Meet the recipients of the 2021 Forough Khadem Award.

Romaniya (Roma) Zayats (PhD)

During her undergraduate degree, Roma was a student volunteer for the St. John Ambulance at the University of Manitoba. She was trained as a Medical First Responder with exposure to hands-on patient treatment and crowd management as well as leadership in an emergency situation. These skills helped Roma save a life of choking baby. For this, she was awarded a Life-saving Award and a silver medal by Her Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O. M., Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba in October 2018. 

Roma’s pursuit of excellence and self-development continued after graduation when she was an assistant English teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. One of the greatest experiences she gained during her tenure in Japan was her exemplary public speaking skills and her ability to meet the needs of those who are dependent on her. Her dedication, passion for leadership is highly evident and continues to be evident at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Immunology where she is now. 

 In her first month as a graduate student at the Department of Immunology she was elected as the president of the Department’s Graduate Students’ Association where she increased the number of departmental activities among the labs, bringing all members of the department closer together as the family. The following year Roma was elected as the Health Sciences Graduate Students’ Association (HSGSA) Vice-President at the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne Campus. She served on peripheral committees as well such as the Financial Committee for both the HSGSA and the University of Manitoba GSA, and the Awards Committee for the University of Manitoba.

She was also involved in planning and leading the Canadian Student Health Research Forum at the University which involved over 300 poster presentations by students all over Canada as well as presentations from global leaders in research and developing a mentorship panel from the Gairdner Foundation awardees. Though Roma’s roles as the Student President for the Department of Immunology and Vice-President of the HSGSA are now complete, she continues to be one of the most sought-after students of the Department not only by other students for guidance in research but for events, attendance at conferences and to represent the department at university events. There has not been a year when Roma did not win an award for science communication, up to date she has received 18 awards since beginning her academic career. Roma exemplifies all facets of a model PhD student – focus, passion, approachability, leadership and mentorship. It is evident over the past several years of her life that Roma’s strength lies in bringing together and supporting communities to achieve their best by uniting them toward a common goal. 

Cameron Eekhoudt (Masters)

My name is Cameron Eekhoudt and I am a graduate trainee studying at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research.

During my graduate training, I have had the honor of representing the student body for both the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology as well as the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic I served on the executive council for the HSGSA with the primary focus of ensuring smooth transition for all students to virtual life.

Most fulfilling was the responsibility to advocate for student resources and wellbeing. In addition to studying and working part-time for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, I enjoy practicing yoga, running, and spending quality time with friends.