FGS Standing Committee Elections: Biographical Statements June 2020

Graduate Student Biographical Statements

Appeals & Academic Honesty Committee (1 to be elected)

Shoshana Elharar (Humanities)
Shoshana Elharar is a Humanities PhD candidate working on research in the field of urbanization. She earned her BA (Economics and Business - 1975) and MA (Philosophy - 2000) at Tel - Aviv University. Following a break from academic life, Ms. Elharar returned to her studies and completed an MA in Humanities at York University (2014), and a Graduate Diploma in Jewish Studies (2016). She already served as a member in the award committee for two years.

Adam Faux (Music)
Adam is a PhD student at York University, researching Synesthetic and Process Composition. For roughly 20 years, Adam has made music using the Digital Audio Workstation to accompany film, dance, songwriting and live performance, and most recently worked in varied disciplines that include the Filipino Rondalla, and Swahili music and culture. Adam has toured North America performing his own musical creations as a front man for a punk band, as a producer/engineer for indie and jazz recordings, and as the Front of House engineer showcasing the latest thing. He teaches music for The Doane USchool, as well as for The Regent Park School of Music, focusing on at-risk kids and teens.

At York University, Adam has roles as an Associate to Sensorium, to the York Centre for Asian Research, and the ND Studio Lab  for Computational Arts with Professor Mark David Hosale. He enjoys the TA positions Musi 1900 (Music in the City), and Musi 1140, Digital and electronic music.

Munjeera Jefford (Social & Political Thought)
I worked at the Toronto District School Board for 17 years as an ESL Instructor and LINC Supervisor in immigrant education and services.  During that time, I followed, implemented and created various policies and procedures. I implemented procedures for fire safety, Sabrina's Law and lockdown drills.  I created the TDSB LINC Mental Health Procedures and a staff manual for 40 staff from 7 different government funded agencies to follow in reporting on safety issues. I am interested in learning about policies in university administration and am committed to following procedures.  At the same time, I recognize that there may be extenuating circumstances that impact students’ lives. I think it is important to maintain a fine balance between the integrity of the institution and student interests. I hope to always work towards resolutions that can be win-win for everybody.  However, academic integrity and the reputation of the university are also important. I believe York has a fair system for academic disputes and would look forward to serving on this committee.

Granit Studenica (Chemistry)
Born in Peja, Kosovo, and raised in the suburbs of Etobicoke, I am a first year graduate student in organic chemistry in Dr. Orellana’s group. I received both my BSc in Chemistry (2018) and BSc Honours Chemistry (2019) at York University. The current research focus in the group is the use of alkylidene dihydropyridines as novel intermediates in the synthesis of complex molecules that may possess potential bioactivity relevant for drug discovery. I was very briefly Chemistry steward for CUPE 3903 from September 2019 to December 2019, but chose to leave my position because I felt I was not making any real contribution to the benefit of the Faculty of Science or learning any valuable skills, other than serving the interests of the union chief stewards. I like to think that I advance myself by hardwork and victory, but it is very often by the good graces of others that we advance at all. Therefore, I can only offer my pledge that I will make the most out of the opportunity if afforded to me, to contribute to and uphold the administrative policies of York University.

Monica Tawadrous (Kinesiology & Health Science)
I am currently in year two of my master’s degree in the Graduate Program of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Graduate Studies. I plan to further build my toolbox of education by continuing in the Graduate Studies and staring my PhD degree in September 2020. As an undergraduate student, I was able to adapt to many challenges and find my strengths in difficulties I had overcome, to face and acclimate to these changing times. And in the past two years, as a master’s student, I found myself taking on more responsibilities and in the process of balancing and completing each task, I found myself enjoying the heightened experience.

An important feature of my character is adapting to a changing environment. A dynamic environment keeps me motivated to learn and be engaged with what I am studying. Being an assistant center director of Mathnasium has fully developed my communication and coordination skills through unceasing professionalism. I have built numerous bonds and built trust among many employees and customers that demonstrate my track record of constant resiliency. Through my experience in teaching elementary grade math at Mathnasium and teaching university physiology labs at York University, I have gained a vast library of skills that aid in my delivery of teaching methods and ensuring the efficiency of knowledge dissemination.

Thank you for your time and considering.

Natasha Walsh, Graduate Program in Music
Natasha Walsh is a PhD Candidate in Musicology at York University. She is completing her dissertation entitled ‘Canadian Composers of Sacred Choral Music.’ Her project is supervised by Michael Coghlan, Dr. Mark Chambers, and Dr. Scott McLaren. Ms. Walsh recently published an article ‘Four Vignettes of Canadian Church Music Composers’ as a chapter in “Christian Music Traditions in America” through the Society for Christian Sacred Music. An accredited Senior TA through the Educational Developers Caucus, she holds research awards from the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and from the Hymn Society in the US and Canada. Ms. Walsh presented conference papers at the American Musicological Society (Columbia University), The College Music Society (Vancouver), and the Canadian University Music Society (University of Toronto). At York University, Ms. Walsh conducts the undergraduate concert choir, teaches music theory, and gives music history lectures; she leads graduate workshops through the Teaching Commons. She earned her MMus degree from Université d’Ottawa, where she assisted in directing Die Zauberflöte and Die Fledermaus. She studied with Lawrence Ewashko and Jean Desmarais, from the National Arts Centre. Ms. Walsh was a cantor with the Schola Cantorum Choir of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica – directed by composer, Michel Guimont. She was a soloist with the Ewashko Singers in the Ottawa Chamberfest and the Governor General Performing Arts Awards. Ms. Walsh earned a BS degree in Music from Roberts Wesleyan College where performed with the Eastman Rochester Chorus, and was coached by Kristin Ditlow of Eastman School of Music.

Awards Committee (1 to be elected)

Emily Hoffman (Kinesiology & Health Science)
My name is Emily Hoffman, and I am a first year Master’s student in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Riddell (School of Kinesiology and Health Science). I completed my BSc in the same program, graduating with a 9.0 GPA. Nearing the completion of my undergraduate studies, I worked in a neuroscience lab at SickKids as a research assistant, which sparked my interest in the field of basic science research. I then worked for one year in the laboratory of Dr. Riddell, where I developed a deep fascination with the pathophysiology of diabetes. I decided to remain in the lab for my Master's degree and was awarded the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master's through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) as an incoming student.

My research focuses on the prevention of low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, in type 2 diabetes (T2D), which is the major barrier to achieving optimal metabolic control. My goal is to understand the hormonal dysfunction that predisposes patients to a higher risk of hypoglycemia and to develop therapies capable of mitigating this risk. I plan to transfer into the PhD program, which will provide the time and resources necessary to carry out my research goals. I am applying for a position on the FGS Awards Committee in order to become more involved in the academic community, offer my support, and familiarize myself with administrative procedures within the university. I look forward to the opportunity and thank you for your consideration.

Alia Mazhar (Graduate Program in Kinesiology & Health Science)
Alia Mazhar is a first year Master of Science student in Health and Kinesiology. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Health in Kinesiology at York University. Her current research interest includes exploring the experiences of older adults, who identify as minorities, as they engage in physical activity and sport. From 2015-2018 Alia was awarded the Chancellor Bennett Entrance Award, presented on the basis of exemplary commitment to student life and community. Currently, she is the Vice President of Humanity first at York University and serves as an executive member for the Kinesiology and Health Science Graduate Student Society.

Davis Vallesi (Communication & Culture)
My name is Davis Vallesi and I am currently a second-year doctoral student in the Communication & Culture program at York University. My academic background consists of a BA in Journalism & Digital Media and a MA in Cultural Analysis & Social Theory, both completed at Wilfrid Laurier University. As a scholar, my research involves studying the complex relationship between governments, mass media, and the citizenry. Currently in progress, my doctoral thesis entails a comparative study of the 1968 and 2019 Canadian Federal elections, specifically exploring the impact of media in the electoral process. I completed my MA thesis in 2017, titled, “Politics and the Internet: The Impact of Digital Media on Democracy” which explored various types of Canadian online political content.

I have served as a tutorial leader for the courses “Fake News, Fact-Finding, and the Future of Journalism” and “Self, Culture, and Society: Critical Perspectives” in the Communication Studies and Social Science departments respectively. I had the opportunity to further develop my teaching skills by completing the TA Certificate in Teaching (TACT) facilitated by the York Teaching Commons.

My interest in acting as the graduate representative for the FGS Awards Committee stems from highly fulfilling past experiences in academic service. While completing my undergraduate degree, I volunteered as a news writer for Wilfrid Laurier University’s student newspaper The Sputnik. During my doctoral degree I developed a strong interest in academic governance, currently serving as President of the Communication & Culture Graduate Students Association.