“I urge you to pay back to community, leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the prospective engineer, scientist, or astronaut, and pass the baton as you strive for personal success.”

-John Christy Johnson

Age: 22

Hometown: Angadical, Kerala, India

Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta

Affiliations: University of Alberta Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory, ClickandPush Accessibility Inc., TEDxUAlberta

What influenced you to become a change-maker?

As an Indo-Canadian and identical twin, I spend a fair proportion of my time thinking about fairness and equitability. How can we level the playing field of society for participation of all? I am an advocate of “leaving no person behind” and passionate about universal design, accessibility, and engineering a more inclusive society.

I collaborate with a team of engineers, scientists, and artists at the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab. A few of us co-created a start-up called ClickandPush Accessibility Inc. to develop a centralized mapping app highlighting barriers to wheelchair mobility and universal access. We formed an accessibility advisory council united by a common desire—to create safe, inclusive physical spaces where people of all capacities are valued, respected, and empowered. We are currently working to map the University of Alberta to make the institution a leader in accessibility

How does your work promote gender equality in Canada and around the world?

Discrimination, bias, expectations, and stereotyping are limiting the potential of girls and women around the globe and, in doing so, deterring sustainable development. One way my work bridges this gap is through sparking interest in STEM for girls and women. At our laboratory, we routinely showcase interactive tours of our cutting-edge innovations in virtual reality and robotics. Catalyzed by work of organizations such as Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST), we’ve been able to engage with high school girls and young mothers. We hope this early exposure recruits women into STEM fields
around the world.

Storytelling represents a powerful way to question societal gender norms and roles. In selecting speakers for TEDxUAlberta, I gathered and vetted a diverse roster of women hailing from disciplines where they are traditionally underrepresented, including politics, tech, and engineering, bringing them to the global spotlight.

More 2019 Top 30 Alumni

Stephanie Southgate

"Never underestimate the effect that your actions have on other people. Follow your interests and skills, and use them to make a positive impact." -Stephanie Southgate Age: 28 Hometown: Ipswich, United Kingdom Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: CAWST (ACGC Member) I have always been driven to make a positive contribution to others and the world. However, during a university internship in rural India, my resolve to shift my career path towards education was solidified upon...

Saige Godberson

"In the face of adversity, do not settle but rather speak up and create change." -Saige Godberson Age: 23 Hometown: Spruce Grove, Alberta Currently Residing In: Spruce Grove, Alberta Affiliations: Youthnited Nations International, Stollery Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sigma Nursing Honors Society, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Special Olympics Edmonton I often say that “if everyone makes a small change, together we will make a big difference.” As a registered nurse in...

Sara Kardash

"Listen to the stories of the women and gender-diverse people in our communities and take the time to unpack your unconscious biases." -Sara Kardash Age: 22 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Engineers Without Borders Canada (ACGC Member) I am in my final year of civil environmental engineering at the University of Alberta, where I have been involved with the on-campus Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada chapter as co-president. I went into...

Alex Wong

"As an advocate, it is important to recognize your own privilege and help elevate the voices of others, rather than replace them with your own." -Alex Wong Age: 22 Hometown: Calgary, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: MD Admissions Initiative for Diversity and Equity, Medical Students’ Association - University of Alberta, Canadian Federation of Medical Students, Net Impact My passion for medicine stems from my belief that good health is one of the cornerstones of...

Janica Altea L. Echavez

"Encouraging young women and men in STEM is key to gaining more leaders and problem solvers that can address our current concerns in new, innovative ways." -Janica Altea L. Echavez Age: 23 Hometown: Cebu, Philippines Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Next 36 Canada, Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group, Science Expo Canada, Foundation of Student Science and Technology I was born and raised in the Philippines. While we owned a family exporting business, I was...

Tina Guo

"As young individuals, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to advocate for marginalized populations, and strive to effect positive change in our communities." -Tina Guo Age: 22 Hometown: Calgary, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Students Against Domestic Abuse Association, Outrun the Stigma Calgary, Student Run Clinic Born to a poor, first-generation immigrant family, I understood at a tender age the irreplaceability of diligence and tenacity. However,...

Lindsay Brouwer

"We need to promote the idea that your gender does not limit you with what you chose to do with your life." -Lindsay Brouwer Age: 28 Hometown: Lethbrdige, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Young Nurses Take Action Foundation,Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad, Project Amazonas, Stollery Children’s Hospital First and foremost, my parents were the most influential people in shaping who I have become. They provided me with constant unconditional love and...

Gideon Mentie

"Stories can multiply the impact of a good initiative, so let’s learn how to be captivating storytellers!" -Gideon Mentie Age: 22 Hometown: Brooks, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: SPECT, FullSoul Uganda, CAWST (ACGC Member), Canadian Foodgrains Bank I am a 22-year-old Ethiopian-Canadian civil engineering student, born and raised in the little prairie town of Brooks, Alberta. Growing up in Brooks, where over 100 different languages are spoken, I was always...

Hannah Mercader

"You don’t have to do something out of the ordinary to make a special impact. Be mindful of how to make the small moments count." -Hannah Mercader Age: 27 Hometown: Calgary, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Mama na Mtoto, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary From a very young age, I have always had an interest in the health of vulnerable populations. Being born in rural Philippines and growing up in a low-income immigrant family in Canada, I understand...

Vivian Kwan

"Everyone can be a change-maker for gender equality by educating themselves about the prominent issues and showing respect for diversity." -Vivian Kwan Age: 26 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Centre for Race and Culture, UN Women, Edmonton Mental Health Awareness Committee, World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Lieutenant Governor’s Circle for Mental Health and Addiction Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, I was never...
Share This