Albert Lager Prize for Student Initiative Award

Sara Halawa BSc '16, MSc '17

Sara is in her first year of the Masters in Global Health program, specializing in Global Health Management. Having completed her undergraduate degree also at McMaster, Sara has consistently been involved in various initiatives and groups throughout her undergraduate career and continues to do so as a graduate student. Sara's passion for supporting first-year students into university led her to various opportunities, including being a Residence Orientation Representative and Events Coordinator for the Horizons Leadership Conference. Sara dedicated her time to community building and improving the student experience as a Community advisor, where she was the recipient of the Dr. Phil Wood Community Impact Award for leadership across Residence Life. Within the classroom, Sara was a laboratory teaching assistant, where she worked tirelessly to guide students from a variety of academic backgrounds through first year biology. Sara continually shares her passion for McMaster with other students and visitors through her role as a campus tour guide and helping to lead MacServe service learning groups to represent McMaster in New Orleans and Dominican Republic. Sara's dedication is also evident through her commitment to COPE: A Student Mental Health Initiative for 4 years through various leadership positions, during which COPE recognized as Club of the Year and Social Issues Club of the Year.

Sifat Syeda '16

Sifat Syeda is graduating with a double major in Economics and Political Science with a Business Studies Certificate. During her time at McMaster, she contributed to countless volunteer and leadership initiatives. Sifat was involved with the McMaster Economics Society for three years, including her time as President when her team received recognition as MSU Academic Club of the Year. She was also a member of the executive team for the MSU Shinerama & Terry Fox team, acting as Sponsorship Coordinator one year and Programming Assistant the next. During this time, the Shinerama Campaign raised well over $150, 000, placing McMaster as the largest post-secondary fundraising school in Canada. Sifat was a Peer Conduct Advisor for the Office of Student Conduct, a Student Representative for MSU Advocacy Street Team, a Mentor for the International Student Services, and an Orientation Leader for the McMaster Social Science Society Rep Team. Outside the university community, she volunteered as the Community Outreach Assistant for the Canadian Cancer Society in the Mississauga Office. Sifat also had the opportunity to participate in McMaster’s service-learning trips abroad, travelling to the Dominican Republic to teach English to elementary school students and to New Orleans to work with Habitat for Humanity on a housing project along with other McMaster students.

Andrew Nguyen '16

Andrew Nguyen, who is graduating with a degree in Biology, has been involved with many volunteer roles that relate to his interests over the course of his undergraduate career. He cares deeply about his cultural heritage and has been heavily involved with the Vietnamese community through his work as a President and Vietnamese translator with the McMaster Vietnamese Students’ Association and the McMaster Language Buddies respectively. He also developed a hobby for insects through his work as a Research Assistant studying social behaviour in fruit flies in the Dukas lab as well as entomology at the Queen’s University Biological Station. Andrew enjoys helping other students with their transition to university and has been involved with many roles that facilitate that transition including being an Academic Skills Coach for the Student Success Centre, a 4th year Representative for the McMaster Biology Society, a Welcome Week Representative for the Faculty of Science and a SWHAT Walker and Dispatcher for the MSU.

Shaina McDonald '16

Shaina McDonald, who is graduating from the Honours Social Psychology program, has contributed to the Faculty of Social Sciences through various key roles. Within the McMaster Social Sciences Society, she has served as a Welcome Week representative, third year representative, Social Psychology mentor and most recently, as the Vice-President Programming. She also served as the President of the McMaster Social Psychology Society. For the Office of Experiential Education, Shaina has held positions as a student ambassador, a student representative on the Experiential Education Governing Council, a research assistant, and a Program & Engagement assistant. Similarly, she performed as a student scholar for the McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning (MIIETL), working on a community engaged education research project. Shaina was chosen to serve as the undergraduate student representative on the Selection Committee for the Dean of Social Sciences. She was also active as a volunteer mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton & Burlington.

Award Eligibility


(a) are being recognized for volunteer service, not a paid position;
(b) have completed a minimum of one full year of volunteer service;
(c) are currently enrolled in full-time or part-time studies at McMaster;
(d) are not a previous recipient of the award, as students are only eligible to receive one Albert Lager Award in their academic career.

The contributions of the nominee should encompass one, or a combination of, the following:

(a) Significant contributions to their faculty, program or the University and its students;
(b) Improvement of the quality of student life;
(c) Outstanding leadership on committees or university affairs;
(d) Support and service to the McMaster Alumni Association.

All nominations must include the name and contact information of at least one faculty, staff or committee chairperson reference. It is strongly recommended that those nominations submitted by student peers be accompanied by a letter of support from a faculty or staff member.

Awards Presentation

Students selected will be recognized at the Alumni Gallery & MAA Awards Induction Ceremony held in early June.

To submit a nomination for the Albert Lager Prize for Student Initiative Award, please download our Student Nomination Form (right click link & select 'Open Link in New Tab') and submit by email, fax, or mail to:

Office of Alumni Advancement
Alumni House
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1

Fax: 905-524-1733
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 23900

Stay Connected

905-525-9140 | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8