Zakiya Abdulaziz

Malena Mokhovikova: Empowering Communities and Advocating for Change 

Malena Mokhovikova, a dedicated student at the University of Toronto, embodies the spirit of determination and empathy. Her remarkable journey began when she fled Russia as a refugee in 2012, seeking a better life and opportunities. Since then, she has harnessed her experiences to fuel her passion for social justice, race and gender equality, mental health accessibility, and advocating for forcibly displaced communities. 

A Journey of Resilience and Empathy 

Arriving in Canada, Malena experienced the power of community support and kindness, igniting a desire to create a more inclusive world. Recognizing the challenges faced by refugees and displaced individuals, she became deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of those who endure similar struggles. 

Nurturing Leaders Through Service 

One of the many ways Malena contributes to her community is through her involvement with the “Girls Who Leap” (GWL) program. This initiative focuses on empowering inner-city girls to pursue their passions, transcending their circumstances. Malena serves as a mentor, offering guidance, life skills, and fostering meaningful connections. With COVID-19 restrictions easing, she is eager to increase her involvement in running and organizing GWL events, dedicating an average of 3-4 hours per week, not including occasional day trips or full-day events. 

Bridging Gaps and Amplifying Voices 

In her role as a Prime Minister’s Youth Council (PMYC) member, Malena actively engages with government officials and advocates for the needs of the youth in her community and across Canada. Collaborating with fellow council members, she provides valuable input to the Prime Minister and senior government officials, addressing a range of critical issues. Using various mediums such as videos, social media posts, formal presentations, and written letters, she ensures the voices of the youth are heard and represented. 

Advocating for Change and Amplifying Voices 

Malena extends her advocacy beyond formal platforms, reaching out to government officials to discuss pertinent issues affecting her community and others in Canada. By connecting with fellow PMYC members and engaging in community outreach, she strives to understand and amplify the voices of groups that often go unheard. 

Managing Social Media for a Cause 

As a dedicated member of Refuge Aid, a club at her university supporting refugees and asylum seeker organizations, Malena manages the club’s social media presence. Through research and engaging posts, she raises awareness and supports the mission of the club, contributing to positive change within the community. 

A Vision for the Future 

Malena Mokhovikova exemplifies the power of resilience, empathy, and determination. Her journey from being a refugee to a passionate advocate showcases the transformative potential that compassion and community support can bring. With her dedication to fostering equality, amplifying voices, and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, Malena is shaping a brighter and more inclusive future for all.