From left, graduating students Hamza Dawood, Tanya King-Maracle, Anneleen Naudts, Sarah Rowe and Angel Carrillo.
More than 25,000 students will graduate from the GTA’s five universities in the next few weeks. Following are profiles of graduating students from each of those universities. What makes this group so dynamic is not just its high marks, scholarships and awards, but the impact it has had on its schools and communities.
During her four years at the University Of Toronto, Anneleen Naudts, 22, made great strides in reducing the environmental footprint of fellow students.
As president of the environmental society at Victoria College, she started a composting project that expanded throughout the college’s residence. And she challenged fellow students to reduce their ecological impact by using a mug for coffee and turning off the tap while brushing their teeth.
“It’s been the way I’ve always been raised, so I’ve just always taken it to heart,” says Naudts, who’s graduating with an honours BA in political science.
She also launched a fair trade cafe in the college.
Angel Carrillo, 31, is poised to graduate with a BFA in integrated media from the Ontario College Of Art & Design. He plans to go to teachers’ college and teach high school art.
“I want to teach what I know,” says Carrillo, who now goes by the name “Cruz1” on his work, which can be seen in downtown alleys, buildings in Kensington Market and Bell utility boxes. While he identifies as a graffiti artist and aerosol is his paint of choice, Carrillo’s work is legal — on brick walls where signs say “artists welcome” or shops where owners commission him to liven up their space.
In fact, the lifelong resident of Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood has spoken to many young people, including students at his high school, Bishop Morocco Secondary, about how important it is for graffiti to move beyond “tagging,” or painting initials. Carrillo is a member of the not-for-profit group Style In Progress, which was given a Clean And Beautiful City Award in October 2005 for its work promoting urban art, music, dance, and fashion.
On a trip to Sri Lanka, his parents’ homeland, prior to Grade 12, Hamza Dawood watched how hard his cousin worked at high school despite a 90-minute bus trip each way. It was foreign to a young man from Scarborough who skipped classes and showed no interest in university. “That really woke me up,” says Dawood, 22, who is graduating with an honours BA in criminology from York University. “It made me recognize how important it was to take advantage of living in the society I live in.”
While at York, he was the top student in first-year social sciences; last year won an award for a perfect grade point average with six A-pluses; and this year got the Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship for his grades and extracurricular work. In September, Dawood plans to start at York’s Osgoode Hall, where he’s been awarded a scholarship worth $30,000.
During his undergraduate studies, Dawood was active in student government; he volunteered at his mosque; and went regularly to speak to Grade 7 and 8 students in the Jane-Finch area, on York’s doorstep, about making good choices on school, gangs and drugs.
Sarah Rowe, 22, a member of the first graduating class at University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology in Oshawa, has made a splash at school and in the community. Working toward a BSc. in biological science, she was involved in a host of extra-curricular activities from mentoring and tutoring, orienting new students and serving as class president. She did all of this while coaching a competitive synchronized swim team in Durham Region.
“I like to be busy,” says Rowe, who in September will attend teachers’ college at UOIT on her way to becoming a high school science teacher.
Rowe was a senior ambassador in a program that helped recruit students to the campus and then helped them get settled. She was also politically active at UOIT, serving as class president in biological sciences in third and fourth year. She was also part of a committee supporting the expansion of an athletic facility on campus, which opens next month with new basketball courts, a track and a medical and wellness centre.
Rowe was also part of SHARE(Students For Humanitarianism And Action Through Respect And Education), which raised nearly $10,000 for the Red Cross for tsunami relief.
Nurturing has been central to Tanya King-Maracle’s university career. A member of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in the Belleville area, she has focused on helping fellow aboriginal students.
King-Maracle, 36, who is graduating with a B.A. in public administration and governance from Ryerson University, completed her degree part-time over six years through the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI), which offers the program with Ryerson to aboriginals already working as administrators in native communities. A half-dozen times each year, students travelled to different parts of Ontario for intensive four-day sessions.
After that, they return home to complete their course assignments. King-Maracle made sure that while each toiled independently, they never felt alone.
She makes regular trips around the province to see many of the 60 students in the program and is always available by cell phone to work through a problem. ”We exhaust every avenue so that no one can say we gave up on them because they were too far away,” says King-Maracle. She also got marks that earned her a nomination for the Gold Medal Award for the top grade point average among arts graduates. “She’s a mentor like no other,” says Carla Cassidy, Ryerson’s dean of arts.