Ds Scholarship

In a challenging year, U of T students inspire hope for the future

For the second year in a row, University of Toronto students faced unexpected challenges as the world continued to grapple with the vicissitudes of the pandemic.

More than 21,000 students have earned their degrees and many important academic and personal milestones. Still others are playing a role in helping Canada respond to the pandemic and work toward a brighter future.

Among his many accomplishments: climbing the Olympic heights in Japan, volunteering at vaccination clinics, advocating for reconciliation with indigenous peoples and taking steps to tackle climate change.

UT News We took a look at several students who left us feeling inspired this year.

The students who competed on the highest stage of athletics in the world

Kylie Maas and Lucia Stafford

Kylie Mass, who graduated from the College of Kinesiology and Physical Education this year, climbed to the Olympic podium three times this summer, taking silver in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke, and bronze in the 4 x 100-meter team relay.

Lucia Stafford, who also reached the academic finish line this year by graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, joined her sister and fellow T graduate U. Gabriella Debus Stafford At the Olympics in the 1500-meter sprint. On her Olympic debut, Lucia set her personal best of 4:02.12, a fraction of the time needed to join her sister in the final (Gabriella finished fifth with a time of 3:58.93.)

The Stafford Sisters were among more than a dozen students, staff and alumni of U of T who represented Canada at the Summer Games.

The student whose lifelong passion for learning led to her return to T University after four decades

Gloria Williams (photo
Courtesy of Williams)

Gloria Williams It is living proof that it is never too late to pursue one’s ambitions.

After a 40-year hiatus from the University of Texas and her work as a nurse, she returned to university to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in Caribbean studies and political science.

“This was not the path most people would take,” said Williams, a member of Woodsworth College. “But I crossed the moon to graduate.”

Oxford resident medical student looking for improvements in long-term care

Nicole Muffav McCarthy
(Image via McCarthy).

Nicole Muffav McCarthy, in her second year of medical school, was selected as one of the 11 Canadian Rhodes Scholars this year.

At U of T, I worked on a qualitative assessment of moral damage–the cognitive and emotional response after events that go against a person’s moral code–in long-term care workers. One aspect of the project is to look at how people working in long-term care have been exposed to the pandemic, and what could have been done to better support them.

At Oxford University, she plans to pursue her interest in the intersection between health and politics.

Youngest U of T graduate in decades

Vivian Sheh (photo
Courtesy of Xie)

at the age of 16 Vivian (Qiao) Xie He is the youngest graduate of the University of Texas College of Arts and Sciences, U of T Scarborough or U of T Mississauga since at least 1979.

She is already attending a master’s degree in applied immunology and hopes to finish her PhD by the time she is 22 years old. Shi credits her grandmother – a retired teacher – for inspiring a love of learning and curiosity when she was a little girl in Shanghai.

Her future goals include working in academia or in the biotechnology industry.

The student who stole the show at the Raptors season opener

Hana Flores (photo
Courtesy of Flores)

As a lifelong Toronto Raptors fan, is there anything more exciting than choosing your poem for the team’s season-opening ceremony?

It was a dream come true Hannah Flores. The spoken poet, life sciences and new college student in the College of Arts and Sciences starred in a video created for the Raptors party before the game, welcoming fans back to Scotiabank Arena for the first time in 600 days.

Flores said her poem, “We’re Back,” is about how members of the birds of prey have united across the country.

Students who played a key role in the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario

Carrie Grevor, Hazra Choudary, Katrina Pesina (Photo submitted by students)

University of Texas College of Pharmacy students Leslie Dunn played an important role in this year’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, taking on preparation and injecting roles in hospitals and pop-up clinics.

Beyond giving vaccinations, students Carrie GrevorAnd Hazra Choudary And Catarina PesinaProvide support by answering patients’ questions, providing evidence-based advice and congratulating people on receiving a dose.

Over the past year, U of T students along with faculty and staff have helped run temporary vaccination clinics in the COVID-19 hot spots in Toronto.

The black student-run hackathon that has gone global

Alana Bailey (photo
Courtesy of Bailey)

From its humble beginnings within the greater Toronto area to joining participants from across North America, the Caribbean, and Asia, this year’s student-run black hackathon has hit the ground running.

In February, the U of T chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) hosted a global and virtual hackathon that drew up to 300 high school and college students. Participants had 24 hours to program, design, build, communicate and learn from mentors at the event.

It was founded three years ago by computer science alumni at U of T Kira Stephen And Temisan IwereAs well as graduates of the College of Applied Sciences and Engineering Ayan Gedleh, the annual event aims to equalize black students and other students experiencing racism in STEM subjects.

Alana BaileyThe events facilitated by blacks are important because of the limited opportunities available to black students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said a student at the University of Texas College of Applied Sciences and Engineering who is the president of the NSBE and one of the main organizers of the hackathon.

Engineering Team Winning $250,000 in Elon Musk Competition

Shiji Liu, yi
(Sheldon) Xu and Celine Xiao (Photo by Yong Chao)

The University of Texas engineering team was among the winners of this year’s Elon Musk Student Decarbonization Competition.

Celine Xiao And Shiji Liu They are members of the Electronic Research Team, which has secured $250,000 in seed funding to develop a strategy to capture and store carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.

The team is now preparing for the next phase of competition that could see securing up to 15 teams worth $1 million each. They will also have a chance to win the grand prize of $50 million.

The Aboriginal student who spoke on behalf of the Canadian “Reconciliation Generation”

Riley Yesnu (Photo courtesy of

Riley Yesnu He graduated with a long list of accomplishments that went beyond the semester.

As a student at the University of Texas, she gave a speech in the House of Commons on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, participated in 100 sessions, workshops, and conferences, and began writing a book called generation of reconciliation.

She became the first Aboriginal member of her family to graduate from university in the spring, earning a bachelor’s degree in Aboriginal Studies and Political Science.

Yesno continues her political activity and there are no signs of slowing down. She is now a PhD student in the Department of Political Science.

The students behind this year’s Black Grass party

Cindy Ngoki Kamau and
Deborah Orissago (Photo:
Folasade Debora Oresajo)

In the spring, packages that included kente fabric emblazoned with the words “Black Grad” and “Class of 2021” were sent to students in Toronto and beyond.

The handover was part of celebrations related to this year’s Black Grad gala, which took place online in June and celebrated the achievements of more than 60 alumni in subjects ranging from human biology to law.

“The 2021 black graduating class has overcome racial adversity in the classroom and more broadly on campus,” he said. Cindy Ngoki Kamau, the lead organizer of the event and then the president of the Black Student Association at the ceremony.

“What is most surprising is that despite these barriers, this group of graduates has also been able to reach an important milestone while surmounting the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, a challenge that cannot be underestimated.”

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