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Five Social Sciences Graduate Students Awarded Community-Engaged Research (CER) Internships

The Community Research Platform (CRP), through its Community-Engaged Research (CER) Graduate Student Internship Program, has awarded five graduate student internships.

Jan 23, 2023

The CER Graduate Student Internship Program provides opportunities for MA and PhD students in the Social Sciences to take up paid research internships with CRP partner organizations. Students work with a partner organization on a research project that supports organizational needs and priorities and has tangible benefits for communities.

Internships also offer tremendous benefits to graduate students including opportunities to increase knowledge, skills, and experience in community-engaged, social impact research and knowledge exchange, build professional networks, and learn about the role of community organizations in civil society.

Read below to learn more about this year’s internship projects and student interns.

YWCA Hamilton: Developing a Centre for Feminist Research and Evaluation at the YWCA Hamilton

Stephanie Milliken holds an MA in Gender Studies and Feminist Research and is currently an MSW student in the School of Social Work. Stephanie has also worked and volunteered with the YWCA Hamilton, most recently as a Harm Reduction Support Worker in the newly launched Safer Drug Use Space. In her internship, Stephanie is working with a team of McMaster staff and researchers and community leaders from the YWCA to investigate models and frameworks for the development of an intersectional feminist research and evaluation centre to be led by the YWCA in collaboration with McMaster. Stephanie will also help to document, archive, and share the YWCA’s past and ongoing research projects and activities. Stephanie is passionate about conducting research with a team, and particularly appreciates the opportunities that community-based research creates for community members to inform and lead the direction, insights, and application of the research process.


Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Hamilton: Emotions Matter: Skill Building, Emotional Resilience and Social Support for Care Workers

Loa Gordon is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Loa’s research mobilizes critical disability studies, community-engaged approaches, and arts-based methods to investigate experiences of self-directed mental health care in young adults. As a grad intern, Loa is working with CMHA Hamilton staff and researchers from McMaster’s Centre for Advanced Research on Mental Health and Society (ARMS), for which she is associate director, to execute phase two of the Emotions Matter Research Study. This project seeks to understand the emotional labour requirements and consequences of care work and to develop evidence-based supports and resources for care workers to mitigate the negative impacts of their emotional labor. Loa will also support ongoing collaboration between CMHA Hamilton and ARMS including the development of a SSHRC grant to co-host a symposium in the fall of 2023 on community-engaged research with a focus on mental health.

Hamilton Public Library (HPL): Investigating the role of Hamilton Public Library’s (HPL) programs and services in supporting newcomer populations in the Hamilton community

Ali Solhi is a PhD Student in the Department of Health, Aging and Society. Ali’s research interests focus on building social capital, social inequality, psychological well-being, and health promotion among immigrants and marginalized groups. Ali also has experience working in academic and public libraries in Halifax and Kitchener. As a grad intern, Ali is working with HPL staff to explore the role the library plays in supporting the social integration of newcomer immigrants and refugees in Hamilton. Through an environmental scan Ali will lead the development of a staff toolkit that focuses on community profiles that each library branch supports. This project will also help to identify potential gaps and opportunities to support HPL’s decision making regarding the development of new initiatives and partnerships to support newcomers. Ali will also act as a research resource to library staff and will support the ongoing partnership between McMaster and HPL.

John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO): University-Community Collaboration on Research on Incarceration and Reintegration

Alysha McDonald holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and is currently a PhD Student in the Department of Sociology at McMaster. Additionally, Alysha has extensive research and work experience in areas of prisons, punishment, and reintegration, with an emphasis on action-oriented community-based research.  Alysha also completed a short-term Experience Venture placement with JHSO through McMaster last year. As a grad intern, Alysha is supporting the JHSO’s research activities on incarceration and reintegration while also serving as a liaison between criminal justice related research activities happening at McMaster and JHSO. A key outcome of this work will be the development of a proposal to create a centre for research on incarceration and reintegration at McMaster in collaboration with JHSO.


Centre [3] For Artistic and Social Practice (C3): Development of the Centre[4] Arts + Research

Alexe Bernier is a PhD student in the School of Social Work. Alexe’s research focuses on the activism practices of young girls. Using arts-based methodologies, she hopes to learn more about and platform the work that tween girls are doing to lead social and environmental change in their communities and beyond. Prior to her doctoral work, Alexe spent several years working with the Women’s Centre of Calgary where she developed and managed gender-specific leadership and activism programs for girls and young women. A key initiative was the development of a toolkit to support girls’ leadership and activism. The development of the toolkit involved community-based research and employed arts-informed methodologies.  As a grad intern, Alexe is working with a team of researchers and staff from McMaster and C3 to create a new centre for arts and research. The goal of the centre will be to support researchers and artists to engage in equitable, art-centered, research collaborations and practices.  Alexe will explore different models of researcher-artist collaboration in the academic literature and through an environmental scan and will support the development of key policies, processes, guidelines, and resources for the Centre.


To learn more about the CER Graduate Student Internship Program visit the CRP's Opportunities page or email the Community Research Platform Manager, Leora Sas van der Linden, at