Who are We

‘The Awakening Project’ is an initiative of Community Counts Foundation that began as a summer project in June 2020, organized by university students.

Tijana Bagaric is an International Development graduate and is ‘coordinator’ of the Awakening Project. Her studies of interest include climate change policy, diaspora studies, as well as NGO structures and policy change. Currently, she is exploring her options in career paths, and has previously published an undergraduate research journal, conducted research in patterns of poverty in Guelph, Ontario, and contributed to non-profit work. As the Project Coordinator of the Awakening Project, Tijana wants to further research and content in the field of social justice to encourage positive change.

Dania Ahmed is majoring in Ethics, Society and Law with a double minor in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. Her studies of interest include faith-based environmentalism as this is a project she is going to be working on in the Fall at the University of Toronto, as well as sociologically pertinent issues such as applying classical sociology theories to contemporary society. Currently, she is working as a Peer Mentor for first year students at her University and is a full time second year undergraduate student. In the Awakening Project, Dania wants to highlight the importance of interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Valuscha Pereira is entering her first-year of undergraduate studies in Nanotechnology Engineering. Her studies of interest include applications of nanotechnology in fields such as medicine and healthcare, as well as how nanotechnology can be used to reduce the ecological footprint of humans in the future. Currently, she is a tutor for elementary-school students, and has previously been involved in STEM-based clubs and camps, and as a Youth Leader at her parish’s Children’s Liturgy Program. In the Awakening Project, Valuscha wants to highlight the influential workings of activists and leaders who are making a difference in the world.

Vincent Pham is currently a University of Toronto Humanities student double majoring in the Ethics, Society and Law program and Philosophy. He also intends to pursue a minor in Christianity and Culture. Vincent is interested in philosophy and all-things Catholic and Catholic liturgy. Recent years, Vincent has also grown awareness of legal and social justice issues in Canadian society. Vincent also enjoys writing. Several of his pieces have been published in The Catholic Register and YMagazine, an online publication by the Vietnamese Conference of Catholic Bishops. In the Awakening Project, Vincent wants to look deeper into the topic of refugees and the prophetic voice of Venerable Cardinal Francis-Xavier Thuận Văn Nguyễn.

Iain Ross has an undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Cambridge and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Theological Studies from Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. His studies of interest include urban/rural relationships; place, environment and identity; international development; biblical theology and education. Currently, he is working as an ESL teacher in Toronto and has previously worked in lay pastoral youth ministry in South America. In the Awakening Project, Iain wants to explore the interconnections between faith, justice and geography.

Marco Hidalgo-Romero is a Computer Science student with a focus on developing mobile apps. His studies of interest include Android app development, web development, data structures
and algorithms, and technological research, as well as worldwide news. Currently, he is in third year in his college program and is looking for new experiences in his career. He has had some experience working in Church services, programs, and charities. In the Awakening Project,
Marco wants to highlight both the Content Creator and Researcher roles. He likes to support people, especially participating in programs for people in need.

Meaghan is a recent graduate of a degree in international development and conflict resolution studies. She is passionate about social justice and an active citizen in her home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Meaghan has completed participatory research in India as part of her degree. Her research is focused on street vendors and their right to livelihood and she is currently consolidating her data into an article for publication. Meaghan will be pursuing graduate studies in the areas of public policy and international affairs. As part of The Awakening Project she hopes to use her research skills to look at the effects of current public policy on vulnerable communities in Canada, such as those experiencing homelessness.

Jessica Lopez is in Life Sciences with a focus on Human Biology/ Immunology. Her studies of interest include researching on cell mediated immunity through the genetic altering of B cells and T cells, as well as how different and sometimes contradicting parts of society such as science and religion can work hand in hand to find solutions to social justice issues in Canada. She is currently pursuing a career path in medicine, specifically paediatrics. She has been volunteering at Sick Kids hospital for the past year, she spent a month and a half in a small town of Quebec known as Riviere du Loup studying French, she loves to travel and loves anything artistic/ crafty. In the Awakening Project, Jessica wants to highlight and spread awareness of the racial minorities in Canada and how during these times, for some their situation has become a little bit worse. She hopes to discover new ways in which society can work together to improve the living situations and societal views of racial minorities.