CASA ELECTIONS 2022-2023

CASA is holding executive elections for 2022-2023. Voting will begin 9:00 AM on 28 March, 2022 and end at 11:59 PM on 1 April, 2022. If you are in the Cognitive Science program or currently taking a COG course, you are eligible to vote. Please cast your vote at UElect! Please see below for the candidate statements for each position – the number indicates how many spots are available. You can also check the Declaration of Intent and Constitution for more information on the executive team’s responsibilities.

CO-PRESIDENT (2)

Alvina Lai

Hey everyone, I’m Alvina and I am running to be your co-president next year. As an incoming final-year Cognitive Science student, I have already spent the last two years dedicating much of my time to CASA – first, as a note-taking, study-group-making, announcement-making COG250 rep, then as an emailing, Discord-messaging, Instagram-posting Communications Director. You might remember me in either position; I spend a lot of time talking to people in these roles, after all. I’ve been a constant at most COG250 workshops and CASA events, helping to advertise and manage them alongside my fellow execs.

As a co-president, I’m hoping to bring some new insight to the program to ensure that Cognitive Science students are given the opportunity to foster connections both inside and outside CASA, and that they have adequate support in the courses they need in this program. I will host more social events, resume and essay workshops, and clarify the Cogsci stream requirements for prospective students. I’m no stranger to leadership positions either – I have been heavily involved in student government, mentorship, and research team management. Hopefully, next year we’ll have the office back open again – and I’m aiming to return it back to its former glory. In my final year, I hope to make my mark on CASA that is beneficial to everyone involved! 🙂

Amina Shmanova

Hi friends! My name is Amina, and I am running for the co-president position next year. You probably have seen my face pretty often: I have been a long-standing member of the CASA, first helping my COG250 fellows as an admin to organizing our Annual Research Conference UTISM as a Conference Coordinator. Building UTISM has taught me a great deal of leadership and teamworking skills, which as a co-president, I plan to put to work as best I can.

Whether you only start the journey at UofT or have been with us for a while, I promise to address all your concerns and provide the support you need. If elected, along with the fantastic CASA team, I promise to deliver more information on opportunities in our field inside and outside the research area, organize more social and academic events, and, most importantly, establish better communication between students and the department. The past years have been hard for us, and I know that many of you felt disconnected from the CASA community. I want to change that, making the time with CASA memorable for all of you! It is your ideas and concerns that help in moving the CogSci program forwards, and I want to be the one that continues to ensure that all of the students’ ideas are heard! If you allow me to serve, we together can build our CASA home (it’s called casa for a reason 🙂 ) the best way possible!

Hinda Ina Bicaj

I am Hinda Ina Bicaj, a geek of the brain and an enthusiast of bottom-up hierarchies. I am about to finish my first year at UofT, pursuing Cogsci and English Literature. I am driven to create supportive structures that reduce the overwhelmingness, or fear that may arise with committing to the study of the brain and mind. 

Three years ago, I and a group of friends transformed an abandoned building into a community centre, and to this day the space still organizes socio-artistic projects in town. I have created, and then guided a creativity module for a year alongside thirty adolescents with the aim to strengthen our divergent thinking processes. In leading these efforts, I came to understand that the purpose of mobilization was not to dissect the failings of my community, but rather to tap into the immense value that already existed within it. As a co-president, I would be dedicated to nurturing a space with the ideal conditions for learning, those being defined by student-centred input and feedback. 

Any traditionally classified “boring” task is a fun challenge for me to brainstorm ways of making bureaucracy less dreadful and more efficient. Attending an alternative project-based high school provided me with the freedom to challenge dominant narratives of how group-cooperation must flow. I want to be a Co-president to bridge the gap between what is and what could be in a creative, and interactive manner.

I hope to investigate collaborative learning through building community consciousness together. Gratitude for your attention!

SECRETARY (1)

Sebin Im

Hello, my name is Sebin, a becoming fourth-year student who would like to offer his services again to the community of CASA. I would be a great candidate for this position not only because I was the previous Secretary, but I have progressively gotten better at performing required tasks. It is with immense certainty that my expertise in various fields, not limited by the disciplines under Cognitive Science, would be of use for everyone in need of assistance. I hope the community will accept me as part of the executive committee, always acting for and only for the CASA community. 

Thank you.

TREASURER (1)

Ratantej Madan

Being in my 3rd year, it now seems like forever since I started UofT. I didn’t even know what cognitive science was or what a first-year psychology course was like until my second year. My journey started in Rotman Commerce back in 2019, when I, fresh out of high school, a finance enthusiast wanted to do a business degree. One semester, with a lot of coffee, and the feeling of being burnt out by UofT later, I started liking CS more than I had given it credit for. Later, I came across the computational cognition stream and by the end of the year, I decided to change my major to cognitive science. 

This not only allowed me to focus on certain aspects of CS that I admire such as Machine Learning, and AI, but it also allowed me to focus on more professional work and build side projects as compared to a traditional computer science major. I’m still very much a finance enthusiast, and I continue to seek ways I can apply my skill sets in a financial and banking industry that is becoming more reliant on algorithms, and machine learning models to perform its day-to-day functions. And, as the Treasurer of CASA, I will be able to combine my skills in business and finance with my passion for this field and bring a lot of different perspectives to the table. 

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR (1)

Ayesha Narang

HEY guys!! I’m Ayesha and I’m running to be your communications director 🙂 I’m so so excited to have my statement here because I have to always be doing something and would loooove to make a welcoming community !!!!! I have always been involved in student bodies because I have to constantly be a part of something bigger than I am. I have loved my time at UofT so much, and would love to participate in whatever capacity I can.

I started my own small business at 18 where I mostly used social media to advertise my business and engage with new potential customers, so I have a lot of experience with professionally using online platforms (just tooting my own horn !!! as one does). Moreover, I have organised several events from blood donation drives to plantation camps. I would make informative and catchy posters using online editing tools to advertise these, which I believe played a big part in their success. Since I want to pair my cogsci major with a compsci major/minor, I think I would also be effective at managing the website. I am also so excited to be able to work closely with events since that is such an appealing area to me, and UTISM was life changing (me? dramatic?)!

Anyway!!! Enough about me. I would just genuinely be so excited and grateful to be a part of this team and would do my best to represent you.

Alex Szokolay

Hi everyone! My name is Alex and I’m running for the Communications Director exec position at CASA. I’m in my second year at UofT majoring in Cog Sci and Comp Sci and hope to pursue a career in either Software Design or Artificial Intelligence.

As a kid, even before I knew the career path I wanted to take, I’ve always aspired to focus my work on creating products that have a profound positive impact on others, that make the everyday lives of others better. Today, with constantly evolving technologies, my interest in creating thoughtful and meaningful technologies and applications remains evident, through creating and facilitating platforms for diversity and inclusion.

I would absolutely love the opportunity to use my interests within CASA and am thrilled at the opportunity to foster and promote the CASA community! Thank you for your consideration, and I look forwards to meeting and working with you all!

CONFERENCE COORDINATOR (1)

Alayna Jang

Hi! I’m Chae Rin Jang (Alayna), and I’m running for Conference Coordinator! I’m excited about this role because I find conferences to be a wonderful opportunity to connect with other peers and professors from various disciplines while being immersed in a topic or theme. A conference can also provide opportunities to network with professors and experts within the field, and I would like to support students in gathering the courage needed to make connections! Other aims include helping foster a safe space and considering equity concerns in order to make the conference as accessible as possible. In addition to being an active listener, I have also actively developed communications skills (i.e., written and verbal) over the past 6 years through taking public speaking opportunities, facilitating events, and gaining experience as a Public Relations Director and an International Mentor. I believe a successful and meaningful conference involves input from the community and so, I will strive to integrate your ideas and be mindful of your concerns to the best of my ability. Additionally, as an approachable, open-minded, and curious individual, I would be more than happy to discuss any ideas, concerns, or suggestions you may have! Thank you for your consideration!

EVENTS COORDINATOR (1)

Zuha Bajwa

My name is Zuha Bajwa and I’m a second-year Cognitive Science student running for Events Coordinator. As a current CASA admin, my responsibilities have enhanced my ability to convey information concisely by addressing questions students have regarding COG250 course material. I have also assisted with the recent UTism event by advertising the conference and organizing games for participants. COG250 has allowed me to broaden my understanding of disciplines that study the mind and how it applies to daily use. This knowledge and passion would make me an exceptional Events Coordinator. I would like to organize more workshops where students can increase their knowledge of COG250, and organize social events where students can get involved with the cognitive science community. In the past, I have organized numerous events for my high school’s athletic council by managing the media and campaign strategies, communications, and scheduling of sports events. I also organized blood donation drives for a non-profit organization, called Student Life Line, where I managed online booking portals, encouraged community involvement, and guided the donors through the process of donating. If elected, I plan to utilize my excellent organization skills, strong time management and ability to work collaboratively with a team to expand the welcoming and supportive atmosphere that CASA has to offer. Although I have only been in CASA for a short time, I have seen the community flourish, therefore, I would love to have the opportunity to be further involved in this community and be a part of its growth.

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If you’ve missed the deadline to apply for these positions, not to worry – you can still get involved with CASA in other ways! Every year, elections for other executive positions (such as COG250 representative or any position left empty from the current ones available) will be held in the middle of the fall semester. Admins will also be hired at the beginning of winter semester. Furthermore, you can get in touch with our team at casa.uoft@gmail.com or message the executive team through the CASA Discord to learn more about how you can contribute to our vibrant Cognitive Science student community.