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Faculty and Senior Staff:
Bernadette L DEAN
Ian Phil CANLAS
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Executive Chairman of the Board Executive Committee of UCA, and is leading the planning and building of UCA’s three campuses in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. Reflecting his continued commitment to the region, in 2014, Kassim-Lakha is also appointed the Aga Khan Development Network’s Diplomatic Representative to the Kyrgyz Republic.
Kassim-Lakha has a long association with UCA. He served as co-chair of the Commission on the Establishment of an International Institution of Higher Education, a distinguished panel of international and regional members who met extensively from 1995 to 1998 and developed the concept document for the University. In 2000, he was involved in the negotiations of the international treaty that led to UCA’s establishment by the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, and The Aga Khan Development Network.
As Founding President of the Aga Khan University (AKU), the first private university chartered in South Asia, Kassim-Lakha led the planning, building and operations of this internationally renowned institution for nearly three decades. AKU was established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1983 and has campuses in Pakistan, Eastern Africa and the United Kingdom. Later he consulted for the World Bank including during the planning and start up of Nazarbayev University.
Kassim-Lakha served in senior positions in the Pakistan government, including as the country’s Minister of Education and as Minister of Science and Technology in the caretaker government in 2007-8. As Minister of State in 2001-2, he led the task force which recommended higher education reforms in Pakistan, resulting in major structural changes in universities and the creation of the Higher Education Commission, of which he was a member from 2007 to 2011. He also chaired the committee, which wrote Pakistan’s National Environment Protection Act (1997). Kassim-Lakha has published extensively on school and higher education, philanthropy, civil society and management in renowned journals including the Lancet and Nature and has contributed book chapters on some of these themes.
Kassim-Lakha chairs the board of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy and is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. He recently retired from the board of the International Baccalaureate Organization, after two successive terms. In recognition of his academic and social work, Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University, Canada and Aga Khan University. His awards for distinguished service include Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan and Officer of the National Order of Merit from the President of France.
Educated at Bishop’s University, University of Toronto, University of Glasgow, he received a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Until 1991, he was professor in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. He worked for many years as a consultant to the Secretary of State, Government of Canada, and Ministry of Culture, Province of Alberta. In 1991 he moved to Ukraine to become Director of Policy Studies at the Council of Advisors to the Parliament of Ukraine, and 1992 became founder and director of the Institute of Public Administration and Local Government, Cabinet of Ministers. In 1995 the Institute was re-organised into the Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine and he was appointed vice-rector for academic development and Director of the Centre for the Study of Administration Reform. Dr Krawchenko participated in numerous Ukrainian government committees, task forces and working groups. These include the President’s Council on Social and Economic Affairs, the Policy Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Working Group on the Establishment of the Civil Service, the Working Group on Monetary Reform and the Commission on Administrative Reform. He has also served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He was visiting associate professor at Harvard University, Department of Government, and visiting professor at the College of Europe in Natolin, Poland. In 1995 he received an honourary doctorate from the University of North London, in 1997 was made an honourary professor of the University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’, in 2000 received an honourary doctorate from the Ukrainian Academy of Public Administration, and in 2000 was awarded an Order of Merit from the President of Ukraine. He was editor of “Occasional Papers in Public Administration and Public Policy” published by the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe, and member of international editorial boards of several journals among them Public Management and Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. Dr Krawchenko joined the University of Central Asia in October 2004, where he currently serves as the Director General.
Dr Ariff Kachra leads Academic Affairs at UCA. Dr Kachra holds a PhD in Strategy and General Management from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. Prior to joining UCA, Dr Kachra taught at the Richard Ivey School of Business, where he was a member of the University of Western Ontario Teaching Honour Role and among the highest ranked professors for Executive Development. He served as Academic Director of the Ivey Consulting Project and Founding Editor of the Ivey Business Review. Dr Kachra was also Managing Director of Ivey India, where he led a team establishing Ivey in India, building Ivey India’s case collection and capacity to become the largest in the world, training 1,000 faculty and creating three milestone partnerships with the top business schools in India. Earlier, Dr. Kachra taught at Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business and Management and at the Indian School of Business. At Pepperdine, he was the Director of the MBA Programme. His research interests include knowledge management, decision making, top management teams, improvisation, ethics in strategic management and international joint ventures. He has also consulted with, trained and coached hundreds of executives at a number of medium and large sized companies in Canada, the United States and India. Dr. Kachra has published in Strategic Management Journal, Journal of World Business and Journal of Management Education. He is also the Founder and Managing Director of Strat-ology Consulting Inc., which specialises in strategic facilitation, executive development, training, executive coaching and educational consulting. In his spare time, Dr Kachra volunteers with various AKDN agencies, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Better Business Bureau, and provides career coaching to his former students.
Muzaffar Jorubov serves as Chief Operating Officer at UCA. He has over 18 years of experience in administrative and operations management, and has worked with a number of international organisations, including Save the Children, the United Nations Development Programme and the Aga Khan Development Network Representation Office in Tajikistan. Prior to joining UCA, he served as the Executive Officer of the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe developing and implementing institutional policies, managing operations and programmes, and cultivating and managing relations with its internal and external stakeholders. Earlier in his career, Djorubov worked with educational institutions, including as lecturer with Tajik Technical University, and as a deputy headmaster and teacher at a district centre high school. Djorubov has an MBA from Durham University Business School, United Kingdom and a mechanical engineering degree with honours from Tajik Technical University. He has also participated in numerous professional training courses on administrative management, security management and treasury management.
Rahim Somani provides leadership and oversight to UCA’s Finance Division. He is also responsible for co-ordinating discussions and negotiations for large-capital project financing. As a member of UCA’s senior executive team, he plays a critical role in the planning and development of a multi-campus university. Over the past two decades, Somani has held senior positions in the education sector. His has experience in primary, secondary and tertiary education across Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan. His expertise includes finance; strategic and financial planning; project financing; human resource management, systems and MIS; administration; capital projects; corporate affairs; internal audit and programme management. Prior to joining UCA, Somani spent over a decade with the Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKES, P) as Manager for Humanitarian Assistance Programmes; General Manager for Finance, Planning and Support Services; Company Secretary; Deputy Chief Executive Officer; and Acting CEO. Somani was also part of the Aga Khan University Hospital internal audit team. He completed his CA articleship at A.F. Ferguson & Co., a member firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers. Somani is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) and a Cost & Management Accountant (CMA) from Pakistan and qualified Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and CA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, Canada. He holds an MA in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development from the Institute of Education, University College London (formerly University of London). He is also an alumnus of the Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Institutes for Higher Education (IEM Class of 2014) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Grant Robertson leads the team managing the design and construction of the three UCA campuses. Prior to joining UCA, he was project director with Mace International responsible for a luxury 5-star hotel and residential development, constructed to 4 Seasons standards and specifications. He has extensive experience working in the former USSR, CIS and Eastern European countries, as well as in his home country of Scotland. Over the 25 years of his professional career, he has worked on projects in 13 countries and earned a well-respected reputation for the successful completion of complex projects in remote areas. Prior to joining UCA, Mr Robertson served as the Regional Director of Emerging Markets in Central and Eastern Europe with Bovis Lend Lease, an internationally renowned property group specializing in project management, construction, real estate investment and development. In that role, he led 13 projects across four countries and built a team to meet the demands of their growing business. Before that, Mr Robertson worked with Philip Morris Engineering, where he was responsible for the design, management, and operationalization of their tobacco plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Dr Razi Azmat serves as Director of Human Resources at UCA. He is a human resources professional with extensive experience and expertise in the development, communication and implementation of a pay for performance culture through effective human resource policies and best practices, people management and maintaining a high level of motivation in organisations. Prior to joining UCA, Azmat was Head of Human Resources at Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), the largest bank in Pakistan with 14,000 employees, over 1,500 branches in-country and operations in 24 countries. At HBL, he was actively involved in restructuring, change management and cultural transformation processes. He provided leadership in leveraging the Bank’s human resources for optimum value addition. Azmat is a member of the Aga Khan Development Network’s Human Resource Executive Committee. He has a degree in medicine from the University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Amaan Pardhan is UCA’s Board Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Executive Chairman. Prior to joining UCA, Pardhan worked as Executive Officer, Office of the Provost at the Aga Khan University. From 2009-11, he served as Programme Support Officer with the Aga Khan Development Network’s (AKDN) Resident Representative’s Office in Tajikistan, working closely with key stakeholders including government, diplomatic and donor communities to promote national and regional development initiatives. In addition, he served as Secretary to the AKDN Forum comprising of Agency Heads based in Tajikistan. Pardhan has a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Alberta, a Masters in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a post-graduate diploma in Islamic Studies and Humanities from the Institute of Ismaili Studies, United Kingdom.
Faculty and Senior Staff
Gulnara Dzunushalieva supervises all activities and personnel of SPCE in the three countries, including administering the development, coordination, maintenance, and evaluation for the educational programme. She has built support with local communities and international organisations and has ensured quality of activities. Prior to joining UCA, she was Director of Bishkek International School of Management and Business (MBA program) under Academy of Management of President of Kyrgyz Republic and Manager of Economy Department of Kyrgyz State National University, ITPS. Ms Dzunushalieva holds an MBA, and a degree in economic science, and is a Certified International Professional Accountant.
Dr Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt leads the Mountain Societies Research Institute at UCA. A geographer and Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation Fellow, Dr Schmidt-Vogt previously served as the Head of the Research Programme at the World Agroforestry Centre East and Central Asia Office and as Professor at the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was an Associate Professor with the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and a Senior Lecturer with the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University, Germany. Dr Schmidt-Vogt has doctoral and postdoctoral degrees from Heidelberg University, Germany and over 30 years of research experience in mountain areas, primarily the Himalayan and Mekong regions in South and Southeast Asia. His research interests include forest-farming interactions, multifunctional landscapes, integrated land use systems, and land use change and livelihoods in mountainous areas. He has extensive experience in teaching and supervising Masters and PhD students from diverse national and cultural backgrounds, as well as in capacity building and curriculum development for academic institutions in Southeast Asia, such as the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, National University of Laos, and Andalas University in Padang, Indonesia.
Singaporean Nisar Keshvani first came to the University of Central Asia (UCA) in 2010 and founded its Communications Department in 2011. In 2015, his portfolio expanded to include University marketing. He brings 20 years of experience across five continents in academia, corporate communications and multimedia journalism to UCA. Keshvani brings a unique combination of practical experience in journalism, marketing and public relations with strategic intellectual engagement in academia and public service. Most of his career has involved implementing entrepreneurial initiatives, including start-up communications divisions, innovative media projects and new academic programmes and curricula. He has 15 years of experience teaching, conducting research and developing curricula in communications. He lectured at Republic Polytechnic’s Centre for Enterprise and Communication, Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Film and Media School, Queensland University of Technology’s School of Media and Journalism and Murdoch University’s Journalism programme. He has worked as a journalist and editor-in-chief in print, online and television journalism since 1993 and is an award-winning film maker. Keshvani served as Editor-in-chief of the peer reviewed on-line academic journal Leonardo Electronic Almanac (MIT Press). He also worked in corporate communications for Chevron, the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Film Festival. As a consultant with the Aga Khan Foundation (Geneva), Keshvani developed the AgaKhanSchools.org and AgaKhanHospitals.org websites. In 2007, he served on a five-member global consulting team which conceptualised and developed www.theismaili.org. He has served on various boards including the fineArt forum, Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Festival and the UNESCO “Digi-Arts” project and has published extensively and presented at international conferences on new media technologies, newsroom trends, education, art, and science and technology.
Dr. Roman Mogilevskii coordinates the Institute of Public Policy and Administration at UCA. He has extensive experience researching trade policy, public finance, and macroeconomics in Central Asia and Central Europe. He has also participated in the implementation of research, advisory and training programs across the CIS and has published numerous papers on the issues of regional cooperation and economic policy. Dr. Mogilevskii has held advisory positions at a variety of international organizations operating in Central Asia, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Commission. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Center for Social and Economic Research in Kyrgyzstan (CASE-Kyrgyzstan). Dr. Mogilevskii holds a Candidate of Sciences degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Institute of Mechanics of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences and a degree in Engineering and Economics from the Frunze Polytechnic Institute.
Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova has been affiliated with AKHP since 1998 in curriculum development and assessment, and as a Master Trainer at Khorog State University where she also served as head of the department, Dean of Humanities and as Deputy to the Rector from 1992-2000. Prior to joining UCA, Dr Mamadambarova taught and managed projects at Dushanbe Pedagogical University’s foreign languages faculty for more than 16 years as an assistant professor, head of the department and as a vice dean. Dr Mamadambarova has served as a consultant for research projects with the Christensen Fund and participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the United States. She received her PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990. She is currently on sabbatical.
Dr Elmira Köchümkulova coordinates the Cultural Heritage & Humanities Unit at the University of Central Asia (UCA). She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees with the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington and is one of the leading cultural anthropologists in the region. She has edited books and authored articles on Central Asian music, oral traditions, Islam and nomadic cultures. She has presented extensively at international conferences and lectured on Central Asian Islam, Kyrgyz musical and oral traditions, nomadic life and funeral customs at leading universities and research centres including Harvard University’s Central Asian Studies Group, the University of Chicago’s Central Asian Studies Society and Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Dr Köchümkulova’s research focuses on the historical and contemporary significance of traditions and customs in Turkic Central Asia. She is the co-editor of the UCA/Aga Khan Music Initiative textbook Music of Central Asia: An Introduction, contributing several chapters on Kyrgyz oral tradition and music and taught the UCA pilot course based on the textbook. She served as scholarly editor and coordinated the production of a seminal two-volume collection Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions (in Kyrgyz language), the first scholarly text on Kyrgyz instrumental music authored by Asan Kaybïlda uulu and published by the UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series. Dr Köchümkulova is currently working on several books on topics ranging from Kyrgyz national identity to Kyrgyz funeral lamentations. She speaks six languages and is an accomplished musician and composer, having performed widely across the United States and Central Asia.
Dilovar Butabekov is Deputy Director of the School of Professional and Continuing Education with responsibility of Tajikistan and Afghanistan programmes and campus head of Khorog. Butabekov has had a long career with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), having started as a junior staff member in the AKDN office in Khorog, and then progressed to the position of Administration Manager for the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Tajikistan and Director of Administration for AKF, Tajikistan. Butabekov holds an Executive MBA (with merit) from the Bradford University School of Management, a Diploma in Economics from the School of Entrepreneurship, Ukraine, and a degree in Civil Aviation Engineering from the Kyiv Civil Aviation Engineering Institute.
Mir Khudobakhshov has worked with the University of Central Asia (UCA) for more than a decade and is responsible for the oversight of finance functions including systems development and compliance. In 2002, he joined UCA in Khorog, as Head of Operations and later moved to Bishkek as Finance Manager. Before joining UCA, he worked with the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan as Liaison Officer and previously as Assistant Coordinator for FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance. Mir has a Master of Science in Development Policy and Project Management from the University of Bradford (UK) and is an ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) member. Mir also has a Certificate in International Financial Reporting Standards from ACCA (UK) and Certificate in Business Communication from the University of Toronto (Canada). Mir has played a key role in the implementation of iSCALA (financial information system) at UCA.
Anna Hughes serves as the Registrar. She brings over a decade of higher education experience from multi-campus institutions in Canada and the Middle East. Prior to joining UCA, Hughes worked as System Registrar at the Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates where she led the Registrar’s operations for over 20,000 students at 17 campuses overseeing admissions, enrollment, academic progression, graduation as well as institutional strategic planning and policy development. She served as an ex officio member of a number of institution-wide committees. Hughes has a Bachelors in Economics from Omsk, Russia and a Masters in International Development from University of Northern British Columbia, Canada.
Parviz Alidodkhonov joined the University of Central Asia in 2009. As Head of Administration, he is responsible for procurement, supply processes, travel, transportation, policy and regulations. He oversees the administrative function of the University across all three countries – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic. Before joining UCA, from 2002 – 2004, Parviz worked for the Aga Khan Foundation, Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, and with FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance from 2004 – 2005, managing their procurement and logistics. Parviz successfully completed an MBA with the American University of Central Asia in 2015. He also has a BSc in Philology from the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University.
Aigerim Miyatova leads UCA’s undergraduate recruitment efforts in its three founding states. She began her career in American University of Central Asia’s (AUCA) Admissions and Recruitment Officein Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, where she gained valuable experience in the planning, management and execution of local and international recruitment initiatives. Aigerim holds a Bachelor of Arts in International and Comparative Politics from AUCA and a Master of Arts in Educational and Cultural Policy from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
Dr Salim Sumar leads UCA’s Central Asian Faculty Development Programme (CAFDP). Sumar has worked in various senior positions in academia and international development across Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. Educated in the United Kingdom, he spent more than 17 years in the academic fields of Food, Nutrition and Public Health, as both professor and chair supervising numerous Masters, PhD and postdoctoral students. He has published widely, presented and sat on editorial boards on various international academic journals, establishing new teaching and research institutions, designing curriculum, validating courses, performing quality audits, teaching and research. He has previously worked in global emergency response with various governments, UN agencies and AKDN FOCUS, serving as its Global Coordinator for Research & Learning.
Erik Krauss manages student life at UCA. He has spent much of his career providing student services in an international context, including at the Emerson College European Centre, Netherlands and at New York University in Florence, Italy. Prior to joining UCA, Krauss was responsible for selecting Central American applicants for the Walton International Scholarship programme at the University of the Ozarks and mentoring them during their studies. He also served as Dean of Student Development, Brescia University and Director of International Education, Drew University. Krauss holds degrees from the University of Portland, Eastern Washington University and Cornell University.
Raikhan has served as UCA’s Government and Public Relations Representative in Kazakhstan since 2009. Prior to that, she was engaged in start-up activities for the University and served as Head of the School of Professional and Continuing Education in Tekeli. Raikhan brings significant research, programme implementation and legal experience to UCA from various sectors. She provided scientific support to the Kazakh Health of the Nation programme from 1999 to 2001, participated in national social and demographic surveys from 1999 to 2003, and contributed to the development of several legislative bills. Raikhan is trained as a medical doctor and has a degree in medical sciences, public health and management. She has also studied social management in Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom. Raikhan has published extensively, including articles in scientific publications and three manuals on public health, legal issues and education.
Davlatkadam Khushkadamov graduated from the Dushanbe State Pedagogical Institute with a major in teaching Social Science History. He holds a candidate of sciences in Philosophy and has written numerous articles and monographs. He is also a member of the International Union of Journalists and a US Peace Ambassador. Before joining the University of Central Asia, he worked as Government Relations Manager with the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan. Previously, he held different positions at state agencies and with the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan including; Assistant to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan; Assistant to the Governor of Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast; Head of Department of Science, Ministry of Trade and Economy. He was also Deputy Editor of the Tajik Soviet Encyclopedia.
From 2009-2014, Mr Bakhytzhan Sametayev was the Outreach Coordinator for the School of Professional and Continuing Education, Tekeli. In this capacity, he established strong relations with the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund in Almaty to support entrepreneurs and businessmen. Prior to joining UCA, he was a civil servant with the Almaty region Finance Department. He also served as Head of of Information Technology and Internal Auditor. He frequently speaks at regional conferences and lectures on topics such as national support for Initial Public Offerings and support for businesses in small towns. Sametayev holds a Bachelor's degree from the Gorno-Altay State University, Russia and is currently completing his Master's degree in Economics at the Moscow Witte University.
Bunyodjon Tusmatov is a faculty member with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. Tusmatov received a BA in Economics and Mathematics from Earlham College, USA. Prior to that, he was a student at United World Colleges in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After graduating from Earlham, Tusmatov worked as a financial analyst for RBC Wealth Management in Philadelphia. In 2015, he returned to Tajikistan, where he worked for RISK Tajikistan as a Business Analyst. He also has a great deal of experience as an SAT mathematics instructor. Prior to joining UCA’s Preparatory Programme, Tusmatov was a math teacher for UCA’s inaugural Summer Camp. He is trained in teaching and curriculum methodology by Seneca College, Canada.
Roza Kazakbaeva is an English as a Second Language (ESL) faculty member with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. Kazakbaeva has more than 20 years of experience teaching English as a foreign language. She holds a PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining UCA, Kazakbaeva taught at the Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages, where she developed and taught courses for the departments of linguistics and cross-cultural communications. She is trained in teaching and curriculum methodology by Seneca College, Canada.
Nasima Yamchi is an English as a Second Language (ESL) faculty member with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom. She also has an MA in Intercultural Communication and European Studies from Fulda University of Applied Sciences in Germany and an MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Azad University, Iran. She has more than 30 years of experience in teaching Academic English, Cultural Diversity, Intercultural Communication and Critical Thinking in UK, Germany, Arab countries around the Persian Gulf and Iran. She has both led and participated in teams responsible for designing curriculum for Academic English, cultural Diversity and Critical Thinking courses. Yamchi will undergo training in teaching and curriculum methodology at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto, Canada.
Robin Higgins is based at UCA’s Naryn campus. Prior to joining UCA, Higgins worked with Canada’s Selkirk College for 12 years, where she provided personal and career counselling as well as course advise. She served as Selkirk’s Trauma Assistance Team coordinator and Status of Women Committee’s Union Representative. Higgins was part of the design team for her provincial Healthy Minds/Healthy Campus project. A passionate advocate for student engagement and wellness, Higgins piloted residential projects in nutrition, creativity and community building. She trained campus residence advisors in suicide awareness, communications and leadership skills. Before working at Selkirk College, Higgins worked as a youth mental health clinician and provided counselling for women and children who experienced violence. Higgins holds a Masters in Counselling from the University of Victoria, Canada. In addition, she is a certified English as a Second Language instructor, high school English teacher and undertaken Mediation and Mindfulness Based Art Therapy and Stress Reduction Training.
Student Life Advisor
Shabana Manji holds an undergraduate degree in Humanities from the University of Lethbridge and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Royal Roads University. Prior to joining UCA, Manji worked at the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada as a Public Affairs Coordinator. She has also worked in various capacities with students and university administration at Mount Royal University, the University of Lethbridge and the Government of Alberta. In addition, Manji is also certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Student Life Advisor
Prior to joining UCA, Jonathan Chang resided in New York, USA and worked at a digital technology consultancy. Jonathan has also worked at the U.S. Senate, Yale biomedical and environmental engineering laboratories and the New Haven Mayor’s Youth Council. He holds a Political Science and Mechanical Engineering degree with cum laude honours from Yale University.
Student Life Advisor
Altynai Djumasheva is an influential debater in Central Asia, Djumasheva brings more than a decade of experience in public speaking and communications. Since 2005, she has organised over 100 tournaments, conferences and round table meetings, including international youth oriented events such as the International Aitmatov Debate Academy and Debate and Media Programme. Prior to joining UCA, Djumasheva served as Programme Officer with the International Debate Education Association, where she promoted the culture of debate and critical thinking among Central Asian youth. She has led youth-focussed initiatives for the Soros Foundation Kyrgyzstan. She is also a recognised trainer who has delivered debating programmes in Thailand, Ireland, Ukraine and Lithuania. Djumasheva holds a Bachelor’s in Law from Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.