Student Award in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

About The Award

An award, in the amount of $4,000, will be given annually to a woman university or college student * who advances equity, diversity and inclusion within and/or outside their institution through outstanding dedication and excellence or community outreach and activism.


Students should demonstrate an exceptional commitment to and engagement with a particular issue of social justice, community, and/or community organization.  Such community activism can take place on or off campus. Regions are defined as follows, and eligibility shall rotate among them:

  • Western Provinces (2024)
  • Quebec (2025) 
  • Atlantic Provinces (2026)
  • Ontario (2027)  


1. Strong academic performance.

2. Evidence of leadership with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion, through such activities as:

  • involvement in student organizations
  • participation on committees (student committees and university committees)
  • organization of special events, conferences, etc.
  • involvement in advocacy groups
  • involvement in volunteer organizations, within the campus setting and/or in the general community.


Each institution in the designated region may nominate one person for the award. The institution shall also be responsible for the appointment of a nominating committee for the award and for providing the Selection Committee with all necessary documentation in support of the nomination, including:

  • biographical data**
  • curriculum vitae
  • academic records
  • three letters of reference or endorsement of the candidateThe deadline for submission of nominations:  January 19, 2024.

    The Selection Committee shall be the elected members of the Executive Committee (or its delegates), excluding those from the region from which the award recipients will be selected.

    Nominations for the 2024 competition (Western Provinces) must be sent via electronic mail to:

    SWAAC President
    Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos
    Western University

*Diversity Statement

​SWAAC is committed to prioritizing equity in this application process. We especially encourage applications/nominations from students who identify as LGBTQ+, racialized, Indigenous and/or students with disabilities to apply for this award.

If you have any questions about the award or require further information please contact Megha Ajmani, SWAAC Registrar and Treasurer at

**biographical information usually includes information about former and current studies,  areas of interest, research, publications, other awards, interests outside the university, and community or volunteer work.  It’s usually in a narrative form, about 1-2 pages in length, and is an opportunity for the nominee to tell the adjudication committee some things about herself, and to explain at greater length her background/interests/passions/ambitions/volunteer work.

Recent Award Recipients

Olivia Ghosh-Swaby (she/her)

A Vanier Canada Doctoral Scholar in Neuroscience at Western University and a recipient of the 2023 SWAAC Student Award in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Her research focuses on preserving brain health and cognition through lifestyle interventions and mechanisms of neuroplasticity in obesity and aging. Olivia is extremely passionate about embodying and developing leadership in sport and higher education through an equity lens. She champions various initiatives in academia and sport, influenced by her perspective as a low SES, first generation, biracial and Black presenting woman and student-athlete. In academia, she has advised on the Anti-Racism Retreat Planning Committee and Strategic Planning Committee at the Schulich School of Dentistry & Medicine. She was a trainee representative on the Personnel Awards for Trainees Advisory Committee at the Heart & Stroke foundation, which resulted in funding for Black scholars. Her work in these spaces motivated her to initiate systemic change within her institution as the founder and co-chair of the Schulich Council on Reforming Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Trainees. In 2022, Olivia was granted $55,000 by E-Campus Ontario to develop an open-access, EDI-D toolkit for the biomedical sciences, known as Inclusive Science 4 All. In sport, she provincially and nationally advocates for collegiate women and racialized individuals in American football as the Executive Director of the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association that supports 400+ girls and women and 70+ coaches across 14 institutions in Ontario. She is also a member of Football Canada’s EDI Task Force and Non-Contact Football and Officials Committees. Olivia is recognized as a trailblazer, educator and consultant in EDI featured in several news articles, panels, lectures and talks nationally and internationally.

Karine Coen Sanchez

A Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include Experiential Education, Place-based Learning Civics Education, Youth Engagement and Activism, Environmental and Social Change and Interdisciplinary Learning. A highly engaged activist, organizer, and scholar, Karine has worked tirelessly to forge relationships and initiate systemic change among Black and racialized graduate students in Canada. She steers numerous anti-racism initiatives at her home campus and on the national stage, including stakeholder mobilization efforts, the development of institutional diversity and inclusivity statements, and the hosting of community-building events. Karine is frequently invited to participate in webinars and panel discussions dealing with race and racism in Canadian higher education as well as lead key discussions around dismantling institutional racism. Karine has created an Anti-Racist Committee for students at the University of Ottawa. At the national level, she has been appointed co-chair for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Addressing Anti-Black Racism Committee, focusing on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She recently authored the Final Report and Recommendations where she highlighted the need for fair access to research support, equitable participation in research systems, research design and practice, and the production of new knowledge.  She is the recipient of the 2023 SWAAC Student Award in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the 2021 Congress Graduate Merit Award. She has directed a Mitacs Acceleration Grant focused on inclusivity within the Canadian education system. A powerful voice both on the ground and in print.

1137 Western Rd, London Ontario N6G 1G7.

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