top of page

2021 program


Career Panel


Our moderated Career Panel exposed the students to a wide array of careers. We welcomed four industry professionals in medicine, film, social work, and game design to share their journeys and experiences in their respective fields. The panel provided students with insight into what these specific careers entail and tips for exploring their own career interests.

Post-Secondary Panel


Our Post-Secondary Panel featured four undergraduate and graduate students studying a diverse range of majors, including liberal arts, business, and environmental science. Schools represented were University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and Western University.

Social Impact


Racial Equity

Alana Butler is the Coordinator of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 2015, she completed a PhD in Education from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York with a specialization in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy. She has 15 years of teaching experience in a range of settings that includes preschool, ESL, secondary school, adult literacy, and university. She is the Principal Investigator on an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for a study about post-secondary access for low-income youth. Her scholarly work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Education, Gender and Education, and Review of Education.  




MBTI & Leadership


In this workshop led by Step Up Virtual’s Program Assistants, students learned about the MBTI and how this would help them understand themselves better in terms of working in a team. Program Assistants discussed what the MBTI can and cannot tell you, and students participated in a series of activities to generate self-awareness about their own personalities and preferences and how these influence their communication, working, and social styles. They also worked to understand preferences different from their own and what this meant when it comes to effective teamwork and leadership.


Goal Setting


Step Up Virtual’s Goal Setting Workshop supported students in understanding what practical and effective goal-setting looks like. In this workshop, students learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals and were asked to begin developing a plan for a goal during their time in the program, as well as a goal that extended past their time with SUV. Following this, they learned about the importance of personal SWOT analysis to achieve each of their goals, and applied these analytical strategies to their developed goals.


Resumes & Cover Letters


The resume and the cover letter are essential when applying to potential jobs and volunteer positions. In this engaging and funny workshop led by Kirk Langford, students learned helpful tips for creating and revising these important documents. Kirk showed students examples from which they could learn the dos and don’ts when writing for themselves.

The Power of Storytelling


The “Power of Storytelling” workshop was led by the talented award-winning poet Namitha Rathinappillai. She hosted an interactive session on how to recognize, craft, and share personal stories with ourselves and one another. Students were able to express their creativity and connect with themselves and each other.

Financial Literacy


Eboni Ledford is a Financial Professional, who came in to teach students about financial literacy. She works with women and youth in our communities to help them achieve their dream lifestyle by teaching them how to reduce debt and build massive savings. Her workshop helped students change their money mindset, and empowered them to take control of their finances and optimize their cash flow.

Funding Your Post Secondary


Accessibility and education are core values for Step Up Virtual. The Funding Your Post-Secondary Workshop presented by Maria Commisso Parise and Cristian Nieto Pertuz from For Youth Initiative provided students with tips and resources to find scholarships and other financial aid for post-secondary education and beyond. This workshop included a Q&A session for participants to get specific advice from the workshop coordinators and Step Up Virtual Program Assistants.




Problem Identification 


One of the first steps to making an impact is identifying an issue you are passionate about solving. In our Problem Identification workshop, hosted by Manisha Narula, current Director of Community at League of Innovators, we learned how to break large issues to find the root causes. 


Solution Ideation


In our Solution Ideation session with entrepreneur and innovator Michael Trinh, we explored the process of generating and creating solutions. The students learned the core elements of design thinking and the importance of getting to know your end-user.

Implementation Plan 101


After having thought about their Innovation Challenge ideas, students learned about how to create an implementation plan to execute their vision and bring their ideas to life. In this workshop, students were introduced to customer segmentation, market sizing, value propositions, marketing, operations & finances, and action planning.

Presentation Skills


Even with the greatest plan and the most innovative idea, you will still need to master the pitch presentation. In SUV’s Presentation Skills workshop, students connected their previous knowledge about presentation skills and dissected examples of pitches to learn about them and how they are both similar and different to presentations they have done before.




Khalil joined Aga Khan Foundation Canada as Chief Executive Officer in August 2005. He was previously with the Toronto office of McKinsey & Company, an international management consultancy, where he advised governments, financial institutions, and health care providers on strategy, organization, and operational improvement.


Khalil served on AKFC’s National Committee for five years, and has cultivated his interest in international development and conflict resolution issues through a variety of activities including: Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Negotiation Law Review; Policy Coordinator and Research Associate, Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research; Legal Intern, Chambers of the Vice-President, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania; Intern, Office of Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He was the youngest member ever elected as a School Trustee in 1993 for the Board of School Trustees in Richmond, B.C.


Khalil holds a B.A. in International Relations and Economics from the University of British Columbia and a J.D. magna cum laude from the Harvard Law School.




Alessandra is an MSc candidate in Kinesiology at McGill University and she is the  co-founder of Algi. Algi creates delicious, purpose-driven food products centered around spirulina algae with a mission to create accessible and sustainable food. Passionate about food and sustainability, Alessandra hopes to address the environmental impact of the food industry.


Livia is a life enthusiast and an optimist at heart. She believes that anything is possible with the right mindset and people supporting you. She is the co-founder of Compass, a holistic student life platform on a mission to create more resilient,    self-aware, and connected campuses. She also created The Synergi Project that led pop-up mindfulness meditations across campuses in Ontario, and loves supporting individuals on their health journeys through being a holistic health coach. Her background spans corporate innovation, community building, mental health advocacy, business development and project management at international tech accelerators and corporations. You can catch her on the weekend these days exploring new creative outlets for expression.





My name is Oshynne and I am currently a teacher at a Grade 7-12 school in Toronto. I graduated from Queen's University with a Bachelor of Education in Intermediate-Senior teaching of French as a Second Language and English, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in French Studies with a minor in World Languages.

I have always had a passion for the teaching profession, and I am committed to supporting all students in achieving their goals, whatever those might be. I believe that teaching is relational, and I aim to build strong and meaningful relationships with each and every one of my students.

When I’m not teaching, you can find me taking long walks to play Pokémon GO, learning Russian on Duolingo, or moving all the furniture in my home to explore virtual worlds. I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know all of you! I am very excited to hear your ideas and support you in developing them!


My name is Paola Brandolini and I am a teacher candidate at Western University. I have always believed that when given the right support and resources youth can do amazing things. I want to be a teacher because I believe in youth. I am excited to be apart of Step Up Virtual because it is a wonderful program that provides youth with the resources, skills and confidence to reach their potential.



My name is Grace and I'm going into my 3rd year of neuroscience at Western University. Outside of school, I'm interested in social innovation and technology. Mentorship has played a big role in my life; my mentors have provided me with encouragement, advice, and confidence to pursue my goals.

I've also attended similar programs to Step Up in the past that introduced me to a diverse set of career paths that I hadn't considered before. During those programs I met so many inspiring individuals and made lots of fond memories. This summer I'm excited to continue meeting and learning from some incredible people!


My name is Nilo, and I just finished my 2nd year of economics at Western University and will be pursuing Business Administration in the fall. I am thrilled to be working with the Step Up Virtual team this summer to provide programming to passionate youth from around Canada!


I have experience volunteering in healthcare, doing pro-bono consulting, and am also co-president of a social-impact club at Western. A few of my interests include financial literacy, public speaking and accessible education, and I am excited to share some of that with both cohorts this summer. As a university student, I can firmly say that there some core skills which high school students can benefit from developing as they transition to post-secondary. I look forward to helping our participants hone in on these skills through a diverse selection of workshops and events.

bottom of page