The York University Alumni Board has recognized four distinguished York students for their academic excellence and student leadership. We are proud to share the recipients of the 2020 Alumni Awards and Scholarships, and their incredible academic journeys, below.
Olivia Beltrano (BBA candidate ’24) – 2020 Harry W. Arthurs Alumni Families Entrance Scholarship recipient
Attending York University is almost a rite of passage for this year’s Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Entrance Scholarship recipient, Olivia Beltrano (BBA ’24); her parents and brother are proud alumni, and her sister is a current fourth-year student at the Schulich School of Business. Each year, this scholarship is awarded to one successful incoming undergraduate student who has demonstrated academic excellence and is a child, sibling or grandchild of a York graduate.
This fall, Beltrano will follow in her family’s footsteps when she joins the Bachelor of Business Administration undergraduate program at Schulich. Her ambition to study at Canada’s number-one business school began when she was a student in elementary school.
“I went to the York University fair with my brother, who was applying at the time. I loved the atmosphere at Schulich and I knew that’s where I wanted to go when I was older,” she says.
As a high school student, Beltrano achieved a 95-per cent average. She demonstrated leadership and teamwork through her involvement in many extracurricular activities. A proficient skater with a passion for sports, she played House League Ice Hockey for the North York Storm for nine years whilst working as a skating instructor for children aged 3-10 years old. Beltrano has also volunteered as a Leisure Buddy at the Vaughan Summer Camps. “This past summer I was assisting a nine-year-old boy with autism and I worked to integrate him into the camp and help with activities,” she shares.
Beltrano says she looks forward to exploring the many extracurricular options that York has to offer when campus reopens in the future. “I have an interest in marketing and hope to combine my skills, qualities and experiences to create a successful career path.”
Aly Fawzy (BSc ’20) – 2020 Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship recipient
As a fourth-year Kinesiology and Health Science student, Aly Fawzy (BSc ’20) is driven by a desire to understand the human body and its capabilities, a journey which began during his time in high school.
“I was very involved in sports and soccer, but what really triggered my interest was when I did the beep test in gym class. I was frustrated by how I couldn’t reach the level I wanted to reach so I started to dig deep and look at the physiology of exercise,” he shares.
The Kinesiology and Health Science program at York, ranked first in Canada and ninth in the world, has enabled Fawzy to pursue his passion for research. He has served as vice president at York’s Canadian Association for Research in Regenerative Medicine, and he was the recipient of a prestigious grant awarded by The Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.
“There’s lots of excellent researchers in the Kinesiology and Health Science department. I have been involved in research to do with vascular disease at York and I hope I can continue that in the future,” he says. This summer, Fawzy will be graduating and looking to pursue a medical degree and career as a physician.
In addition to excelling in his academic life, Fawzy is a leader in the York community. Whether he is representing the President’s Office as a President’s Ambassador or leading a group of 500 first-year Kinesiology students as an Orientation Day Leader, he operates as a role model making a difference.
It’s this commitment to academic excellence and community leadership that’s being recognized by the York University Alumni Association [or York University Alumni Board] with the annual Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship.
“I am appreciative of York’s Alumni Board for recognizing my extra-curricular activity, and granting me a very generous award, which will help me to finance the tuition and equipment I might need.”
Khadeja Elsibai (BPA ’20) – 2020 Golden GRADitude Award recipient
A Public Administration and French Studies student, Khadeja Elsibai (BPA ’20) is credited as a key ambassador for Francophone culture during her time at York. She was instrumental in the creation of an official French Studies Student Organization, the Association des Étudiants Francophones et Francophiles de York (AEFFY) which offers academic-orientated and socio-cultural programming in French for students interested in the language and Francophone culture.
This achievement is all the more impressive given the fact that a French students’ organization hasn’t existed at the Keele campus in 15 years.
“Over the past two years, the club has gotten significant interest from all sorts of students at various levels of French language proficiency and from many different faculties at York. It’s been great getting these students engaged and seeing them come out to events and speaking French,” Elsibai shared.
Elsibai has inspired and motivated her peers through various leadership roles on campus. Amongst other volunteer commitments, she was a Founders College Peer Academic Leader where she supported students with their transition to university studies and led orientation for 600 new students. She’s a recipient of the 2020 Alumni Golden GRADitude Award, given to two graduating students who have made the University a better place through leadership involvement in such areas as student government, academics and research.
Elisbai graduates from her undergraduate degree this summer and will be returning to York in the fall to complete a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law, with an interest in building a career in government. Last summer, she landed an internship at a government office, where she continues to work.
“I think government is probably the most complex organization to work in because you’re balancing so many interests while delivering public services and supporting citizens. It’s rewarding.”
Lance Morrison (BA ’20) – 2020 Golden GRADitude Award recipient
Lance Morrison is completing his fourth year of a specialized major in Indigenous Studies and has also gained an Anti-Racist Research and Practice Certificate. A Plains Cree and Métis student, he is the first in his family to attend university and will graduate this summer Summa Cum Laude and as a member of the Dean’s Honor Roll.
In York’s Department of Equity Studies, Morrison has embraced a safe space to work and study in, and has discovered a natural affinity for academia.
“My research interests completely lie in cultural, ceremonial and language revitalization and reclamation as a means of healing,” explains Morrison, who is a recipient of the 2020 Golden GRADitude Award.
Morrison is also a creative; in his first year at York, he wrote a 40-page play, titled, New Woman Standing, in response to an essay assignment about the trauma that Residential Schools have inflicted and the resilience within Indigenous communities. The play won the President’s Creative Writing Awards competition in the Stage Play category and has been published in Residential School Magazine.
Morrison’s contribution to the Indigenous community at York extends to governance, research and mentoring. He served twice on the Aboriginal Students Association, as an Officer and President. He has completed multiple research projects supporting urban Indigenous people and has mentored Indigenous younger students throughout his time at York.
Morrison plans to complete an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies at York in the fall, followed by a PhD.
Of this award, Morrison writes: “I appreciate being considered for future awards and I continue to fight for justice, through my strengths: academia and volunteerism, and being unapologetically Indigenous.”