President Frémont presents TMM Student Association with EDI Award
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2022
By Michelle Read
The Translational and Molecular Medicine Student Association (TMMSA) has been recognized by President Jacques Frémont of the University of Ottawa for their outstanding dedication to EDI.
In a ceremony on December 9, TMMSA received the President’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Award (team category) for their dedication and commitment to promoting student engagement, EDI, and a safe and inclusive environment for students of the TMM program at the Faculty of Medicine.
Yasmine Elmi is the equity, diversity and inclusion coordinator for TMMSA. She says the association encourages the student community to actively engage in EDI practices, hosts events designed to raise awareness of social injustices, and builds genuine relationships with EDI organizations.
“By actively engaging the student body, learners are educated about different cultures and the ongoing struggle for equality that many communities face,” she says.
The association also institutes best practices in increasing representation at all levels of decision-making. Representatives advocate for the needs and interests of the student body in all decisions concerning the TMM students.
“We are involved in many committees across the Faculty, such as its Awards committee, its EDI committee, the graduate student association committee and others,” says Yasmine. “We also help organize and execute the Faculty’s annual Research Day.”
The group is also pursuing funding for the installment of innovative accessibility accommodations for those of various learning styles and with adaptive learning requirements, “to ensure the same quality of education can be delivered to all,” Yasmine explains.
The association also aims to foster an inclusive culture and a sense of belonging. In addition to advocating for students at the academic level, the TMMSA hosts many events to enrich the student experience and strengthen their well-being. The team has put forth several health and wellness initiatives tailored to the students’ needs; for example, a recent Wellness Talk sought to provide a safe and confidential open dialogue allowing students to present their needs and concerns to both the TMMSA and the program director.
“We coordinate many events for our peers to engage with one another and exchange invaluable support,” says Yasmine. “For example, our mentorship program enables sharing of practical experience, research, and career advice, and overall, expands our culture of inclusion, cooperation and commitment.
“These opportunities foster a feeling of belonging among all of our students, particularly important given the pandemic’s in-person limitations,” she says.
Kieran Chalmers, 3rd year TMM student and Government of Canada Youth Accessibility Leader, collaborated with Yasmine on the accessibility grant application. He is impressed with how the TMMSA has demonstrated initiative in the creation of an inclusive and accessible environment.
“In science generally, and TMM specifically, the inclusion of all people from all backgrounds is conducive to an influx of new perspectives and inherently a progression of science as a whole,” Chalmers explains. “Students feel confident that no matter who they are, they have a voice and representation. This confidence inspires more outwardly collaboration, a keenness to learn and ultimately a collaborative and inclusive environment.”
The TMMSA posts their meeting minutes online, a transparency that builds trust between the student body and the association.
“It is important that everyone feels safe to share their feelings, concerns and questions,” says Yasmine.
“Connecting and engaging people creates these safe spaces.”
Main photo: The Translational and Molecular Medicine Student Association, uOttawa Faculty of Medicine. L-r: Erika Znamenski, Marah Abdelkader, Dalia Ibrahim, Yasmine Elmi, Mays Abu Sheikh, Stephanie Bogdan, Maryam Abdelaal, Maya Elkbouli and David Jung. (Not in the photo: Rama Sarakbi, Tamara Sandouka, Bryan Alexis Contreras Mercado.)
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The Translational and Molecular Medicine Student Association (TMMSA) Initiative Fund supports educational activities and initiatives of the TMMSA at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa.