Counsellors, all of whom have been Seminar participants in the past, receive seven months of training to prepare them for their responsibilities to provide direction, supervision, and assistance in programme areas. Please feel free to contact the counsellors with any questions or concerns you may have.
Emma Jones is originally from Calgary, Alberta. However, she left that life behind when she moved all the way to Edmonton to attend the University of Alberta. A proud omnivore, her favorite foods are steak, chicken, fish, and bacon. She is a proud ambassador of Lister Hall, and is lobbying for the implementation of bunk-beds to combat the cramped living accommodations.
Emma is passionate about writing and writes regularly for The Gateway - the University of Alberta student newspaper. She has also has written several poems, short stories, and a novel. She is an avid debater and competes regularly for the University of Alberta Debate Society.
Emma is hoping to learn more about technology as her current tech skills are akin to a 18th century Luddite. She is best known for her positive attitude on life, and considers her personal motto to be “you win some, you lose some.”
Abraham “Abe” Almaouie is a fourth-year political science student at the University of Alberta. After graduation, he hopes to work in public policy or in the public sector, specifically at the federal level.
Aside from being able to speak French, English, and Arabic, he’s an amateur carpenter, a sports enthusiast, and a huge movie and music fan (if you’re looking to have a movie thoroughly analysed, Abe is the person to go to). He has also read more books in one month than most people can read in a year.
Abe is very politically active. He has led a team in producing several white papers related to climate change, which have been presented to the Alberta government and to an international audience in Qatar. He has also helped to write a third paper on energy use that was presented to the Canadian Senate. In addition, Abe participated in a human rights conference at the United Nations about the gender gap and accessible child care, as well as participating in numerous political campaigns. Outside of SUNIA, he volunteers with his mosque where he organizes fundraising events and acts as the treasurer for his youth group.
Abe manages to fit all of this into his busy schedule (even without the help of an assistant!) But, he always finds time for SUNIA and is looking forward to being out at Goldeye this summer!
Freia De Waal
If Freia’s life were an ongoing narrative, it would be a movie starring an up-and-coming indie actress directed by Wes Anderson; visually stunning and defying all traditional norms by incorporating a series of unpredicted events. Following the film’s debut, when asked of her plans for the future, she can be quoted as saying “I’m going to University, hopefully, at some point in my life.” Some may call that ambiguity inconceivable, yes, but it is as she wishes. When the gossip magazines try and explain who she really is - the following information is a ‘must’ to be included: Freia’s devotion to the symphony, fervour for arts and painting, being linguistically varied including yet not limited to Afrikaans; all in addition to participating in athletics. Later in life, Freia would continue on to release her own brand of pianos, oil paints, and field hockey sticks to pay homage to her varied talents.
Get excited to meet Anna “Gops” Goplen, a Sciences student studying Biology at the University of Alberta! Our resident athlete, Anna is not only a lead coach at the Edmonton Speed Skating Association, she is also a national medallist in long and short track speed skating. However, her athletic career is not limited to skating; she is a cross-country runner and was the co-captain of her high school’s cross country running team. She also played soccer for 12 years, and participated in swimming, dance, tennis, and badminton, to name a few. Anna’s love for athletics, however, does not stop her from making a positive social impact on the world. A member of the Centre for Global Education, not only is she a contributing author of both the Canadian and Global Youth White Papers on Climate Change, she travelled to Lima, Peru to present findings at Conference of the Youth 10 - the youth counterpart of the Conference of the Parties 20 - both of which are environmental policy-making events associated with the United Nations.
Anna Goplen may have the brawns and the brains, but don’t let that intimidate you! In her spare time, you can catch her watching TV shows like Community and Friends, drawing, sleeping, or rereading her favourite novel of all time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Amanda Kennedy, our lovable counsellor bursting with talent, has basically done everything. Interested in international law, political sciences, and English, Amanda has been to provincials for speech and debate and is an improv star. A triple threat - mastering acting, singing and dance, Amanda has also played cello since she was five, remarking, "It's been a good time," on the experience.
But beyond Amanda's extensive artistic skills, she plays basketball, wins math contents, speaks French, and has even taught herself how to read a bit of Mandarin. Her favourite author is Jasper Fforde, a novelist known for his playfulness with the conventions of traditional genres, while her favourite music is ... all of it. This is proven through the massive 29 gigabytes she has of it on her phone.
Andrew “Peanuts” Zhao’s reminds us that you can’t write Fun without UN. Andrew is a first year at the University of Toronto, who intends to double major in philosophy and sociology. Raised in Calgary, this is Andrew’s second year on SUNIA’s staff, returning this year as our Security Council Coordinator. Andrew is SUNIA’s most passionate Model United Nations nerd. Currently Andrew is an assistant director for NHSMUN – the largest Model United Nations conference in the world – a director at the UTMUN and on the travelling team for UNSOC.
Andrew’s talents don’t stop there. As a lifelong violinist Andrew has been a part of multiple ensembles and orchestras. He’s also claimed to be able to eat more sushi than average; however, these assertions have been recently deemed “alternative facts” after extensive investigation into their fidelity.
Helen Cashman is a Girl Guide leader, an award-winning Business major, and the Executive Director of SUNIA. How does she do it? Probably magic. When she’s not busy being ridiculously successful, you can find Helen consuming outrageous amounts of ice cream, wearing a blazer, or helping other people become ridiculously successful. Out at SUNIA, Helen is known for eating meals comprised of only bacon, patrolling the beautiful waters of Goldeye lake with her lifeguard skills, or potentially getting scurvy (twice) from not eating any vegetables. She may not take care of her own body, but no matter what you need, Helen will have your back.
Ritika “R-I-T-I-K-A” Mandi may be SUNIA Staff’s smallest member, but she is also the mightiest. As a Applied Sciences student at the University of Toronto, Ritika is heavily involved on campus, participating as a Team Leader in Engineering Strategies and Practices. She also works with Formula SAE, a racing team which designs, builds and races a Formula style race car every year (cool, right?). If that weren’t proof enough of her brains, she also participated in the WISEST Summer Research program and was a member of the Science Club at her high school.
Ritika’s wide range of interests don’t stop there. In addition to participating in her high school’s Model United Nations and debate clubs, she was a participant in cultural events at the Calgary Kannada Sangha and was a senior student at the Sruthilaya Music School, where she learned classical Indian singing. Ritika also has a big heart, working with the Youth in Action Club at her high school and as a member of Youth Central, where she volunteered at organizations including the Humane Society, in addition to local events.
Jenna Mulji is a student at the University of Alberta and possibly the kindest person you will meet, ever. Her ability to empathize with people with all kinds of different experiences truly sets her apart and makes her easy to love. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is a mantra of Jenna’s, and she is passionate about empowering others to spark their desire and belief that they can change the world. She is a longtime member of the non-profit organisation Learning Beyond Borders, which assesses impoverished areas and their needs on an individual basis to provide effective and sustainable aid, something that Jenna highly values. Currently, she is working on a project that raises money to fund educational programs for two schools in Uganda. Outside of being a great human being, Jenna enjoys musical theatre (talk to her about Hamilton) and watching Disney movies.
Hui Wen Zheng
Hui Wen Zheng is a compassionate, honest individual who will change the world one day with her smile and her enthusiasm for life. She is passionate about youth involvement, and is an advocate for any opportunity that helps others discover themselves, which is why she is so excited to meet all of the students at SUNIA and give them the experience that she had when she attended. Born in China, Hui Wen has always been interested in different cultures, and loves learning more about her own, as a way to learn more about herself as well. In high school, she began a project that promoted culture and diversity, not only teaching the individuals who are a part of this project, but allowing them to discover more about who they are. One day, she hopes to make the world a little better than it already is through international relations and civic engagement, and through her many passions, dreams of promoting acceptance and awareness in her community.
A lover of both pandas and Hamilton the Musical, no one can deny that Hui Wen is one of our sweetest, most cheerful counsellors. She believes that band is life, and is skilled in both the piano and the clarinet. Hui Wen’s love of art and history fuels her love of travel, and she is always eager to learn about different perspectives and cultures, especially if she’s in a different country. Her sense of adventure and curiosity sparks Hui Wen’s desire to just experience life, and her love of the world and everyone around her makes her an incredibly inspiring individual.
Ayman is one rad dude. Involved in many social organizations, he is the founder and committee director for the Me to We Club at his school, in addition to the committee director of the Deca Club and his school’s Rotary Interact Club. On that note, Ayman is a weekly volunteer for the Mustard Seed, helping distribute food and clothing to the inner-city’s less fortunate. He also worked with GEOMEER to establish Helping Hampers across Edmonton with multiple schools and businesses creating hampers for dozens of families. Ayman is also an avid Big Brother and Roadrunner, acting as a mentor to numerous kids. Speaking of kids, Ayman's favourite thing is his baby nephew, whom he is making an original mixtape with, along with his brother-in-law. This guy will win your heart with his incredible optimism. If there's one thing Ayman wants you to know it is that, above everything else, he "enjoys making people smile". Cue the awe.
Salmaan Rashiq is SUNIA’s resident triple threat, jack-of-all-trades, and master of all. He is currently a third-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Alberta, and is officially one of SUNIA’s promotional directors—unofficially however, Sal is much more than that. His excellent first aid skills and ability to keep calm during crises have led to him being designated SUNIA’s staff nurse. Sal also keeps bears far away from Goldeye, with his brown belt in karate, keeping the Nordegg area safe for all. The unofficial staff supermodel, Sal’s daring fashion choices lead to an endless supply of fun games such as “Piece of Fabric, or Sal’s Scarf?”
Outside of school, Sal serves on the Board of Directors of GEOMEER, an organization that nurtures volunteers and helps connect them with projects in their community. In his downtime, Sal also dabbles in music-making: “I like to make noise,” he says, in reference to his deep passion for the musical arts. An all-around excellent human being and an integral part of SUNIA staff, Sal is someone you can always count on.
Victor Frunza is a computer science extraordinaire. It does help that he is a computer himself. He is extremely logical and useful. If robots take over the world, Victor will for sure be the mastermind behind the whole operation. Victor has been a part of many coding competitions, including the ‘Shut Up and Make a Video Game’ and the ‘Shut Up and Make Another Video Game’.
That being said, computers are not his only interest. Victor ‘the freeze’ Frunza is also known by his other nickname ‘fireman’. He has a love for fireworks unmatched by anyone you may know. He is the Micheal Bay of people. Everywhere he goes fireworks ensues. That all being said, he is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
Finally Victor is the man who was been calling your house. He is our registrar and you are in safe hands with him. You can ask him any question you like and he will be able to help you out.
Erika “Screech” Hurl brightens up the lives of those around her with her vibrant personality and sense of adventure. A regular social butterfly, Erika loves making friends and can easily get along with just about everyone. While she may have no sense of direction, her sense of humour can make anyone’s day better. Erika is a natural leader, and is extremely involved in her community. She takes part in both Student Council and the Student Leadership Club, and has organized many events including the heritage festival at her school. She also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and helps plan events at the Royal Commonwealth Society.
With her dream being to become an engineer, it’s no wonder Erika loves to build friendships. She has at least one friend in every continent in the world (including Antarctica!), so it is safe to say that she is one of the friendliest individuals you will ever meet. She also loves to travel, especially if the weather is warm. Some fun facts about Erika include her love of pullover hoodies, her preference for crayons over markers, and her ability to spew out tons of random fun facts at any given moment. Not only is Erika outgoing, but she is also extremely sweet, and she is so excited to meet all of the students out at SUNIA this year!