Student leadership can be a thankless profession, but there is no one more determined to elevate the student voice, and who deserves widespread recognition than Lina Ghattas.
As a Senator-at-Large for the past three years and the Chair of the Western Student Senators for the latter two, Lina has contributed to some of the largest and most successful academic advocacy wins in recent memory. From the introduction of Discovery Credits and Self-Reported Absences to the permanent instalment of our beloved Fall Reading Week, nearly every student at Western has been impacted by her tireless efforts.
When she’s not meeting with senior administrators to discuss academic policy, Lina dedicates her time to mentoring incoming Western students as an Off-Campus Soph. As a programming assistant this year, Lina helped to lead the OC team and organize activities as part of the USC’s first physically-distanced OWeek and the only in-person Orientation in the country. On top of countless hours of online classes and meetings, she continues to check-in with her sophs throughout the year to ensure they’re doing well through these lonely months. It is this passion for supporting others that make her such an admirable student leader, strong advocate and loyal friend.
Studying Medical Sciences and Economics, Lina is also one of the smartest people I know. Despite how she may brush it off, Lina has strong visions for the future of healthcare and the ways in which our society and the social determinants of one’s situation can impact their ability to lead a healthy life. She has excelled as an undergraduate research assistant and I have no doubt she will be a trailblazer in her field in her undoubtedly bright future beyond Western.
I am honoured to work alongside Lina within the realms of academic advocacy and improvements to overall student life throughout this unpredictably challenging year. Her intelligence, drive and deep care for others has had a profound impact on my work and our combined efforts to support students. Together, we have been able to support initiatives like the extension of the winter break, alternative remote-proctoring recommendation, and increased self-reported absences as a pandemic response. In one of the strongest and most productive relationships between the USC and WSS ever, I am continually thankful for our partnership and newfound friendship in a year where the odds were stacked against us.
What impresses me most about Lina is that beyond her regular commitments, she consistently works to build the Western Student Senators brand. Since the beginning of her tenure with WSS three years ago, she has revitalized and refocused the group with a mission to break down the academic experience for all students to understand. Recently, she achieved this feat by publishing a “Student Guide to Academic Policy” with WSS. I have no doubt this guide will live as a go-to resource for students for years to come and similar to her widespread impact on the Western community, this is only one of the many ways Lina’s efforts will be remembered.
This International Women’s Day, I want to recognize Lina Ghattas. She does all of these things and more on a volunteer-basis with little recognition of the time, energy and effort needed to achieve these wins for students. In academic settings often dominated by administrators and faculty members, most of whom are men, she stands out as a confident Egyptian woman in STEM who is respected by students and administrators alike. Lina continually inspires young female leaders to believe in themselves, stand up for what they believe in and seek leadership positions, whether it be as a student senator or a soph. She inspires and motivates me everyday and I am lucky to have such an empathetic and supportive colleague and friend.