Seven uOttawa students shine at the 2022 Spirit Awards

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Collage of winners left to right Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo, Rhea Grace, Zeynep Cildir, Dalia Ibrahim, Nick Gray, Maleeka Ellaithy, Rehani Akenga

First row, from left: Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo, Rhea Grace, Zeynep Cildir. Second row, from left: Dalia Ibrahim, Nick Gray, Maleeka Ellaithy, Rehani Akenga

The Spirit Awards recognize Ottawa’s youth. Presented by RBC and hosted by Youth Ottawa, the awards acknowledge the diverse and creative ways young people are shaping and changing their communities, “turning awareness into action and inspiring others to become agents of change,” as Youth Ottawa says.

This year, seven of the 14 Spirit Awards recipients are uOttawa students. Here is an overview of some of their achievements. 

Zeynep Cildir 

Category: Academic Perseverance 
Faculty of Medicine 

A multiple award and grant recipient, Zeynep Cildir has an inspiring track record that speaks to her determination and collaborative spirit. Despite moving from place to place, she learned English, adapted to different situations and connected with other cultures, and has inspired many others facing obstacles. The much-appreciated tutor has created two organizations helping others, the Refugee Support Association and Passionate Minds.  

Nick Gray 

Category: Arts and Culture 
Faculty of Arts 

A playwright and performer who consistently breaks the rules, Nick Gray puts diversity and minority talent at the forefront of his endeavours. He’s never afraid to tackle taboos.  An advocate for artistic pursuits and for making diversity the norm, Nick is becoming a pillar and champion of Ottawa’s cultural landscape.  

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo 

Category: Entrepreneurship and Innovation 
Faculty of Health Sciences 

A social entrepreneur, Drayton empowers young people and helps them find solutions for today and tomorrow. He is the founder of “20today20tomorrow,” a youth-led creative hub. Two of his primary initiatives to make mental health resources more accessible and share the stories of other young changemakers are making a splash in the media and getting a strong positive reaction from youth.

Dalia Ibrahim 

Category: Service and Caring 
Faculty of Medicine 

An accomplished fundraiser, Dalia has participated in or led a multitude of fundraising events and campaigns mostly focused on cancer research or helping residents in retirement homes. Her fundraising experiences have fuelled her academic and professional pursuits. She intends to become a doctor and has worked with a senior scientist on ovarian cancer research. 

Rhea Grace 

Category: Service and Caring 
Faculty of Social Sciences 

An active volunteer with the  Legacy Hope Foundation, Rhea has worked tirelessly to contribute to Indigenous reconciliation efforts. A fervent believer in the need to have reconciliation incorporated in all policy-making discussions, Rhea intends to pursue a career that will allow her to influence tomorrow’s society.  

Rehani Akenga 

Category: Strentgh through Diversity 
Faculty of Social Sciences 

A persistent student, volunteer and worker, Rehani has always put his family first and thought of others in need of help. While in a refugee camp in Malawi, he started volunteering on different projects and has maintained his commitment to use his personal challenges to motivate himself to excel in school and help others, in Canada and in Africa. 

Maleeka Ellaithy 

Category: Take a Stand 
Faculty of Science

A founder of two non-profit organizations and co-founder of the Ottawa Women in STEM chapter, Maleeka is passionate about helping students who also want to make a difference. She has received awards for her writing, which also focuses on raising awareness about community issues and socioeconomic disparities. 

Learn more about the 2022 Spirit Awards recipients

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