MPACS Society: Meet the Team

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
MPACS Society 2023

You have most likely received emails from, or attended events hosted by, the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) Student Society. This is a student-led group that focuses on building community, running events, establishing connections with related organizations in the field, and advocating for MPACS students. 

Current MPACS Society President, Noman Sajjad, first decided to get involved because he wanted to help students around him while increasing the visibility of the MPACS program within the university and beyond. Coming to the program as an international student, he was excited about the program but was unaware of the challenges that were present for many international students. Coming from a different culture, adapting to the new normal and building relationships from scratch while adapting to new learning environments can all be challenging, so part of what Noman was inspired to do was to help create spaces where a supportive community can be built. The goal of the MPACS society is to help build community and support while building connections with other programs for future collaborations.

One part of community building is providing students with a safe place to unwind. Noman explains that a lot of course content can be heavy, so it is important to make sure there are opportunities for the MPACS community to relax and share their feelings. 

One of the goals of the MPACS society is to provide avenues for students to unwind. Just before reading week, we held an MPACS Social Event. There were casual games and conversations helping us to connect. Everyone was very eager to be part of more of these events. 

This focus on building community and creating spaces to just hang out is a key aspect of what the MPACS Society tries to do. 

Another thing that Noman and the MPACS Society team are hoping to do is build connections with the MPACS alumni. To help this, the MPACS Society has several networking events in the pipeline with MPACS alumni and with relevant organizations. Resulting conversations with those already working in the field will help current students discern their next steps.  

Noman has also been building connections by representing MPACS at several conferences and events including a Peace and Justice Student Seminar hosted by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Ottawa in March 2023. Noman hopes to continue building connections at events like these, and eventually to collaborate on events with partner organizations

Outside of these ambitious goals, there are smaller things the MPACS society is also working to achieve. For instance, they hosted a welcoming event for incoming MPACS students in January. There are also study groups that students can join, as well as more exciting upcoming events like drum circles, art events, and networking sessions.  

Noman Sajjad: MPACS Society President


Hello, my name is Noman Sajjad and I am the current MPACS Society President. I am currently in my second term as an MPACS student at the Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo. Prior to this, I have 9+ years of experience working as a Peace Practitioner. My focus as MPACS Society President is on building community and networking with other departments and organizations.

I am the President of MPACS Society as well as being the Residence Life Don of one of the university’s residences.

I love travelling, experiencing different cultures, trying different food and meeting people from all across the world.

Hayley Dick: VP Administration


My name is Hayley (she/her), and I am the VP Administration for the 2023 school year. I decided to get

involved in the MPACS society because I fell there are opportunities for change within the program; specifically, I want to make sure that student’s voices are heard. Overall, our society hopes to provide a better experience for the current and incoming cohorts!

My role as VP Administration is to listen to student’s concerns and try to address them. Additionally, I provide support to other society members, take minutes for members to reflect on, and assist in facilitating meetings.

So far, my favourite thing about being part of the society is participating in our awesome events! (Shout out to Valeria, VP Events, for putting on a great social in February!) I encourage students to continue attending our social events!

Valeria Navarrete: Event Organizer


Hi everyone, my name is Valeria (she/her). I am the Event Organizer in the MPACS Society.

As Event Organizer, I help plan events for MPACS students along with the rest of the team. I wanted to get involved and join MPACS society because I think through the organization we can advocate for the needs of MPACS students. We can also create opportunities to form connections, which is so important to me.

One thing I really appreciate about this year’s team is that we are all so excited to enhance the experience of students. This creates a fun environment where we are responding to the voices of the students who elected us.

Gerth Yarde: VP of Communication


Hello everyone my name is Garth! I bring many years of professional experience to the MPACS Program as a Mediator, Restorative Practitioner, Case Manager and Organizational Consultant.

As VP of Communication for the MPACS Society, I am the first communication point for the Council on internal and external affairs, liaising among MPACS Students, Grebel Faculty and Staff, community partners and outside organizations.  

I am passionate about community peacebuilding and am committed to taking a trauma-informed, culturally responsive approach to restoration and healing, understanding that Love is the well from which a transformative process, practice and resilience flow.

Knowing how demanding peace work can be, I always recommends prioritizing self-care, including yoga, meditation, adequate rest and proper nutrition. I have been known, on occasion; even to take my own self-care advice.

I invite prospective and current MPACS students and alums to contact me about their professional development goals and aspirations as my colleagues and I strive to help foster a supportive, thriving and cohesive MPACS and Grebel community.

Don't be a stranger!

The MPACS Society is a great example of the community that exists within the MPACS program. It is a way to get involved, establish meaningful connections, and take a well-earned break from the formalities of grad school. Keep an eye out for updates on upcoming MPACS Society events!