Previous recipients of the Hilary M. Weston Scholarship
Madeleine Ritts (2015)
Madeleine Ritts fights for social justice using public policy research, anti-poverty organizing and mental health counselling.
While attending George Brown College, she worked as a crisis counsellor with the community mental health team for an outreach agency called Street Health. She worked in the peer counselling program at the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University in Montreal and as a community organizer at the Immigrant Worker Centre. She is currently working as a caseworker and organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
These experiences showed her how inequities in income, housing, food and access to social services interact with each other and can affect a person's state of mind. The revelation shaped her interest in frontline social work, especially in mental health support for street-involved women and trans people.
Madeleine has completed the Assaulted Women's and Children's Counsellor/Advocate program at George Brown College. She will use her Hilary Weston Scholarship to pursue a Masters of Social Work at York University, and further develop her skills in counselling and community mental health care.
Amanda Suleiman (2015)
Amanda's dedication to mental health support for children and youth has grown from her valuable research and clinical work.
For her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree at York University, she studied how maternal mental health affects the way mothers soothe their infants. She chairs the Youth Action Committee for Children's Mental Health Ontario and helped deliver the first youth-led policy paper on the need for schools to support young people with mental health concerns. This Committee will host a Youth Mental Health Summit this November in Toronto. Currently she is completing an educational film on building safe mental health spaces in schools.
Amanda has also been a Research Assistant at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, working with patients to counteract the mental effects of chronic physical issues.
Amanda will use the Hilary Weston Scholarship to expand her clinical and research skills in a Masters of Social Work at McMaster University so she can better work with youth experiencing mental illness.
Nimo Bokore (2014)
Nimo Bokore is a fourth year doctoral student at York University.
Nimo is an experienced social worker and journalist. Her current research focuses on uncovering and recording the stories of Somali-Canadian women about the trauma they experienced back home as a result of internal and regional conflict as well as here during the upheaval of the settlement process.
Due to the domination of the male voice in Somali society, these stories are rarely heard and almost never documented for research purposes. Nimo's work will break ground by, not only bringing these accounts out into the light, but exploring the implications of these traumas on mental health.
Nimo will use the Hilary Weston Scholarship to continue her important research and provide a valuable foundation for the development of specialized resettlement and mental health services at the community level.
A. deBie (2014)
A. deBie is entering her third year as a Doctoral student at McMaster University.
She has dedicated her work to research in the relatively new field of "Madness" studies which examines the experiences and knowledge of self-identified Mad people and consumer/survivors of the psychiatric system.
She has made ongoing and significant contributions to the mental health sector, first as a crisis worker for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and then as a research assistant for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She also coordinates the Hamilton Mad Students Collective, a peer support and advocacy group for post-secondary students who experience mental health concerns, and has been involved in Mad Pride organizing in Toronto and Hamilton. Mad Pride is a madness arts, culture, and heritage festival that has been celebrated around the world for over 20 years.
The Hilary Weston Scholarship will help her continue her research and make an important contribution to our understanding of the Mad community and social movement, and to the experience of post-secondary students with mental health disabilities.
Halina Haag (2013)
Halina Haag has focused her studies on the barriers experienced by people living with mental health disorders caused by mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (mTBI).
While completing her four-year Master of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, Halina designed and implemented support groups for students coping with mTBI. During her Master's internship, she brought the same support group model to St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph, Ontario.
The Hilary Weston Scholarship will help Halina continue her research in her doctoral studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she is specializing in disability studies.
Robyn Henderson (2013)
Robyn Henderson has devoted her studies to marginalized individuals who suffer from concurrent mental health disorders.
She graduated with highest honours with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Concentration in Psychology). She currently works at the Salvation Army, helping homeless people find and retain adequate housing; and volunteers with the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, providing crisis intervention.
Robyn has worked and volunteered in various other non-profit organizations that assist marginalized women and men throughout the Ottawa area.
The Hilary Weston Scholarship will help Robyn begin her Master of Social Work program at Carleton University in September 2013.
Laura Meisner (2012)
Laura Meisner has spent six years exploring better mental health support programs for children and youth. While earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Honours Bachelor of Social Work, Laura worked at Children's Centre Thunder Bay, an organization dedicated to helping children with mental health issues to better function at home and at school.
She has developed curriculum and programs for schools, organized youth conferences, developed and managed mental health education programs and campaigns, obtained grants, and chaired many committees. She is an active volunteer and is the Chair of Faye Peterson Transition House Board of Directors. The Hilary Weston Scholarship will help Laura continue her research at Lakehead University where she is pursuing her Masters of Social Work Degree.
Jennifer Ward (2012)
Jennifer Ward studies the intersection of grief and stigma and what it means for suicide survivors - including those whose lives have been touched by death, bereavement and mental health issues.
Jennifer is the Survivor Chair of the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention (CASP) and is certified as an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) interventionist. Jennifer is also involved with the Survivor Support Program and is a member of the Council for Adolescent Suicide Prevention in Peel Region.
While completing her undergraduate degree at Ryerson, Jennifer led her own research initiatives. She received a Ryerson Undergraduate Research Opportunity Scholarship, which she used to direct her own research project called, "It's Complicated: A Critical Exploration of Grief, Loss and Madness in Mental/Health".
The Hilary Weston Scholarship helps Jennifer continue her research at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, where she is pursuing her Masters of Social Work degree.
Regine King (2011)
Regine King became interested in mental health issues by healing her own. A survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Regine spent the rest of the decade working with trauma victims in her native country.
In 2001, she moved to Canada and began working in the mental health field. She has worked with many of society's most vulnerable groups: women who have been abused; street youth; and the mentally ill, among others.
In 2003, Regine earned her Master's degree in Counselling Psychology and Community Development at the University of Toronto. She is now working towards a PhD. Her research focuses on the psychological damage wrought by mass violence, and culturally sensitive ways of treating individuals and communities suffering from the resulting trauma.
Hiren Rawal (2011)
After coming to Canada from India in 2008 with three university degrees in psychology and education, Hiren Rawal devoted himself to his job as research assistant in Laurentian's School of Social Work.
He is currently researching the link between mental health, homelessness, and foster care experience of Northern Ontario youth making the difficult transition out of the child welfare system. As a colleague at Laurentian University admiringly put it, Hiren has "chosen to pursue an under-researched area in order to generate new approaches."
During a placement at a Sudbury hospital, Hiren gained first-hand experience in treating patients suffering from early psychosis and gambling addictions, among other mental health conditions.
Michelle Skop-Dror (2010)
After completing her honour's degree in Women's Studies and English, at the University of Toronto Michelle began Master of Social Work studies at Wilfrid Laurier University specializing in individuals, families and groups.
After graduating she worked at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in the in-patient unit and in the outpatient Adolescent Service. In 2006, Michelle moved to the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre as a Care Coordinator on the Mental Health Team.
While working in the field, Michelle was struck by the amount of isolation and stigma women with fibromyalgia experience in the health care system. Consequently, she returned to Wilfrid Laurier in 2009 to pursue doctoral studies to explore the type of supports and resources women with fibromyalgia feel they need to improve their emotional and physical well-being and quality of life.
Maaria Blackwell-Moxam (2010)
Maaria completed two degrees at Laurentian University, Gerontology in 2006 and Social Work in 2008.
In both field placements and employment Maaria has worked with children with special needs and girls experiencing self-esteem issues.
A placement with the Canadian Mental Health Association's Northern Outreach for Women with Postpartum Depression Project led her to pursue her Master's thesis which focuses on the mental health of women experiencing postpartum depression. She intends to explore the experiences of Northern Ontarian women who have undergone postpartum depression so that she can determine their support needs.
Maaria's professional goals are aimed at clinical social work and research in the Northern Ontario health care system
Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy (2009)
Magnus is an advocate, clinician, educator and a researcher.
This PhD student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Social Work emigrated to the United States from Ghana. In Queens, New York he volunteered at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Centre where he discovered his desire to make a difference in the lives of the marginalized.
After graduating with a Master's degree in Social Work, Magnus moved to Canada and worked with adolescent sex offenders in British Columbia.
Just over 8 years ago, Magnus began working as a Community Mental Health Service Coordinator at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Here, he found the perfect place to nurture his passion for social work.
The Hilary M. Weston Scholarship will support his research on mental health services to the multicultural communities at the University of Toronto.
Margaret McLauchlan (2009)
Margaret McLauchlan is a highly determined woman. Cerebral palsy and chronic pain haven't prevented her from pursuing her goal to complete a Master's of Social Work degree at the University of Windsor.
Inspired by her own son's struggles with depression in his last year of high school and before she became permanently disabled, Margaret worked with developmentally disabled people with dual diagnosis in Alberta and here in Ontario.
From 1999 to 2005, she served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Chatham-Kent Branch. Her commitment to the well-being, dignity and equality of mental health patients is renowned.
Her son's achievements have reinforced her belief that with strategic support, young people with mental challenges can succeed in their studies and in life.
The Hilary M. Weston scholarship will help her to conduct research on educational support programs for postsecondary students with psychiatric disabilities to be conducted at the University of Windsor Student Disability Services office.
Alan McLuckie (2008)
Alan McLuckie of Newcastle specializes in children's mental health.
The PhD student at the University of Toronto has worked in family and children's mental health programs across Canada - from Calgary, Alberta to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Durham Region, Ontario. He has conducted therapy groups for parents with autistic children, and teaches child and adolescent social work at the University of Toronto.
His doctoral research is investigating the relationships between attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) symptoms, function impairments and parenting stress.
Bharati Sethi (2008)
Bharati Sethi has used her personal experiences as an immigrant to advocate for newcomer women experiencing mental health problems.
The Master of Social Work student at Waterloo's Wilfrid Laurier University has researched the mental health risks faced by immigrant and refugee women from India, due to factors such as shifting gender roles, lack of social network and accessibility of services.
Her master's thesis will examine the correlation between immigrant women and their employment issues.