Meet McMaster’s Fall 2023 valedictorians

A graphic that reads 'valedictorians,' and features an illustrated graphic of the Edwards Arch

Three outstanding graduands will serve as valedictorians at this Fall’s convocation ceremonies.  

Mehreen Shami, Reemal Shahbaz and Liza-Anastasia DiCecco will represent their student communities and deliver a speech to fellow students, faculty, honoured guests, family and friends attending convocation ceremonies on November 23rd and 24th.  

The three graduate students, selected by a committee, have demonstrated academic excellence and exhibited leadership during their time at McMaster.  

Learn more about the Fall 2023 Convocation valedictorians: 

Mehreen Shami 

A headshot of Mehreen Shami

Shami, a Master of Global Politics student, will represent the Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities, including the Arts and Sciences program, and the DeGroote School of Business.  

Shami previously graduated from McMaster in Spring 2022 with a degree in social psychology, having fast tracked one year ahead of her cohort.  

Her research is in understanding the individual mindset and how it is affected by societal factors in times of conflict, distress and war. 

She has worked in human development and humanitarian services as well as refugee settlement services.  

In addition to fast-tracking her undergraduate degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shami founded a platform to support pre-law students and connect them to resources and mentorship. During this time she also helped coordinate a virtual mental health series for the Canadian Muslim community.  

Shami has been active in the student community and contributed to employee mental health awareness initiatives during her time at McMaster.

Reemal Shahbaz

Shahbaz, a Master of Global Health student, will represent the Faculty of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing. She will be a two-time graduate of McMaster, having graduated from the Honours Life Sciences program in Spring 2022. 

Her master’s thesis examined the role of transnational carer-employees — immigrants who engage in caregiving of their loved ones across borders while also working in their country of resettlement. 

Shahbaz says she has wanted to be a valedictorian since she was ten years old — soon after she immigrated to Canada from Pakistan.  

“I knew that I wanted the position as soon as I learned that it is symbolic of leadership, excellence, uplifting peers, commitment to learning, and using one’s knowledge to leave a positive impact in the community,” says Shahbaz.  

She has had leadership roles teaching young children in science education workshops, worked as a student counsellor at a day camp and served as a mentor and outreach coordinator for non-profit organizations.   

This past spring she won a Faculty of Health Sciences Teaching Assistant Excellence Award.  

Liza-Anastasia DiCecco 

Liza-Anastasia DiCecco, who will be graduating with her Ph.D. in Materials Engineering, will represent the Faculties of Engineering and Science.  

DiCecco is an emerging international leader in the fields of biomineralization and liquid phase electron microscopy.  

Her research aims to aid Canada’s aging population and combat increased implant needs and hard tissue diseases.  

She has won numerous awards, including being named a recipient of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2019.  

During her time at McMaster DiCecco served in mentorship roles and helped coordinate initiatives aimed at promoting inclusivity and accessibility in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

DiCecco is currently working as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Banting Fellowship. 

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