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Meet the SWC

Here are some of the wonderful people at our centre!

Connor smiling and holding a camera outdoors, with a building in the background.

What is your favourite book?

“‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’ by James Baldwin. This book introduced me to an author who would later become one of my favourite writers. I think it does an amazing job using symbolism to explore John’s coming of age, as well as explore themes of racial injustice and morality with raw emotion.”

Connor Blakeborough, Health Promoter





Zeinab smiling and sitting in a McMaster building's hallway.

What do you want to learn more about?

“‘Everything! I hope I never stop learning and growing. Something that I’m currently very interested in learning about is history – generally speaking, but also my family’s history in particular. My grandparents were Tibetan refugees who settled in Pakistan, and I’ve been discovering the wealth of experience and wisdom they hold in their memories and their stories. The more I learn about them and their lives, the more I learn about myself and the world.”

Zeinab Khawaja, Health Promoter




Debbie, outdoors, smiling

What’s the best part about your job?

“I love working in a university. I love working with students. It keeps me young quite honestly, and I really like that. These are young people who are at a critical point in their lives where they are making their transition coming from high school to university or leaving university to go out into the world.  It is such an honour for me and a privilege to work with them and hear their stories and help them navigate some of the challenges they face. For me, it is why I get up everyday.”

Debbie Nifakis, Psychologist and Associate Director of Counselling





Who do you admire most in life?

“I definitely admire my mom the most in my life. She’s been an incredible teacher throughout my childhood who also understands the importance of compassion and love. She is the most selfless person I know who will always be there to take care of others and ground you when you’re overwhelmed. My mom is also unafraid of taking on large changes in life with a kind and generous heart. Having moved halfway across China to attend medical school when she way 17, leaving to Singapore, and finally immigrating to Canada, her openness to trying new things and exploring the unknown is a quality I try to embody in my own life everyday. I can only hope to become the person my mom is one day.”

Patrick Ang, Program Support Assistant




Shraddha smiling, outdoors, in front of a reddish brown brick wall.

What’s the best part about your job?

“As my life has progressed, I’ve learned firsthand that my identity is deeply tied into my wellbeing. Whether it be a debilitating heartbreak or the hardships that come with being a first-generation immigrant, my lived experiences shape my mental and physical health. My job recognizes these truths and integrates the nuances of people’s lives into the programming that we create. A prominent example of this is the content that we’ve shared during Pride month—it outlines some of the experiences that many 2SLGBTQIA+ people have and that impact our wellbeing. Not only does this validate my own identity and help me come to terms with my experiences, but it also foregrounds people who are often left out of public health work. Working on these projects continues to instill me with the knowledges that I need to practice more meaningful allyship.”

Shraddha Mishra, Program Support Assistant

Wantong Li

What’s the theme song to your life?

“The theme song to my life, at least up to now, would definitely be Let it Go from Frozen. As a perfectionist, I have been learning to accept who I am and let go my fear of failure. This song has taught me that I don’t have to fit in the box of being perfect, as well as encouraging me to constantly challenge myself and  “to test the limits and break through”. Let it Go is so meaningful to me and it has helped me have a healthier mindset in both my academic and personal life :)”

Wantong (Helen) Li, Program Support Assistant





Savannah smiling, outdoors in a snowy winter landscape.

What small thing makes you happy?

“It will be the accomplished feeling of finishing a challenging workout after a long workday. It helps me destress and makes me feel empowered and in control of my life. I see this as a small win of the day and always celebrate it with food that I love afterward. It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of when we are determined and committed.”

Savannah Chan, Communications Assistant




Cathy smiling in an office lined with photos and a lush plant.

What inspires you to keep working here?

“The students absolutely inspire me to keep working here! University students are so passionate about everything that matters including how to live life, be yourself, social justice, and creating a better world for all! Their enthusiasm spurs me on to be a better person by learning about critical issues and injustices, and to continue my passion for life-long learning! I even went back to school over this past couple of years to get my MSN. Something I never thought I could do!”

Cathy Jager, Manager, Nursing/Education