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President of the MSSS, Salsa Sarhan

Salsa Sarhan receives the 2022 Rudy Heinzl Award

You may know her as the president of the MSSS, but Salsa is also extremely dedicated to community service. Recently, she received the prestigious Rudy Heinzl Award from the MSU. In this Q&A, she talks about the win and what motivates her to leave a lasting impact at McMaster and the Hamilton community.

Apr 11, 2022

How did it feel to win the 2022 Rudy Heinzl Award of Excellence?

It was a cascading feeling of distinction, gratuity, and exhilaration! 

I was honored to be in a room filled with extraordinary individuals in the McMaster community and was beyond grateful to be a worthy recipient of such a high honor as the Rudy Heinzl Award, who was a leader within McMaster Student Affairs and ensured everyone felt welcomed and accommodated on campus. I am determined to leave a legacy of the same significance for our McMaster family and the Hamilton community I live to serve and represent every day.


What’s behind your passion for community service?

It stems from the prominent leaders I met in my high school in downtown Hamilton (#iamsjam). I always tell students and colleagues if you meet a passionate leader, they will influence a new wave of determined leaders to follow. I would say this kept me true to the ideals and standards I had for myself as a leader and this kept me on the path of continuous involvement within Hamilton and McMaster. Plus, I am not one to shy away from a conversation, so I could immerse myself and meet a variety of beautiful human beings. Introducing myself to new perspectives and ideas I may have never encountered before!


What are some of the community service projects you’ve been involved in?

Most recently, revamping the MSSS (McMaster Social Sciences Society) by introducing a diversity officer position to ensure every student feels welcome and accommodated. Also, implementing bylaws within our operating policy to diminish bias during the hiring process and encourage cross-faculty events and communication. 

In the third year of my undergraduate degree, I worked closely with BSA (Black Students Association) as their Vice President of Outreach facilitating conversation between us and other groups in Hamilton and the McMaster Community. Then, I became the media and marketing vice president for the Hamilton chapter of Bridging Borders, facilitating a clothing drive and backpack drive for students and vulnerable individuals in the Hamilton community.

Within my second year, I was a campus ambassador for the John C. Holland Awards Committee - ensuring students were aware of the awards and received help to fulfill applications. At McMaster, I was the youngest caucus member of the MSU Student Representative Assembly (SRA) which allowed me to be a member of the Municipal Affairs Committee. This granted us the opportunity to delegate and lobby with local councilors and MPs on student issues, including low-lighted areas within the student house communities.

This is a summary, but I am always willing to assist my community in any way I can because it truly comes as second nature to me. It does not feel like work if you immerse yourself in beautiful communities and are learning from each other. I am always grateful to be welcomed in these spaces and to provide my effort and time, hence why I love continuing the cycle.


What’s next for Salsa?

Inshallah (if Allah wills it), I plan to continue staying involved with the McMaster community and represent the Social Sciences faculty in a positive light wherever I go in my community and academic work. Stay tuned for the 2023 MSU Presidential Elections! Other than academia, I plan to continue working with Hamilton groups and organizations to ensure other students have the resources and support to get involved, while also feeling welcomed within these spaces.

And of course, for those who do not know, I have a knack for getting everyone their favorite LinkedIn headshot. I also want to continue my passion for photography through my @hamontsalsa Instagram account where I capture the City I adore from my 5'10 perspective.