Born and raised in Calgary, Angela Ma, has always felt a kinship to her community, a relationship she believed fostered, and parlayed naturally into an interest in development studies. Ma recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies in the Honours Program with a minor in Political Science.
“I think I’ve always had an interest in community development,” Ma explained. “I got to be really involved with the community, volunteer and as a child to immigrant parents we’re really close to our communities in Canada.”
On January 19, the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation announced Ma as “Top 30 Under 30” award winner, which spawned from her volunteer work and research within the International Development sector.
While completing her degree, Ma started working as a Communications and Data specialist with Alinea International. She had the opportunity to support the Trade Commissioner Service of Canada in the implementation of an Education Export Guide as well as Alinea’s contribution to the 2020 International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants.
Project Director Shantel Jordison worked with Ma on both projects. “Something Angela is very passionate about is using data and tech to empower vulnerable people,” Jordison explained.
“In the historically male-dominated world of STEM, I can see that Angela will continue to be a disruptor of gender norms, advancing gender equality in the process. I’m so proud to see Angela being named one of this year’s Top 30 Under 30, as she is eminently deserving of this impressive accolade.”
Alinea President and CEO, Robert Francis, echoed Jordison in congratulating Ma on the achievement
“I congratulate Angela on her achievements and her well-deserved award, “said Francis. “Everyone at Alinea is passionate about supporting positive impact in the world and I am very proud of all that they achieve.”
Ma said since not only being nominated, but being selected as an award winner, she has felt overwhelmed by emotions and excited about the future.
“It feels great to know that my work is making a positive impact locally and globally,” Ma said. “Being recognized for that, it’s very validating and also to empower others that are my age and even younger to take action that’s exactly what we need to continue in order to combat these complex global challenges.”
Prior to starting her work at Alinea International, Ma travelled to Ghana as part of a group study with the University of Calgary.
The experience in Ghana was enlightening and solidified for Ma, that this was just the beginning of her trajectory in the sector. Ma had the opportunity to conduct in-field research pertaining to Ghana’s healthcare system and Northern Ghanian women’s utilization of healthcare services.
“I was also fortunate enough to be able to consult with regional development agencies, non-profit organizations, parliament members on development policies and capacity building initiatives. “
Ma also credits work volunteering in her own local community in Calgary to helping open opportunities while also inspiring her current and future work. More recently, she worked as an intern with the University of Calgary’s Student Success Centre and Student Accessibility services which support students with disabilities and advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in higher education.
“Alinea is all about building partnerships with diverse individuals and government communities to create positive impact. When I’m able to work with individuals who have really different backgrounds, perspectives and skills and am able to learn from them and see growth in myself, that really motivates me.
As for her future, Ma said in addition to continuing to contribute as a team member with Alinea, she doesn’t quite feel like her work in Ghana is complete. Ma said she aspires to visit the country again continue research, this time, not as a student, but rather as a professional and an academic.