SCWIST’s Volunteer of the Month Awards

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SCWIST’s aim is to highlight the contributions of our volunteers and to thank them for their time and commitment. Each month, we select a Volunteer of the Month from among volunteers whose performance is outstanding in terms of hours, events and impact and they demonstrate the understanding of the SCWIST brand. In addition, their volunteering contributes to their own personal and professional growth. 

We now wish to recognize the following volunteers with the Volunteer of the Month award:

June 2021 | Alyse Hebert

“I was finishing up my master’s degree in library science at UBC in Spring 2020 and had moved back to the U.S. Even though I moved, I still wanted to meet like-minded women in Vancouver and was quite interested in STEM education. I found SCWIST and really liked what they valued – how they supported women in science and technology fields and gave volunteers opportunities to build transferable skills. The volunteers in this organization are so hard working and kind! It’s been a wonderful group to be a part of. Every month, I get the pleasure to read about scientists in the field making new discoveries, to become more knowledgeable on local, national, and international STEM businesses, and to keep up to date on current events just to name a few perks. I look forward to continuing to volunteer for SCWIST.” — Alyse

Alyse Hebert joined the Communications committee in October 2020. Since then, she has dedicated time every month to initiate and draft the SCWIST monthly newsletter. Alyse has learned to adopt the SCWIST voice and is able to apply a detail-oriented mindset to format information in a logical manner. Alyse is also one of the most independent and self-sufficient volunteers at SCWIST – you can depend on her to start putting together the monthly newsletter without needing any reminders. Because of Alyse’s work, SCWIST’s 2200 newsletter subscribers have engaging content to read at the end of every month and are kept informed of SCWIST programs. Alyse has grown her skill set to include the use of communications and marketing tools such as Slack and MailChimp. In addition to her practical skills, Alyse built an impressive communications portfolio comprising 8 monthly newsletters. She has demonstrated through her contributions that she is reliable, independent, and organized – these attributes are all important for the workplace, regardless if it is a non-profit or corporate organization.

Alyse works directly with the SCWIST MailChimp templates, brand guide, and conveys the organization’s mission and values through these tools. When a subscriber reads the newsletter at the end of each month, you can bet that the content they read was facilitated by Alyse. One subscriber who enjoyed the October newsletter emailed, “Great newsletter! Informative and interesting and pretty, too! Thanks!” Alyse has demonstrated that she understands and can amplify the SCWIST voice.

Alyse has been one of the Communications team’s most dedicated volunteers by contributing to content creation for SCWIST on a monthly basis. Her work is much appreciated and has not gone unnoticed!

April 2021 | Aashima Khosla

SCWIST recognizes Aashima Khosla with the “Volunteer of the Month” award for April 2021!

Congratulations! Regarding her experience with SCWIST, Aashima says, “When I moved to Canada from the States in 2020, I was searching for ways to engage in a new market and establish my network. After attending my first SCWIST event in early 2021, I was inspired and encouraged by the group of women I met from across all sectors of the Life Science community. I joined the SCWIST events team shortly thereafter. Through planning our career development events, I am able to come into contact with extremely accomplished scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and others who provide absolutely invaluable advice and support that will help me throughout my career. I also feel it is absolutely imperative to surround yourself with a group of like-minded individuals who share your same passions. By meeting fellow women in STEM through SCWIST, I’ve been able to create a support group of women who care for each other, and who share their own experiences and lessons they have learned. I have formed long-lasting friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

As an Events Committee member, Aashima co-organized and co-moderated the Academia to Industry mini-series, a Brown Bag on science communication, and our volunteer appreciation event. She also took the initiative to design promotional materials for the Science Odyssey and assist with digital marketing and social media initiatives for the job fair. Currently, she is leading the planning of an upcoming event on career pathways to higher education administration.

As a Finance and Grants Committee member, she is helping with SCWIST’s budget planning and, in the process, learned about managing the finances of a non-profit organization. She is also actively participating in fundraising meetings.

Aashima jumps in when needed and was crucial to the submission of a last-minute grant application. She was also a member of the committee that evaluated the SCWIST Digital Literacy Scholarship applications.

At SCWIST, Aashima has gained experience working in a diverse team and takes pride in creating a positive working atmosphere to foster sharing of ideas, problems, and solutions. She is also practicing communication with external stakeholders, grant writing, and presentation skills. Aashima designs graphics for events and has a demonstrated understanding of using the SCWIST brand colours and logos. As events coordinator, Aashima is strongly aware about representing SCWIST in a professional manner and being SCWIST Ambassador par excellence. 

March 2021 | Dr. Maritza Jaramillo

For the first time in SCWIST’s history:

  1. We have a chapter.
  2. Our members in Quebec are starting to organize themselves as a group.
  3. SCWIST had an event which highlighted the work, leadership and personal experiences of female scientists in Quebec.

This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of Dr. Maritza Jaramillo. Although a very busy professor running her own research lab, Dr. Jaramillo, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of INRS – Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie (CAFSB), committed her time to plant the seeds in creating the SCWIST-Quebec Chapter. She enthusiastically led the chapter core group in planning the chapter’s inaugural event. Dr. Jaramillo mobilized her professional network in promoting the event within large organizations such as NSERC and INRS which resulted in high event registration and attendance. She also was instrumental in bringing in new members and donations from Quebec.

As an advisor in the SCWIST-Quebec Chapter, Dr. Maritza Jaramillo continues to be involved in strategic planning for the next steps in the chapter’s future. She was able to reconnect with her professional network, as well as expand it with new contacts in the SCWIST network. She raised the profile of SCWIST in Quebec, with NSERC and INRS.

February 2021 | Monika Kajal

Monika has been leading the effort on improving SCWIST’s Job Board by generating and disseminating the Job Board Survey. Her project aims to increase traffic to the SCWIST website via the job board and to enlarge the candidate pool of females in STEM that employers can reach. Monika has been a conduit between the BD team and Comms team on this project, and has a contagious enthusiasm. She is open to new ideas brought forth by the younger members of SCWIST and brings a refreshing approach to SCWIST’s voice. As SCWIST looks to build a foundation for future generations of members, it will be attitudes such as Monika’s that ensure success of the organization.

Monika has demonstrated an understanding of the diverse perspectives of SCWIST, from those who are more conservative to those who aim to push the boundaries of the brand a bit more. By pursuing the opinions of those sitting on different teams, Monika has shown that she is self-motivated and persistent.

Monika weighs the opinions of all stakeholders in the Job Board Survey project, including employers, prospective employees, the BD team, the Comms team, and SCWIST as an organization. She considers potential advantages and contra of all questions in the job board for all stakeholders involved, and ensures that the SCWIST brand will not be harmed.

January 2021 | Dr. Namrata Jain

Namrata always takes the initiative and executes to the fullest. She is driven, organized and has taken much more responsibility than she was tasked with. She has owned a big part of the Job Board improvement project, and always completed her tasks in an efficient, effective and professional manner.

Namrata was tasked with leading the project coordination of both projects in the Business Development team and she is the one tracking progress and following us with the team.

Namrata is learning how to work in a diverse group and how to lead others with drive and passion while practicing project-planning, communication with external stakeholders, presentation skills and strategic thinking. Driven by professional growth, Namrata wants to create a productive and collaborative space. She respects her team members and works towards empowering others in the team and outside of it.

Sharing her experience, Namrata recalls, “I joined the SCWIST Business Development team as a Business Strategist in 2020 to connect with fellow women in STEM and contribute to a cause that is close to my heart. SCWIST’s mission of improving the presence and influence of women and girls in STEM resonates with my own personal values. At SCWIST, I found myself in the company of brilliant and creative minds. Since then, I have been involved in various long and short-term collaborations within the organization, including the Business Development Job Board & e-Shop, 40th-anniversary Branding & Merchandise, as well as the Events and Communication teams. I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from highly accomplished and kind women that went out of their way to extend support and mentorship to me. Being a SCWIST volunteer has given me a chance to utilize my skills for a worthy cause of creating possibilities for women in STEM. It also helped me further develop new skills, expand my network, and create life-long friendships. I truly believe that when a group of motivated people share a vision, they can make a big impact. The SCWIST community is driving theirs with full strength. I am grateful to be part of that strength.”

December 2020 | Nirali Rithwa

Nirali Rathwa has been a volunteer with SCWIST for last six months. She has been an active volunteer on several committees. As a Business Development Committee, Nirali took initiatives on Holiday Pop up shop and successfully executed the project. As a business strategist, she contributed towards launching and promoting Holiday 2020 campaign over e-commerce platform. It generated virtual visibility and revenue for the SCWIST. She also helped execute the SCWIST’s mission, visibility, and agendas through networking and promotion as a community engagement manager, helping manage the Slack Community channel and promoting membership initiatives on her personal social media accounts. Moreover, Nirali is constantly looking at recruiting potential members and has successfully invited prospective members from Central Canada and the USA to register as SCWIST members. As an Affiliate committee member she co-organized and co-hosted “Ontario Chapter – Fireside” to engage and promote women in the STEM field from Ontario province. She has proactively led the planning of three upcoming events in early 2021. As an Events Committee member, Nirali has volunteered as a tech host for the Science Literacy workshops, some brown bags, fireside socials and workshops. She has also been instrumental in promoting SCWIST events, reaching out to her network on LinkedIn and Twitter.

While working on the Pop-up shop Nirali learned about fast-paced agile work, adapting, negotiation, partner conversations, technological terms and gained experience of working in a diverse team. Nirali constantly promotes SCWIST values, and makes sure SCWIST is seen in a professional and valuable way. Her recommendations and feedback about social media seeing SCWIST in a big picture is much appreciated.

August 2020 | Anja Lanz

Anja continues to go beyond her role as STEM Diversity Champion, GENC Leader, and member of Make DIVERSITY Possible project team, SCALE Steering Committee and SCWIST Policy and Impact Committee. She extends the impact of SCWIST’s work by volunteering on the Engineers Canada and EGBC 30 by 30 Champions Group, EGBC Women in Engineering Group, United Nations Beijing + Group with activities in Canada and internationally; Advisory Group for the AWET project (Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology) and Langara – 49 Women in Science Initiative.

Anja has consistently promoted SCWIST at local, national and international levels. She brings opportunities to learn, grow, connect, and make them available to the SCWIST community. She uses her far-reaching connections to create possibilities, organizational connections and contacts for SCWIST and uses her personal credibility and profile to enhance ours.

Anja embodies volunteering as a way of life – in her personal and professional activities. Anja’s volunteering activities build collaboration, leadership and advocacy skills – and her ability to connect people and other organizations together in a way to collectively act and create a larger impact. Anja uses her volunteering activities to advance STEM skills, diversity in STEM and gender equality globally.

Anja’s volunteer activities are directly aligned with SCWIST’s brand, vision and mission to remove barriers for women and girls in STEM. She continually challenges everyone to do more and to find ways to remove barriers. She demonstrates SCWIST values in everything that she does – to empower, include, inspire, connect and sustain. She has a continued focus on SUSTAIN – to ensure the work that is being done at SCWIST, in Canada and internationally – is sustained.

Anja is one of the pillars of SCWIST and not only understands the brand profoundly but promotes it to raise SCWIST’s profile.

September 2020 | Vaishnavi Sridhar

  • Fully responsible for completing application and obtaining NSERC funding for Science Literacy Week (SLW) workshop
  • Strong leadership spearheading the planning, organizing and implementation of the 14 SLW workshops which reached ~500 students and teachers across Canada.

Vaishnavi learned the intricacies of writing grants and applying for funding from NSERC, a Canadian Federal agency, with very competitive standards in grant funding.

As the lead responsible for planning, organizing and implementing the SLW workshops, Vaishnavi developed event management skills; and also levelled up her leadership, as she assembled and effectively worked a team of new Youth Engagement volunteers, who delivered the workshops with excellence and beyond expectation.

Vaishnavi was cognizant of the importance of having the SLW workshops well-attended and highly engaged by students across British Columbia (and Canada), thus she ensured that workshop content and programming was of high quality. Failure to do so would have impacted the SCWIST brand negatively, of which she was fully aware of.

Vaishnavi’s positive experience as SLW grants application writer and workshop events lead, has motivated her to commit to longer term committee work with the Director for Leadership and Director for Youth Engagement.

October 2020 | Noeen Malik

Noeen joined SCWIST as a volunteer on Aug 19, 2020. In the span of less than 3 months, she has significantly helped raise SCWIST’s profile internationally, nationally and locally. A key member of the Events Team, she has contributed fresh ideas, energy, expertise and leadership.

Event lead and moderator of SCWIST’s first global event: The 2020 Gender Equality Week Forum (International Perspectives on Advancing Women in STEM Careers and Leadership) is Noeen’s brainchild. She worked relentlessly to ensure that the event would be a success: brought in high profile international speakers, actively promoted the event on social media and with her professional network resulting in over 100 registrations from all over the world, enthusiastically moderated the panel discussion, and spent additional hours attending to small but important details.


  • Co-lead and Quiz Master, SCWIST Halloween and Science Trivia Challenge fundraiser for Science World
  • Science Literacy Week workshop co-host
  • SCWIST Brown Bag host
  • SCWIST representative/ moderator at the Science World Girls and STEAM mentorship session
  • Participant and SCWIST representative to the Minerva Gender Equality Leadership forum session on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Despite being an established scientist in Radiochemistry, Noeen values her volunteering with SCWIST because the organization provides her access to a larger professional network in Canada and a pool of mentors and leadership role models.

November 2020 | Angela Chen

Angela took on the role of Social Media Manager for SCWIST in September and has been instrumental in revitalizing our social media presence in the past 2 months. In addition to working closely with the Director of Events to promote an steady stream of events, Angela has grown SCWIST’s Instagram from 60 followers to over 140 followers in a span of 2 months. She has posted refreshing content that includes fun facts, highlights of relevant feminism/STEM news, and member features. Her content is effective in engaging new members that are in a younger demographic. She has actively contributed to the communications team’s blog topic brainstorm sessions and has keenly educated others on running an impactful ad campaign. She is committed, passionate, and enthusiastic.

Outside of SCWIST, Angela’s goal is to start her own market company. She has successfully created and applied social media marketing strategies to SCWIST’s platforms and her learnings can be transferred to future applications and projects. Angela has also learned to work with different opinions and how to articulate her thinking behind different approaches. Her ability to work with diverse personalities and stand behind her ideas are skills that will contribute to her professional growth for the rest of career.

Angela has paid close attention to the SCWIST voice from past social media work by keeping our posts informative and friendly, which is the most important aspect of Communications. She has appropriately applied the SCWIST marketing brand guide to her posts, including using Canva to make graphics and videos that have SCWIST’s logos and colours for promotional materials.

Want to take action for women and girls in STEM? Volunteer with SCWIST!

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