Winter 2021 Mentors

Thank you to Chaza Abdel Samad, Oscar Aldana, Chloebe Bugash, Priyanka Chanda, Olga Filimonova, Ceri Higgs, Jordan Jackson, Grace Laemmler, Austin Mateka, Thiveya Muthu, Andres Ramirez, Joschka Sawatzky, and Dalia Shankman!


If you have any questions about the program or you would like to be a mentor, email .




"As your mentor, I want to hear your story, your goals and the challenges you are facing in the design world. I will help you navigate through these challenges and find the right next step in your career path."

Chaza Abdel Samad Prov RGD, Innovation Designer at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in Ottawa

Chaza is an OCAD U alumna with a passion for design and the endless possibilities the application of its principles has across different sectors. Accessibility, inclusiveness and diversity are the main drivers of her work. Chaza loves designing experiences and telling stories using various mediums and platforms. She joined the ESDC family as the first designer to be hired within her policy development branch. 


"As your mentor, I can share my experiences and insights into working in a design studio environment producing digital work. I can also help tailor your portfolio website to help it reflect your skills and personality."

Oscar Aldana Prov RGD, Interactive Designer at Hambly & Woolley in Toronto

I am a Venezuelan designer based in Toronto. I graduated from Humber College in 2019. I specialize in web and interface design and have collaborated on multiple projects for clients like Aecon, York University, RTO/ERO, Kipling Group, Marant, Glendon College and Trinity College.


"Transitioning from school to work can be difficult, and with the added complication of COVID, I understand students face even greater challenges. As your mentor, I can help you by providing tips on your transition from school to work, provide feedback on your portfolio and insights into the world of in-house design."

Chloebe Bugash Prov RGD, Designer at Resolver in Toronto

Chloebe studied advertising at OCAD University and has worked for non-profits, FUJIFILM and is currently working in-house for a tech company. Chloebe is creative but, most of all, she is a collaborator, a thinker and a doer. She has a knack for visual design, branding, photography and motion graphics. 


"As you mentor, I can develop as a digital designer and help you understand the latest trends through my 8 years of experience working with more than 200 brands, wins and losses and achievements."

Priyanka Chanda Prov RGD, Senior Graphic Designer at Love Good Fats in Toronto

Priyanka started working with multiple agencies and freelancing with a focus on brand identity, illustration and Art prints. She has lived and worked in different cities in her career, each shaping her experiences as a creative person. Her style is best described as design that touches both the rational and organic field. 


"As your mentor, I'll answer all of your questions about the design process, design thinking and your design career. Together we'll identify your strengths and help understand the best path. I can share what it's like to be an in-house designer and how to carry responsibility for a brand. I'll support you in moments of self-doubt and give you my feedback on your work."

Olga Filimonova Prov RGD, Senior Graphic Designer at Women in Capital Markets (WCM), currently on maternity leave

Olga is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer with experience in print and web, and additional skills in front-end development. Highly detail-oriented and results-focused, she has a passion for elegancy and simplicity in her work. She worked at the non-profit organization WCM as their in-house designer rebuilding the visual representation of their brand. Also, she has also had the opportunity to work at Penguin Random House Canada and MediaYug Russia. 


"As your mentor, I will help you hone skills and build tools to become a successful designer, no matter what role you take on. I will share my experience working as a designer in both agency and in-house settings, and share insights and advice about collaborating effectively with non-design team members, working with clients and educating about the value of design. Let's chat!"

Ceri Higgs Prov RGD, Multidisciplinary Designer at Search Engine Unity in Kitchener

Ceri currently balances the two roles of in-house and client design work at Search Engine Unity. She has a background in psychology and research, and brings a unique analytical perspective to her work. She loves the challenges and ever-changing environment of design. Her favourite part of being a designer is coming across those "A-ha!" moments. 


“In open water, everyone’s path is unique. As your mentor, I’ll help you navigate the vast open waters of the design industry. Whether it's by providing project feedback, offering networking advice or inspiring you to create your best work, I’m here to help you find your true path.”

Jordan Jackson Prov RGD, Graphic Designer in Toronto

Jordan graduated from the Graphic Design program at Humber College. Shortly after, he made the long journey from Etobicoke to downtown Toronto where he worked for MOSS Design, Field Trip and Co, and most recently, Puncture. He has a love for type, grids and the international style, which is evident in his work and lessons as a part-time typography instructor at Humber.


“As your mentor, I will share my experiences on the inner workings of running a freelance design business as well as my experience working full-time at a high-level agency. I look forward to helping you meet your design career goals – whether it’s through careful design critique, business and networking advice, insights into running a freelance business, tips on working with all types of clients and/or sharing the importance of accessibility.”

Grace Laemmler Prov RGD, Designer at Gravity Inc. in Toronto

Grace is a multi-talented designer with a degree from NSCAD University in Halifax. Multi is the key descriptor here – print, web, multimedia, fine art, photography and jewellery design are among her many skills. This diverse background has allowed her to work with a wide range of clients including Sheridan College, Canada Type, Nimbus Publishing, various art galleries across Canada as well as individual artists.


"Design is so much more than just words, pictures, shapes and colour. It can be an idea, an experience, a story, a feeling and/or an opinion. Let's talk about your work but also where that work can take you as a person and with others."

Austin Mateka Prov RGD, Designer in Toronto

Austin is a multidisciplinary designer who takes complex ideas and presents them in an engaging way. He specializes in and is a dedicated advocate for the mental health industry, helping organizations connect with their communities and supporters through design. Austin has experience working in a variety of industries, including advertising, transportation, construction and entertainment. 


"As your mentor, I can introduce you to the possibilities of UX design and empower you with design thinking tools to create a user centric design approach in any professional set up. Inclusive design, design process and usability testing are some of the topics I’m passionate about."

Thiveya Muthu Prov RGD, Senior UX Designer at Telus in Toronto

At Telus, Thiveya oversees the user experience for billing and payments application, focusing on aligning product strategy with user needs to meet business outcomes. She is passionate about uncovering insights, defining problem statements and creating a framework for design execution. She cares deeply about inclusive design. Previously she worked on various public sector digital transformation projects including with the TTC, GO Transit, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Public Health Ontario.


"As your mentor, I will share my career milestones from creating my first portfolio, failing as a freelancer and accepting my first job as a Graphic Designer. I will share as much insight as possible to help prepare you for your career after graduation."
Andres Ramirez Prov RGD
, In-House Graphic Designer at InnoSoft Canada Inc. in London

At InnoSoft, Andres creates a vast amount of designs ranging from e-mail campaigns, coding landing pages to animating user interfaces and illustrations. He is actively adding skills to his design toolbelt by attending online courses and reading books. His creative career started several years ago where he taught himself the principles and software of videography and photography. Learning how to tell stories and listening to client feedback or pivoting to get the project done became his mission. While he gained much traction in his creative career he decided to become professionally trained and took the Graphic Design program at Fanshawe College. He has honed many skills and will continue to gain new skills to become an elite creative professional.


As your mentor, I can share my experience transitioning from being a full-time freelancer to the leader of an in-house creative team in the restaurant/hospitality industry. Creating holistic design systems for story-driven brands, juggling multiple projects in various disciplines and developing a goal-oriented frame of mind are all things I can help you to understand and work towards.
Joschka Sawatzky Prov RGD, Marketing Director at Ignite Group of Brands
Joschka is an award-winning designer and art director specializing in brand identity, packaging and apparel design. Having spent the last decade working as a full-time freelancer, in 2019, he accepted a new role, focusing on the hospitality industry and leading an in-house creative team. In addition to his in-house role and ongoing freelance work, Joschka also designs and runs a clothing label called Lifeline Supply.


"As your mentor, I can offer expert guidance in product, branding and packaging design as well as marketing. I will give you the lowdown on what it means to be a designer, and share all of my tips and tricks that have helped shape me to become the designer and business owner I am today."

Dalia Shankman Prov RGD, Director of Brands and Creative at Avante Logixx Inc. in Toronto
Dalia specializes in branding, packaging and product design. She holds a degree in Fine Arts and one in Industrial Design from OCADU. Over the last 8 years, Dalia has led in-house creative and marketing teams across various industries including consumer packaged goods, electronic security and the non-profit TEDxToronto. She's helped many brands and small businesses gain traction in the market by showing the power and value of good design.