Meet the iAscend Team

We would like to extend a special thank you to Angela Huo and Zaida Wong for being our former CMOs, Arthur Chow being our former CFO, and Linda Chen for being our former HR Director

We would also like to especially thank Raechell Teo for designing and illustrating all of our website graphics

Brandon Yu

Founder & CEO

Hello everyone! I'm Brandon – a second year student at the University of Toronto, where I am currently interested in immunology and neuroscience. I love being a part of iAscend as it provides a great place to help students transitioning into university. Having experienced the difficult transition into post-secondary, I have first handedly experienced the need for support, and iAscend brings exactly that! After working on iAscend's projects, studying, and doing research, I enjoy reading a good book, and playing basketball and trumpet.


Victor Ou


Hi everyone! I'm Victor, a second-year business student at Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy. Some of the branches in business that I am interested in are finance and entrepreneurship. My passion for iAscend stems from my drive to make an impact on people's lives. We built this organization to combat the effects of COVID-19 and provide students the resources and support that they need. Building the organization from scratch and working with so many talented individuals to seeing the impact that we have on students across the world are some of my favourite parts of iAscend. Aside from the organization, I love to read a good book (The Outliers is an excellent pick), engage in a good workout, or analyze a good company!

Alessia Priore


Hello everyone! My name is Alessia and I am a third year student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in Neuroscience. I’m not a big fan of change, so my transition to university and adjustment to the new environment were definitely a challenge. This motivated me to join an amazing group of individuals who shared the common goal of addressing these overwhelming feelings of uncertainty. Together, we started an organization that equips students with essential skills and resources needed to transition successfully into post-secondary life. During my free time I love to read, swim, cook, and travel (pre- and post- pandemic, of course!)

Laurie Yang


Hi folks! My name's Laurie and I am currently a Health Sciences student at McMaster University. I love working with iAscend's wonderful team of self-motivated individuals to create resources for post-secondary students. If not doing school-related activities, you can find me working out, going for walks, or cooking!

Jacqueline Cheung


Hi there! I'm Jacqueline, a first year medical sciences student at Western University. My transition from high school to university was far from smooth, as I'm sure many in my year can relate. I am passionate about making your transition to post-secondary much easier with iAscend's support and resources! Now a little more about me - when I'm not studying or doing volunteer work, I am most likely at badminton training, taking a walk around my neighbourhood, or just enjoying a good book!

Theodora Girgis


Hey hey hey, I'm Theodora (my friends call me Theo) and I am an Engineering Science student at the University of Toronto majoring in Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Engineering Business. My academic interests lie heavily in the world of space and astronautics and my career goal is to become an astronaut. Besides that some of my hobbies include music, fitness, and reading. I've also been having a lot of fun putting the iAscend website together and am super proud see how many students we have been able to support since the start of this project.

Bernice So

HR Director

Hello!! My name is Bernice, a second year student studying business at Laurier University. iAscend is an amazing organization that provides students with a variety of resources to help the transition from high school to university. I love my role here and am super excited to help iAscend grow, and provide students with great opportunities. In my spare time, I love to hike, bake, and watch lots of Netflix!

Anson Li

University Insights Director

Hey everyone! My name is Anson Li and I am a second year immunology and neuroscience student at the University of Toronto. iAscend has given me a great opportunity to help new university students seamlessly transition into their new learning environment by providing them with lots of insightful information and support! Aside from school and extracurriculars, I have a deep passion for soccer, Formula 1, and driving and working on cars.

Michelle Yu

Mentorship Director

Hi everyone! My name's Michelle and I'm a second year Med Sci student at Western University. I love being part of iAscend's Mentorship Team because it has allowed me to meet amazing people from other schools that I never would have met were it not for iAscend. Outside of school, I enjoy music (including country lol), eating good food, and watching Netflix (currently I'm watching Formula 1: Drive to Survive!!).

Anushka Sarkar

Partnership Director

Hey!! I'm Anushka - a second year in Medical Sciences at Western University. I love talking to people, meeting new people and mentoring, which is why I'm the Partnership Director! I get to meet with all kinds of organizations and inspiring new people in order to grow iAscend. When I'm off iAscend duty, you'll catch me rewatching AOT for the gazillionth time, curling up with a good YA fantasy novel and baking excessively.

Rachel Shen

Events Director

Hi everyone! I'm Rachel - a first year student studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo. I love being a part of iAscend because I get the chance to provide students with resources and opportunities to help make their transition to university easier. Aside from school and iAscend, I love sports, and enjoy watching hockey and football.

Eugene Wong

Highschool Outreach Director

Hey everyone, it’s Eugene!! I’m a second year Medical Sciences student at the University of Western Ontario. I have enjoyed being with iAscend as it gives me the opportunity to help incoming University students be well prepared for one of the biggest life changes that they will experience. Being able to “pay it forward” at such a large scale, I believe that mantra will inspire everyone to be more generous with their knowledge and help others who may not have access to such connections. Apart from school, I currently play the French Horn at the Western University Wind Ensemble, volunteer as a coach at the local short track speed skating club in London and play the Violin once in a while.

Zulfa Varvani

Social Media Manager

My name is Zulfa Varvani and I'm a second year Biomedical Engineering student at Ryerson University. I'm interested in many things related to biotech, but recently neurotech has caught my attention! I love being a part of student groups that are for students, intended to provide support and resources to those that need them the most. At iAscend, I believe we have the potential to be able to reach out to a wide audience and truly help them achieve their goals and aspirations. As a social media manager, I hope to be able to keep direct contact with those that wish to reach out to us and help them with the resources we at iAscend are able to provide them. In my free time, I love reading, playing soccer, doing lots of research, and programming.

Cassandre Quan

Social Media Manager

Hey everyone! My name is Cassandre Quan and I am a fourth year student at York University studying psychology! I have had such a lovely experience working with iAscend! I truly love my role of supporting high school and first year students mentally as they navigate this new chapter of their life! Other than iAscend, volunteering, and school, I like to spend my free time doing skincare research, brand marketing, social media collaborations, and photography!

Sofia Campitelli

Student Success Team

Hey, I'm Sofia! I'm in my second year at McMaster in the Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour program. I have a passion for helping people and iAscend gives me an opportunity to do so. I found first year a difficult transition but being in a pandemic makes it that much harder. I want grade 12s/first years to know that they're not alone and everyone goes through the same thing. Also, there are so many resources available and people to reach out to to make things a little easier. To destress from the hectic school day I love to play with my dog, get outside, or stretch while clearing my mind.

Sharon Gao

Student Success Team

Hi everyone! I'm Sharon, a first year student at University of Toronto Scarborough studying Management and International Business. I love that iAscend provides me with the opportunity to help incoming first years transition into university. Being a first year myself, it was both exciting and super nerve wracking entering a new environment especially with virtual classes. I hope that through iAscend, many incoming first years will feel welcomed and comfortable. When I'm not working on Student Success materials, I enjoy reading and binge watching kdramas.

Danny Su

Student Success Team

Hi everyone, my name is Danny! I'm a second-year Actuarial & Statistical Sciences student at the University of Toronto. I am really excited to join the iAscend team, to support high school students and transfer students like myself, and to provide resources for them to succeed. I enjoy hiking, playing frisbee, and exploring different cities. A favorite quote that I have always kept in mind is: "There is power in positivity." With a positive mindset, the people surrounding you may feel the warmth of this energy. Any challenge, struggle, or risk then becomes an opportunity for growth.

Aria Panchal

Mentorship Team

Hii! I'm Aria, a first-year student at UofT where I am currently pursuing a double major in Human Biology and Physiology, with a minor in Literature and Critical Theory. As an international who only recently applied to colleges, I know that the application process can be daunting - we're here it make it easier for you! I'm happy to share my experiences with writing college essays and scholarship applications with all of you. I also love to dance, read and listen to music :)

Nisa Rahman

Mentorship Team

Hey everyone! My name is Nisa. I'm currently a second year student at the University of Toronto. I've always liked working in a team setting and iAscend allows the opportunity to not only contribute different perspectives but produce these creative results. Working in a mentorship team really gave me the chance to provide a supportive environment for university first years and upper years to share their knowledge and experience through learning. In my free time, I love researching and writing about various social justice issues, reading books on literature and law combined, taking up photography, playing soccer and going swimming.

Aayushman Sharma

Outreach Specialist

Whats up everyone! I'm Aayushmaan, I also go by Aayush and I'm a first year student at York University in the BBA program. I was introduced to iAscend through their marketing internship which greatly developed my skills and ever since I have always wanted to be on the iAscend team to help others develop their skills the same way iAscend did for me! When I'm not busy with school work I enjoy playing video games, watching combat sports and listening to music.

Jathu Mathisekaran

Outreach Specialist

Hey everyone! I am Jathu- a first year student at Wilfrid Laurier University. I enjoy being involved with iascend, helping students with their transition to university. iascend offers students support and the necessary resources that I personally need with my transition. I enjoy playing basketball, reading, and streetwear.

Deborah Sabinus

Outreach Specialist

My name is Deborah Sabinus, a graduate of the University of Port Harcourt Nigeria. I am a passionate writer who loves to use storytelling as a medium to create changes and help people. I love iAscend as it's mission and objectives resonate deeply with one of my life's ambitions and I am here for all of it. This is to say that I believe iAscend is an amazing project. I love writing, reading, traveling, doing research, learning foreign languages, and volunteering.

Fatima Formuli

Outreach Specialist & University Insights Coordinator

Hey hey hey! My name's Fatima and I am a second year student at the University of Toronto! I-Ascend first caught my eye when they started posting University Insights written by students from all across Canada: what their program is like, campus social life, and general tips about university. This is something I wish I had when I was entering university: so I am super grateful to be a part of the I-Ascend team - where I am helping students who are in the position I was in a few years ago. Outside of I-Ascend, I enjoy going on long walks and reminiscing about the good old days; a time when life wasn't moving as fast.

Amaan Malik

AscendTalks Team Lead

Hey everyone! My name is Amaan. I am a first-year student at the University of Toronto, studying a mix of science and politics. I truly share a deep-rooted passion for the work iAscend has accomplished, as it allowed me to create and share resources with others, providing a modicum of certainty during very uncertain times. I have come to truly appreciate the merit of working with an amazing group of like-minded individuals while creating a meaningful impact on others' educational journeys. I would say "in my free time" but time is money and school does not allow us to be quite free these days. In all seriousness, it's really important to set aside time for the things we enjoy and some of those things for me are playing basketball with my friends, going for late-night runs and learning more about photography.

Ishan Patel

AscendTalks Strategic Advisor

Hello wonderful people! I'm Ishan - a first year student studying Accounting and Finance at Ryerson University. iAscend has provided me the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues with a unified goal of giving back to the community, making the world a better place one good deed at a time. I also love the opportunity to motivate and help others around me grow! In my free time I enjoy reading books related to finance and self-growth, watching Ted Talks, and playing basketball.

Ateeb Khan

AscendTalks Technical Specialist

Hey guys, I’m Ateeb! I am a first year student at the University of Toronto, studying Computer Science and Mathematics. I love working with technology and computers on a daily basis. In my free time, I enjoy playing and watching sports like hockey and basketball. I strive to work with others to make this world a better place, which is exactly why I am apart of the iAscend team. Being a recent graduate who has transitioned to university has motivated me to help others alike in any way possible through iAscend’s platform.

Prapti Bamaniya

AscendTalks Writer

Hi everyone! I'm Prapti, a second year Journalism student at Ryerson University minoring in Law. I love talking to people, learning more about them and writing! I am super excited to be a part of iAscend and provide students with great opportunities! If i'm not writing, im probably on baking or rewatching my favourite shows for the millionth time.

Cindy Yu

iStartup Team

Hi everyone! I'm Emily and I'm currently in grade 12 at Milliken Mills High School. iAscend has given me a number of great opportunities to be involved and has helped me explore my passions. I personally love drawing, painting, photography and anything to do with the arts. And if I'm not doing that, you can find me walking my dog or playing volleyball with my friends :)

Emily Zhang

iStartup Team

Hi everyone! I'm Emily and I'm currently in grade 12 at Milliken Mills High School. iAscend has given me a number of great opportunities to be involved and has helped me explore my passions. I personally love drawing, painting, photography and anything to do with the arts. And if I'm not doing that, you can find me walking my dog or playing volleyball with my friends :)

Ella (Yi Xiu) Wang

iStartup Team

Hi, I'm Ella- a grade 11 student from John Fraser S.S. I joined iAscend because of it's supportive community and the extensive network it provides. I hope to encourage more high school students to take part in extrepenerual and leadership activities through iStartup. Outside of school, I'm interested in sports and instrumental music. A fun fact about me is that I prefer tea to coffee.

Zacharia Chemmanam

iStartup Team

Hey everyone! My name is Zacharia. I am a third year student at York University where I am currently pursuing a special honours in Kinesiology and Health Science. I enjoy being a part of iAscend because it allows me to work with a bunch of great people in developing skills for high schoolers to use in the future. Outside of school and iAscend, I enjoy watching shows/reading manga, watching and playing basketball, playing games, and learning to draw.

Shayamikka Ravichandran

iStartup Team

Hi! My name is Shayamikka and I'm a second year student at the University of Toronto currently specializing in molecular biology and biotechnology. I enjoy working with my team at iAscend to support high school students in their transition to university and entrepreneurship! I personally love photography, cooking, playing games, and taking long walks.

Zara Rahman

iStartup Team

Hello everyone! I'm Zara Rahman an award-winning spoken word artist and founder of Youth Professionals. My nonprofit, @youthprofessionals , is dedicated to supporting marginalized communities with their career goals. This passion is similar to my motive here at iAscend and a passion I have for the future. Moving forward, I aspire to become a human rights attorney and grow my nonprofit.

Bianca Tapangco

Content Developer

Hi!! I'm Bianca- I am a grade 12 vocal student at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. I am excited to support students through developing and promoting iAscends content. Some hobbies of mine include, singing, dancing, and playing instruments.

Valerie Lau

Content Developer

Hi everyone! My name is Valerie Lau and I am a grade 12 student at Cardinal Carter a Academy for the Arts. I am currently enrolled in their dance program as I have a passion for this art form. I also enjoy activities such as baking, watching movies, and making jewellery for my fundraising campaign. I am eager to help contribute to the promotion of iAscend as it is important for students in post-secondary school, and in high school, who are transitioning into university. It would be a rewarding experience to assist and be apart of this community.