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Meet the Current Cohort

Camila Torres

Camila is an animal loving, fourth year communications student at SFU. Throughout her time at the university, she has found interests in helping people while using technology in the process. Originally planning a future in social media and marketing, Camila now aspires to work with non-profit organizations and community outreach programs. Her academic background aids her with helpful ways of integrating critical concepts and components of technology into her work.

Grounded by the successes of her mother and the hardworking women in her life, Camila ensures that her actions always reflect a positive and ambitious character aiming to combat gender biases embedded in Latino culture. Camila holds her mother’s words, “everyone has a purpose in the world,” very close to her heart, she wakes up every day ready to continue her journey to self-discovery and who she wants to be going forward.

In her free time Camila is an avid reader, currently enjoying Notes to Self by Emily Pine, she finds herself relating to the issues faced by the narrator, one in particular about having to “parent her parents” given similar instances. You’ll usually be able to see Camila being her bubbly, random self, motivated by her passions and goals.

Cicely Ashley

Cicely (she/her/hers) is a Psychology major at SFU who is passionate about making society a better and more equitable place to live in for all. Cicely holds great respect and curiosity for individual experiences and actively seeks to learn more about the many experiences that shape one’s outlook on life. She views individual experiences as an interesting way to learn about how humans evolve in their personal lives. Cicely is a driven individual who enjoys taking a hands-on approach in life. In her free time, Cicely enjoys reading biographies, knitting and playing video games. She also has many interests aside from psychology and is always striving to collect knowledge in many different subjects.

David Oyetola

David Oyetola is a passionate mental health worker, an experienced salesman, and an avid dog lover. Resourceful, observant, and easy-going, David was born in Nigeria where he spent his childhood and began studying microbiology. At the age of 22, he immigrated to Vancouver to further his studies in the sciences, this time in psychology.

Motivated by the desire to help others and contribute to societal improvement, he took up a job as a mental health worker for PHS Community Services in Vancouver, which provides housing, healthcare, and harm-reduction services to the most vulnerable and under-served communities. Full of enterprising ideas, he started a company called Newlands Educational Consult which provides a wide range of services to prospective international students.

David loves travelling, watching movies, and playing soccer or basketball. Raised in a family with a passion for music, he plays the alto saxophone.

David is now in his final year at SFU and plans to do a master’s degree in clinical psychology. His goal is to learn how to diagnose psychological disorders, develop and implement treatment plans.

Elaina Buenaventura

Elaina is currently in their fifth year of studies, and is finishing their Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Simon Fraser University. Elaina isn’t certain they want to become a psychologist, but is however certain that they want to follow a community-based career after post-secondary.

Elaina owns laughing as a passion. To them, laughing is involuntary and universal, contagious even to those who don’t get the joke, and it relieves stress, hence the passion.

Elaina thinks their friends would qualify them as a silly person, perhaps a philosopher too, but they would also consider themself as a developer: somebody that tries to acknowledge the strength in people which they could develop in a group. Also, Elaina strives to always build on what they love: they qualify themself as an active learner!

Elaina finds themself committed within the process of dialogue to create solutions and alternatives to issues.

Elsie Millar

Elsie is a 4th year Criminology student at SFU. She plans on attending grad school abroad where she can further her studies in international criminal law, focusing specifically on global politics and affairs. She decided to enroll in the Semester in Dialogue program for Spring 2021 as it was a great opportunity to diversify her understanding on various wicked issues including legal and social injustice and racial inequality. In her free time, Elsie is volunteering at a women’s center, encountering issues such as systemic violence and marginalization, and is also an active member at her martial arts dojo where she has been a student for the past 15 years.

Enoch Sey Koomson

Hailing from sunny Accra, Ghana, in the western coastal part of Africa, Enoch Sey Koomson is a semester in dialogue's spring 2021 international student. Exciting things are happening in Ghana right now, with 2020 being the 'Year of the return,' a call to African descendants of the diaspora to come home; however, Enoch invites all to come. His hometown is the origin of the popular Afrobeat music, and he is proud of it. Music is the local culture's soul and energy, but an average day for Enoch is hitting the books. Like most Ghanaians he loves soccer, and is ready to score a goal for the winning team. More importantly, he is completing his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Ghana. Recently he diversified his academic load to include studying Negotiations at the University of Michigan. Indeed, the future is bright for Enoch and his hard work is paying off. With a primary focus on Psychology and Archeology, Enoch is also concerned with the social impacts of mass migration and climate change. He doesn’t understand why more people are not thinking about critical environmental issues. And he is concerned about rampant illegal mining; the "Galamesey" is a Ghanaian term used to describe water and land pollution, destroying the natural resources. He cares deeply about his community and volunteers with the Rotary club, organizes 'health walks,' and serves on his school's Commonwealth hall in the entertainment committee.

Jeevan Dhaliwal

Jeevan was born and raised in Surrey. As a first generation Canadian citizen she grew up navigating the complexities of multiple cultural differences. Her studies at SFU began with a focus on Psychology and Criminology and she has recently found a strong pull towards Political Sciences. During the Covid-19 pandemic she discovered a creative side and has taken up knitting, embroidery, as well as learning how to cook Indian food. Jeevan is going to be volunteering with Connect Through Homework, an outreach program that focuses on building community through helping young children with homework. The Connect Through Homework program has a focus on building community with children who have recently immigrated to Canada or are the children of recent immigrants.

Jean-Sebastien Dufresne

Introducing Jean-Sébastien is not an easy exercise because of the depth of the questions that animate him. What is our collective project on this earth? Eternal optimist, Jean-Sébastien is always amazed by the potential of the human being. Yet he is worried at the sight of a changing world that is becoming increasingly complex. Jean-Sébastien sees global warming and the massive population movements it will generate. He worries that such a transformation could exacerbate divisions. How can we connect people who are so different? How can we meet such a challenge for our democracies? He also sees automation, robotization, and the disappearance of numerous professions. Faced with these tensions, which risk creating a disconnection from the democratic system, how can we create spaces for sharing and understanding others? If he asks himself so many questions, Jean Sébastien does not hesitate to act in order to find the answers. He acts at the local level by trying to train intercultural leaders, as well as at the provincial level by fighting for the adoption of a proportional voting system. Jean-Sébastien is rich in experiences that reflect his desire to make our cohabitation on this planet better.

Kyra Vergara

Kyra Vergara (she/her/hers) is in her second year and is currently pursuing a double major in sociology and political science. She was drawn to sociology because she strives to develop a greater understanding for people and learn to become more empathic to their various situations in a social context. Her interest in politics was driven by her family who have consistently had open discussions surrounding political issues. Kyra has expressed her passion about various social issues such as climate change and racial injustice and hopes to continue learning more about these topics through participating in dialogues with her classmates this semester. Kyra’s friends would describe her as an “Energizer Bunny” making her approachable to others. In her free time, she enjoys drinking tea, reading, and playing the piano.

Laura Sarmiento

Laura is a third year at SFU, pursuing a joint major in criminology and psychology. She is a first generation Canadian and comes from Colombian immigrant parents who she admires for their strength and resilience. She is described as an affectionate, honest and passionate individual who loves to share her interests with those closest to her. One of her quotes to live by is by Juan Gabriel which says “God forgives, but time doesn’t”. For her this translates to living her life to the fullest no matter what and asking herself everyday, “how do I want to see myself tomorrow?”

As a passionate individual, Laura holds many passions close to her heart. But one that stands out the most is the human experience. She believes as human beings, we have the ability to connect with others through stories and experiences. As a teacher of children, she expresses how rewarding the teaching experience is, often realizing the impact we all have on each other by simply “influencing and being part of another person’s world”.

Loveleen Sandhu

Loveleen Sandhu (she/her/hers) is a Criminology major at SFU who loves the law, but recognizes that the system doesn’t work for everyone. She is a passionate advocate for change and has volunteered as Victim Support Worker.

Aware that we are all a very small part of an expansive and complex universe, Loveleen likes the fact that she will never be able to stop learning and growing. She is grounded and content in knowing that there are like-minded people in the world who are equally committed to making positive changes. Although she is very focused on navigating difficult issues in society, at her core Loveleen is a lighthearted person who enjoys flowing through life.

Loveleen is currently learning to let go of the fear of failure so that she has the energy to focus on the things that matter to her. She looks forward to contributing to a better future.

Marie Litzler

Marie Litzler-Italia is a third year student at Sciences Po Strasbourg in France, where she currently studies economics, law and political science. Her will to act for the better, her leadership skills and extensive work earned her a leadership role at the international solidarity student association Horizons. With 6 classmates, she created a network connecting students and Strasbourg's NGOs. Horizons became an effective platform providing students with a range of daily opportunities to engage.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Paris, she likes to stay active and enjoys reading or jazz dancing in her free time. She also enjoys travelling and one of her goals is to travel around the world.

If Marie had the power to change anything in the world, she would make diseases disappear.

She is particularly interested in the improvement of healthcare institutions and aims to work on projects leading to organizational transformation in hospitals. To move ahead in this field, Marie worked in project management as an intern at the Institute of Cancerology in Strasbourg and plans to further her educational career in Prague where she will study economics next year.

Mathieu Dubois

Being French is an integral part of Mathieu’s identity because of the rich history and meaning behind French politics. Growing up in a family that brought political thoughts and ideas to the dinner table, Mathieu realized that one of his most sincere passions is politics. Walking from door to door and talking to people about elections was a crucial moment that led to his interest in taking this semester in dialogue at Simon Fraser University. He is globally connected through his friendships around the world and continues to welcome new friends. He shares his unique experiences with others in a way that invites genuine conversations about politics, cultural diversity, and the value of learning through dialogue. Mathieu is also passionate about computer science where he is able to create tangible outcomes within a short time frame. Despite multiple challenges throughout his journey, Mathieu takes pride in his ability to push through his own uncertainty and find success in whatever he takes on.

Matko Dujmovic

Matko is a 3rd year student out of Sciences Po (France) where he studies social sciences with a focus on economics and sociology. Originally from Zagreb, Croatia, Matko’s professional and academic interests lie with political economics, strategy and analytics. In his free time, Matko has been volunteering for different social and humanitarian associations and recently became active in municipal politics, aspiring for decentralization, transparency and green transformation. The Semester in Dialogue program has offered Matko an opportunity to experience overseas education, in spite of the pandemic, and further his knowledge on “wicked problems” as well as building creative skills.

Nicole Brown

Nicole Brown was born in Vancouver and raised in the Okanagan, Kelowna. She is a SFU student studying Criminology and hoping to minor in Dialogue one day. Nicole is concerned about a wide range of Wicked problems, and these include but are not limited to: climate change, mental health, access to clean water and the impact of COVID-19 on black Canadians and black people living in the diaspora. In her free time, Nicole engages in self-care. She loves nature, burning candles, and taking drives to the Whistler/Squamish mountains. Nicole enjoys writing and acting, has made several appearances in TV series and commercials, and she has over 20 years' experience as a vocalist performing on stage and in the studio. Nicole is very kind and believes in simplicity, sustainability and self-sufficiency. Nicole is an activist for education irrespective of one’s age and hopes her voice impacts the world in a positive way.

Patrick Canning

Patrick is an SFU student with a current interest in studying in the Health Sciences. Although a career in medicine was enticing for Patrick, he decided to go towards a public health pathway to help his local communities in the lower mainland. Growing up with a love for music has led to an increasingly large record collection that takes up much space in his bedroom, as well as some experience in playing drums in a local band. In light of the recent pandemic, Patrick has grown quite fond of taking long walks with his friends in addition to learning new recipes to cook up in the kitchen.

Souleya Ansanay

Souleya has an insatiable thirst for learning. Her first encounter with sociology got her intrigued by the role of human interactions in our world challenges. Motivated by developing and sharing knowledge, she joined Sciences Po Paris, where she was shocked by the disparity in the life journeys of her fellow classmates. Originally from the 93rd department, she experienced a leap of social class by joining this high-level school. She turned this into an advantage, as it allowed her to better grasp the challenges of cohabitation. She is a living testimony that where you come from can limit your opportunities. But it also can be turned into a driving force to move forward and overcome obstacles. Souleya wonders why we experience a gender gap in education and is looking for ways to overthrow social norms while at the same time preventing them from gaining even more power. As for her future plans, she would like to pursue doctoral studies and better understand the impacts of online sex work. As a curious, brilliant and talented young woman, she is without doubt a source of proudness and inspiration for the 93, leading the way on a journey that many may see now as a real possibility.

Vanessa Paccione

Vanessa Paccione (she/her/hers) is a third-year psychology major, with aspirations of helping others through her field of study and knowledge. Through Semester in Dialogue’s focus on Wicked Problems, she hopes to gain new experiences through the program’s unique structure, step out of her comfort zone to become less shy, and learn more about others’ views to develop a perspective shaped by the world around her. Vanessa also hopes to explore what having a purpose means, and how certain decisions may influence this idea. Throughout the persistence of online learning and the pandemic at large, Vanessa remains grounded through the people around her, especially her grandparents.

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure