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Young Trailblazer category

Young Trailblazer

Presented by:

Shining a light on the women and girls who build Hamilton and Halton

Hamilton and Halton’s most prestigious event honouring women and girls

Meet the 2022 Award Nominees and Winners

Winners from the previous years

Have questions? Contact a member of our team.

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Presented by:

Fusion pharmaceuticals logo

This award honours young person under the age of 25 who shows leadership at school, in the community, and/or in their workplace. A Young Trailblazer is an exceptional leader and inspiration to their generation. They challenge the status quo, understands and addresses community issues and inspires other to do the same. Nominees must fall within this age range by December 31, 2021.

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Hamilton Winner:

Lianna Genovese

Lianna Genovese - Youth - Hamilton

Lianna Genovese

Lianna Genovese is a 22-year-old biomedical and mechanical engineering student at McMaster University and CEO/Founder of ImaginAble Solutions. Lianna invented Guided Hands, an international award-winning assistive device that enables people with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and access technology. At 19, Lianna was inspired to create the first Guided Hands prototype for a fellow McMaster student living with Cerebral Palsy. Produced in Hamilton, Guided Hands is used by health professionals across North America, and won the Canadian National James Dyson Award, improving the quality of life for people within the Hamilton community and beyond. Lianna is a proud woman in engineering, a solo female founder, engineering ambassador and volunteer public speaker for women in STEM and entrepreneurship.

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Halton Winner:

Lauren Cutaia

Lauren Cutaia - Youth - Halton

Lauren Cutaia

Lauren is a strong 10-year-old leader who has created a small bracelet fundraiser. She has raised funds for the Compassion Society of Halton, the local food bank, and Halton Catholic Children’s Foundation. Lauren is a role model for other kids and is continuing to raise awareness of how young people can make a difference.

Hamilton Nominees

Abi Kirubarajan - Youth - Hamilton

Dr. Abi Kirubarajan

Dr. Abi Kirubarajan is currently a first year Obstetrics and Gynaecology resident at McMaster University where she advocates for vulnerable populations, including BIPOC, LGTBQ+, and incarcerated patients. She graduated medical school at the University of Toronto as one of the top students in her class, receiving the Golden Stethoscope Award for strong clinical performance. She simultaneously completed a Masters of Science in Health Systems Leadership and Innovation to work towards improving issues at the health systems level. Her passion for health and medicine extends to  founding a local nonprofit organization aimed at supporting the needs of newcomers to Canada.

Courtney Gibson - Youth - Hamilton

Courtney Gibson

At only 25 years old, Courtney Gibson exemplifies what it means to be a woman of distinction. As a result of having been a kidney transplant recipient herself nine years ago, Courtney became involved in the Transplant Ambassador Program (TAP). TAP is a grassroots, patient-led peer support network that is aimed at helping to reduce the barriers of living with a kidney transplant or donation. Courtney has dedicated her time to support both recipients and donors by sharing her powerful story. At such a young age, Courtney is someone wise beyond her years. She is someone who has broken down barriers, reduced stigma and inspired so many.

Hargun Kaur - Youth - Hamilton

Hargun Kaur

Hargun is a leader, advocate, and innovator who is passionate about creating more resilient and equitable communities. Throughout the pandemic, Hargun has supported those most affected. She advocates for 25,000+ students as the McMaster Student Union’s Associate Vice-President, represents young caregivers on CIHR’s National Older Adult Advisory Council, and creates accessible education for youth using cannabis. She has also directly empowered vulnerable populations by making public health accessible for Hamiltonians as the lead content developer with the South Asian COVID Task Force and #ThisIsOurShot vaccine confidence campaigns. Hargun has also been involved with creating care packages for pregnant individuals and isolated seniors, and volunteering with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s support line. As an aspiring physician, Hargun strives to continue working with, learning from, and empowering communities.

Lianna Genovese - Youth - Hamilton

Lianna Genovese

Lianna Genovese is a 22-year-old biomedical and mechanical engineering student at McMaster University and CEO/Founder of ImaginAble Solutions. Lianna invented Guided Hands, an international award-winning assistive device that enables people with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and access technology. At 19, Lianna was inspired to create the first Guided Hands prototype for a fellow McMaster student living with Cerebral Palsy. Produced in Hamilton, Guided Hands is used by health professionals across North America, and won the Canadian National James Dyson Award, improving the quality of life for people within the Hamilton community and beyond. Lianna is a proud woman in engineering, a solo female founder, engineering ambassador and volunteer public speaker for women in STEM and entrepreneurship.

Raagavi Ramenthiran - Youth - Hamilton

Raagavi Ramenthiran

Raagavi Ramenthiran is a fourth-year undergraduate student at McMaster University. Through her extracurricular endeavours targeting health, social, and opportunity inequalities, Raagavi has advocated for optimized learning experiences for her peers, leveraged her voice to represent underprivileged students around the world, and launched a variety of youth-driven community volunteer initiatives. Recently, Raagavi was honoured with the Alan G. Newcombe Prize in Peace for exhibiting leadership in her local and global extracurricular activities. Ultimately, she is passionate about collaborating with stakeholders to understand community challenges and develop effective solutions. Raagavi’s lived experiences have shaped her into a life-long advocate for social justice and leader in community engagement, and she looks forward to continuing to create meaningful impact for years to come.

Salsa Sarhan - Youth - Hamilton

Salsa Sarhan

Salsa Sarhan was born and raised in Hamilton. She successfully graduated from Sir John A Macdonald High School, leaving a legacy that many students strive to achieve. She is now pursuing an Honours Double Major of Political Science & Labour Studies with a minor in Public leadership. She currently holds the title of McMaster Social Sciences Society President where she is once again creating impact in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and fostering a welcoming atmosphere for her peers. Other than her academic achievements, Salsa stays involved with her downtown core community by working at local small businesses and leaving a positive impression on everyone she encounters.

Sarah Gonder - Youth - Hamilton

Sarah Gonder

Sarah Gonder is a senior at McMaster University in Materials Engineering with a passion for materials innovation, decarbonization, and improving equity in engineering. After receiving an NSERC Research Award, she has continued her research under Dr. Bosco Yu since May of 2020. She has explored computational and cellular materials through developing algorithms to generate impact absorption architectures for additively manufactured helmets. With the support of AIST’s Samson Canadian Steel Intern Scholarship, Sarah contributed to global decarbonization initiatives in the ferrous pyrometallurgy group at Hatch Ltd. Serving as President of McMaster’s MSE Society and supervising an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Yu’s group has highlighted her passion for mentorship. Sarah aspires to enter project management after completing a master’s degree in Europe.

Shania Bhopa - Youth - Hamilton

Shania Bhopa

Shania Bhopa is a current student in the McMaster Doctoral (PhD) Global Health program and recent Valedictorian of the Faculty of Health Sciences. Shania is co-founder of the non-profit organization The Canadian Courage Project, a wellness blogger, children’s book author, and the host of the Global Health Collective Podcast. Shania recently published Gurk and Bianca: the story of the gut brain connection & mindfulness, a children’s book focused on promoting the health literacy of youth. Additionally, Shania’s current research focuses on supporting newly immigrated families with children to access healthy active living programs. From research to her community work, her digital blog, and now a published children’s book, Shania is dedicated to supporting Hamilton youth.

Zainab Khodr - Youth - Hamilton

Zainab Khodr

Zainab Khodr has brought her passion, dedication, and expertise to organizations across Hamilton to help diverse Hamiltonians receive the support they need. Currently, Zainab is a community service worker at Mishka Social Services where she  has supported the development of a new case management program, Sanad. Sanad is a service that supports immigrants, refugees and people living in poverty using culturally accessible approaches. Zainab is a graduate of McMaster University and has been passionate about contributing to the nonprofit field since she was 15. She has previously volunteered for Mishka Social Services, NASR Youth and worked for Welcome Inn.

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Halton Nominees

Hayley Verrall - Youth - Halton

Hayley Verrall

Hayley is an internationally and locally awarded singer/songwriter, Hayley’s passion for performing and for people has not gone unnoticed and she was recently named the 2020 inductee to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Hall of Fame. Recipients of this award demonstrate the diversity of artistic accomplishment that comprises the rich cultural tapestry of Burlington/Hamilton. Personally, Hayley is passionate about setting goals and spreading her spirit of music and compassion by donating her time and fundraising for worthy causes.  Hayley is driven to bring smiles to her community, and through her involvement with many local events, has helped to change lives while  making many friendships along the way. She is defiantly a Trailblazer.

Lauren Cutaia - Youth - Halton

Lauren Cutaia

Lauren is a strong 10-year-old leader who has created a small bracelet fundraiser. She has raised funds for the Compassion Society of Halton, the local food bank, and Halton Catholic Children’s Foundation. Lauren is a role model for other kids and is continuing to raise awareness of how young people can make a difference.

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