Spotlight: Ayaan Ismail, recipient of the Eyob G. Naizghi Scholarship Award

By Mischa Milne, Communications Coordinator


For Ayaan Ismail, receiving the Eyob G. Naizghi Scholarship Award from MOSAIC holds a special meaning.

“MOSAIC was one of the first organizations that connected me with fellow immigrant and refugee youth when I needed community connection most as a newcomer, so I am happy that they are still here to support my educational journey!”

Ayaan arrived in Canada in 2016 as a Somali-refugee from Kenya through the World University Service of Canada – Student Refugee Program (WUSC-SRP). She pursued an undergraduate degree in International Studies at Simon Fraser University, and graduated in the summer of 2020.

As a current Master of Arts student at Carleton University in Ottawa, she focuses on Migration and Diaspora Studies with a concentration on forced migration, specifically for refugees. Her lived experience as a refugee is reflected in her educational path, and her studies are deeply personal to her.

“I’m committed to centering the perspectives of communities with lived experience as refugees, which are mostly absent within academia. I hope to continue advocating for refugee communities through my research and community work.”

The $5,000 Eyob G. Naizghi Scholarship Award will be an important source of financial support for Ayaan’s studies. Established in 2018, it is awarded to a female-identifying refugee for leadership development through education and training, including to pursue academic or vocational post-secondary education that supports her future leadership aspirations in Canada.

The scholarship was created by the MOSAIC Board of Directors in recognition of the outstanding leadership of Eyob Naizghi, Executive Director of MOSAIC from 2001-2018, and his dedicated service to the organization for more than 25 years.

“I am thankful for this award in honour of Eyob G. Naizghi, someone I look up to given he came through the same program (WUSC-SRP) that I came through!”

In addition to her studies, Ayaan also began a photography project, officially launched in February 2020, titled “Dreams of Humanity: Refugee Voices.” The photo series tells the diverse, intersectional stories of refugees in the Lower Mainland in order to go beyond the narratives represented in mainstream media about refugees. In addition to the  website, the project can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.

To attend the 2020 MOSAIC Awards Ceremony virtually and support Ayaan and others as they receive their awards, get your free ticket here.