UMSU presidential candidates

Divya Sharma, Joy Okafor

(Left to right): Joy Okafor, Divya Sharma

Divya Sharma 

Sharma is currently a second-year student studying global political economy. She identifies as a sister, mentor, student and immigrant. Sharma also describes herself as full of energy and said she wants to make sure the work she completes is the best it can be. 

Sharma has worked with the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, CBC Manitoba’s community advisory board and the Manitoba chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. 

Sharma said the reason she was selected to serve as a youth delegate for the United Nations 68th commission on the status of women was because of her dedication to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). She believes her work as a page for the Manitoba government and EDI officer for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce will be “an asset” while she completes initiatives and goals if elected. 

As current vice president community engagement, Sharma has loved every aspect of her job, including speaking with students, negotiating contracts, working on issues such as healthy sexuality and having a more managerial role. 

Sharma believes UMSU has a lot of potential for this upcoming year. 

“Students want a bigger emphasis on advocacy,” Sharma said. If elected, she said she feels that it is “more possible than ever” to address issues such as international student health care. 

She also hopes that she can aid all UMSU members in knowing and understanding what UMSU is and how the union can support them.  

The number one issue Sharma wants to focus on if elected is “food scarcity on campus.” She said food drives and free meals are important to ensure UMSU is “feeding that hunger.” Sharma also promises a year-long mental health campaign to address students’ needs. 

When it comes to transit, Sharma said UMSU provides Winnipeg Transit with “so much money” because of the U-Pass program available to students. “As major stakeholders,” Sharma said she believes that the union has a right to express the lack of needed services and find a collaborative solution between Winnipeg Transit and UMSU. Lastly, she wants to continue collaboration and support for communities on campus, as well as ensuring the UMSU ventures program continues successfully. 

Sharma hopes that, if elected, students feel represented and supported throughout the next year through advertising and holding events that “give students the opportunities to connect with peers.”  

Joy Okafor

Okafor is an international student from Nigeria in her fourth year of studying management information systems and accounting. She enjoys spending time with loved ones and playing basketball. 

She is running for president because she wants to create a “fun and exciting” space on campus where students are able to express themselves and have any resource they need “at the tips of their fingers.” 

Okafor said she plans on serving students with “an open-door policy.” 

“I want students to really […] understand the fact that we are representing them,” she said. “I genuinely want to encourage everyone to know that their voices are heard, and their ideas are amazing.”

Okafor began university during COVID-19 lockdowns, and said she was unaware of student groups on campus. Once in-person instruction resumed, Okafor said that she was able to get involved in leadership opportunities with Asper’s first year committee, UM’s Pre-Law Society, the Business Analytics Association and Black Students’ Community. She said that these positions have allowed her “to work with students and work for students.” 

Okafor’s platform emphasizes three main elements: advocate, elevate and unite. Okafor wants to advocate for international student health care, lower tuition prices and new scholarship opportunities for students. 

“We are that diverse [and] scholarship opportunities should be able to work for all types of students,” she said. 

Okafor also wants to hold concerts and promote Greek life on campus.  

She believes that these initiatives will “give students outlets to express themselves,” and “make sure that those just kind of fun activities on campus and are in U of M.”

Okafor said that, if elected, her primary focus as union spokesperson will be to ensure that “students feel represented and supported.” She said that she will achieve this by prioritizing “equity, diversity and inclusivity” in UMSU advocacy and events.