, at both an individual and community level. His role of Digital Marketing Manager at the Canadian Sport Film Festival and his hands-on experience with digital content and film production in the music industry has deepened his interest in the intersection between sport, art and development. He intends to research how access to sport impacts community development in Colombian youth in the country’s urban centres, which have long been targets for the mass intraregional migration of displaced peoples.

Laura Colangelo

photo of Laura ColangeloLaura Colangelo holds a BA in history and human rights from York University. After graduation, Laura interned at McGill University where she explored the private papers of John Peters Humphrey, the first director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations. Working with his collection, Laura fostered a passion for human rights issues around the world. In the Spring of 2018, she travelled to Cambodia in South East Asia, where she saw first-hand the effects of genocide almost 40 years later. Her interest has grown and she hopes to study the current Rohingya Crisis and the forced migration into Bangladesh. She hopes to focus her research further to the women and their resilience despite the inexplicable things they’ve experienced.

Melissa Coward

photo of Melissa CowardMelissa holds a B.A. (Hons) in Sociology from York University. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she began volunteering and working for organizations in Toronto concerned with the protection of refugees. A few years later, Melissa started her career with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Canada’s Protection Unit. Her work with UNHCR involved providing structural support to the development of advocacy and public awareness initiatives, compiling statistical and technical data for key documents related to the offices’ strategic priorities and contributing to the drafting of regional and national reports to government counterparts. Melissa also initiated a research project on jurisprudence in the Federal Court/Federal Court of Appeal, following legislative reform of the asylum system in 2012. Her current research interest seeks to expand on her professional work through an examination of forced migration issues, integration and policy development, with a particular emphasis on children and youth in the Caribbean. Melissa’s expectation is that this program will provide the necessary knowledge to effectively engage in the issues of development in the region.

Tamires Da Silva

photo of Tamires Da SilvaTamires graduated Magna Cum Laude from Soka University of America, receiving a B.A in Liberal Arts with a concentration in International Studies. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a research assistant analyzing the formation of racial constructs in Brazil and their role in sustaining current socioeconomic issues. Tamires is a twice recipient of the Luis and Linda Nieves Family Foundation Grant, first traveling to Ghana with her research team to examine historical commemorations of slavery, and later, to the Amazon in Brazil to learn about the successes and challenges of its universal health care system. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Senegal, taking theoretical and practical classes on development in West Africa and interning at a local organization teaching English and science to children. She is one of the founders of the Black Student Union at Soka University, and is interested in social justice, decolonization and development in the context of the black experience around the world. Lastly, her current research focus is the intersection of development, social inclusion centered on black communities, and the spatiality of urban poverty in Latin America.

Dawit Demoz

photo of Dawit DemozDawit graduated with honors from York University with a B.A. in Psychology. During his undergraduate studies, Dawit worked as a refugee community organizer in Toronto and as an advocate for refugees in Israel. Dawit grew up in Eritrea and lived for six years in Israel before coming to Canada as a refugee in 2016. In Israel, Dawit worked as a field worker and case manager at Kav-LaOved, a labour rights organization, where he educated refugee communities about their rights under Israeli law and assisted in individual cases of labour exploitation. He also worked as a volunteer at various other refugee organizations. In the summer of 2016, Dawit was as an educational facilitator for Heart to Heart, a non-profit group that aims to create an equitable space at a summer camp in Canada for young Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. In the summer of 2017, Dawit worked as a trip leader for Project Canoe, a Toronto based non-profit that organizes canoe trips for youth facing barriers. Dawit is passionate about human rights and social justice, particularly as they relate to the struggles of refugees and other forced migrants.

Emily Kutchaw

photo of Emily KutchawEmily is a graduate of Queen’s University where she completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies. During her time as an undergraduate student, Emily interned for HIV/AIDS Regional Services exploring harm reduction, social determinants of health and issues of food insecurity. Emily also completed an exchange at Monash University in Melbourne Australia where she had the opportunity to expand her international experience and explore topics such as Indigenous issues and urban development from a non-Canadian perspective. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Emily began working as an agricultural property manager for the conservation organization Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust where she focused on rural land protection. This ignited her research interests in agriculture, food security, and sustainability, specifically, focusing on strategies required for achieving sustainable and equitable urban food systems in Canadian cities.

Sandra McKay

photo of Sandra McKaySandra graduated from McMaster University with an Honours B.A. in Social Psychology (summa cum laude) and an M.A. in Sociology. There, she had a strong focus on discrimination, gender and race relations and community-based research. During her studies at McMaster, she was a Teaching Assistant for courses in Social Psychology and Sociology of the Family. She also volunteered for three years at a drop in center for people experiencing homelessness in Hamilton. She received the Undergraduate Student Research Award for her work exploring self-esteem protective strategies used by people with stigmatized identities, particularly by those navigating poverty alleviation services. Since 2016, she has been working in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and facilitating dialogue spaces in areas affected by extractive activities in rural Peru. She has also worked to prevent and sanction gender based violence in Lima. Sandra is joining the Development Studies Graduate Program as she is interested to find ways to promote development that is sustainable, ethical, culturally appropriate, and gender inclusive in areas surrounding Canadian extractive activities in the South American Andean region. She is also interested in the promotion of knowledge transfer between academic researchers and practitioners working in the development field so that information about best practices in development can reach those who implement it.

James Nyarkoh

photo of James NyarkohJames is a graduate of Central University in Ghana where he received an Honours Bachelor of Science in Administration with a major in Marketing. His passion for Development Studies began when he served in different student leadership capacities during his Diploma studies at Accra Technical University in Ghana and ultimately becoming the Public Relations officer for the Students Union. Prior to that, James volunteered with an Accra based NGO in Ghana dedicated to developing talents and building the capacities of the youth. In his quest to advance works in international development, James founded Transition Africa; an organization based in both Canada and Ghana and dedicated to developing sound policies to address Africa’s public and governance accountability challenges. Through Transition Africa, he has engaged both global and local partners including JAK Foundation; an organization spearheaded by the former President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufour, to promote good governance and sustainable development in Africa. While in Canada, James has volunteered with the United Nations Association in Canada, Toronto (UNACTO) and Rogers TV. He is currently with the African Canadian Social Development Council as a committee member assisting to realise the objectives of the organisation and a lead consultant volunteer for the restaging of the organisation’s brand image. James believes these experiences will enable him to appreciate the importance and the vast work that still needs to be done in the international development space for humanity. He is very confident the DVST program will help him to advance research works in forced migration and refugee issues, particularly health, employment, social impact of migrants and international migration policy development.

Victoria Reznik

photo of Victoria ReznikVictoria holds an Honours B.A in Politics and Governance from Ryerson University. Victoria is a bronze medalist from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Rhythmic Gymnastics. During her undergraduate studies, Victoria won the bronze medals at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Simultaneously, Victoria was the athlete ambassador for Fast and Female and FitSpirit. Victoria was a role model in her community with the aim of inspiring girls to participate in sport while promoting positive mental and physical health. Victoria spoke at schools, organized activities, and lead discussions about overcoming gender barriers. After holding employment at other NGOs and in the private sector, Victoria pursued research in the DVST program. Victoria intends to explore the Refugee Olympic Team applying the concept of Sport for Development and Peace and its impact on communities. She believes that playing sports should be accessible to everyone and can produce progressive change if programs and policies are carefully implemented.

Cody Samuelson

photo of Cody SamuelsonCody graduated from Carleton University with a B.A. (Hons.) in Political Science and a minor in History. During his undergrad, he worked for the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET), which was managed jointly by the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank and Carleton University. After graduating, Cody worked in program management as a Program Officer for the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program at Environment and Climate Change Canada. Through the fieldwork option offered in the DVST program, he hopes to better understand the obstacles facing international development in a post-colonial context, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. Cody hopes to work with organizations that focus on alternative and innovative methods of development that might offer more sustainable results than the western models.

Nusrat Shafiquddin

photo of Nusrat ShafiquddinAfter completing her Bachelor of Business Administration, Nusrat worked with International Finance Corporation providing investments and advisory services to promote sustainable growth and private sector development in developing countries. Due to her passion to contribute in the society and the interest to continue her career with international development agencies, she pursued Master of Development Studies from BRAC University. Afterwards, Nusrat worked with an INGO called International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which works in developing nations promoting better governance and strengthening electoral systems. Nusrat also worked in the Emergency Response and Preparedness unit at United Nations World Food Programme. Currently, she is volunteering at Engage Africa Foundation Canada and where she works to develop content on non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and management. Nusrat believes her master’s degree in Development Studies from York University would further deepen her knowledge on NCD prevention and management. Her research plan is to work on NCD-related women health issues with African immigrants of Toronto city.

Nicholas Storr

photo of Nicholas StorrNic is a graduate of Queen’s University, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History. During his undergraduate degree, he had the opportunity to work with at-risk children in the community, an experience that confirmed his belief in the importance of early intervention programs, and reinforced his desire to work with youth. He also served as Coordinator of Settlement for a local organization sponsoring the resettlement of a young refugee family, overseeing the various aspects of settlement assistance and support provided by the group’s volunteers. Nic’s academic background and experiences have informed his research focus, as he intends to explore the process of adaptation in new countries for youth refugees, and methods through which it can be mitigated. Nic is confident that DVST Program will provide him with the knowledge and skills necessary to better understand the challenges facing the developing world and ultimately pursue meaningful work improving the treatment and conditions of forced migrants and refugees.

Laila Tarakai

photo of Laila TarakaiLaila graduated from Trent University with a B.A. (Hons.) in International Development Studies and Political Studies. Laila has an interest in highlighting issues of human rights violations. As a result, her research focuses on the socio-economic, political and cultural marginalization of migrant workers that enter the Middle East through the notorious Kafala Sponsorship system. Laila has previously worked as an outdoor fundraiser for non-governmental organizations such as World Vision Canada, Canadian Feed The Children, and Amref Health Africa to raise awareness and funds for the most pressing social causes. Laila is excited to be a graduate student in the DVST program, as the program incorporates theory with hands on experience such as the requirement of doing fieldwork and completing an internship. Laila believes that both the fieldwork and internship will prove to be a useful learning experience to help prepare graduate students for a career in International Development.

Christina Thomas

photo of Christina ThomasChristina is a recent graduate from York University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Law and Society. Her research interest focuses on identifying solutions for children in developing countries, lacking opportunities for education. Christina participated in two Social Justice Missions to India, which had initially encouraged her to critically think about how she could assist children in disadvantaged communities. This interest sparked in 2014, during her time volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India. During a later trip to Uganda, Christina further developed a keen interest in the development of a solution to providing education for all children, especially in the elementary education level. Through her interaction and communication with local communities in Uganda and India, Christina has identified specific barriers preventing children and young adults from receiving primary education. Christina is confident that the DVST program will strengthen her research skills and provide her with both the knowledge and professional tools to carry out her research effectively.

Nicolas Viens

photo of Nicolas ViensA graduate with distinction from the William School of Business of Bishop`s University, Quebec, Nicolas is pursuing development studies with a problem-solving approach, directing his degree towards sustainability issues. Deeply avaricious of knowledge, he began doing research in the last year of his undergraduate studies on sustainability development and policymaking in order to better understand and manage climate change issues, arguably the greatest upcoming challenge of his generation. With his background in managerial studies, he now looks to delve further into his initial subject by directing his SSHRC-funded research at York towards the relationship between the private and public sector for developing adequate and effective sustainability policies in the future. While being highly passionate in his academic projects and objectives, he hopes his work will be able to contribute to society moving forward. Apart of research, Nicolas is also a student-athlete, practicing Olympic weightlifting, competing on a national level.

Alumni (2018–2020)

Gabeyre Ahmed

photo of Gabeyre AhmedGabeyre is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) with a program specialization in history. After graduation he traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, to intern and was placed initially in the Monitoring and Evaluation Department and later in the International Cooperation Department. In this institution he worked with the Monitoring and Evaluation department to audit data and projects, identify relevant documents, and submit monthly advisory reports. He also worked with Somalia's International Cooperation Department where he helped establish the National Authorizing Office, with the European Union’s support, that dealt with all international actors seeking to support Somalia’s development through programs and projects. He also helped to process and track all humanitarian development and other projects by international actors for the National Authorizing Office. He hopes the DVST program will aid him in conducting field research in Somalia and examine the development challenges in the wake of the civil war. Specific areas of interest include regional divides, environmental factors, and the ongoing refugee crisis.

Ziad Alijanabi Musi

photo of Ziad Alijanabi MusiZiad graduated Cum Laude from York University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Environmental Studies. During his time at York Ziad was a founding member of RefugeAid, a student led organization created to aid the plight of refugees in Canada and around the world. Upon graduation he traveled to southern Costa Rica where he worked alongside indigenous leaders to found Se' Yamë Medical- an alliance of indigenous medical professionals from various Bribris and Cabecar communities. Ziad is a recipient of the Dean's Leadership Award and Academic Merit Award scholarships at EGADE Business School in Mexico City, where he pursued an MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. His research interests include the autonomous development of marginalized rural communities, indigenous land reclamation efforts, health and development, biodiversity conservation, and the impact of climate change on global development processes. Having lived the majority of his life in the Middle East, Ziad has also developed a keen interest in exploring issues related to education, refugee resettlement, post-war reconstruction, and the nexus between stagnant development processes and the rise of religious fundamentalism.

Helen Claire Andrus

photo of Helen Claire AndrusHelen Claire is a 2018 graduate of the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she received her B.A. in International Relations with a minor in African Studies. Her interest in international studies began with a gap year spent living in Costa Rica and Ghana before beginning her undergraduate program. This passion grew more through participation in many years of Model United Nations, culminating in a position as Secretary-General in her last year at UBC of the school’s own conference. Helen Claire spent an exchange semester at the University of Cape Town, where she researched the gender dynamics of transportation throughout the city. Through her research in the DVST program, she will look at visual representation of those receiving development aid, and how this reinforces negative stereotypes and is counterproductive to the goals of development.

Lara Farah

photo of Lara FarahLara has graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Architecture and a M.Sc. in Spatial Planning from the German Jordanian University in Jordan. During her Maters’ degree, she developed her skills in problem-solving through practical approaches in order to achieve integrated sustainable local and regional policies and planning. Throughout her studies, Lara participated in several international workshops on urban minorities issues. She also conducted a thesis study which investigated forced migration to Jordan in the late nineteenth century and its enduring impact on the multi-layers of the city. She also brings to the program a career in project management where she has been exposed to many internationally funded projects for unprivileged groups and Syrian refugees in Jordan. This experience, along with her interest in the current geo-political and socio-economic challenges facing the Middle East, have inspired her next step: pursuing graduate education in Development Studies. Lara’s intended area of research is protracted refugees in diaspora. She would like to investigate the protracted refugees’ situations in countries where naturalization is not an option through the notion of self-reliance and its dynamic implementation in the various fields.

Abinaya Gnanasekar

photo of Abinaya GnanasekarAbinaya graduated with an Honors BA in Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario. During her undergraduate degree, she had the opportunity to participate in a semester abroad program at the Birla Institute of Technology in Goa, India, where she experienced new aspects of Indian culture with a more critical eye. Abinaya also participated in an SSHRC funded research project in Madagascar. During her time in Madagascar she primarily focused on a children’s home, Maison d’Arnaud, but also spent time with various other NGO’s that focused on conservation and sustainability, such as KOFAMA or the Bobaomby Conservation Project. Her passion for travel, social justice, as well as the experiences over the last four years of undergraduate studies have contributed to her research interests. Abinaya hopes to explore the topic of sustainability, how it is used and understood differently by the State, NGO, and community-based projects.

Tayba Hathiyani

photo of Tayba HathiyaniTayba graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Health Policy. In her undergraduate study, she was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and completed her internship in Babati, Tanzania with the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA). During her time at TCCIA, she conducted gender workshops for women and youth and created dialogues about some of the gender issues that existed in rural Tanzania, specificity within the Manyara region. For her future research interests, she is particular interested in the areas of gender and health, gender inequality, women’s health rights, and women economic empowerment. Tayba hopes this program will further deepen her understanding of the practices, processes and issues important within her areas of research. She is confident DVST will provide her with the tools to be competent in the field of International Development as she aims to work within organizations committed to achieving gender equality, women’s health rights, and fulfilling the sustainable development goals.

Travis Moore

photo of Travis MooreTravis is a graduate of Western University with a B.A. (Hons) in Globalization Studies from the Centre for Global Studies at Huron UC. Throughout his undergraduate studies he pursued a research interest in human rights and human mobility. This interest led him to chair the WUSC Student Refugee Program at Huron in 2017/18, organizing a campaign to renew and expand Huron’s commitment to the private refugee sponsorship program in a campus-wide referendum. Having completed an experiential learning course with an Italian NGO that incorporates conflict reconciliation into a unique refugee resettlement model he is particularly interested in the long-term integration of people without papers. A former Rotary Youth Exchange Student, he lived and studied in Italy for a year and is now interested in returning to research border securitization and the persecution of asylum seekers.

Rubina Nanji

photo of Rubina NanjiRubina graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in International Development and Globalization. During her undergraduate studies, she was an active member of several organizations dedicating her time to promoting education and development for marginalized populations, and working with individuals with developmental disabilities. She spent some time working at a Women’s Aboriginal Lodge, volunteering with a non-profit organization focusing on mobility, and spent a summer teaching English and hygiene to children in the Dominican Republic. After finishing school, she enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air force and focussed on developing and mentoring Canada’s youth. Rubina would like to focus her research on finding ways to make education more accessible for children, especially girls, in remote areas of Eastern Africa.

Nnenna Helen Okoli

Nnenna Helen OkoliNnenna holds a B.A (Combined Honours) in History and International Relations from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria where she received the merit award for the Best Graduating Student from the Faculty of Arts. Her undergraduate training on past and contemporary global issues, as well as the development realities in Nigeria ultimately inspired her interest in unravelling the complexity of the third world’s development predicament. Her interest is in human development and poverty alleviation with focus on women in the society; she hopes to explore this area especially in relations to policies of national governments and intergovernmental organizations. Her other interests include human trafficking, third world politics and third world debt.

Laura Perez Gonzalez

photo of Laura Perez GonzalezLaura holds a Specialized Honours B.A. in Global Political Studies and a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies from York University. During her undergraduate studies she had the opportunity to travel abroad for community engagement initiatives, which greatly emphasized her interest in human development. Most recently, she travelled to St. Kitts & Nevis to intern at the Basic Needs Trust Fund, a poverty alleviation program. During her internship, she was able to learn and work alongside different state sectors, such as the Department of Gender Affairs, and the Child Protective Services and Probation Department, reflecting on their impacts across communities. These experiences, together with her studies, have nurtured an interest to understanding national development and growth, particularly at a more local level. Laura’s research interests pertain to the effects and considerations of socio-economic, cultural, and political roles by the state in regards to human development in the Caribbean; more specifically, gendered and intersectional aspects that can affect access and provision to sustainable resources and opportunities for different social groups. She is very certain that the DVST Program will help her further understand and experience the foundations of contemporary development in the Global South.

Olesya Pogorelova

photo of Olesya PogorelovaOlesya completed a specialist degree in economics and political science at the University of Toronto. Throughout her studies Olesya worked as a research assistant and was involved in the publication of four academic articles. She was actively engaged in the Ukrainian community, holding the position of executive secretary for seven years. Olesya supplemented her academic studies by completing internships in Ottawa, Europe and Hong Kong. With a commitment to understand the challenges of economic development in poorer regions, Olesya is beginning her Masters degree in Development Studies at York University. Her research interests focus on the economic, political and social development in communist and post Soviet states.

Natalia Uribe–Pabon

photo of Natalia Uribe-PabonNatalia holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Business and Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Waterloo. During her undergraduate degree, she participated in an academic exchange at the Université Paris-Dauphine. Following graduation in 2014, Natalia worked closely with communities both internationally and domestically during her four years with WE, a non-profit organization focused on lifting families out of the cycle of poverty. Natalia led volunteer trips to Ecuador, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Kenya supporting various projects such as water towers and school classrooms. In recent years, Natalia also led the negotiation of a multi-year partnership contract to secure funding for 21st century skill development in Canadian schools as well as receiving grant funding for alternative income projects abroad. Natalia is interested in researching displacement patterns in Colombia caused by armed conflict and the role of women as leaders of economic empowerment and community development. She is confident that the DVST program will enable her to conduct research and gain the knowledge necessary to empower Latin American communities affected by conflict.

Sarah Waithe

photo of Sarah WaitheSarah is a recent graduate of York University, where she completed BA (Hons.) in the Children Studies program. Coming from a social justice and interdisciplinary background, Sarah has a strong interest in supporting racialized women and children who come from disempowered and marginalized societies. During her undergraduate studies, she volunteered in various student organizations, such as The Women Empowerment Club and Women’s Mental Health club, to promote women's rights and issues on campus. Sarah intends on researching how children’s rights are enforced and enacted in the North African region as well as how women and girls are treated. She aspires to gain a deeper understanding of how women and children across the globe are faced with numerous structural and institutional barriers that limit their agency and independence. She hopes the DVST program provides her with the conceptual tools and knowledge to engage in the problems of the developing world.

Kaitlyn WIlliams

photo of Kaitlyn WilliamsKaitlyn is a graduate of Tyndale University where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and International Development. During her undergraduate studies, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to complete an internship in Malawi where she worked with food security groups as well as women’s groups focused on family well-being and economic empowerment. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she began working with a Toronto – based organization that runs anti-human trafficking efforts in Ontario. She does case management and rehabilitative programming with women who have experienced human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Her research interests include the global sex-trade and human trafficking, with an emphasis on how these areas are impacted by women’s rights and equality. She hopes that the DVST program will equip her to conduct meaningful research in order to better support individuals who have experienced human trafficking both in Canada and abroad.


Iman Ahmed

photo of Iman Ahmed Iman is a graduate of York University where she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) with a double major in Political Science and Sociology. After graduating she travelled to Mogadishu, Somalia for the first time to intern with the Federal Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Through her Internship, Iman was part of a team that created a National Development Plan for Somalia through participating in consultations, meetings, workshops with Civil Society, International Donors (UN, USAID, DFID, etc), women’s groups and regional governments. Iman is interested in researching how young people, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa, are affected by poverty, violence, and natural disasters and how this impacts on the current global refugee crisis. She hopes that the DVST program will better equip her to conduct research and understand topics of development not only in Sub-Saharan Africa but across the globe.

Vanessa Bart–Plange

photo of Vanessa Bart–PlangeDuring her fieldwork in summer 2018 Vanessa explored stratification in the public senior secondary school system in the Central Region of Ghana. Using qualitative tools, she mapped out the differences in the infrastructural and human resource endowments of various public senior secondary schools in the region as a means to determine the source(s) and manifestations of stratification among the schools. During this time, she also completed two internships. The first one was at the Center for Educational Research, Evaluation and Development (CERED), the main research centre of the College of Education Studies at the University of Cape Coast which specializes in research, monitoring and evaluation to inform educational policy and practice. At the Center, she assisted in the organization of grant application review meetings and provided research and administrative support. Her second internship was at USAID’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center-West Africa in Accra, Ghana. At YALI, she proofread and edited online participants’ profiles in preparation of cohort yearbooks and provided administrative support with regards to certificate distribution and participant registration. Vanessa has had past internship experience working with a Toronto Municipal councillor at City Hall in Toronto and the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in Apam, Central Region-Ghana. Recently, she also had the opportunity to intern with the MasterCard Foundation at its headquarters in Toronto, Canada for ten months. Vanessa holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations, minor in African Studies from the University of Toronto, and a Certificate in International Affairs from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo, Reims Campus). Following the MA, she hopes to work with an INGO before she continues her journey in academia.

Katherine Cheng

photo of Katherine ChengKatherine spent four months in Nepal conducting research on the nature and impact of China's health and humanitarian aid to this country. In carrying out her research, she combined interviews with NGOs, governmental representatives, and medical workers along with the collection of secondary quantitative data. During her fieldwork research, she interned with the Nepal Development Research Institute in Kathmandu, where she was supporting researcher in the areas of health, policy, disaster risk management, and others. In addition, she also worked on a Nepali documentary project and explored the potential of visual anthropology. Prior to pursuing her Master's degree at York University, she worked for the Ontario government and volunteered with a health dispensary in western Kenya after double-majoring in International Relations and Ethics, Society, and Law at the University of Toronto.

Caleigh Doyle

photo of Caleigh DoyleCaleigh graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy from Brock University. After graduation she spent time in Gurgaon, India where she volunteered with a local organization Heeals. During her time with Heeals she was involved in projects related to gender discrimination, women and child development, and the promotion of education among oppressed social groups. Her intended research interest is to explore child poverty, child and youth rights, and socioeconomic development in the global south. More specifically, to examine the different national and international policies and practices to end poverty and where children fit into these commitments within the context of the global south. Some of her other areas of interest include foreign aid, refugee issues, and peace and conflict studies. Caleigh is confident that the DVST program will help her to explore current global development issues and the needs of the most vulnerable social groups.

Chelsey Heins

photo of Chelsey HeinsChelsey decided back in early October that she would be staying in Toronto to do her research. She was most interested in refugee settlement and Canada is where she wishes to work after completing the course in the coming year. A few years ago Chelsey did an internship with Literacy Nipissing in North Bay Ontario, it was here she truly understood how valuable language skills were and how detrimental they can be to someones success in everyday life. When coming up with her research plan, she felt compelled to combine the two topics, language and refugee settlement. Chelsey's supervisor had pushed her in the direction of looking at language integration in a co-ethnic community, and through this we landed on researching the Toronto Karen population. The Karen are an ethnic group out of Myanmar (Burma), who began being settled in Canada in 2006, it is because of their few years now spent immersed in Canadian culture that they were a strong interest for her research. For her internship Chelsey has been working with her Supervisor and the United Way Greater Toronto. They are currently involved in a large SSHRC research project that is taking place in cities across Ontario and Quebec under the title Building Migrant Resilience in Cities (BMRC). The research team she is working with has been entrusted with researching migrant resilience in York Region. This research project seeks to understand how specific newcomer groups access information about the services they need and use, in hopes of identifying actions by various stakeholders that could improve access. The research also seeks to understand how organizations providing settlement supports share information with specific newcomer communities, the challenges they experience in doing so, and how they have adapted to the changing needs of the newcomer communities in York Region over time. She has been working on building a Research Advisory Committee, who has been helping formulate the overall research plan. Chelsey is a graduate of Nipissing University where she obtained a Specialized Honours B.A. in Social Welfare and Social Development.

John Howes

photo of John HowesJohn completed his internship in Berlin (Germany) at Kiron, an NGO focused on bridging refugee students to higher education institutions (HEI's). Created in response to Germany’s influx of asylum seekers in 2014-2015, Kiron’s approach utilizes on blended online–and–offline learning practice for students to earn recognized credits from partnered institutions before applying and being admitted into university. John’s role within Kiron included supporting the development of the social studies curricula track, improve program quality assurance between Kiron and partnered universities, editing research proposals, and providing research assistance across departments. John’s MA research explores the available Berlin initiatives designed to improve refugee accessibility to HEI's, since Germany’s 2015 asylum influx. John’s aspiration for this research is to identify the factors creating HEI inaccessibility and to explore how initiatives such as Kiron address accessibility barriers. John takes a human rights-based approach to his research and aims to explore how this approach intersects with the German higher education system and general integration policies. John holds B.A.H. degrees in both Anthropology (2012) and International Development Studies (2016) from Trent University, as well as a B.A. of Education from Queens University (2015).

Kiarash Jalili

photo of Kiarash JaliliKiarash holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and a Certificate in Emergency Management from York University as well as a Certificate in Business Foundations from Conestoga College. Kiarash recently completed an internship with the European Commission in Brussels; during this time, he worked at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries unit A1 that focuses on Maritime Innovation, Knowledge and Investment. Based on this unique experience, he was introduced to the challenges and potentials of Blue Growth in a resource-constrained world. He has also interned with Crisys, a Markham-based software company specialized on developing emergency management software. Of great interest to him are the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative, the New Development Bank, Green Energy and international security. He seeks to learn about the bottlenecks impeding the development of Global South and for this end, he intends to research on the potentials of green energy, fisheries and transportation, and how they could be exploited in developing countries in sustainable manner.

Yumiko Kiuchi

photo of Yumiko KiuchiYumiko completed her field research under the guidance of traditional healers in Free State, South Africa, affiliated with the University of Free State. She focused on examining the power dynamics between international development programs and local actors, such as traditional healers, and whether the incorporation of the rituals of traditional healers could help to achieve higher levels of health and well bing for a community. Her study seeks then to assess the legitimacy of traditional healers from international and national perspectives. During her stay in South Africa, Yumiko presented her current research as an invited lecture with traditional healers titled “Traditional Healers on Health and IKS,” presented by the Center for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS) Seminar Series at the University of Free State. Yumiko holds a B.A. (Hons.) double major with Summa Cum Laude in International Development Studies, and Human Rights and Equity Studies from York University. She is a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2017-2018, and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program 2018-2019.

Kaleigh McIntosh

photo of Kaleigh McIntoshKaleigh completed her internship in Sydney, Australia with Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an advocacy NGO focused on to raising awareness and recognizing Australia’s responsibility to their low-lying island neighbours in the Pacific in regard to the serious threat that climate change poses to them. Kaleigh’s role with the organization was assisting with the organization’s website, social media and online presence; developing contacts and relationships with other organizations; and producing a presentation and papers for PCP based on her time in Kiribati. Kaleigh also spent time assisting with social media and shadowing in Tarawa, Kiribati with a climate action network, KiriCAN, that is working at the local, national and international level on climate justice and supporting and empowering civil society organizations to influence the design and development of an effective national strategy on climate change mitigation and adaptation processes. Kaleigh’s MA research looks at the role of local community-based groups in Kiribati in the creation and implementation of policies to address disaster risk reduction (DRR) and adapt and mitigate impacts of climate change in Kiribati. It also seeks to answer how local priorities and community knowledge are being engaged in international DRR discussions about the participation of and partnership with those directly affected. Kaleigh McIntosh has a B.A.H from Carleton University in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and a Minor in History (2016).

Negin Najjarnejad

Negin graduated from Concordia University with a B.A. in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations. She served as President of the Amnesty Concordia Club for the 2015/16 Academic year. She is currently the Social Media and Networking coordinator of Amnesty International Canada. Negin has a strong interest in women and children rights in situations of armed conflict. Development in MENA war torn regions is a core issue that she would like to understand deeper, particularly after working on various human rights campaigns in Syria, Turkey, Israel-Palestine and Iraq through Amnesty International. Having worked with multiple humanitarian organizations following the Middle Eastern refugee crisis, she has observed that it is imperative to have a responsible decision-making process and that political and military decisions must focus on safeguarding civilian populations to avoid harm. She believes it is important to use educational, business, and sociological tools to understand the fluctuating character of war and organized violence. Her thesis will study war and organized violence by providing an extensive historical, educational, political, and sociological analysis that links classical and modern theories of development with specific historical and geographical contexts of the region.

Cosmina Nistor

photo of Cosmina NistorCosmina-Silvia interned at the Roma Peoples Project at Columbia University, a start-up initiative that aims to fight discrimination towards the Roma minority by spotlighting various Roma. She assisted with research and collecting information for upcoming conferences and events. Cosmina-Silvia also interned at the Roma Community Centre in Toronto, a nonprofit organization that helps newly migrated and refugee Roma families. Her field research was conducted across Romania where she conducted interviews with NGOs, governmental institutions and ministries as well as Roma and non-Roma students and teachers. Her enquiry was based on the Romanian education system and Roma inclusion policies. She wanted to evaluate the progress of the National Strategies on Roma Integration in a holistic way where the voices of the Roma people are highlighted. She partook in conferences, meetings, and events surrounding the empowerment of the Roma community and solutions of the future. With her undergrad degree in International Studies from Glendon College, she was able to critically analyze the situation from a broader and historical framework.

Florence Lux-Côté

photo of Florence Lux-Côté

Florence holds a bilingual Honors B.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies, and a Law and Social Thought bilingual certificate, from Glendon College, York University. She graduated First Class and is a Golden Key Society member. Having had the passion to travel since a very young age, Florence has travelled to various countries participating in different volunteering projects, such as Chantiers Jeunesse, and community based projects in Ecuador. Her time spent volunteering along with her academic background in gender and women’s studies has helped shape her research interests towards gender and civil society, and NGOs’ work, focusing on their conceptualization of women’s and girls’ rights. Florence believes the Development Studies program is a great opportunity to further her knowledge of the analytical tools necessary to study these concepts and issues in the context of globalization.

Ayan Osman

photo of Ayan OsmanAyan received a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons.) with a minor in Sociology from Ryerson University. Throughout the course of her undergraduate studies, she was eager to pursue a career in social justice, specifically within East African countries. Following graduation, she moved to Kenya where she worked at the Transition Initiatives for Stabilization project. Through this experience, Ayan was responsible for leading and coordinating the project’s weekly reports, compiling appropriate reporting on program status and impact, and producing communication materials. During this time, she had the opportunity to travel on assignment to cities across Somalia, where she reported on program impact and documented success stories. Ayan is interested in issues of social injustice and inequality experienced by women across the globe. Within her research, she would like to explore issues surrounding gender inequality, particularly gender-based violence and reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Laura Primeau

photo of Laura PrimeauLaura completed her internship in ILSA, an NGO based in Bogota that works for the defense of human rights in Latin America. She was in charge of contacting organizations to establish national and international ties, raise funds for the organization, and increase its visibility internationally. She also participated in the organization’s project of accompaniment of a small Afro Colombian community in the region of Apartado who is undergoing a collective land restitution process and a struggle against a big company that threatens their rights and livelihood. Her research interests include forced displacement, human rights and Latin American politics. Her fieldwork research in Colombia focused on transitional justice, post-conflict challenges and land restitution. It looked at the reparation scheme for victims of forced displacement and its implementation, with a particular focus on the question of land restitution and its tension with the country’s model of development. Laura holds a bachelor’s degree from McGill University in International Development Studies with a minor in politics of the developing world. During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship in rural Costa Rica where she worked with internally displaced children. She also spent a semester in Beijing, China where she studied the role of China in global development and politics. After graduating in 2015 she worked as the director of the academic department for a language centre based in a Colombian town and was an invited lecturer at the University Piloto of Bogota and where she thought international politics.

Tara Saberpor

photo of Tara SaberporTara travelled to Turkey for her fieldwork where she collected data to learn about the specific constrains and opportunities that Afghan child refugees face in this country. The study will involve a comparison with Syrian children. Tara completed her internship at Istanbul in an NGO empowering young people to participate, engage and lead volunteer projects for disadvantaged and displaced communities. She participated in various projects, mainly serving as an English teacher and helping coordinate Istanbul’s Unaccompanied Minors (UMD) English Project. The project seeks to provide weekly English language classes to unaccompanied refugee boys staying in a dormitory to prepare them with language skills needed to integrate into society. Tara holds a bilingual Honours B.A in International Studies from Glendon, College, York University.

Rasa Sarwari

photo of Rasa SarwariRasa graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of the Arts (Hons) in International Development Studies and a Minor in History. In his undergraduate studies, he was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and completed a research internship in Northern Ghana with Trias, a Belgian International Development Agency. During his time in Ghana, Rasa worked with Trias to empower and support rural farming collectives to gain better access to markets and financial institutions.  His research interests include ethnic conflict, post-conflict development, resource management and forced migration, primarily in the context of the equitable distribution of oil rents.  Rasa is confident that the Development Studies program will help further his understanding of the ongoing development issues surrounding oil, ethnic conflict and resource management in the Middle East and West Africa.

Aisha Siddika

photo of Aisha SiddikaAisha completed her internship with the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), a right based national NGO committed to promoting and strengthening land rights and agrarian reform in Bangladesh. She visited two different districts in Bangladesh and supported the organization in exploring women farmers’ experiences with agriculture. Her research at York University aims to critically examine how the agricultural markets in Bangladesh as a reflection of broader society shaping and reshaping gender relations, norms and practices, and together impacting on women’s land ownership and participation in agricultural production and marketing. During her stay in Bangladesh, from May to August, she has conducted individual, key informant, and group interviews, also resource mapping to understand the agriculture and land ownership situation. Aisha earned another MA in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research from Western University in Canada. Her research at Western University explores the global situation of acid violence.

Nicole Vassilou

photo of Nicole VassilouNicole completed her internship in Athens, Greece with a nationally based NGO called Apostoli. The NGO works to provide multiple services, both humanitarian emergency aid and long term efforts, to Greeks, refugees and migrants alike. Within this organization she contributed in the planning and implementation of programing for refugees, assisting with cultural acceptance and projects that assist with the integration of refugees within Greek communities. Other duties included creating proposals for new programs, donor reports, marketing and public relations, as well as projects aimed at gaining more global recognition. She also facilitated academic connections between universities and the NGO and fostered ideas for new programs and fundraising. She also volunteered her time in open air markets to assist with food donations to community centres. Nicole was able to experience the theoretical frameworks that make up research, but also participate in practical settings at the refugee education centre. Nicole’s research is qualitative in nature and focuses on the effects of the economic crisis to state welfare and the response of civil society. Specifically, she studies the effectiveness of NGOs and how NGOs and smaller community–based organizations are helping the public cope during this difficult time. It is through this research that Nicole wants to understand how communities facing austerity measures can begin to help each other and strive to rebuild. Nicole has continued interests in human rights, poverty alleviation, civil society and immigration. She is working on a concurrent Graduate Diploma in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and holds an Honors BA in Psychology and Spanish from York University.

Maaike Zeeman

photo of Maaike ZeemanMaaike is conducting research on Inuktitut language learning among high school students in Kuujjuaq, a northern Inuit community in Quebec. This research is looking specifically at areas for curriculum adaptation and development, as well as classroom adaptations. Through this work, she is hoping to shed light on the unique linguistic and education experiences of Inuit youth in a developing Canadian Arctic. She completed her internship at Jaanimmarik School, working in a variety of roles including supply teaching, behaviour technician, administrative work, and organizing and participating school and cultural events, clubs, and activities. Maaike holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Laurentian University.

Alumni (2016–2018)

Rita Al-Salaq

photo of Rita Al-Salaq

Rita completed her BA (Hons) in English and Equity Studies with a minor in History from the University of Toronto. Her interests revolve around cultural production, community development, and trauma rehabilitation. More specifically, she is interested in popular theater movements, and the unique role they play in bridging community development with the production of arts and culture. During her studies at the University of Toronto, she worked with student groups, attempting to bridge the gap between the community on campus and the city surrounding it. She also had the privilege to be placed at SKETCH Working Arts, where she observed her academic interests as they were played out in practice.

Edna Appiah-Kubi

photo of Edna Appiah-KubiEdna is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in English Literature and African Studies. After graduating, she traveled to Ghana, West Africa, where she interned with the Social Security National Insurance Trust and volunteered at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital. During her time in Ghana, Edna was reintroduced to various issues of African development that she examined in her undergraduate courses. This exposure and reintroduction sparked a serious interest in Ghana's socio-political development. Some of Edna’s research interests include curriculum reform and education, and sustainable and alternative energy options in Africa. At present, her intended area of research is transportation, disability and accessibility in Africa. Edna intends to utilize this program as a catalyst in launching a for-profit initiative that responds to the plaguing inaccessibility in the transportation and health sector in Ghana, West Africa.

Frank Bagonza

photo of Frank BagonzaFrank completed his B.A. (Hons) in English from York University. His current research interest is to explore the bottlenecks that have hindered development in the global south, by examining development policies in Sub Saharan Africa, and how these policies have been impacted by HIV/AIDS and the refugee crisis resulting from civil conflicts. Frank hopes that the DVST program will help him explore the different interpretations of development and to gain a clearer grasp of the societal implications of globalization. His past experience as a journalist in East Africa exposed him to the injustices different societies undergo; this helped shape his advocacy campaign for equality and social justice. He has volunteered with the Uganda Red Cross in addressing the needs of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Western Uganda. Frank has also volunteered with the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, whose main focus is freedom of the press around the world.

Benjamin Bilgen

photo of Benjamin Bilgen

Benjamin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Music Composition from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A. During his undergraduate studies, he partnered with student filmmakers as a film composer to create media that would raise awareness for a variety of community issues, including refugee relations and AIDS prevention programs. After graduating in 2015, he moved to Antalya, Turkey to work as a journalist for the online newspaper Independent Turkey, a publication committed to offering critical voices in the arena of Turkish politics. During his time with Independent Turkey, Benjamin worked to raise awareness for the issues of the Syrian refugee crisis, especially in regards to Syrian refugees living in Turkey. He volunteered at a local primary school composed of and founded by Syrian refugees, where he taught English, Turkish, and music to the students. He also worked to raise awareness through his journalism of the humanitarian crisis in Turkey’s primarily Kurdish East, which has recently been rocked by severe violent conflict. Benjamin’s research interests include the intersection of culture with politics and development, and the ways in which cultural narratives cultivated through art have significant political and economic outcomes.

Alex Blanchard

photo of Alex Blanchard

Alex graduated from Queen’s University with a B.A. (Hons.) in Global Development Studies and a minor in Latin American Studies. During her time at Queen’s she was a varsity soccer athlete and used her passion for the game to help spearhead and run the “Students for Special Olympics” club. The club ran an after school soccer program for children with disabilities, the only one of it’s type in Kingston, Ontario. Following graduation, she extensively travelled India, where spent some time at the Mother Theresa House in Calcutta, volunteering with the elderly palliative care unit. Alex is passionate about human rights and issues of social inequality and injustice, particularly the struggles of women around the globe. This has helped to shape her research interests, which focus on the female dimensions of forced displacement. During her time at York she hopes to explore the dynamics and interventions that would be effective to help combat the domestic, social, and sexual violence that refugee women face not only on a structural level but also on an individual one.

Jen Katshunga 

photo of Jen Katshunga

Jen completed her undergraduate degree in History and Contemporary Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford campus and a post-graduate certificate from Humber College in Global Business Management. As the daughter of a Canadian diplomat, Jen has lived in multiple countries and has witnessed firsthand the front lines of development. Her latest visit to her native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) solidified her research interests of eradicating gender inequality specifically, forced and child marriage in Francophone Africa. She is particularly interested in how child marriage and different forms of gender inequality affect the social, economic and legal landscapes in DRC and other Francophone African countries. Ultimately, she intends to complete her doctorate or work as a public interest lawyer. She is certain that a Master’s degree in Development Studies will provide her with the essential skills to be successful in any of her endeavors.

Alexandra Koster-Pickering

photo of Alexandra Koster-Pickering

Alexandra holds a bilingual Honors B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from Glendon College, York University. Her segue to development studies began with the opportunity to study racial segregation and reconciliation in a one-year program after high school. The first six months focused on Aboriginal Peoples in Western Canada, immediately followed by a semester in South Africa focused on reconciliation in the post-apartheid era. Returning to South Africa for an exchange at the University of Cape Town, Alexandra volunteered at the student education initiative SHAWCO while studying gender and socio-economic issues affecting South Africa. After graduation, Alexandra spent a year in South East Asia where she volunteered with a Cambodian run organization that funds local development projects and provides English language classes. Alexandra hopes to focus her research on the barriers for women in South Africa seeking healthcare and violence intervention.

 Alasdair McCaskill

photo of Alasdair McCaskill

 Alasdair graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a B.A. (Hons.) in Communication Studies followed by a B.A of Education in 2014. Upon graduating he taught for two unforgettable years in a remote Inuit hamlet in Nunavut that can only be reached by a three-hour flight into the Arctic Circle. As a 21st Century educator, Alasdair has a strong desire to make quality education accessible to those without equitable access. While teaching in the Canadian Arctic, he was exposed to challenges reminiscent of those found in the Global South in terms of accessibility and quality of education. Poverty, mental health challenges and limited access to 21st century learning technologies are among some of the many barriers First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students face in achieving academic success. Based in his first hand experience, Alasdair’s research interests include questions surrounding the availability of equitable education in remote and isolated communities located within the global south. He believes that by investigating topics such as integral teacher education programs, professional supports, and the roles that 21 Century educational-technologies may play within the remote classroom, many of the current barriers to equitable education in the global south may be overcome.

Emily Philpott

photo of Emily Philpott

Emily is from Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland. She graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Psychology and Communication Studies and completed her honors research in the area of social and health psychology. During her undergraduate studies Emily volunteered with student organizations related to health and mental health education and promotion, women's issues, and student advocacy. She was also a representative on the Memorial University Senate, psychology society, and academic committees. After graduation, Emily worked as the provincial coordinator of Allied Youth NL, a non-profit that offers community engagement and leadership programs for young people in Newfoundland and Labrador. Emily's studies and extracurricular work have taken her to Italy, the United States, Nepal, Australia, and elsewhere, fueling her interest in global issues and development. Emily's research interests are in human development, particularly around gender equality, health, and refugee and forced-migration issues. Emily is excited to be at York and to shift her academic focus more specifically to development.

Felisa Ponce-Tamayo

photo of Felisa Ponce-Tamayo

Felisa holds an Honours BA double major in Political Science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from York University. She also holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in International Development from Humber College. Originally from Colombia, Felisa has worked in Latin America on both development and aid projects, which eventually led her to discover her passion – refugee protection. In 2012, she began working in refugee resettlement at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Ecuador and continued working in resettlement upon her return to Canada. For the past 3.5 years she has coordinated a government program, which matches refugees selected by Canadian officials with private sponsoring groups in Canada. Earlier this year, she was an NGO delegate for a UNHCR mission to Brazil to promote the development of a private sponsorship of refugees program. Felisa co-founded Toronto Friends of Refugees in 2013, a community group that has sponsored refugees from Africa and the Middle East. She plans to research civil society engagement in refugee resettlement programs, focusing on the potential expansion and improvement of current programs based specifically in Latin America.

Samana Taqi

Samana recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Human Rights and Equity Studies from York University. Outside of her coursework, she has participated in various collaborative projects, particularly with Common Frontiers Canada and Romero House, which provided her with the humbling opportunity of raising awareness to the plight of refugees. She also had the opportunity to work with a peace organization in Pakistan that works to improve the livelihoods of families affected by poverty and terrorism. These valuable experiences further bolstered her interests in social justice and development issues. For a short period of time, she also worked as a community development worker that focused on increasing community engagement. Her area of research is centered on human security and refugee crisis in the Middle East, investigating effectiveness of political and humanitarian policy responses by the international community and their far-reaching socioeconomic implications. She believes in remedying the crisis by facilitating discussion to create a more migrant-friendly environment. Samana is convinced that Development Studies program will equip her with hands-on experience to succeed in her future aspirations.

Amanda Siino

photo of Amanda Siino

Amanda graduated from Concordia University in Montreal with a double major in Journalism, and from the Liberal Arts College. During her undergraduate degree, she participated in a year long academic exchange at the American University in Cairo. She returned to Cairo in January 2016 to volunteer at Saint Andrew’s Refugee Services as a Volunteer Legal Advisor in the Resettlement Program, and as a teacher in the Unaccompanied Youth Bridging Program, where she found her passion for working with unaccompanied youth. Amanda’s research interests focus on urban refugees in the Middle East and North Africa. Her particular questions seek to understand interactions between refugees and host communities, how those interactions affect cultural restructuring after displacement, and how this restructuring affects women and youth in particular. During her undergraduate degree she worked on a research project, funded by Concordia University, on Feminism in Twentieth-Century Egypt, which enabled her to study the intersection of gender, nationality, and religion.

Ayesha Umar

Ayesha completed a BA in English and a Masters degree in Elementary Education at the University of the Punjab in Pakistan and was the recipient of Chief Minister's Award for Academic Excellence. She also has an Honors BA in Business and Society from York University. Over the last 8 years, Ayesha worked as an educator in the public and private sectors in Pakistan and Canada, from elementary to university level. She has also worked with a non-profit organization to build a school for the children of her community in Brampton. She is currently working with a non-profit organization as a substitute teacher and is also a member of its academic planning committee. During her work teaching Indigenous Muslim children in Canada and with the Education Quality Assessment Office in Canada, she observed the relationship between the socio-economic background and educational attainment. As a graduate from York’s Business and Society program, she developed a critical perspective towards the restructuring and transformation of the economy, and its impact on the environment, consumption and the Indigenous communities. Ayesha hopes to conduct research on sustainable alternative economies. She likes to develop audio-visual aids for classroom instruction for kindergarten in her free time and is also an educational author.

J’Moi Whyte

photo of J’Moi Whyte

J’Moi graduated from Trent University with a B.A. (Hons.) in International Development Studies, with an emphasis in Global Studies and a specialization in African Studies. She has a strong interest in human rights and refugee advocacy in the African region. Through her internship with the Ghana Refugee Board under the Ministry of Interior in Ghana, West Africa, J’Moi was able to observe the daily operation of refugee camps, and their relationship with the government entity responsible for managing refugees. Her research is focused on ratifying basic human rights and freedoms for refugees and asylum seekers, by improving refugee advocacy strategies, government accountability, and policies and procedures through legislative changes. J’Moi believes that a Masters in Development Studies and a certificate in Refugee Studies will improve her understanding of the complexity of various aspects of the African refugee crisis, and contribute towards a career that matches her interests.

Zoe Share

photo of Zoe Share

Zoe is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, where she completed a B.A. (Hons) in Global Development Studies. Fascinated by the critical and interdisciplinary nature of the development field, she worked throughout her undergraduate career to bring these characteristics outside of the classroom. Her involvement with organizations such as Engineers Without Borders encouraged cross-faculty learning and critical thinking about local and global issues. Her current broad research interests include the intersections of gender, class, and race/indigeneity in the Global South and in Canada, how these intersectional identities affect solidarity and social movements, and process of decolonization as an alternative to development. Zoe is excited to continue her studies at York, and is confident that the DVST program will help to narrow her research interests and prepare her for a future in development work.

2015–2017 Class

Aida Afrazeh

photo of Aida Afrazeh

Aida completed her internship with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Amman, Jordan, an NGO that serves local refugee communities through capacity-building projects. As the Monitoring and Evaluation Intern, she developed and conducted M&E practices for JRS’s various initiatives, particularly their higher education projects. Her responsibilities included: developing and running focus groups, surveys, and interviews with students and graduates; liaising with other humanitarian actors in Jordan that focus on refugee education; and developing evidence-based recommendations for future projects at JRS. Aida’s fieldwork research was conducted on the qualitative experiences of refugee students with higher education, particularly the impacts or perceived impacts of education. Through her research, Aida hopes to bring to focus the differential experiences of refugee students by taking into account the range of social, political, and economic positions they occupy. Aida holds a B.A. (Hons.) in English Literature and Sociology from the University of Toronto.

Hanan Duri

photo of Hanan DuriHanan interned at International Law and Policy Institute at their Addis Ababa branch in Ethiopia. She worked alongside legal and political experts in producing valuable content for stakeholders, including  government agencies, non-profit organizations, universities, international institutions and more. Her duties included  editing research proposals and policy analysis papers. Her fieldwork research was conducted at the University of Addis Ababa and focused on gender mainstreaming policies implemented by the university. The aim was to assess its impact  on gender relations at the university. Hanan completed an undergraduate degree at York University’s Glendon campus with a bilingual Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Certificate in Law and Social Thought.

Hansika Gunaratne

photo of Hansika Gunaratne

Hansika completed her internship at the Educate Lanka Foundation in Kandy, Sri Lanka, an NGO that works to empower socio-economically disadvantaged children and youth in Sri Lanka by enhancing their access to quality education and career opportunities. She contributed to the launch of Educate Lanka’s Mentorship Program, where student scholars are given the opportunity to obtain critical professional guidance to enhance their employability and civic-mindedness through interaction with an experienced professional in their field of interest. Hansika’s role within the Educate Lanka Mentorship Program allowed her to connect with industrial partners in various fields, including those in health care management in Sri Lanka. This complemented her research on on health care development in Sri Lanka. Hansika explored the health care experiences of community members in Kandy by taking a close look at dengue fever occurrences in the region and any processes that are in place for its prevention. By connecting with health care professionals, civil society members, government personnel, and the general public in Kandy, she collected information on how health care development and aid are shaped around the delivery of dengue fever care and treatment in Sri Lanka. Hansika holds a BSc in Biology and a BA in Philosophy from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Mhommad Kabir Hossain

photo of Mhommad Kabir Hossain

Kabir did his internship with the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) an organization that offers services to low-income disabled people in Bangladesh in a socially responsible manner. As a non-profit non-government organization, CRP treats and rehabilitates disabled people regardless of their economic means. He worked in CRP’s fundraising department. His duties included assisting in managing grant application processes, tracking reporting and ensuring it met donors' expectations, and participating in community outreach events. Kabir’s MA research focuses on the role of voluntary organizations in the betterment of disabled people’s lives in Bangladesh. His research uses a right-based social model approach to disability and aims to explore how this approach works in developing countries like Bangladesh. Kabir did his Masters in Economics from Korea University in South Korea and Bachelor of Science in Economics from Jahagirnagar University in Bangladesh. He has worked with the Commonwealth Youth Programme Asia Center as a youth leader of Bangladesh. He has also been involved in different cultural and volunteer activities with various organizations in Bangladesh and South Korea. He served as Research Officer for Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Leon Liberman

photo of Leon Liberman

Leon interned with Unity in Diversity Foundation in Tanzania, an NGO founded to unify, train and empower financially diverse expertise in different trades for the purpose of running their projects effectively.  His internship consisted mostly in assisting the St. Catherine Monastery, located in Karatu (Arusha region), with the creation of a new website, as well as providing support, expertise and assistance with other projects, including finding IT solutions and grant writing assistance. Leon’s research focused on community perceptions on NGO work, and explored different perspectives regarding NGO and community relations.  Leon holds holds a B.A. double major with Distinctions in International Studies and Anthropology from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. During his undergraduate studies, Leon spent a semester in Ghana, West Africa, studying, volunteering and traveling the country and region. He also has a professional background in Information Technology and vast experience with community groups, either as coordinator of youth groups, or as a member, playing and performing Afro-Brazilian and Ghanaian rhythms.

Catalina Perez Nino

photo of Catalina Perez Nino

Catalina interned with the Colombian Private Council on Competitiveness, a research center focused on increasing competitiveness and promoting related public policy. She participated in two projects. The first of these projects promoted technology transfers to firms in four different regions of the country through a consultancy by Georgia Tech University. As part of this effort, she assisted with logistics and did research for the conceptual framework. The second project was a study to assess corruption in Colombia, evaluating public policies and formulating policy recommendations combining heterodox approaches. Her current MA research focuses on the political economy of the current industrial policy in Colombia, more specifically, on a new proposal to formulate a national productive strategy as the country undergoes a transitional process to peace. Catalina holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Before her Masters, she worked in economic development projects throughout Colombia for 8 years and is currently interested in strengthening her knowledge of political economy for industrial development in developing countries. She would like to work as an economic development consultant, policy maker or researcher specializing in industrial upgrading and economic diversification.

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

photo of Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

Kelly did her internship with Free Grassy, a solidarity group which works with the Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation. For over 50 years the Grassy Narrows community has fought against the debilitating effects of mercury poisoning as a result of industrial chemical dumping, as well as the continuing encroachment of the logging industry on their territories. Her internship activities included helping to organize public rallies and demonstrations in Toronto with the goal of pressuring the Canadian government to clean the mercury from the Wabigoon river system, as well as facilitating educational workshops and doing archival research. She had the privilege of working with experienced journalists and researchers, learning to locate and interpret obscure and classified information regarding the mercury dumping, government inaction, and related issues. Her research explores the impacts of resource extraction industries in North Ontario, indigenous land rights, and how extractivism is pushed as the primary (or only) development model available to many Northern communities. Kelly also works as a freelance journalist, and her internship has allowed her to develop research skills which will be invaluable to both her writing and academic work in the future. Over the next year, she will be turning her thesis findings into an info-graphic style comic about the history and impacts of resource extraction, for use as an educational tool for advocacy groups. Kelly holds a BA in Human Rights and Human Diversity from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Anthony Prassoulis

photo of Anthony Prassoulis

Anthony interned in the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. As a research assistant, Anthony was responsible for conducting desk and field research on the topic of Greek civil society in the context of the country’s recent crisis. More specifically, the research focused on the emergence of grassroots solidarity initiatives to alleviate the worst consequences of the crisis while at the same time actively building new social and productive relations to meet the immediate needs of their communities. Anthony also volunteered at the 5th Festival for Solidarity and Cooperative Economy, an annual event that takes place at Plato’s Academy Park in Athens, which aims to garner support and raise awareness about different solidarity initiatives through practical workshops on issues that range from alternative economies and currencies to holistic healthcare and food self-sufficiency. Anthony’s research focuses on a comparative case study of two recuperated self-managed factories in northern Greece and the development of the solidarity economy as a practical alternative to the economic, political, and social crisis facing Greece today. During his fieldwork, Anthony interviewed workers from recuperated factories, members of workers’ cooperatives, government officials, trade unionists, NGO members as well as academics and activists. Anthony holds a Specialized Honors B.A. in Political Science from York University.

Saher Shaikh

photo of Saher Shaikh

Saher interned with the Reform Support Unit (RSU) at the Education and Literacy department, Government of Sindh, Pakistan, where she worked along with RSU team on the planning and execution of the Sindh Education Sector Plan 2014-2018. Her internship duties included gap analysis of the provincial education strategy report on Sustainable Development Goals and provincial standards for Early Childhood Education. She was also assigned to the team involved in drafting Terms of References and developing data collection/monitoring templates for the Joint Sector Education Review 2017. She also attended several seminars and government meetings within the Education department. This experience provided her an understanding of education delivery through state mechanics at the provincial level in Pakistan. Her research seeks to understand the policy-making process of the 2014 Sindh Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy through the perceptions of the various stakeholders. By including in her research community members and teachers, stakeholders who are traditionally left out of the policy process, she hopes to develop a more comprehensive view of the policy. Saher has completed a Masters degree (in English Literature and Sociology) from the University of Sindh in Pakistan.

Austin Silvan

photo of Austin SilvanAustin interned as a journalist for Prachatai English, an online alternative news media site, located in Bangkok, Thailand.  During his internship, he wrote various news stories covering various current events and topics in Thai politics, often in a critical lens. The internship offered opportunities to sit in on court hearings, monitor political protests, understand legal frameworks, follow student activist movements, and most favorably to experience a police raid! This internship gave him a deeper understanding of the complexities of living under an authoritarian military regime. For his research, Austin aimed to understand the goals and methods of the student movement building up to a constitutional referendum to be held in a political atmosphere that heavily suppresses civil society’s activities and that impacts on the country's progress in development. He interviewed student activists, academics, and other political actors to gain an understanding of their perceptions of the political climate in the country and the evolution of discourses around the referendum, democracy and development. Austin studied political science.

Julie Stinson

photo of Julie Stinson

Julie interned with VVOB Cambodia, an educational development NGO based in Phnom Penh that focuses on curriculum development and teacher training. This position allowed her to conduct qualitative research on primary school-related gender-based violence throughout the country. She was able to participate in multiple conferences, school monitoring and evaluation programs, and facilitate gender training workshops. Her research focuses on local perspectives of the implementation of gender mainstreaming policies and tactics within the primary education system in Cambodia. She received a B.A. Honors in Communications from Carleton University. Julie was involved in marketing and communications in the international development sector, working at Plan Canada for two and a half years.

Aleida Stone

photo of Aleida Stone

Aleida interned with Question Coffee, a Rwandan social enterprise based in Kigali. This micro-roaster and retailer partners with Sustainable Harvest - Rwanda, a nonprofit organization, to bring a relationship model of development to smallholder women coffee farmers in rural regions of the country through comprehensive capacity building - from the household up to the export market. Aleida supported the development of a training program for Rwandan baristas in an effort to create new employment opportunities for young women and to increase the domestic coffee market in what is traditionally a tea drinking society. The long-term goal of these programs is to create a domestic and international awareness of the significant social and economic impacts that coffee has, and could have, on the country's 100,000+ smallholder coffee farmers, a majority of whom are women. Aleida’s own research aim is to understand different partnership models between the nonprofit, government, and private sectors, and how specialty coffee can be a valuable contributor to community development and women’s agency in small, landlocked, post-conflict Rwanda. While in Rwanda, she interviewed a variety of actors throughout the coffee supply chain. Aleida holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Studies with a specialization in Development, Economic and Environmental Issues from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Lydia Stolte

photo of Lydia Stolte

Lydia completed her internship with Popol Na, a local grassroots NGO in Managua, Nicaragua. Popol Na engages in advocacy work and community development projects. It is currently supporting indigenous communities and rural Nicaraguan farmers who will be impacted by the construction of the Nicaraguan interoceanic canal. As part of her internship, Lydia translated documents and presentations from Spanish into English and helped organize various events and presentations, which focused on the effects of the canal project and climate change in Nicaragua. Lydia’s current research examines host-community perceptions to volunteer tourism projects in rural Nicaragua and the types of relationships that are produced between host-communities and the volunteer sending organizations. During her time in Nicaragua, she had the opportunity to interview local community members who facilitate volunteer projects and those who host volunteers in their community, coordinators from volunteer sending organization, and foreign volunteers. Lydia holds a B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University with a major in Global Studies.

2014-2016 Class

Misha Celentano

photo of Misha Celentano

Misha completed her internship with Right to Play in Thailand, an NGO that uses sport and play to educate children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease through teaching life skills that assist and empower them to create a better future and lifelong social change in their community and beyond. Working with the Sport and Play Program from Refugees from Burma team in Mae Sot, Misha conducted research on the intersection of education and sport in refugee education along the Thai-Burma border. She engaged with local education officials, organizations working in the education sector, teachers and students to understand how sport and play has been integrated into the primary education curriculum, the benefits of programs focused on learning through sport, and the impact that these are having not only on learning, but on the children and refugee community as a whole. Misha holds an Honours BA in Global Politics and Human Rights from Carleton University. She has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representation in Canada, having organized events for World Refugee Day and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, and has extensive experience teaching and leading children in a variety of summer camp environments. When she is not busy researching or writing, Misha enjoys spending time playing hockey, camping, skiing, and watching the most recent romantic comedy movie.

Xiao Cheng

photo of Xiao ChengXiao Cheng did her internship at the Shanghai office of Asia Business Management Program of York University’s Schulich School of Business. Her duties included conducting research on client business and industry sectors, Canada’s education system, and adult education. She also did client visits and translated materials and documents in both in English and Chinese. Xiao’s field research focuses on the emerging civil society in China. In particular, she studied a recent but most successful development project named Free Lunch in China that is carried out by an independent NGO of the same name that provides free lunches to children in rural schools. The research explores the project’s challenges and success and its relations to local and central Chinese governments to further discuss whether Free Lunch model is suitable for other development initiatives in China and whether the current Chinese context enables civil society participation in development projects.

Pere DeRoy

photo of Pere DeRoy

Pere completed a degree in Sociology at the University of Guyana. She has lived, studied and worked in Guyana, her country of birth.




Alanna Dickinson

photo of Alanna Dickinson Alanna interned with Cividep India, a local NGO in Bangalore that advocates for workers rights in the city's industrial sectors and ensures that companies respect human rights and conduct business in a socially responsible manner. While interning with Cividep, she helped conduct research on living wages in the garment sector, looking at workers’ wages in the supply chains of Dutch brands. The project was funded by the India Committee of the Netherlands, an NGO that aims to inform the public in the Netherlands about how development in the West negatively impacts the lives of Indian people. She helped design the surveys used for this project and conducted desk research for their final report. Her current MA research focuses on the determinants of women's labour and the working conditions that Indian women endure. More specifically, she is interested in the working conditions of the ready-made garment sector in Bangalore, which has the highest share of women workers in the garment industry among all the manufacturing centers in the country. During her time in Bangalore, she had the opportunity to speak with women who work in garment factories and also with representatives of civil society organizations that provide support to garment workers. She also had the opportunity to sit in on meetings of an all-women led trade union in Bangalore called the Garment Labour Union, which is an active union that provides its members with frequent training and awareness sessions, and visited the homes of garment workers on the outskirts of the city. She hopes through this research to better understand women's decisions regarding employment in Bangalore and to explore whether these decisions should be framed as choices or outcomes resulting from lack of other options available to them. Alanna holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in International Relations from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Stephanie Divekar

photo of Stephanie DivekarStephanie interned with Kotak Education Foundation in Mumbai, India, an NGO seeking to improve education for youth in the municipal education system in urban Mumbai. Working in the Kotak Unnati Program, Stephanie helped teach and train unemployed youth from low-income households to allowed them to secure formal jobs and build secure livelihoods in urban Mumbai. Through her internship she engaged with NGO officials, learned about the challenges faced by youth in low-income households, and assisted in English, Computer and Hospitality training. Stephanie’s research focuses on the effects of rapid urbanization in Mumbai and the development impact of this development on urban youth. Through interviews and fieldwork research, she analyzed the role of NGOs and local organizations in addressing urbanization, creating opportunities for development, and engaging with current development discourse on empowerment, welfare and urban livelihoods. Stephanie is simultaneously pursuing the Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies through the York Centre for Asian Research. She holds an Honours B.A in Political Science and History from the University of Toronto.

Julie Farzana

photo of Julie FarzanaJulie has lived in Nairobi for most of her life, a city that boasts one of the best GDPs amongst African cities but where more than half of the population lives in slums. Julie’s passion to understand this irony led her into the heart of slums in Nairobi, where she is currently investigating coping mechanisms of the poor such as self-help saving groups and how these initiatives influence social capital structures that determine the distribution of wealth amongst the poor. She is conducting her research in collaboration with Slum Dwellers International’s Kenyan Federation and Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, a network of slum dwellers across the developing world formed to address slum challenges--including evictions, service provision, health, etc.--through the core principle of community organizing. Julie has previously worked with the Danish Refugee Council spearheading the design and implementation of a pilot project to reduce crime and violence amongst the socio-economically vulnerable youth in Nairobi slums. She has also worked with the UN-Habitat housing branch to improve their urban profiling and goal-setting methodology for a number of urban development areas, including municipal governance and finance, urban planning and design, urban economy, and crime and safety. Julie holds an Honours BA and a Masters degree in International Relations from the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya.

Khadija Ga’al

Khadija completed her internship at the University of Cape Town’s Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit in Cape Town, South Africa, where she conducted research on conflicting legal and policy frameworks for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and HIV services in five Southern African countries.  Her research project examines vulnerabilities to violence and perceived barriers to gender-based violence (GBV) service provision for HIV positive women who experience post-disclosure violence in South Africa. Her main goals were to understand the determinants of HIV disclosure, the impact of disclosure on women’s health, and the capacity of GBV and HIV service providers to support female victims of post-disclosure violence. This research will shed light on the double burden facing many women in South Africa: HIV and an increased susceptibility to violence. Khadija holds a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University, where she majored in Public Affairs and Policy Management, with a Specialization in Development Studies and a Minor in African Studies.

Khairul Islam

Khairul completed a Masters degree in Political Science at Southern Illinois University, USA.

James MacMillan

James MacMillan headshot

James interned with the Faculty of Development Education at the University for Development Studies in Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana. He was responsible for conducting academic research and mentoring undergraduate students at the university. James also worked with the grassroots NGO the Sky is My Limit in the Volta Region, where he managed two building projects which aim to increase the living standards of young adults with disabilities. James' research focused on the effects of Chinese Development Assistance to Ghana's lessor developed northern regions. He conducted interviews with a range of individuals effected by China's growing influence in the region; including academics, government officials, merchants, labourers, and displaced peoples. The purpose of his study is to evaluate how Chinese assistance differs from that provided by Western nations, and if the Chinese alternative is more or less beneficial to facilitate development which reflects the unique culture, history, and values of the Ghanaian people. James received his undergraduate degree in Politics and Governance from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.

Hannah Matthews

Hannah Matthews headshot

Hannah interned with government institution, the National Institution for Youth (INJUVE) and with an NGO, the Centre for Interchange and Solidarity (CIS) in San Salvador, El Salvador. Both these positions allowed her to participate in assisting with youth volunteer programs throughout the country. INJUVE allowed Hannah to gain insight into the government’s policy formulation and program installation for youth, specifically in the area of youth employment. She was able to participate in national youth consultations and assisted with data collection to supplement policy discourse on youth employment. With CIS, she was able to facilitate different training workshops with youth committees in both urban and rural settings. Her research focuses on youth volunteers in El Salvador and how they facilitate violence prevention programs in urban and rural communities. Her internship with both organizations provided her with valuable skills such as project management, policy formulation, and youth outreach programming. It also allowed Hannah to improve her Spanish language skills. She currently holds a bilingual Honours B.A. in International Studies from Glendon College, York University.

Onyekachi Nwoke

Onyekachi Nwoke headshot

Onyekachi interned with West Africa Oil Watch (WAOW) and was also a consultant for GAT Services Inc in Abuja, Nigeria. WAOW is an organization that fosters transparency and accountability in the West African oil sector through civic participation and activism. GAT Services Inc is a company that provides financial support to small businesses in Nigeria. As part of his internship, Onyekachi’s responsibilities involved engaging Niger delta communities, government institutions, and non-governmental organizations to gather information on civil society’s role in fostering accountability and transparency in the oil industry in Nigeria, specifically in the Niger Delta. His responsibilities included producing two detailed reports on both the internship experience and the research findings on whether civil society fosters accountability and transparency in the Nigerian oil industry. His current SSHRC-funded research, focuses on the political economy of oil extraction in Nigeria and its impact on \ internal displacement of Niger delta indigenes. The current research goal is to understand why oil extraction in Ogoniland has led to underdevelopment, unemployment and displacement of the Ogoni indigenes away from their lands. His work experience includes being a Youth Volunteer Program Developer at Immigrant Services Calgary, construction crew member with Habitat for Humanity in the Lower Ninth ward, and as an Independent Local Business Consultant at the Urban Conservancy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Onyekachi holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree in Sociology from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

Ashley Rerrie

Ashley Rerrie headshot

Ashley interned with a Canada-Nicaragua solidarity organization called Casa Canadiense that is based in both Toronto and Managua, and worked with one of their community partners, the Cooperativa Christine King, in Estelí, Nicaragua. As an intern, she had the opportunity to learn more about Casa Canadiense’s work in both community development and global education. Ashley’s research attempts to compare and understand the ways that Canadian NGOs build and maintain their relationships with Nicaraguan communities, and how Canadian partners can work toward building meaningful transnational solidarity. Ashley had previously spent three months volunteering with an organic farming cooperative in Nicaragua through Intercordia Canada, and had returned twice to visit her host community. She is also a Research Assistant for a SSHRC-funded project about the impacts of Canadian international service learning on Nicaraguan communities. Ashley holds a B.A from St. Thomas University with a double major in Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Hasna Sami

Hasna Sami headshot

Hasna interned with Simorgh Women's Resource and Publication Centre in Lahore, Pakistan. Simorgh is an advocacy and research organization which interrogates patriarchal systems and is working towards changing women's status and position in society through advocacy, information dissemination, and production of research-based publications. Hasna worked on the publication of  the 'Invisible Women' project which were life histories and case studies pertaining to the status and condition of single women in Pakistan who are often perceived as an economic burden and can face discrimination. Hasna's own research focuses on the impact of microfinance services on gender based violence, household gendered power dynamics, and the decision making agency of women. By including husband's of microfinance clients, who are often left out of research, Hasna hopes to provide a study on various masculinities and achieve a more holistic understanding of how microfinance services affect the entire household. Hasna holds a Bachelor’s (Hons.) degree from the University of Toronto, with a double major in International Relations and Political Science.

Margarita Sanchez

Margarita Sanchez headshot

Margarita interned with Conciencia Campesina in Cajamarca, Colombia, a non­profit organization that aims to create conscience and produce knowledge of the environmental and social impacts of open­pit gold mining in Cajamarca and its surrounding areas. Her duties included the collection of agricultural­related data from the rural sector, and advocating the importance of the rural sector for the wholesome development of Cajamarca. Margarita's research attempts to understand and explain the socio­economic impacts of Anglo Gold Ashanti's (AGA) gold mining project La Colosa in the community of Cajamarca. During her fieldwork, Margarita interviewed peasant and local community members, municipal officials, NGO members, and AGA staff. She became immersed in the community to understand the complex situation that is experienced in the region due to the presence of the mining project. Margarita is originally from Colombia and holds a B.A in International Studies from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

Dylani Shea

Shea 2014-16Dylani Shea specializes in Development Communication and worked as a Social Media Intern at teleSUR English in Quito, Ecuador. Her research assesses the Ecuadorian government’s Knowledge Revolution, which is an initiative to transition the Ecuadorian economy away from reliance on petroleum and toward a society based on innovation, science and technology. She studied Ecuador’s YACHAY City of Knowledge, its continued agenda for reforming the higher education system and its international university scholarship program. Her undergraduate degree is in Communication Studies from York University.

Winta Tesfai

TefaiWinta interned at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Massawa, Eritrea. Working closely with the Department of Artisanal Fisheries Development where she carried out her research study that aims to identify the challenges to the development of small-scale fisheries in the Greater Massawa Area. Her research aims to gain a holistic understanding of how local fishing communities maintain sustainable ways of living. The internship provided a wealth of accessibility to local fisher men/women generating a large network of contacts for data collection. Primary participants included local officials, administrators, community leaders, fisher men/women, elders, and practitioners in the field. Winta completed an Honours BA from the University of Toronto with a double major in Political Science and African Studies, and a minor in Diaspora and Transnational Studies. In addition, Winta’s an active member of the Eritrean Diaspora community and participates in many youth-led initiatives. Winta also completed a Students for Development CIDA internship in Winneba, Ghana in 2012, and was the co-editor of StudentVoices a youth-led alternative African news website and a subsection of Africafiles in 2013. Winta is also a 2013 United Way City Leaders graduate.

Kim Valentine

Kim travelled to the Philippines where she completed an internship in Makati City at Gifts and Graces, a fair trade/social enterprise organization that works with underprivileged communities within the Philippines. While working with Gifts and Graces she spent time with community organizations such as Tahanang Walang Hagdana (House with No Steps), an organization that creates a wide variety of handcrafted wooden toys and school equipment which are produced by people with physical disabilities. Kim’s research aims to explore avenues for success for the handicraft industry through examining the role fair trade and cooperative principles have in determining the success or pitfalls of the handicraft industry in the Philippines. This summer sparked her interest in the area of Social Enterprise and the role it could potentially play social and financial development. Kim graduated with a BA in Communication Studies from York University in 2013, becoming interested in the representation of children and women in the media.

Fasika Woldesenbet

photo of Fasika Woldesenbet

Fasika graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in African Studies and a Minor in Political Science.




2013-2015 Class

Nabil Abbas

Nabil interned with the Happy Childhood Foundation in Lebanon, an organization that aims to develop a village concept that offers multi-dimensional care and development services to orphans and other vulnerable children in Kisongo, Tanzania. Nabil developed a research-based concept package to support strategic fund-raising activities for the village. His research focuses on youth unemployment in Lebanon. His goal is to understand the social and economic factors that inhibit or promote the employment prospects of first-time job seekers as they transition from school to work. Nabil comes to International Development Studies after a 15-year career in Technology and Management Consulting in the Middle East and North America. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the American University of Beirut and a Masters of Business Administration from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Asuman Baba

photo of Asuman BabaAsuman interned with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) working in two departments: the Strategy Department, where Turkish development assistance is monitored and reported; and the Department of International Affairs, where TIKA works with the UNDP and plans further development assistance. Her research project examines the recent increasing role of Turkey as a donor country and its implications for global development assistance trends. Her goal is to understand why Turkey got involved in offering aid, what it is doing in the area of Development Co-operation, and whether it constitutes a different kind of donor. Focusing on Turkey’s role will shed light on the recent paradigm change in the international development aid agenda. Asuman is an international student from Istanbul, Turkey. She has an undergraduate degree in political science from Galatasaray University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Satyam Chawla

photo of Satyam ChawlaSatyam interned with Habitat for Humanity Zambia, an NGO that builds and provides simple, decent and affordable housing to low-income families in Zambia.  He has been actively involved in community service in Zambia, Italy and Canada. Satyam research focuses on Chinese companies in construction and infrastructure development in Zambia. He engaged with government officials, construction companies, scholars and numerous organizations to collect and compile data and information on the rise in prominence of Chinese construction companies and their impact on local community, local companies, and infrastructure development.  His interaction with government officials and policy makers gave him valuable insight into policy formulation, government budgeting and bilateral and multilateral relations. Satyam holds a Bachelors Degree (Honours) in International Studies, Glendon College, York University.

Jaafar Dirie

photo of Jaafar DirieJaafar interned with Human Concern International's (HCI) east Africa office in Somaliland. While interning with HCI, Jaafar's responsibilities included visiting HCI 's partners in east Africa and reviewing project proposals from local and regional partners. He was also responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of development projects by local partners and was involved in implementing  small-scale seasonal food distribution projects for HCI. His current research focuses on development cooperation in Somaliland, an autonomous region that although not internationally recognized as an independent state still collaborates with various international development actors on development projects. Jaafar is particularly interested in understanding how Somaliland managed to navigate its precarious status while pursuing its development agenda with international partners, and to examine whether its peculiar non-state status impedes development cooperation. Jaafar’s most recent trip to Somaliland provided him with opportunities to meet and interview governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to discuss the level of development cooperation in Somaliland. He has traveled to Somaliland six times over the past fifteen years, with the last two trips consisting of monitoring and evaluation assignments for an international humanitarian organization. These assignments for Human Concern International included visits to several orphanage schools in Somaliland and Somalia, evaluations of sustainable development projects such as water well projects and seed distribution for small scale farmers and implementation of HCI 's annual Ramadan relief projects in Hargeisa. Jaafar holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, with a double major in International Development and Health Studies.

Janice Earle

photo of Janice EarleJanice interned with the Mona Office for Research & Innovation, attached to the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.  There she assisted with several projects including the evaluation of a teen pregnancy clinic at the largest maternity hospital in Jamaica. She also volunteered with the Swallowfield Outreach Foundation that works to improve the living conditions of the Swallowfield community, which is an inner city neighbourhood.  With a background in women’s services, both placements allowed her to combine her previous experience with theoretical knowledge gained from participating in the program, to help create opportunities for women. Janice has a deep interest in issues concerning women and their families and this is reflected in her research interests, which examined women’s ability to gain economic stability through the Information Communication Technologies/Business Process Outsourcing sectors in Jamaica, a country where 45% of homes are headed by women.

Janie Harrott

photo of Janie HarrottJanie’s fieldwork began at the University of Cape Coast Hospital in Cape Coast, Ghana. Her research examined the determinants of maternal health-seeking behaviour in Cape Coast, with particular emphasis on the importance of, and ways in which religion, traditional beliefs, attitudes, and values shape Ghanaian women’s health-seeking behaviours throughout pregnancy and during childbirth. During her fieldwork, Janie interviewed nurses working in hospitals and clinics in the greater Cape Coast area, as well as traditional birth attendants and new mothers. In the future, Janie hopes to examine other aspects of maternal health in the Central region of Ghana, including the ways in which obstetric fistula affects the social and economic realities and experiences of Ghanaian women. Janie holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, Kelowna campus.

Ban Kattan

photo of Ban KattanShe partnered with CARE International to carry out her research project in Amman on capacity building of local Jordanian NGOs serving Syrian refugees in Jordan and the impact of partnerships on knowledge transfer. Ban’s previous internships include Ernst & Young and AIESEC. She has previously volunteered for the United Nations and War Child and is also an involved supporter of grassroots nonprofit organizations in Iraq such as Iraq Builders and TEDxBaghdad. Ban combines her professional knowledge in business models with her passion for local sustainable development practices. She holds an Honours B.Sc. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies.

Adrian Khan

photo of Adrian KhanAdrian has actively completed fieldwork in Toronto, Georgetown (Guyana), and Kathmandu (Nepal) predominantly in the field of child/youth rights within educational and community development contexts. Adrian participated in a combined internship in Nepal with Projects Abroad and Nepali Host Family. His duties included working in multiple community development settings such as orphanages, boarding schools, and care facilities in the capacity of teacher, administrative facilitator, and advocate for local, regional and international concerns.  His current SSHRC-funded research, which builds on his five-year working experience in Nepal, explores the emotional journeys of Himalayan students. These children travel thousands of kilometers to Kathmandu for schooling as early as the age of 4 and subsequently return to their villages after prolonged periods of family separation often lasting well over a decade. Adrian’s research interests include youth activism in international contexts, race and racism, and social justice education. In addition to his Master’s degree in Development Studies, Adrian is simultaneously completing a Graduate Diplomas in Refugee and Migration Studies, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, and a Graduate Fellowship with York’s Centre for Asian Research. Adrian holds a Double Major Honors B.A. from York University in Sociology and Children’s Studies.

Jessica Kim

photo of Jessica KimJessica interned as a Communications and Advocacy Officer at the Forum for African Women Educationalists: Kenya Chapter (FAWE Kenya), an organization that engages in programming and national/international policy advocacy to support girls’ education. Jessica’s research attempts to understand the social constructions of gender in the Kenyan context and how they contribute to girls’ experiences in secondary school. She is also a Response Team Member for ShelterBox International, a disaster relief organization responding to natural and complex disasters. Her work experience includes an internship at the Terry Fox Foundation, and marketing project management at a conference production firm. Jessica holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.

Ki-Hwan Kim

photo of Ki-Hwan KimKi-Hwan interned with an international non-government organization called Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women in Bangkok, Thailand. He was a member of a team that worked on advocating for changes towards issues on human trafficking, protection of women and children, and migration, through human rights-based approaches. His MRP research focuses on Anti-Trafficking policies in Thailand, drawing on valuable insights gained through his internship experiences with GAATW. Ki-Hwan’s fieldwork experience taught him that research is a fluid phenomenon that is endlessly shaped with unexpected influences, including political conflicts and military coups, and that it requires understanding and respecting local cultural and social differences. Ki-Hwan holds an Honours B.A. in Social sciences with a major in Criminology and minor in Sociology from University of Ottawa.

Kizel A. Liverpool

photo of Kizel A. LiverpoolKizel, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, interned in Colombia with the Municipal government of Medellín (Alcaldía Medellín) in the department of Victim Care and Repair. She witnessed and participated in the planning and implementation of government strategies that address poverty, intra-urban displacement and youth violence in highly vulnerable communities within Medellín. Her experience working with Alcaldía Medellín taught her valuable skills such as event planning, project management, and facilitating leadership growth and development amongst community members. Her research focuses on the growing issue of intra-urban displacement within Medellín with specific emphasis on displaced Afro-Colombians. While immersed in the culture and workplace of Colombia she continued to build her fluency in Spanish – a key asset to her aspiring future work in International Development in Latin America. Kizel holds an Honours B.A. in Sociology and International Development from the University of Toronto.

Michelle Lo

photo of Michelle LoMichelle interned at the Institute of National Policy Research, a private think tank in Taiwan, to assist scholars in their research on important policy topics as well as help in events such as the Taipei-Tokyo Strategic Dialogue conference and the Annual Youth Leadership Camp held in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She also interned at the Taiwan Alliance in International Development, Taiwan’s NGO platform dedicated to humanitarian and development efforts. Through engaging with field workers, scholars and officials, she conducted interviews and collected formal documentation on Taiwan’s official aid. Michelle’s current MRP research focuses on Taiwan’s role as an aid provider. Her goal is to understand how Taiwan’s unique diplomatic isolation in relation to China continues to shape its foreign aid patterns, practices and policies.  In the past, Michelle has volunteered with humanitarian agencies in China, Nicaragua, Brazil and Cambodia respectively, and previously worked as a licensed assistant to a financial advisor after graduating from Queen’s University with a BAH degree in Sociology.

Joanne Rappaport

B.Sc. (Env Sci), B.A. (Psych).

photo of Joanne RappaportJoanne’s fieldwork began by interning with Wuqu’ Kawoq-Maya Health Alliance, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), which provides medical care delivery in the first languages of indigenous communities across rural Guatemala. Her work included identifying funding opportunities and preparing social media communications regarding Wuqu’ Kawoq activities. Working with Wuqu’ Kawoq introduced Joanne to the health care landscape in Guatemala. Joanne’s research examines the role NGOs play as providers of maternal health care in Guatemala and compares whether their efforts fare better than state health care services.  During her fieldwork, Joanne interviewed NGO and public health staff, midwives and, most importantly, the women in the rural communities they service. Joanne’s future research interests include the question of how Maya traditional medicine and Western biomedicine interact, as well as how rural communities can reclaim the use of indigenous medicine to empower themselves and offer indigenous Guatemalans accessible and affordable health care.  Joanne holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in Psychology from York University.

Rudaina Siddiqi

photo of Rudaina SiddiqiRudaina interned with the Urban Resource Centre in Karachi, Pakistan, a research organisation that focuses on urban issues. Rudaina assisted with a study of the social and economic issues that women face with public transport in Karachi, including what women felt were possible solutions to those problems. Rudaina conducted fieldwork for her thesis in Karachi and Lahore at ‘Khuda ki Basti’, a unique housing model by the NGO, Saiban, which provides low-income families the opportunity to buy cheap land in small installments where they can build their own homes. The focus of her study is to analyze the principles of self-help, community grassroots participation, and effective leadership in order to assess their relevance for development models and what lessons they offer to other civil society organizations in Pakistan. She also worked in hospital social services and as a domestic violence advocate in London and as a Program Manager for a sport-for-development NGO in Karachi. Rudaina has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Social Work from London, UK.