Introducing the Alumni Advisory Council

Ten alumni have been selected to serve two year terms on the inaugural cohort of the newly created, Alumni Advisory Council.



We've launched The Merit Award Alumni Advisory Council to increase the representation of the communities we serve in our governance while also increasing our volunteer resources and creating a meaningful professional development opportunity for our alumni.


In addition to providing insight into the challenges facing them and their peers that will help guide our programming, each Council member will be paired with an existing committee to provide hands-on support. The inaugural cohort will be lead by Board Member, Kanwal Arora.


Meet the Alumni!


Anika Munir

East York Collegiate Institute, 2019


Anika is a student at the University of Toronto doing a double major in Public Policy and Urban Studies with a minor in Public Law. She's worked to advocate and educate others on series issues she's passionate about relating to education, transportation, and public safety. When she's not volunteering, she'll be found studying, reading or dancing!



I'm thrilled to be part of the Alumni Advisory Council because I have a deep connection with the program. It's given me a lot and I'm excited to give back to it.


Christine Nanteza

St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School, 2008


Christine is completing her masters degree in Human Rights and Multilevel Governance in Padova, Italy. She credits part of her undergraduate success at the University of Waterloo to the support she received from Merit. Volunteering on The Council is both an opportunity to collaborate with passionate, well-organized individuals, and a chance to reciprocate the good will afforded to her.


I never felt qualified enough to mentor anyone. Now that I understand what I have to offer, I'm ready and excited to help others gain confidence in themselves as well.


William Chinnery

Leaside High School, 2016 & 2017


William has been volunteering with the organization since first receiving a Merit Award. He's been involved in Bowling for Bursaries, the selection committee, mentorship programs, and other events. William has just graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Technology Management from Ryerson.




Merit has allowed me to learn new skills and meet fascinating, supportive people from all career paths. I'm excited to continue contributing to an organization I love.


Jarred Laganas

Saint Oscar Romero Catholic Secondary School, 2018


Jarred studies Biomedical Science at York University where he's the recipient of the York Science Scholar’s award and is a research practicum student in the field of ciliate molecular biology. Jarred is also actively involved with the Canadian Association for Research in Regenerative Medicine, Canadian Cancer Society and Conversation Club with Big Brother/Big Sisters of Peel.


Being selected as a recipient of the Merit award prior to my senior year really gave the confidence boost I needed to take on the obstacles I would face. I'm joining The Council because I know that recognizing hardworking students can have a profound effect in the lives.


Harisan Jeyakumar

Marc Garneau C.I., 2010 & 2011


Harisan is a senior analyst at TheScore, where he helps oversee and manage the day-to-day financial gaming operations. He has a demonstrated history of working in fast paced and growing industries. He holds a Masters of Arts in Business Economics degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McMaster University.



The Merit Award gave me hope in my final two years of high school. It showed me there were people who believed in me and my potential. As the son of immigrant parents who fled a war-torn country, I want to use my story to pass the same hope I was given onto other students.

Cassi-Ann Hutchinson

St. Joseph Morrow Park Catholic High School, 2016


Cassi-Ann is an Information Technology Management student at the University of Waterloo majoring. She leads several strategy, data and diversity initiatives for organizations including ASPIRE, TD Bank, Motivate Canada and the UW Fintech Club. Outside of work you can find her working towards her fitness goals, learning cognitive psychology and working on her programming skills.


Merit has been an instrumental part of my life. I attribute so much of my personal and career development to the family I have built as my time as a volunteer. I'm such a strong believer in our mission and am looking forward to continuing to support it through The Council.

Celeste Ceres

George S. Henry Academy, 2013


Celeste is a trained chef and recent marketing and finance grad who has spent the last decade leading programs for newcomers in Canada, planning civic engagement events and supporting business owners in Sub-Saharan Africa. She founded Sacraspice, a charity that leads intergenerational cooking workshops, and freelances as a videographer, writer and photographer. She's volunteered with Merit since 2013.


As a Black female with a (non-visible) disability, I know how much of a difference organizations like Merit make. Winning the award and accessing their support after made me feel heard and helped me be more resilient and independent in the pursuit of my education.


Aneet Sahota

Emery Collegiate Institute, 2016


As a registered nurse working with both Public Health and Mental Health services, I see the unique challenges students are facing with ongoing disruptions and adaptations to a 'new normal'. I'm looking forward to working with Merit to support students through this.

Megan Quach

York Memorial Collegiate Institute, 2019



Mariya Shireen

North Albion Collegiate Institute, 2016