FGS Standing Committee Elections: Biographical Statements Late 2019

Graduate Student Biographical Statements

Academic Planning & Policy Committee (2 to be elected)

Neda Aminnejad, Graduate Program in Mathematics & Statistics
I am a third-year Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. My current research focuses on identifying a trajectory of complications for diabetic patients and predicting the onset of diabetes and its complications. To promote the quality of diabetic patients’ life, I use tools from mathematical modelling, statistics and machine learning.

I was recently appointed as the vice-president of the Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Students’ Association and as a councillor of the York University Graduate Students’ Association (YUGSA). Since these appointments, my interest in academic committees has grown considerably, so I was excited to learn about the vacancy in the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Academic Planning and Policy Committee. I am eager to be a voice for graduate students, to make meaningful contributions to the community, and create an improved environment for my colleagues.

I believe that having a graduate student representative on this committee is invaluable as their decisions directly affect the quality of graduate student experiences at York University. Graduate students have a unique perspective on issues such as course selection, course planning, and maintaining high standards of graduate education. The academic and bureaucratic challenges that graduate students face daily should shape future procedures, policies and regulations. I look forward to representing my peers on this committee and bringing meaningful change to our graduate program.

Md Abdullah Asad, Graduate Program in Civil Engineering
I am a 1st year PhD student in Civil Engineering. I am very interested to serve as a graduate student member of FGS Academic Planning & Policy Committee. I want to represent myself as a representative of my fellow graduate students in the committee.

I have completed my master’s degree in Civil Engineering from York University. Prior coming to York, I served as a senior lecturer at Stamford University Bangladesh (SUB). Along with my academic responsibilities I engaged myself in several administrative positions which gave me the opportunity to involve myself with various aspects of student education and development. I served as a coordinator and developed a newly built geotechnical engineering laboratory at SUB.

At York, I have worked as a counselor and secretary for the civil engineering graduate student association (CEGSA) where I have attended meetings, managed funds, and organized events for graduate students. Currently, I am working as a treasurer of CEGSA. In addition, I am working as a secretary of the Geoenvironmental Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS).

I am selected as one of the recipients of 2019 Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral (CGS D) and 2018 Ontario Graduate Scholarship. I believe the experience I have gathered will be helpful to serve as a member of the FGS Academic Planning & Policy Committee. I strongly believe that I can work for the development of student’s academic career by stating student’s opinion on academic matters and I want to be a part of student success.

Aqeel Ihsan, Graduate Program in History
I am currently a first year PhD History who is focused on the South Asian diaspora currently residing in Canada. I was first enrolled at York as a student in 2009 and graduated in 2015 with a BA and B.Ed., and since returned to continue my graduate studies. In my three years away from academia, I worked as a high school teacher for three years where I taught a variety of courses in disciplines including Social Studies, Humanities, and English. Within these courses, I was able to modify the curriculum and content to cater towards the interests of ESL students to make the topics relevant and beneficial to them. Furthermore, I conducted all the responsibilities of a classroom teacher including: teaching and assessing students, partaking in professional development, collaborating and cooperating with other staff members to design curriculum and lesson plans. These skills I acquired over the three years have been invaluable to me, and aid me in the present in performing my duties as a Teaching Assistant.

As such, I have experience when it comes to academic planning, albeit at a school level. However, I feel that my educational experience would be an asset to the Academic Planning and Policy Committee. By having been a part of the school system and being aware of present-day curriculum documents, I can easily transfer those skills to advise the Dean on academic policy at York.

Amanda Jass, Graduate Program in Biology
Amanda Jass is a first-year Master of Science (Biology) student at York University. She did her undergraduate studies at York University as well, majoring in biology, and holds a separate Bachelor of Applied Arts (Animation) degree from Sheridan College. Having taken many courses from a variety of disciplines – including biology, psychology, philosophy, chemistry, math, applied arts, and economics – she has experienced the structure of many different courses, which has fueled her interest in the procedures behind how programs and courses are created, revised, and deleted. She has previous experience volunteering as a Class Representative for an undergraduate introductory biology course, where she provided course feedback and recommendations to the director based on collective student concerns. She also thoroughly enjoys teaching, and has experience working as a teaching assistant, science tutor, and volunteer art instructor for children with autism. Her motivation to see students succeed is what brought her to apply for a position on the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Academic Planning and Policy Committee; she hopes to help ensure that program academic plans, standards, and regulations are designed to best promote student learning and success.

Munjeera Jefford, Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought
Munjeera worked as an ESL teacher and supervisor at the Toronto District School Board for over 15 years.  More recently, she taught ESL, Communications, and Business English at Sheridan College.  Munjeera has written curricula for Grade 11 and 12 English for international students at Merit Education, a private high school and developed Indigenous modules based on materials designed by the Native community in Canada.  She worked at the Writing Centre as an instructor as part of her TAship for 3 years. Currently, she is a teaching assistant for the course Gods and Humans in the Humanities Department.

In her role as supervisor, in 2014, Munjeera led the committee to develop the Mental Health Response Policy for Language Instruction for Newcomers at the TDSB, which is still being used today.  She also wrote the protocols for the first multi-service immigrant centre to develop guidelines for following health and safety procedures, for lockdowns, fire drills and room bookings for workshops.  She loves collaborating over policies.

Munjeera supports equity and inclusion.  Her MEd from Brock was based on Louis Moll’s funds of knowledge strategy.  Her PhD research is based on anti-oppressive education and management.  Munjeera would welcome the opportunity to serve, learn and contribute to York’s success as a premier learning institution.

Michael Laurentius, Graduate Program in Science & Technology Studies
My name is Michael Laurentius and I'm a forth year PhD candidate within the Science and Technology Studies (STS) graduate program. My research examines how the earnest study of kitsch within the Atomic Age allows us to see how individuals and society came to understand their mediated experiences with ‘the atom’, the implications of this new technology, and the failure of science communication efforts. As both my research and discipline hinge on interdisciplinary approaches to provide new insights, I believe that it is the responsibility of FGS to champion the cause of interdisciplinarity within an institutional structure that seemingly wishes to stifle it by silo-ing resources and knowledge at the expense of broader collaboration.

The graduate programs represented within this Faculty must be provided the capacity to flourish and to remain an example for the rest of the University as to how broader perspectives and epistemologies can only lead to a more robust and inclusive pedagogy. With regards to the service roles I have taken on during my time at York University, they include: (1) STS Student representative to the FGS Council, (2) member of the Working Group on Governance (YUGSA), (3) President of the STS Graduate Student Association, (4) Graduate Student Representative to the STS Graduate Executive, (5) Graduate Student member on the STS Tenure and Promotions Adjudication Committee, (6) Graduate Student member on the STS GPD Search Committee, (7) Vice-President Unit 3 within CUPE 3903, (8) Secretary-Treasurer within CUPE 3903, and (9) Contract Faculty representative on LA&PS Council.