Spirit of Brock recipients devoted to social justice

Two exemplary students from the Faculty of Social Sciences have been recognized for embodying the spirit of Sir Isaac Brock at Friday’s Fall Convocation ceremony.

Sophie Hassanali and Aniqah Zowmi were awarded the Spirit of Brock medal in acknowledgment of their leadership, courage, innovation, inspiration and community involvement.

Hassanali, a Bachelor of Arts graduate who majored in Media and Communications from San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, said she was humbled by the honour.

“As a first generation and international student, this award represents the sacrifice made by my parents to send me abroad to study, as well as their unwavering support and dedication to giving me the best academic experience possible,” said Hassanali. “This award is not only a personal accomplishment, but an homage to all international students who leave the shores of their home to find a place at Brock University.”

In addition to devoting herself to her studies, Hassanali made helping others a priority throughout her time at Brock. Her social justice activities have ranged from fighting cyber-bullying to raising money for flood victims, from an education mission in Peru to building a rooftop garden in Hong Kong.

Sophie Hassanali, an undergraduate student who majored in Media and Communications, was awarded the Spirit of Brock medal at Friday’s Convocation.

“My undergrad was filled with remarkable experiences academically, socially and professionally, but my academic exchange to Hong Kong was an exceptional experiential learning opportunity,” said Hassanali.

She also notes that her active engagement in the school community, from the Campus Wide Co-curriculum (CWC) to becoming the arts & culture editor of the Brock Press, not only gave her a sense of belonging, but an opportunity to network and become even more involved.

Hassanali is excited to continue working on her social justice initiatives, particularly her upcoming ecommerce venture, the proceeds of which will provide feminine hygiene products to girls and women in India.

Spirit of Brock medal recipient Aniqah Zowmi graduated from the Social Justice and Equity Studies (MA), where she focused her research on social enterprises and the way they can more meaningfully integrate equity into their work, particularly for women, Indigenous people and Global South populations.

In addition to her research, while completing her degree, Zowmi worked with Y20, the Toronto Youth Cabinet’s Community Safety Working Group, and coordinated a nation-wide mental health project to assist refugees and vulnerable Jordanians in Jordan — a project credited with reaching approximately 2,000 individuals.

She credits her graduate program with providing her the support she needed to pursue her goals.

“Without such a strong support system at Brock, I would not have been so driven to find meaningful opportunities that complemented my degree,” said Zowmi. “I had the amazing opportunity to travel to and speak at multiple international conferences, take part in the development of a UNESCO publication and serve as a Humanitarian Coordination worker all during my master’s program.”

Zowmi currently serves as a youth advisor to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and a regional focal point for the United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY). She is also the director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Leading Change Canada, a group of young leaders dedicated to accelerating action on environmental, social and economic issues.

Aniqah Zowmi, a graduate student in Social Justice and Equity Studies, was awarded the Spirit of Brock Medal last spring and will receive it alongside Sophie Hassanali at Fall Convocation on Oct. 18.

“There are so many opportunities and skills I can take advantage of because of my holistic, interdisciplinary education at Brock,” said Zowmi. “I hope to continue to seek out opportunities that allow me to authentically advocate for meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion, and shape a career that will allow me to hope for a just world.”

Like Hassanali, Zowmi encourages students just starting out on their journey to make a point of getting involved and pushing their limits.

“Create a support system and seek out ways to enrich your experience beyond your academic life,” said Zowmi. “Take this time to learn a new skill, explore a field you might never have had the chance to delve into before, and push your growth to new heights. You may never have the same chance again.”

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