Profile of Lauren Mage and Shakila Ardestani

Meet Lauren and Shakila, your new nursing student leaders

24 June 2024

Newly elected Nursing Undergraduate Society president Lauren Mage and Graduate Nurses Student Society (GNSS) president Shakila Ardestani are mutually driven by a commitment to bringing about positive changes that improve the student experience at Bloomberg Nursing.

Mage, who will enter her second year in the BScN program, and Ardestani, who will enter her second year of the Master of Nursing-Nurse Practitioner program, have also developed a flourishing friendship.  They met while Ardestani was a Teaching Assistant for a course that Mage was taking, and soon they became fast friends.

Now the pair are set to hit the ground running as they prepare to welcome a new cohort of nursing students this Fall and much of their perspective on running their respective student societies is centered on fostering relationship building between peers and nurses in the profession. We spoke with Mage and Ardestani about their motivation for stepping into their respective leadership roles, what they hope to accomplish, and what the say students are looking for as part of their Bloomberg Nursing journey.

Why did you choose to get involved in student leadership?

Lauren: In my first undergraduate degree I was heavily involved in student support programs and worked as a mentor, peer learning assistant, student ambassador, and floor rep for the resident’s society at Queens University. Each of these experiences showed me that I could make important and inclusive changes as a student leader.

Shakila: Why not do it? Both NUS and GNSS allow students to make the most of their U of T experience, and we have a lot offer. There is no better way to facilitate better relationships and connections with your peers, and advocate for students within the faculty.

What do you think are some of the biggest needs of the nursing student community?

Lauren: I think it is important in such as fast-paced program such as the BScN, to establish friendships and connections with people who understand your experience. I’ve made so many good friends through my involvement with NUS. As nurses, we see difficult things and having friends to lean on who understand what that is like, is very important.

Students have expressed a desire to be more involved in extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom. Many of our students are commuters and are not living on campus, so finding ways to build relationships with one another, network, and create new friendships within the program is definitely a priority.

Shakila: For graduate students they are eager to see the diversity available in the nursing profession by not only connecting with each other, but also with nurses who are working in a variety of different roles showing them how many options are available after your finish your degree. This past year we ran a network panel, where students could connect one-on-one with nurses who shared where this education has taken them, and how their role integrated their passions and interests and it was very well-received.

What are some things you hope to achieve this year in support of students?

Shakila: We are hoping to engage students in more networking opportunities. We are currently running a Career Fair in collaboration with NUS and Bloomberg Nursing this summer which is a great time especially for students who are just finishing their various degrees. It is a good opportunity to help facilitate bonds between peers, and foster professional relationships, and to do so continuously so that students don’t feel isolated.

Lauren: NUS is looking forward to offering an exciting and memorable orientation for the first year nursing class, introducing them to the many different areas they can be a part of in our student society, and sharing with them resources to get involved with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) and wellness including the wonderful supports available.

One of our most exciting projects, is our hope to run a successful “Nursing Games” hosted in Toronto, with participants from nursing programs all across Ontario coming to compete. It would be an amazing opportunity to meet other nursing students.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing?

Lauren: I’ve always been interested and involved in health care. In high school I volunteered with the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO)  as well as SickKids. In the fourth year of my health sciences degree, I completed a thesis on hemophilia and pathology medicine, and during the pandemic I helped conduct COVID19 testing at a local pharmacy. Through all of these experiences, I learned that I loved the opportunity to interact with patients, and advocate for them as they navigate the complexities of the health care system.

Nursing is a unique experience where you can touch people’s lives everyday. My first few clinical placements have really validated that this is where I belong.


I came to Canada as a refugee, so I know the pivotal role that health care plays in people’s lives, especially those seeking primary care as refugees or migrants. It is why I’ve chosen to pursue a Master’s degree focusing on primary healthcare and refugee health. During my first undergraduate degree I was exposed to an interdisciplinary education within the health sciences. I felt that nursing was the best combination of both the sciences and a unique opportunity to connect with people.

As a student in the accelerated BScN program at Bloomberg Nursing, I had a wonderful experience and was really motivated by the faculty at U of T who have helped me excel upon entering the nursing workforce during the pandemic and see the immense value in advocating for patients.