GradLife Team 2023

GradLife Bloggers

Vivienne Smith

Vivienne Smith

Vivienne is in her final year as a PhD student in Materials Engineering at McGill and has worked as a Student Skills Assistant at Teaching and Learning Services for the past 5 years, offering workshops on time management, emotional resilience and blogging amongst others. Passionate about mental health and building community in grad school, she co-developed the workshop titled “From Surviving to Thriving: Resilience in Grad School” (check it out if you haven’t already) and loves talking about mental health in the graduate experience.

Outside of the lab and her work on mental health, she loves writing on her personal blog (, knitting, photography, making polymer clay earrings (@beautyinthemargins) and experimenting in the kitchen.

 Afees Akinola Agboola

Afees Agboola

Afees is completing his Master of Art in Education and Society at McGill University. A recipient of the prestigious Mastercard Foundation scholarship award. Passionate about girl-child education, women, community, and African development. He had before his current study worked with one of the leading national non-governmental organizations in Nigeria as a Program Officer on Education and Girl-child Literacy. He led several projects, programs, and advocacy interventions in that capacity. He led advocacy campaigns to provide accessible education and opportunities for children, especially girls, in underserved communities in several states in Nigeria. He supported the organization’s projects in improving women’s and girls’ sexual & reproductive health rights; ending gender-based violence; policy drive on education and sexual & reproductive health rights; and governance, transparency, & accountability in public spaces.

Outside academics, he loves reading, speaking, writing, walking, and exploring his photography skills.

Anzala Murtaz


Anzala is a PhD student studying neuroscience; her interest lies in understanding the physiological and neuroendocrine aspects of the brain. She has been a blogger at Gradlife McGill for the last two years.  She gravitates towards writing thinkpieces that involve the philosophy of self-insight. Her goal is to produce pieces that keep in mind the graduate experience, while also accounting for the journey of life itself. Anzala is also a trained dance artist, she has trained in South Asian classical forms of dance and has performed across Canada.  Other than exploring the brain, writing, and dancing, Anzala enjoys being in nature, having novel experiences, and indulging in caramel coffees on sunny mornings!

Meiting Chen

Meiting Chen

Meiting is a second-year PhD student in Educational Psychology, with a research focus on the impact of academic mobility in neoliberal higher education, and the lived experience of immigrant students and faculty. She is now working as a student assistant at Teaching and Learning Services, responsible for generating, revising, and facilitating workshops related to academic skills as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion on university campus. She also coordinates blogging and community engagement at GradLife, organizing events and meet-ups for the graduate student team. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys various outdoor activities like skiing, kayaking, and hiking

GradLife Instagrammers

Rose Elekanachi 


Rose is a 4th year PhD student in the Rehabilitation Program at McGill with a research interest in Childhood disability, Global health, rehabilitation, and policy. Rose has worked as a Graduate Student assistant at Teaching and Learning services for over 3 years. Alongside her work at TLS, Rose continues to work as a teaching assistant in neurology and ethics courses at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. Rose has been involved with the McGill Grad life Instagram team since 2021. Outside research, she enjoys, reading novels, writing poems, travelling, and podcasting.

Since her arrival in Montreal, Rose has gotten immersed in learning new things such as French which has helped her immerse the culture in Quebec. Rose has also recently fallen in love with swimming and skating.

Royan Jafri

Royan_1Royan is in her final year as a master’s student in Biological and Biomedical Engineering at McGill. Her area of research focuses on finite element modeling of the middle ear under acoustic stimuli to aid in the diagnosis of hearing loss in newborns. She has worked as a mentor in the student accessibility and achievement office, where she helps students overcome challenges and reach their goals. Additionally, she has served as a graduate delegate at the association of graduate students employed at McGill, advocating for the needs and concerns of her peers. She is also passionate about improving peoples quality of life, promoting empathy, and advancing mental health sciences. To this end, she has participated in various workshops and activities in these areas. 

In her spare time, she enjoys different hobbies. She is a photographer who has won awards in several contests. She loves capturing the experiences of graduate students and immortalizing their memories. She also enjoys reading books, writing stories, and staying active through yoga, swimming, and going to the gym. She loves baking different types of cookies and creamy cakes. She prioritizes balance in her life, making sure to devote time to her studies, hobbies, and self-care. 

Saima Ahmed

IMG_8863_jpgSaima Ahmed is a PhD Candidate in Experimental Medicine at McGill University. She is interested in the role of digital health in person-centered care within oncology. Her research is focused specifically on supporting individuals with cancer on oral chemotherapy agents.

Saima has been a member of GradLife McGill for many years and often dabbles in both Instagram and blogging. In her free time, she enjoys photography, reading, and exercise.  Her other interests include fashion, art, movies, music, food, travel and comedy, yes comedy! She can regularly be seen catching or hosting various comedy shows across the city, whether it be improv, stand-up or sketch.

Chloe Liu

chloe-liuChloe is a fourth year PhD student in Biochemistry at McGill and has worked as a Student Skills Assistant at Teaching and Learning Services for the past 2 years. Her current teaching portfolios include resilience in grad school, building anti-oppressive environments, time management, study SMART and learning in a second language. She coordinates the GradLife Instagram team to brainstorm ideas and post content to engage the McGill graduate student community. Outside of the lab, she likes to play sports and music, dive into theology, and explore Montreal with friends.

GradLife Community Builder

Isabel Sadowski

3913-010 copyIsabel is in her fourth year as a PhD student in Counselling Psychology. Her research focuses on the development and evaluation of nature-based mindfulness and compassion interventions, using virtual reality, to support mental health and well-being. Isabel has worked as a Student Assistant with Teaching and Learning Services for the past 4 years, assisting with a variety of workshops on graduate student supervision, time management, and offering resources for graduate students to help with effective communication of scientific results. In her role as the Gradlife Community Builder, Isabel helps to create an atmosphere of sharing, engagement and belonging for Gradlife team members by organizing events, meet-ups and more. When she has the chance, Isabel loves getting outdoors, whether through sport, hiking, camping, or just taking time to appreciate nature.

Meet Instagrammers from previous years

Meet bloggers from previous years

Meet Community Engagement Leaders from previous years

Meet Vloggers from previous years

Meet admin team members from previous years

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