Introducing the 2021 Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship recipients
UM students recognized for their efforts in bridging cross-cultural gaps, both locally and globally
Each year, the University of Manitoba (UM) recognizes two students who demonstrate exceptional commitment and leadership skills, their actions helping to connect the local with the global.
The Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship is named for Nahlah Ayed [BSc(Hons)/92, MA/02, LLD/08], an award-winning veteran of foreign reporting, the host of CBC’s Ideas, a UM alum and honorary degree recipient.
The International Centre offers this prize to recognize students who participate in activities that celebrate diversity, curiosity, respect and mutual understanding, while expanding their horizons and developing global skill sets.
2021 recipients Anthony Huynh and Ha (Cassie) Dong both demonstrate strong commitment to leadership through advocacy and continue to impact the world in a positive way through their tireless work.
“We are so pleased to recognize this year’s recipients of the Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship,” says Fanny Levy, director of UM’s International Centre. “Though they are pursuing different areas of study, Anthony and Cassie’s dedication to global citizenship is inspiring, and is an example for us all.”
When Anthony Huynh found out he received the prize, he was “shocked and honoured” and encouraged to know that others saw the value in his advocacy work and social justice-minded research.
A child of Vietnamese refugees, Anthony is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Community Health Sciences. His background as a second-generation immigrant informed and shaped his social and political consciousness and plays a vital role in his advocacy work and research on migrant rights, welfare and justice.
Committed to bridging communities on and off campus, he has long been actively involved with Migrante Manitoba, a Filipino migrant and immigrant community advocacy group, who are currently working together with the Institute for Global Public Health (IGPH) at the University of Manitoba on a CIHR-funded project to examine and strengthen vaccine confidence among migrant workers in Manitoba.
Anthony’s research – which interrogates existing conditions and systemic inequalities that render migrant workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, as well as the health and safety concerns and health services usage of migrant workers in Manitoba – will be used to inform the health and political advocacy work of community groups and organizations serving the needs of migrant workers locally and beyond.
“Research should affect change and empower the lives of people, and that can only be done by listening and humbling oneself,” he says. “One of my dreams is that I can be part of creating a space in the academy that not only exposes and opposes these systemic issues but also provide a space where BIPOC students can feel seen and heard and know that they are worthy of excellence.”
HA (CASSIE) DONG
International student winner Ha (Cassie) Dong successfully defended her thesis and will be graduating with her MA in October. She intends to pursue her Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Studies. A strong proponent of the transformative power of education to motivate social change, her work emphasizes the creation of local and global projects to support sustainable development and address systemic barriers.
Influenced by her experiences studying in Vietnam, the U.S., and Canada, Ha’s thesis focuses on the emergence and impacts of nationalism and neoliberalism in the Vietnamese public education system and poses questions for alternative approaches to education as part of an infrastructure for peace in post-war Vietnam.
An emerging leader focused on education, multiculturalism, equity and diversity, Ha has published articles focused on collective healing and decolonization in education and has held numerous volunteer positions at local and international NGOs. A passionate peace leader, she is the co-creator of a multilingual podcast and blog site which shares stories about peace and conflict issues locally and globally.
“For me, education for social change doesn’t just start at school, but it also starts at home from listening to and sharing our ancestors’ stories, from our daily engagement with one another and with the land, from our critical self-reflection and a spirit for life-long learning, among others,” she says. “If we can learn to heal ourselves and to build peace in everyday life, we can transform ourselves, our communities, and our broader societies.”
Nominations for the 2022 Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship are open. For more information about the Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship and how to nominate a student, visit the International Centre website.
Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.