A World of Pure Imagination: Your 2024 SAMRU Awards Winners

The smell of delectable candy wafted through the air, the chocolate river flowed, and Wyckham House turned on the bright lights to honour the exceptional members on campus at the annual SAMRU Awards Ceremony on April 6th!

For over 60 years, SAMRU has understood the importance of recognizing and honouring the non-academic and extra-curricular contributions of MRU students. So we’ve taken a page out of the Willy Wonka playbook and dedicated a day to give back to the exceptional individuals who are a part of the campus community – to the tune of $40,000 in golden tickets scholarships.
The Student Governing Board (SGB) presented each winner with their delicious awards at the ceremony, with some support from Willy Wonka and his world-famous Oompa Loompas! Peep the sweet list below to learn more about each winner and which award they received as they toured through the Wyckham House Chocolate Factory.

Enrichment Awards

Hamza Echchoujaa | Inspiring Culture Award
Tiffany Singer | Beyond Disabilities Award
Osama (Sammy) Ansari | Gender & Sexuality Diversity Award
Desiree Labelle | Deanna Cardinal Memorial Award

Clubs Awards

Community Leaders Club | Excellence in Community Service Award
Women in Science and Technology | Excellence in Membership Service Award

Staff and Faculty Awards

Abdulrahman Chikhouni | Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Amanda Williams | Open Education Champion Award

Endeavour Awards
Minal Ahuja | Citizen Award
Santina Duarte | Citizen Award
Katie Toseland | Citizen Award
Alyssa Chowanetz | Committed Learner Award
Cassandra Reeves | Committed Learner Award

Excellence Awards

Aidan Surcon | Bronze Award Winner
Liv Taylor | Bronze Award Winner
Pooja Manjunath | Bronze Award Winner
Jenalyn Ormita | Silver Award Winner
Jessica Quiring | Silver Award Winner
Angela Faye Galeos | Gold Award Winner
Mason Weakley | Outstanding Student of the Year Award

Enrichment Awards

Inspiring Culture Award
Hamza Echchoujaa
As a male Muslim student in the Bachelor of Nursing program, Hamza understands the crucial importance of advocating for justice, equality, and the representation of one’s identity. As the Finance Director for the Muslim Students’ Affiliation, Hamza works tirelessly to improve Muslim Students’ lives on campus and beyond. Whether in his clinical practicum, his workplace, or advocacy with the MSA, he is always trying to champion inclusion, fostering community, and accessibility not only for Muslim students but also for the betterment of all students’ overall experience at MRU. Hamza diligently works to break down stereotypes to demonstrate what Islam truly is.

Beyond Disabilities Award
Tiffany Singer
Tiffany is a third-year Bachelor of Social Work post-diploma student minoring in Indigenous Studies at Mount Royal University. She has a passion for disability advocacy and plans to practice in the medical social work field with future sites working at the Human Rights Commission.

Gender & Sexuality Diversity Award
Osama (Sammy) Ansari
Sammy is conferring this semester with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. He wants to use all the knowledge and experience he gained while at MRU to work in children’s education. SAMRU was the first place Sammy made life-long friends when he started his academic journey at MRU in 2016. Through volunteering, attending, and working with the Students’ Association, he is honoured to finally walk the stage this year, knowing that he has made an impact at an institution that truly shaped his 20s.

Deanna Cardinal Memorial Award
Desiree Labelle
Desiree is in her final semester of the Bachelor of Communication program at Mount Royal University, majoring in Public Relations and completing a minor in Indigenous Studies. She is from the Stoney Nakoda and Tsuut’ina First Nations, located in the Treaty 7 Territory, and graduated from the Indigenous University Bridging Program (IUBP) at MRU in 2019. Desiree values her family, education, and First Nation culture, and is striving to graduate in June of 2024. As an Indigenous woman, mother, and student, she is passionate about working with Indigenous communities, organizations, and businesses that help change the narrative, educate the public, and support the younger generation to thrive.

Clubs Awards

Excellence in Community Service Award
Community Leaders Club
The Community Leaders Club’s mission has always been to create an encouraging, engaging, and supportive environment that gives members and executives opportunities to become leaders in their community. With the support from SAMRU awards, they have held over 14 events focused on community health, student physical literacy, and supporting vulnerable populations in Calgary. They feel fortunate to be selected for this award to continue their journey of local leadership both at and outside of MRU.

Excellence in Membership Services Award
Women in Science and Technology (WIST)
As a collection of women in science and technology, WIST prides themselves on expanding representation and breaking down the barriers inhibiting their fellow female-identifying students from STEM-based careers. The women of WIST lead by example in their day-to-day lives, and they create opportunities that inspire and engage their members and fellow students. WIST provides opportunities to grow academically, discover different career opportunities, and most importantly, engage with and build a group of dedicated and passionate STEM women!

Staff and Faculty Awards

Teaching Excellence Award
Abdulrahman Chikhouni
Abdulrahman Chikhouni is your passport to the world of international business education. Currently an Associate Professor at Mount Royal University, he navigates students through courses like Global Business Environment and Cross-Cultural Management with finesse. With a Ph.D. from Concordia University and extensive experience founding and advising businesses on global expansion, Abdulrahman bridges theory and practice, moulding the minds of future global business leaders.

Open Education Champion Award
Dr. Amanda Williams
Dr. Amanda Williams is an Assistant Professor at the School of Communication Studies and the Coordinator of the Common Communication Courses. She is inspired by research, teaching, and helping others become effective communicators. Her research interests include the study of entrepreneurship and visual communication, metaphor and discourse, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

Endeavour Awards

Citizen Award Winners
Minal Ahuja
Minal is pursuing a Biology Honours Degree with a concentration in Anatomy and Physiology. She is in her fourth and final year at MRU and plans to pursue a master’s and a career in medicine. Outside of her school and research, she spends her time volunteering and working with vulnerable populations. Her hobbies include binge-watching Netflix, doing art, and chasing sunsets while travelling.

Santina Duarte
Santina is a fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Biology student with a focus on Anatomy and Physiology, and is minoring in Anthropology. She is a current Learning Peer, the current Vice-President of the Student Society of Science and Technology, and an extremely involved member of the outdoor community of Alberta. She is also currently working as a research assistant on a project that seeks to utilize AI to model the neuronal causes of Major Depressive Disorder. Following her undergraduate career, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine and to research alternative medicinal practices to improve patient-provider relationships. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends and doing anything outdoors – especially fishing!

Katie Toseland
Katie (she/her) is a fourth-year Bachelor of Child Studies student majoring in Child and Youth Care Counselling with a minor in Psychology. As a volunteer for over ten years at festivals and other events around the city, Katie has a passion for building community wherever she goes. MRU has been a catalyst in finding her place as a leader in several communities around campus. She is a co-president of the Bachelor of Child Studies Student Society and has independently been involved in several volunteering activities, both on and off-campus, such as the Journey to Indigenization, Kids Cancer Care, and World Autism Day, to name a few. Katie spends hours at the climbing gym in her spare time, and you can see her biking everywhere when the weather is nice.

Committed Learner Award Winners
Alyssa Chowanetz
Alyssa is entering her fourth year as a Nursing student. She is a single mom, a committed peer mentor, and balancing her studies with a full-time job. Despite juggling these responsibilities, she remains dedicated to her education and supporting fellow students on their academic journey.

Cassandra Reeves
Cassandra is in her last year of a Bachelor of Nursing degree. She is passionate about working with vulnerable and stigmatized populations and looking forward to working as a mental health nurse. On top of school, Cassandra also works for Alberta Health Services and does volunteer fundraising for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Excellence Awards

Bronze Award Winners
Aidan Surcon
Aidan is a fourth-year Chemistry student at Mount Royal University. He enjoys many sports, especially golf, and goes to the MRU gym almost daily. He is the president of the Chemistry and Physics Camaraderie and enjoys hanging out with his friends.

Liv Taylor
Over her four years at MRU, Liv has been determined to make lasting, positive changes in the community by advocating for MRU students’ health and wellness needs, creating accessible student leadership opportunities, and working alongside various campus initiatives to help engage students with their community. She feels incredibly proud to be an MRU student and spend her time here with amazing individuals who have encouraged her to become the best version of herself. After she leaves MRU, she hopes to pursue her MD and continue applying what she has learned throughout her undergrad in the greater community.

Pooja Manjunath
Pooja is in her last year of the Bachelor of General Science (Biology and Chemistry) program at MRU. Upon graduation, she is excited to pursue a Master of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle! In her spare time, she enjoys camping, playing guitar, art, and photography. She is also involved with various initiatives around campus and in the community. She is beyond grateful that the staff and faculty at SAMRU and MRU have allowed her to embrace discomfort and new experiences over the past few years, and she looks forward to implementing new skills as she continues with her journey!

Silver Award Winners
Jenalyn Ormita
Jenalyn (she/her) is completing her last year of Undergraduate Studies, pursuing a Psychology honours degree with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She carries multiple research roles at Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, and The Immigrant Education Society. As an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion, Jenalyn volunteers as a Student Mentor and Representative for the Psychology EDI Committee, a Senior Learning Peer for the Peer Learning Program, and an Access and Inclusion Executive for the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club, among other roles. She plans to continue her learning and advocacy in graduate school and beyond by conducting meaningful, intersectional research to work toward social justice and address the forms of intergenerational trauma that result from systemic inequalities.

Jessica Quiring
Jessica, a third-year student in Public Relations, holds multiple roles within the Mount Royal community. She serves as President of the MRU Public Relations Society, works as a lifeguard at the campus pool, and contributes as MRU’s student content creator. Beyond campus, she actively volunteers in the community as a camp counsellor and with non-profit organizations. Jessica has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her university journey and is excited about continuing her journey in public relations.

Gold Award
Angela Faye Galeos
Angela is majoring in General Science with a concentration in Biology and Chemistry. She has been a GFC, RSC, and LFC student representative since 2021 and 2022. She is also the mother of 3 young children, a mentor to 3-5 immigrant women for a non-profit women’s organization, and a CLC and SSST student executive. Her goal is to advocate for increased representation and diversity for historically underrepresented groups through her experience and voice.

Outstanding Student of the Year
Mason Weakley
Mason (they/them) is a pre-honours Psychology student. They have spent four years at MRU and have become part of a dedicated and collaborative community on campus. In their time here, they have been part of EDIA work throughout the campus and created See Change Collective. This non-profit society provides bursaries to Two Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse post-secondary students in Calgary so they can afford a legal name change before they graduate. Mason plans to go to grad school to pursue a career in psychological research.

Congratulations to all the 2024 SAMRU Awards winners! You’ve certainly earned that magical elevator ride over the city 😊 You can find all the delightful tour photos of the Wyckham House Chocolate Factory on our Facebook Page.

Do you think your contributions to your Students’ Association have you in line for a sweet, sweet award? Keep fueling that appetite for the exceptional, and look out for when Award applications open at the start of the winter semester!

You can learn all about the SAMRU Awards here

For any questions or inquiries, don’t hesitate to reach out to info@samru.ca!