The University of Winnipeg



The next generation of leaders

Three UWinnipeg graduate students were selected to participate in the James W. Burns Leadership Institute’s President's Student Leadership Program

Head shots of Graduate Studies students Katherine Rempel, Nooshin Noshiri, and Bunmi Afolabi

UWinnipeg Graduate Studies students Katherine Rempel, Nooshin Noshiri, and Bunmi Afolabi were selected to the President’s Student Leadership Program.

Three University of Winnipeg graduate students – Bunmi Afolabi, Nooshin Noshiri, and Katherine Rempel – completed the President’s Student Leadership Program’s (PSLP) earlier this summer.

This opportunity presented a chance to share my knowledge and contribute with a group filled with diverse skillsets and coming from different educational faculties.

Katherine Rempel

This unique program, now in its fourth year, is a one-week immersive learning opportunity that brought together 20 students from various disciplines and Manitoba post-secondary institutions together to build their leadership potential.

“In the President’s Student Leadership Program, students share and apply the skills and knowledge from their areas of specialty while learning from peers and mentors in a diverse and intellectually rich setting,” said Dr. Manish Pandey, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “As a complement to the multidisciplinary and practical focus of the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ programs, the PSLP provides additional training and guidance for students to grow their leadership skills in a meaningful and collaborative way.”

Meet UWinnipeg’s participants: 

Bunmi Afolabi – Master’s in Development Practice: Indigenous Development 

Bunmi Afolabi says she pursued the MDP in Indigenous Development because it has a unique approach rooted in Indigenous worldviews and methodologies in understanding and decolonizing community development work.

After learning about this leadership development opportunity and how it provides access to a network of industry experts and community leaders, Afolabi knew she’d be an excellent fit.

“The skills and knowledge gained from this program are transferrable to my academic and professional career,” she said. “I will utilize the skill of deep listening to ensure that I am actively listening to the knowledge that comes from the community to address socioeconomic challenges and create solutions.”

Looking back, Afolabi says there were many highlights for her, including simulation activities such as improv sessions and storytelling circles, which were aimed at helping students strengthen their listening and communications skills.

“Diane Roussin, the Project Director of the Winnipeg Boldness Project, spoke about how an Indigenous worldview of ‘all my relations’ shaped her leadership journey,” Afolabi recalled. “I learned the importance of building and maintaining collaborative relationships to achieve a shared goal.”

After she graduates from UWinnipeg, Afolabi hopes to be a policy analyst in the private or public sector.

“I would like to work as a development practitioner with local or international organizations in the community development sector to create solutions that address socioeconomic issues and develop policies and programs that foster and facilitate sustainable development.”


Nooshin Noshiri – Master of Science in Applied Computer Science and Society 

Nooshin Noshiri is passionate about computer science and how the application of computer vision can be used in agriculture.

She is currently working with her thesis advisor Dr. Christopher Henry and is a member of the TerraByte research group at UWinnipeg, which focuses on generating plant data using modern technologies, analyzing data using machine learning driven models, and creating a rich database of plant data.

After learning about PSLP and how she could improve her leadership skills, Noshiri applied and was accepted. Her goal by the end of the program is to identify and improve her leadership strategy and style, while also developing her communications skills.

Learning about leadership from Diane Gray, President and CEO of CentrePort Canada, Diane Roussin, Project Director of the Winnipeg Boldness Project, and Dayna Spiring, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg, was an incredible opportunity for Noshiri.

“Meeting women in power highly inspired me towards my ambitious dreams,” she said. “Hearing their stories and difficulties they faced as female CEOs, like unconscious bias, unequal pay, and gender-based harassment, gave me a great perspective of the challenges that exist for women, even in developed countries.”

As a woman in STEM, Noshiri says she’s also experienced the same gender equity gaps. However, this program has motivated her to not give up in achieving her goal of becoming a leader, and has encouraged her to stay confident, speak up regardless of odds face, and build and widen alliances with advocates and strong decision makers. 

As she looks ahead at her long-term goals, Noshiri hopes to pursue a PhD after she graduates from UWinnipeg. She also invites anyone interested in building their leadership skills to apply for this program.

“I would highly recommend the PSLP to whoever is interested in leadership activities as a potential source of how to become an inspired leader,” she said. “You will have a great opportunity to practice a real community-based project during the course of program.”


Katherine Rempel – Master’s in Development Practice: Indigenous Development  

Katherine Rempel is a single mother and a leader in her community. 

She is the Treasurer and Secretary of the New Horizons Métis Local, the Student-at-Large on the UWinnipeg Senate and Graduate Studies Committee, a member of the UWinnipeg Students’ Association’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, and the peer-elected UWinnipeg MDP representative for the Global Association of MDP programs, where she’s currently Co-Chair of the North American Student and Alumni Advisory Council. 

In 2019, Rempel first applied for the program while studying at Red River College as a way to develop her leadership skills and gain networking opportunities. However, it wasn’t until her current field placement at the Winnipeg Boldness Project where it was determined that the career development offered through the program would be an asset to the organization and an opportunity to learn from Diane Roussin, who was the opening speaker.

After participating in the PSLP’s core week, she says the program went a lot deeper than just the immersive learning experience.

“This opportunity presented a chance to share my knowledge and contribute with a group filled with diverse skillsets and coming from different educational faculties,” she said. “It was refreshing to truly feel like the expert of my field in a professional setting and learn and absorb knowledge from others.  The program has given me confidence in implementing what I have learned though my education and how that can be used outside the academic setting.”

After completing her studies, Rempel wants to continue to take on research opportunities and possibly pursue a PhD before moving into a career.

“I want to work in community, I want to advocate at a global level, I want to share what I have learned with others, and I want to be a confident public speaker to shout my opinions to the world,” she said. “Most of all, like all of us in this field, I want to inspire others and make meaningful changes to improve the world for the next generations.” 

To learn more about the President’s Students Leadership Program, visit their website.