Meet the Team

Sara Asalya

Founder and Executive Director

Sara is a Palestinian immigrant, community organizer, and human rights advocate. She was born and raised in a war torn country and witnessed first-hand the impact of violence, displacement and trauma on the lives of war refugees. This has shaped her understanding of social justice and human rights, instilling within her a passion to help others. Sara received many awards for being a champion for newcomers and immigrants rights, and for her leadership and dedication to advancing their civic and democratic engagement. Most recently, Sara was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants. She believes in immigrants’ rights in just and equitable opportunities in the community regardless of their immigration status.

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Sahar Ahadi

V.P Community Engagement and Outreach

Sahar has a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development. In the past 3 years, she worked as a Research Associate at the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, Ryerson University. Before joining TRLC, she spent two years as a Postdoc Research Fellow at the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Based on her own personal experience as an immigrant woman from Iran, she has a passion to help and support newcomers students and employees through developing a wellbeing App which makes the transition stage smoother and safer.

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Suzie - Newcomer Students' Association

Souzan Michael Galway

Manager, Communications & Community Engagement

Souzan has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing from York University. A writer and editor with over 12 years of experience, her byline has appeared in publications such as Elle Canada, Allure, Huffington Post, The Toronto Star and more. As an Iraqi woman in the Canadian journalism industry, who has been shaped by her personal immigration experience, Souzan is passionate about using her voice to amplify the stories of others while exploring the unique and complex challenges that newcomer students face today.

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jaspreet-my NSA

Jaspreet Kaur

Manager, Programs and Events

Jaspreet received her Social Service Worker diploma with High Honours from Sheridan College. As an international student from India, she held multiple roles at her college, including President of Sheridan International Students’ Association, Peer Mentor, Student Leadership and Engagement and International Students’ Ambassador, where she was able to offer various services and support to students. Jaspreet has been recognized with the Newcomer Resilience Award and contributed as a Research Assistant to a project called ‘Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Case Studies’. She believes in diversity, equity and inclusion and works toward making a difference in others’ lives by providing them with appropriate support and services.

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Roxanna Eskandarpour

Social Media Manager

In her role, Roxanna uses different forms of media to communicate the impact, complexities and stories of newcomers. Roxanna brings a combination of design and writing skills to the Newcomer Students’ Association team, where she is responsible for contributing to brand management, digital collateral, and developing new content for NSA. Roxanna’s passion for supporting newcomers stems from her family’s personal re-settlement experience to Canada. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University.

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Elona Canellari

Manager, Special Projects

Elona is a recent Biomedical Sciences (Hons.) graduate from Ryerson University. She joined the team in 2018 to support newcomer students in Ryerson by challenging the barriers they face transitioning to post-secondary education in Canada. In her current role, she aims to use her skills in data analysis, event planning, and research to raise awareness to the plight of immigrant students.

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Erin Bergeron

Manager, Operations

Erin is an experienced nonprofit professional specializing in Project Management and Communications. She has a Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University and a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University. Erin originally joined the Newcomer Students’ Association in 2017 and has enjoyed working with the incredible community. Erin hopes to amplify Newcomer, Immigrant, and Refugee Student voices and create a safe and welcoming space in the Newcomer Students’ Association.

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Alka Kumar

Manager, Research and Policy

Alka (PhD) is an educator and a lifelong learner, having taught English and Literary Studies in India before her move to Canada. The objective of her current work in Migration Research and Practice has been to apply her research insights to work with racialized newcomers and organizations, to help create practical inclusion-based labour market solutions. With her own lived experience of migration, Alka strongly believes in the role of experiential learning and storytelling to support individuals to build their capacities, so they feel enabled to work towards their self-improvement goals, moving towards workplace success in a timely manner. Through all her work, Alka situates herself as a ‘pracademic,’ (or a researcher-practitioner) given she has equal interest and experience in interdisciplinary research and practice; and through her work her objective is to work towards bridging these two often separate worlds.

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Interns

Chellz Haynes

Special Projects Coordinator

Chellz (MA) is a current student in the Social Service Worker (Immigrant and Refugees) program at Seneca College and a past graduate of York University in Dance and Music Education as well as an ESL teaching certificate. She is an avid community organizer with concentrated focus on the Caribbean and Latin American regions, women, children, and youth. Chellz incorporates her experiences as a visible minority, woman, immigrant, and her various travels to her work, and hopes to help foster positive experiences for newcomer students.