Osgoode student lawyers save family from deportation

Statue of justice

With only 11 hours to spare, two student lawyers from Osgoode Hall Law School’s Community & Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) saved the parents of a York University student from family breakup and deportation to Colombia, where they faced potential danger or even death.

When second-year student Brandon Jeffrey Jang and third-year student Emma Sandri learned on Dec. 18 that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had ordered the parents of a fellow student to be deported on a Colombia-bound plane on Jan. 18, they worked tirelessly over the winter break to prepare about 1,000 pages of legal submissions to stop it – on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Osgoode students Brandon Jeffrey Jang (left) and Emma Sandri (right).
Osgoode students Brandon Jeffrey Jang (left) and Emma Sandri (right).

The student’s father became a target of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the early 1990s when he was a candidate for the country’s Liberal Party, actively working to prevent youth from joining the paramilitary organization. After several threats and acts of physical violence, the family fled to the United States. They returned to Colombia seven years later, but remained in danger and fled again, eventually making their way to Canada in 2009. With the Colombian peace process currently faltering and FARC still a viable force, the family believes their safety could still be threatened if they return to their home country.

The couple’s adult son is a student in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science and their daughter is set to graduate from Queen’s University and plans to study medicine. The son and daughter, who already have permanent residency status in Canada, faced being separated from their parents as well as possible academic repercussions if the deportation had gone ahead as scheduled.

The CLASP team’s request to save this family from deportation was initially denied by the CBSA, so they filed two supporting applications with the Federal Court, under the supervision of CLASP review counsel Subodh Bharati. On Jan. 17, just one day before the scheduled deportation, they appeared in person before a Federal Court judge in Toronto to make their case for the family – and they succeeded.

The parents – who have become actively involved in their Toronto community, volunteering during the pandemic, for example, to deliver food to house-bound, immune-compromised residents – expressed their gratitude to the CLASP team in an emotional email.

“Thank you very much for all the effort that you put in our case,” the mother wrote. “I don’t have enough words to express what I feel right now and to say thank you. You are the best lawyers that Toronto has.”

Their joy was shared by Jang and Sandri.

“We were just so happy,” said Jang about hearing news of the successful stay application. “We’ve built a close connection with the family and we’ve all worked extremely hard on this case.”

Jang said the experience has confirmed his desire to pursue a career in immigration law – and this summer he will work for Toronto immigration law firm Green and Spiegel LLP.

Sandri said preparing hundreds of pages of court applications in a month was a tremendous challenge, but learning that the family can stay in Canada as a result of their efforts was a huge relief and incredibly rewarding.

“It was difficult, in terms of wanting to put out our best work in such a limited time span,” she explained, “and we really felt the pressure of the fact that these people’s lives were possibly at stake.”

As they waited for the court decision, she added, “we both couldn’t sleep because we were thinking about what’s going to happen to this family and we were really stressing about that.”

In the wake of the court decision, Bharati said, the parents can now obtain work permits while they wait for the Federal Court to hear judicial reviews of previous decisions that rejected their applications for permanent residency status.

With the students’ time at CLASP nearing an end, Jang and Sandri expressed special appreciation for Bharati’s guidance and trust.

“All of our experiences at the clinic leading up to this case prepared us for the uphill battle we confronted when fighting for this family,” said Jang. “The result was a total team effort on everybody’s part and it was all worth it.”

Bestselling author to share publishing secrets at upcoming event

Pile of books

If you’ve ever fantasized about becoming a published author, or are simply curious about how the book industry works, you won’t want to miss this upcoming event. On Wednesday, Jan. 31, York University’s Writing Department and Creative Writing program are hosting a talk and Q-and-A session with Cody Caetano, a literary agent and award-winning Indigenous author whose bestselling debut memoir, Half-Bads in White Regalia (Penguin Random House Canada, 2022), won the 2023 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Prose in English.

Cody Caetano
Cody Caetano

Caetano, who is of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and is an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation, holds a master of arts in creative writing from the University of Toronto, where he wrote his memoir under the mentorship of Indigenous Canadian writer and academic Lee Maracle.

The highly successful memoir that resulted, Half-Bads in White Regalia, was longlisted for the 2023 Toronto Book Award, the 2023 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and Canada Reads 2023. It was also named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail and CBC Books.

To make his career trajectory even more impressive, Caetano was writing his bestselling debut memoir while working his way up the corporate ranks in the publishing industry, from his entry-level role as contracts administrator to his current job as a literary agent at the CookeMcDermid agency.

At this in-person event, the author and agent will speak about how to break into the book publishing industry and the challenges and rewards of being an author while also working a day job. After his talk and Q-and-A, he will read from his forthcoming novel and sign copies of his memoir.

The event will take place in the Harry Crowe Room, 109 Atkinson Building, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Registration is not required and all York University community members are welcome to attend.

Call for applications, nominations for head of Stong College

Stong Residence

The Faculty of Health at York University invites tenured faculty members who are passionate about advancing student success and building a sense of community to apply for the position of head of Stong College.

Reporting to the dean of the Faculty of Health, the successful candidate will provide administrative and educational leadership and contribute to inspiring learning, leadership and citizenship within an engaged and diverse community of students, staff, faculty, fellows and alumni at Stong College. The head of Stong College works in partnership with the Calumet & Stong Colleges’ Student Success team, including the head of Calumet College, to enhance the experience of Faculty of Health students and support both the Faculty of Health Strategic Plan and the Calumet & Stong Colleges’ Strategic Plan. Stong College is affiliated with and serves the students in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science and the School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health.

The role

The Head of Stong College contributes to an engaged community by working collaboratively with students, staff, faculty, fellows, key campus partners (e.g. Division of Students), and alumni to build and maintain a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community. The colleges play a crucial role at York, and the college head position requires a commitment to the University, Stong, and Calumet Colleges and, most importantly, the desire to enhance the lives of students and to strengthen the student experience.

The college head actively engages within the colleges’ community by supporting and attending key colleges’ community events and meets regularly with college-affiliated student organizations, staff, units and key campus partners throughout the academic year. The college head role provides a faculty member the opportunity to provide strategic vision and mentorship, and contribute to supporting the success of students and enhancing their experience at both the Faculty and university levels.

The successful candidate will be committed to enhancing the student experience, through the delivery of student-centred programs and services, and to engaging members of the York University community as well as the wider community. They will engage and support students of diverse heritage and backgrounds, including: equity-deserving, under-represented, international, first-generation, 2SLGBTQIA+, mature and part-time, place of birth, etc. The college head will support the University’s commitment to decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI) through the development and implementation of initiatives designed to foster inclusivity and sense of belonging.

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual who is passionate about advancing student success and contributing to building a sense of community among students, staff, faculty members, fellows and alumni. College heads receive a stipend, course release and sabbatical top-up.

Application/nomination process

Tenured faculty members interested in becoming the head of Stong College can apply directly. Members of the York University community who know a tenured faculty member who would make an exceptional college head are welcome to submit a nomination.

Applications and nominations should be submitted to Professor Mazen Hamadeh, Chair of the search committee, c/o Lesia Facey, administrative assistant to the search committee, at lfacey@yorku.ca no later than Friday, Feb. 23. Applications are welcome from faculty members from across all programs, schools and departments within the Faculty of Health and the University, and should include:

  • an up-to-date resumé;
  • a Statement of Interest in the Head of Stong College role (maximum two pages); and
  • a brief (one-page) statement of approach to DEDI in an academic environment.

The position commences July 1 for a period of three to five years.

Applicants and nominees who are interested in learning more about the position are welcome to contact Jennine Rawana, head of Calumet College, at rawana@yorku.ca; or Mazen Hamadeh, former Head of Stong College, at hamadeh@yorku.ca.

Faculty of Health continues to advance teaching innovation

Header banner for INNOVATUS

Welcome to the January 2024 edition of Innovatus, a special issue of YFile devoted to teaching and learning at York University. This month we showcase the Faculty of Health and highlight its unique and exemplary approaches to pedagogy.

Innovatus is produced by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning in partnership with Communications and Public Affairs division.

In this issue, the Faculty of Health invites York community members to read stories about how it is leading experiential teaching and learning initiatives that advance strategic initiatives and 21st-century learning in health-related programs.

The work in the Faculty of Health on our newly adopted strategic plan has emphasized a renewed commitment to unique health programming through experiential, accessible education. One of our strategic directions, “Creating Opportunity for Student Engagement and Impact,” will focus on advancing our supports for all students to succeed in their education, with meaningful community engagement through experiential and work-integrated learning (WIL).  

David Peters
Dean David Peters

The recent United Nations’ International Day of Education on Jan. 24 reminds us that inclusive and equitable quality education and fostering lifelong learning are critical to our communities. The Department of Psychology is developing teaching-learning strategies that showcase how equity and success can be planned for first-generation students using research-based modules. This three-year project is led by our inaugural Distinguished Fellow in Learning and Teaching Excellence, a role created to recognize scholarship, innovative pedagogy and expertise in education. In addition, a funded project focusing on WIL for under-represented students aimed to reduce barriers through an initiative that provided Black students with work experiences in applying key skills. 

In the Faculty’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, undergraduate students have community service-learning opportunities for teaching adapted physical activity to high-school students. In the Black Creek and Jane-Finch communities, our undergraduates directly support students who are living with disabilities to compete in their annual Aspire Games, a spring track event held at York University. Our own students help others while applying discipline-specific, evidence-informed knowledge. 

The School of Nursing is taking another approach for strengthening the student experience and is leveraging technology for e-mentoring undergraduate nursing students. Mentoring supports are aimed at helping them face the challenges of transitioning to intense workplace settings and navigate real-world health-care settings. Graduate nursing students participate in providing psychosocial support, career advice and networking. 

Increasing students’ connections to international communities is occurring through course offerings across the Faculty’s five units, such as in the School of Global Health and in the School of Health Policy & Management. Facilitated by our international relations manager, faculty members can develop their capacity for teaching internationally through unique “bootcamp” experiences. Undergraduate and graduate students from across the Faculty of Health gain valuable experience in their area of interest in countries such as Costa Rica, Germany, Ghana and soon Cuba. 

The challenges that our students and graduates face in health care and health-related work settings inspire us to lead through innovative approaches in teaching and learning. We hope you enjoy finding out more about the Faculty of Health and our vision to be leaders and partners for a healthy and just world. 

Sincerely,  

David Peters 
Dean, Faculty of Health 

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the Innovatus story form, which is available here.


In this issue:

Two Faculty of Health professors champion equity in education 
Psychology professors Julie Conder and Monique Herbert are advancing initiatives that ensure first-generation and under-represented students are gaining the learning and skills they need to succeed.

Hands-on experience brings kinesiology theory to life
Find out how Assistant Professor Stephanie Bowerman helped students learn how to work with disabled clients by turning theory into practice.

E-mentoring a success for nursing students
A three-month pilot project connected nursing students and practitioners to receive e-mentoring that would better prepare them to enter the workforce.

New Faculty of Health website highlights global learning
“Make our world a smaller place by being in it,” proclaims the new global learning page on the Faculty of Health’s website, which looks to further the Faculty’s series commitment to advancing global engagement, one of the University Academic Plan’s six priorities for action.

Two Faculty of Health professors champion equity in education 

Students working together in a workspace rom

By Elaine Smith

Psychology professors Julie Conder and Monique Herbert have their sights set on improving access, success, and equity in university experiences for marginalized and under-represented students.  

Julie Conder and Monique Herbert
Julie Conder and Monique Herbert
(Photo credit for Hebert image: Sofia Kirk)

Conder, named the Faculty of Health’s inaugural Distinguished Fellow in Learning and Teaching Excellence in March 2023, is engaged in research that will result in a set of interactive learning modules for first-generation university students, while Herbert, an associate professor (teaching stream), served as adviser for a pilot CEWIL Canada (Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada) initiative to provide Black psychology students with summer opportunities to obtain career skills that will ensure they are competitive when applying for jobs or graduate programs. The pilot was spearheaded by the experiential education office for the Faculty. 

“Both of our programs are about supporting marginalized and underrepresented students in gaining skills for the next phase of their lives,” Herbert said. “We are working from the bottom up, from the grassroots level. After hearing from students, we can determine what actionable pieces we can put in place to support them. We are trying to plant seeds and build a sustainable foundation that will endure even after we’re not involved.” 

Conder is committed to improving outcomes for first-generation students, those whose parents and caregivers didn’t attend university. York has the highest population of such learners in Ontario, at about 30 per cent of its student body.  

“I care deeply about investing in the first-generation student experience. I was a first-gen student myself and few resources existed for us at that time,” said Conder. “I have created a three-year plan to support students, starting with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to determine what the first-gen experience is like at York. In general, research shows that first-gen students are more likely to be racialized, financially insecure and have more family responsibilities. They are also more likely to be unaware of academic norms and culture and less likely to ask for help than students whose caregivers attended university. 

“Once we determine their needs, we can create modules that address the soft skill sets that will benefit them.” 

Herbert’s CEWIL-funded pilot project, Work Integrated Learning for Black Students in Psychology, offered in 2022, was driven by the vision to address the gap in representation of Black professionals in psychology and related fields. It provided summer field placements for Black undergraduate psychology students in their field of interest. Twelve students participated in the program, working in positions at a variety of health services organizations. In summer 2023, the opportunity was extended to include kinesiology and global health students. 

“Many of these students are working multiple jobs and juggling them with their university requirements, trying to get skills they don’t even know they need,” said Herbert. “This pilot project offered opportunities for acquiring these skills and for helping them to understand where their degree can lead, that there are many different options.” 

The pilot participants also received one-on-one mentorship from both York faculty members and staff, a real bonus for the students.  

Jama Maxie, a final-year specialized honours psychology student, took part in the 2022 program and was appreciative of the placement opportunity. 

Jama Maxie
Jama Maxie

“Going into psychology, I know I would face barriers that separated me from my peers,” he said, citing the challenges of getting into research labs during the COVID pandemic, and having an African name he worried wouldn’t necessarily put his curriculum vitae (CV) first in consideration. “The work-integrated experiences for Black students in psychology gave me the upper hand I so desperately needed at the time,” he said, as he ended up working over the summer in a research lab at St. Michael’s Hospital that aimed at reducing inequalities in HIV outcomes for Black Canadians. “After finishing the experience, I started to confidently apply to research labs because I now had a CV that included research-relevant skills,” he said. “The foot in the door I got from the work-integrated experience was just what I needed and gave me an equal opportunity to be just as successful as any other student in psychology.” 

Conder, who mentored one of the CEWIL students, said, “I could see the student transformation from thinking they couldn’t do this to ‘I am doing this and if I have questions, there’s support for me.’” 

A debrief and celebration session where students had the opportunity to discuss the teachings and learnings from their CEWIL experiences was held once the placements were completed. The event offered an opportunity for networking and allowed for suggestions about how students could incorporate their experiences into their CVs and cover letters. 

Conder’s three-year project is in the research phase at present, with plans to employ innovative assessment strategies and create an e-learning Interactive Skills Hub and related resources in the Faculty of Health to increase equity for first-generation students. Her undergraduate thesis student Celina Lieu has taken on the role of research assistant to help Conder explore whether media examples of student success motivate first-generation students. Conder is evaluating existing resources for these students before creating skills modules to give them a helping hand as they begin considering placement and career opportunities. 

“Having such a program for first-generation students will allow them to take this information with them wherever they go,” Conder said. 

Lieu, a specialized honours psychology student, emphasized the importance of the work being done by Conder, a testimonial that might apply equally to Herbert’s CEWIL work. 

“As a first-generation student myself, this work is important to me because many studies demonstrate the barriers that first-generation students face, and this work has the potential for implications that can combat that,” wrote Lieu in an email. “I connected to Dr. Conder’s work on first-generation students because I relate to it a lot and felt I could provide a student perspective in this research process. I also strongly believe in this line of research and in its ability to create support for first-generation university students.” 

Hands-on experience brings kinesiology theory to life

holding helping hand banner

By Elaine Smith

During the fall semester, students in the Faculty of Health’s Adapted Physical Activity course, run by Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Stephanie Bowerman, had the opportunity to put the theories they had learned about working with disabled clients into practice by working with students with varying disabilities from a high school in the nearby Jane-Finch community.

Stephanie Bowerman
(image credit: Kathryn Bain Photography)

“Most of my students have not knowingly worked with a person with a disability in a physical activity setting, so this was a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience,” said Bowerman. “These sessions provided opportunities to practise many of the Becoming YU competencies in a new context, such as communication, interpersonal connection and problem solving. Whatever field they choose after graduation, these skills are important.” 

Working with Paola Calderon-Valdivia, the Faculty of Health’s experiential education co-ordinator, and the York-TD Community Engagement Centre, Bowerman connected with Terry Douglas, special education department head at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School, a short subway ride away from York University’s Keele Campus.

It was arranged for 20 students with varying disabilities to come to campus for three weekly physical activity tutorials to help the high schoolers prepare to participate in the Aspire Games, a competition in April that offers students with disabilities an opportunity to compete and shine in sports events. 

Bowerman’s students were divided into two one-hour sessions within which two-to-three York students were paired with one high-school student. In advance, the kinesiology students needed to plan and develop modified activities within the lesson plan provided to accommodate their student’s individualized needs. Andrea Haefele, a health and physical education curriculum consultant from the non-profit educational support organization Ophea, worked with the York students in preparation, leading a workshop called Disability Centred Movement: Supporting Inclusive Physical Education. Haefele collaborated with Bowerman in creating inclusive lesson plans and supported the York students while working directly with high-school students with disabilities in the physical activity tutorial setting.  

“She discussed making accommodations, how to support students with disabilities during activity, how to instruct students with visual aids and what kinds of behaviour management strategies to use,” Bowerman said. “The students took the lesson plan provided and made accommodations to the activities to meet the particular needs of their student. The York students all took turns taking the lead in the sessions.”

A small group of kinesiology and high school students are each holding and tossing a colourful scarf in the air.  Each person moves to the right while the scarves are in the air and attempts to receive the new scarf before it falls to the ground, challenging their hand-eye co-ordination and movement skills.
A small group of kinesiology and high-school students are each holding and tossing a colourful scarf in the air. Each person moves to the right while the scarves are in the air and attempts to receive the new scarf before it falls to the ground, challenging their hand-eye co-ordination and movement skills.

They were able to practise using multiple forms of communication, because using strictly verbal instructions may not be the best approach for all individuals.  

Each week, the session began with a warm-up, followed by the groups rotating through four activity stations. During week one, the activities focused on sending and receiving objects: the transfer of skills to javelin or shot put. The second week’s activities focused on movement, emphasizing running skills and running over obstacles. The final week of activities highlighted track and field skills, such as throwing objects to targets (javelin, shot put), jumping, running relays and passing the baton, as well as overall fitness. All of the activities were designed to provide fundamental skills while exploring the joy of movement 

These sessions were valuable to the high schoolers, Douglas added, noting, “Any opportunities for skill acquisition into the community allows students to successfully transition into the community with a greater sense of personal capital and agency.” 

Following the experiential education (EE) sessions, the York students were asked to reflect on their experiences, and most found it eye-opening, Bowerman said. Some are now considering working with people with disabilities as a career possibility. 

Jessica Tan
Jessica Tan

Jessica Tan, a fifth-year bachelor of science student in kinesiology and health sciences, was among them. 

“I’d never worked with high-school students with disabilities, so it was nice to get exposure to a different demographic,” Tan said. “I learned that assessments don’t tell you everything about a person; you need to work with them to understand them.” 

Tan also found it was necessary to adapt her teaching approach in the moment to meet the needs of students.  

“I really had to make adjustments, think quickly and change the plan on the fly,” she said. “That’s something you don’t learn studying theory. You learn so much more through interactions than you do from slides.” 

Tan, an aspiring kinesiologist or occupational therapist, is also a part-time dance teacher, and her EE work and reflecting on it have caused her to alter her own teaching approach. 

“After this course, I understood that everyone has a different path to achievement and I began to appreciate the individuality of every student,” she said. 

Calderon-Valdivia, the Faculty’s EE co-ordinator, attended the sessions and was happy to see the learning taking place. 

“Engaging in community service learning fosters a sense of social responsibility and empathy, qualities that are highly valued by employers,” she said. “Through the practical application of specialized skills learned in this course, students gained social awareness and honed their adaptability skills. Ultimately, this type of EE helps shape individuals into well-rounded, ethical professionals.” 

The initial experiential education project was supported by a Faculty of Health Fund for Innovation in Teaching grant that allowed Bowerman to hire the consultant and to buy specialized equipment, such as foam javelins, for the students to use. Going forward, however, the equipment is available, and Bowerman plans to recruit kinesiology students for any assistance she needs to run the EE sessions. She is also excited about the relationship she has now established with teachers and staff at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School. In fact, she created a fourth session to wrap up the program, providing the high-school students with participation certificates and snack bags for an enjoyable ending. 

Douglas, the special education department head, expanded on the importance of this community-service learning opportunity and said, “York University becomes an extended learning community for our students that affirms their strengths, worth and dignity.” 

Bowerman added, “I’m excited to see how this partnership will continue. The high-school teachers were excited about the collaboration and were pleased that York students could meet their own students where they were at. We can build on this relationship and see if there are opportunities for students to do independent study work.” 

E-mentoring a success for nursing students

hand holding heart near stethoscope BANNER

By Elaine Smith

A three-month pilot project to pair York University nursing graduate students with fourth-year nursing students for online mentoring has been a success, says Ruth Robbio, the assistant professor who led the project. 

Using an Academic Innovation Fund grant, in 2023, Robbio created a pilot mentoring initiative for fourth-year nursing students based on her own observations, research and knowledge of the profession – notably her doctoral work focused on e-mentoring for new nurses. She realized that the post-pandemic educational environment offered an excellent opportunity to use e-mentoring in a proactive way by providing support from experienced nurses for those entering the field. 

Ruth Robbio
Ruth Robbio

“New graduate nurses face difficulties in their transition to professional practice and many report being bullied in the workplace,” said Robbio. “This challenging transition to professional practice was compounded for nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in limited academic supports and clinical placements, alongside nursing staff burnout – leading to some nurses leaving the profession. 

“Socialization through psychosocial support and mentoring are critical to facilitating entry to practice. However, traditional in-person mentoring may encounter barriers such as unsupportive work environments, lack of mentor access, heavy workloads, and location and distance constraints.” 

The pilot launched with the assistance of a team of colleagues that included co-principal investigator Mavoy Bertram; Teaching Commons educational developer Lisa Endersby, statistician Hugh McCague from the Institute for Social Research; Helen Brennagh from Learning Technology Services; Stephanie Quail, acting director of the Open Scholarship Department at York University Libraries; and research assistant Doina Nugent

Ruth Robbio and her team
Ruth Robbio (top row, centre) and her team.

After receiving ethics approval for the pilot project in January 2023, Robbio recruited both mentors and mentees through the nursing program at York. Ten practising nurses doing graduate work at York volunteered to serve as e-mentors and 10 fourth-year students in the collaborative nursing program expressed an interest in e-mentorship. The e-mentors posted their profiles online and the e-mentees indicated their top three choices, allowing Robbio to match them. 

Before the program started, the mentees completed a questionnaire to identify their sources of stress, and they noted academic, work and financial stresses as the most pressing. Both groups also completed a self-reflective questionnaire about their current mental well-being. Mentors were generally more satisfied than their mentee counterparts. 

Robbio and her team fashioned the three-month pilot around six online modules that participants could review and discuss, addressing topics such as goal setting, conflict management and career advice. The real focus of the program was check-ins every two weeks between e-mentors and e-mentees. The e-mentors were able to provide psychosocial support and opportunities for professional networking and career support.  

“Nursing is often viewed as a sink or swim culture when you begin working, so this program showed e-mentees how to prepare for their careers and encouraged them not to bottle up their frustrations and anxieties,” Robbio said.  

The project has been an unqualified success, with 75 per cent of the mentees saying afterward that they would stay in touch with their mentors. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of mentors found the program helpful to them as e-mentors and 100 per cent would either participate in the program again or recommend it to a friend. 

The e-mentees were grateful for the support along the way. “I have found that in the few conversations that I have had with my mentor, she has been able to encourage me with ideas and advice about my career path,” wrote one e-mentee. “We’ve been able to connect on our passion for public health and I’ve been able to focus on the journey that I would like to take in my career as a health-care professional.”  

E-mentors found satisfaction in assisting future colleagues, too.  “It was fulfilling to share my knowledge and provide career and resumé advice to the next generation of nurses,” one wrote. “Witnessing my mentee benefit from my experience made me proud to be part of such an impactful program.”   

“At such a volatile time in health care, it is rewarding knowing that you are providing support and guidance to the next generation of nurses,” wrote another mentor. “It is an experience that benefits the experienced nurse, not just the student.” 

Some consistent themes emerged from the project, based on the post-program satisfaction survey. Participants viewed e-mentoring as a reciprocal relationship and as a commitment that takes time and engagement. The program offered a support system and provided support beyond career mentoring, occasionally venturing into the personal realm. E-mentees highlighted such benefits as “having a person with more experience guide you through new challenges” and seeing “a more practical experience of what nursing is like outside of school.” 

E-mentors mentioned their new role as “a reminder of the benefit and importance of supporting new nurses entering the profession” and indicated the value of “being able to learn about how I would like to mentor versus how others would like to be mentored.” 

Their study findings were presented last year at the Teaching in Focus Conference at York University, at the 8th World Congress on Nursing & Health Care in London, U.K., and at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., where their conference paper was published in The Chronicle of Mentoring & Coaching, the institute’s premier bimonthly online academic journal publication. 

Given the success of the pilot, Robbio is optimistic about its place in the nursing curriculum. She and her research colleagues are eager to share study findings with the School of Nursing leadership team to see if this program might be a good fit for existing leadership courses or as a stand-alone. 

“The program is very transferable to any area of study, but it is especially valuable in nursing because it’s not easy out there for new graduate nurses,” Robbio said. 

Thanks to this pilot project, mentees now know what to expect as they enter the workforce in 2024. 

Faculty of Health website highlights global learning

laptop with globe on screen

“Make our world a smaller place by being in it,” proclaims the new global learning page on the Faculty of Health’s website, which looks to further the Faculty’s series commitment to advancing global engagement, one of the University Academic Plan’s six priorities for action. 

Julie Hard
Julie Hard

Julie Hard, manager of international relations for the Faculty, views the page as “a hub for a diverse range of experiences such as student exchanges, faculty-led programs, internships, conferences and collaborative initiatives.” 

“When the site launched, we wanted to drive people to a one-stop shop: one place where students, faculty and the community could see themselves and how to work together to increase global engagement related to health,” adds Hard. “The global learning site provides a menu of opportunities for faculty and students, who can build global experience into their courses and their own learning journeys.” 

Now, there’s no need to hunt through multiple pages on the York website; not only does the Faculty of Health showcase relevant global learning opportunities in one place, it provides information about scholarships and testimonials from students who have dipped their toes in international waters and found the opportunities to be very stimulating. 

Among the interesting global learning opportunities the website highlights are: 

Faculty Bootcamp 

To encourage faculty members to offer global learning opportunities for health students, Hard runs a Faculty Bootcamp that offers a chance for faculty members to experience education in a global setting so they can readily understand the context and the available resources and can develop their own study abroad courses. Faculty members apply to attend a week-long experience and become students themselves, all while considering how they would lead a course in the designated setting. Hard usually leads an annual bootcamp at the Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica, home to numerous York study abroad courses, and is considering holding a similar session in Ghana, both places where the Faculty wants to enhance its strategic partnerships. 

“Faculty members have to have an idea about what they might teach and, if selected, go global with a mindset geared toward building a learning experience based on available resources,” Hard said. “Faculty members are introduced to community partners, educational programs, local businesses, and significant historical and cultural experiences that are relevant to proposed courses. They connect with other academic institutions with similar or complementary programs so they can build on York partnerships or create new ones.” 

FLIP for a global experience 

Faculty of Health students have always had myriad opportunities to gain global experience through general-interest study abroad programs run by York International or by University partners. Now, there are new health courses being offered abroad, called Faculty-Led International Programs (FLIPs). These courses, running from two to six weeks, are developed and led by professors in the Faculty. Registration for the two FLIPs scheduled for the Winter 2024 term quickly filled up. 

One of the new FLIPs will take place during Reading Week in February at the Las Nubes EcoCampus. Adrienne Perry, a professor in the Department of Psychology, created a course that uses an environmental psychology lens to examine people’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, motivation, resistance and behaviour in relation to environmental factors.  

Jessica Vorstermans, an assistant professor of critical disability studies in the School of Health Policy & Management, is leading a two-week FLIP in Cuba in late April. Her course, Experience Cuba: Enacting the human right to health and health equity, demonstrates that these concepts are the predictable outcome of the ideological foundation of Cuban public policy, embedded in the socialist character of the Cuban state. Vorstermans will be working with faculty from the Universidad de Holguín, one of York University’s new partner institutions. 

Student enthusiasm for global learning 

Dylan Alega, a fourth-year student in the specialized honours psychology program, is one of those students who can speak about the benefits of studying abroad first-hand. Alega took the 12-day Community Psychology course offered at York University’s Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica in summer 2023.  

Alega, a Filipino who recently immigrated to Canada after living in Singapore, found that the course struck a real chord. As an immigrant, he found that many of his other psychology courses didn’t represent his own experiences and he found it hard to relate. His Costa Rican experience “was more representative of my own experience and it was cool that an alternative exists,” he said.  

“The highlight for me was visiting Indigenous communities in the struggle for their land. It got you out of your comfort zone regarding your world view in general.” 

He also enjoyed the opportunity to visit a Montessori school operated by El Salvadorean war refugees and Longo Mai, Costa Rica, a co-op with the goal of moving away from capitalism to become self-sustaining. 

“Costa Rica and the Community Psychology course have reoriented my path,” Alega said. “I want to work with marginalized communities who don’t have access to the usual mental health services, such as immigrant communities.” 

In fact, he and his fellow students were so taken with their Las Nubes experience that they applied to the Bold Ideas program for a grant to host a panel discussion called “Crossing Boundaries in Costa Rica.” Held in November, this session focused on the study abroad experience, its benefits, challenges, highlights and lessons learned. 

“We did a lot in 12 days, and this gave us the opportunity to reminisce and reflect,” Alega said. “It [the course in Costa Rica] was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” 

For Hard, who attended the student-led session, it was gratifying to see the impact of the Faculty’s Global Learning program on students. 

“We want to provide opportunities to learn about various aspects of health in different contexts,” she said.  

To meet students’ needs in programming, Hard will use the global learning website to host an annual Grow Global Survey that will allow the Faculty to assess student needs, interests and barriers as they plan for a future of advancing global engagement. 

Schulich breaks new ground in marketing education

presentation given on colorful board BANNER

Earlier this month, York University’s Schulich School of Business launched a Future of Marketing course intended to help undergraduate students stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving marketing landscape. Taught by Schulich professors David Rice and Martin Waxman, it is believed to be the first university course of its kind in the world.  

David Rice close-up portrait
David Rice

The course’s lectures and content focus on cutting-edge topics, including generative artificial intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT, synthetic media, neuromarketing and biometrics, chatbots, augmented and virtual reality, and the metaverse. Living up to its name, the course will also delve into even more futuristic marketing concepts such as advertising in dreams and persuasion through brain-computer interfaces.

“The course challenges students to reimagine marketing and society in a time of rapid technological change,” says Rice. “While other universities are debating the use of ChatGPT in the classroom, we encourage its use so that students can learn first-hand what the potential and limitations are of generative AI technology, and imagine how it may alter the marketing future.”

Martin Waxman
Martin Waxman

To help ensure students are coming away with real-world skills, each class includes an experiential exercise where students have the opportunity to test their abilities and creativity with cutting-edge applications. Adding yet another practical element, the course wraps up with a pitch night in a boardroom format similar to CBC’s hit show “Dragons’ Den,” where student teams present their concepts for a new marketing technology, product or service to a group of senior marketing executives.

Later this year, Schulich is planning to expand the reach of this new course by offering it online through the Future of Marketing Institute, a global think tank based at the Schulich School of Business, of which Professor Rice is the executive director and Waxman is the associate director.

Schulich ExecEd expands health-care training partnership in Guyana

Schulich ExecEd Guyana group photo

Schulich ExecEd, an extension of the Schulich School of Business at York University, is building upon its existing partnership with the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana by launching a new Guyana-Schulich ExecEd Masters Certificate in Physician Leadership Program and kicking off a second cohort of the Schulich ExecEd-Guyana Masters Certificate in Hospital Leadership Program. Both programs are set to begin their virtual classroom sessions this month.

Representatives from Schulich ExecEd travelled to Guyana last month to celebrate the new program launch with members of Guyana’s government. The attendees from Schulich ExecEd were: Rami Mayer, executive director; Dr. Susan Lieff, program director; Jeff MacInnis, facilitator; Robert Lynn, associate director; and Ai Hokama, program co-ordinator.

“I am excited to announce the continuation of our partnership with the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana,” said Mayer. “Together, we are pioneering transformative learning programs focused on social innovation that are aimed at equipping health-care leaders with essential skills crucial for navigating the evolving landscape of health care in the Guyana region.”

The Schulich ExecEd-Guyana Masters Certificate in Hospital Leadership Program focuses on fortifying the administrative skills of health-care workers, equipping them with the knowledge to effectively manage health-care facilities, resources and personnel. Its sister program, the Guyana-Schulich ExecEd Masters Certificate in Physician Leadership Program, is a direct response to the needs of physicians in the region. The goal is to build up physicians’ leadership abilities, improve their decision-making skills, and sharpen their capacity to manage health-care facilities and resources. 

“These programs have been specifically designed to empower health-care professionals in Guyana and enhance the quality of health-care services they provide to their patients,” said Frank Anthony, Guyana’s minister of health. “We are grateful for the co-operation of the Ministry of Public Service and the Government of Guyana in delivering this training to the participants free of charge.”

Schulich ExecEd’s ongoing mission with this partnership is to transform Guyana’s health-care system to deliver more equitable, accessible and enhanced health care. The shared vision of these partners is to develop better health care and physician leaders in Guyana and to provide innovative health-care solutions to improve patient outcomes across the country. Program participants hail from all 10 regions of Guyana, including the country’s Indigenous communities.

“Our programs are meticulously designed to fill critical gaps in business education, addressing skill needs not traditionally covered in medical school,” explained Mayer. “We are committed to empowering physicians and health-care leaders with the tools to manage difficult conversations, solve complex problems, foster collaboration, lead effectively and elevate the overall quality of care in the country.”

Both programs are expected to graduate their current participants in September of this year.

For a closer look at the Schulich ExecEd team’s celebratory trip to Guyana last month, visit vimeo.com/901964260/c095aa81b2?.