We are pleased to announce the 2020 Osler Diversity Scholarship Recipients are Maryam Hassan and Chris Osei-Kusi.
Maryam Hassan is a law student at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Maryam Hassan, Osgoode Hall Law School
Maryam Hassan is a law student at Osgoode Hall Law School. She created a visual arts program for racialized youth in the St. James Town community that received funding support and awards due to its success. In law school, she has helped Indigenous populations obtain identification and access basic social services, promoted inclusivity through her exploration of intersectional identities through art at workshops for the Law Needs Feminism Because 2020 National Forum and worked as a volunteer at Neighbourhood Legal Services during the pandemic.
Excerpt from submission:
My passion for being a diversity leader and fostering inclusion had inspired me to create Serendipity Visual Arts in June 2014 - the first youth-led workshop in St. James Town. Throughout the sessions, we provide professional high-quality arts programming to racialized youth of low socio-economic status in the community. Serendipity Visual Arts was previously funded through generous grants, including ArtReach Toronto and Toronto Arts Council. This allowed us to have guest artist visits, trips to local art galleries, and weekly workshops held at the SJT Community Corner. It also provides an inclusive and safe space for vulnerable youth in the community to come together, make meaningful connections, and share their diverse stories through the medium of art.
During this COVID crisis, I have interned at Neighbourhood Legal Services (NLS), which serves residents in many high-priority neighbourhoods in Toronto, including St. James Town. It is such a hard-earned privilege to be working to give back to my community. My work at NLS continues this academic year, as I complete my Pro Bono placement there and advocate for diverse clients with disabilities and those who are facing housing evictions during the pandemic.
Chris Osei-Kusi is a law student at the University of Windsor
Chris Osei-Kusi, University of Windsor
Chris Osei-Kusi is a law student at the University of Windsor. Using his platform as a varsity athlete at Queen’s, he worked with the athletic director to create a more positive space for racialized students and helped shift hiring and recruitment practices to be more inclusive. He founded the Switch Mentality organization to inform racialized athletes of other career paths they could take, advocating for them to enter industries that they might not have considered due to a lack of representation. He created “how-to” videos for applying to law school, and worked with leadership at University of Windsor to help ensure low-income racialized students could attend a law school recruitment event.
Excerpt from submission:
I decided to found Switch Mentality. Switch Mentality is an organization that focuses on relaying to these minority athletes that they too could become doctors, lawyers, and advocates. Switch Mentality would aid in ensuring that lack of representation should not deter you from entering predominately white spaces. I took it upon myself to create "how-to" videos to assist with simplifying the process of applying to law school. Videos like How to Take the LSAT for Free and, How to Increase your GPA in 30 Minutes using Grammarly garnered a thousand views on Instagram and elicited hundreds of messages. The process was becoming simpler, minorities who believed this level of education was out of reach began to ask for more information.
About our Diversity Scholarship Program
As part of Osler’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, in 2018, the firm established the Osler Diversity Scholarship Program for eligible second-year law students. This program provides up to two $2,500 scholarships each year to law students who, like Osler, seek to promote diversity and inclusion.
Spearheaded by Osler’s Diversity Committee, this program is designed to ensure that law students are recognized and celebrated for their diversity and inclusion efforts. Applicants were asked to demonstrate their commitment to being a diversity leader within their law school, the legal profession or the broader non-law community.
Our scholarship Selection Committee included the firm’s Managing Partner Doug Bryce, Osler Diversity Committee Chair Shuli Rodal and other Osler members from the diversity committee.
We received many worthy applications and the decision was a tough one. Our sincere thanks goes out to all the students that applied.
To read more about past winners of the Osler Diversity Scholarship Program, see here.