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Faculty of Arts & Science

Arts & Science News

#UofTGrad17: Congratulations to the 369 students graduating from Trinity College!

Nathan Chan and Sameen Zehra in graduation gowns inside one Trinity College's historic gothic-revival

Nathan Chan and Sameen Zehra in Trinity’s Quad. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

Students strolling to formal dinners in academic gowns, manicured courtyards and grand gothic-revival buildings all spring to mind when thinking about Trinity, the smallest of the seven colleges on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto.

Founded in 1851 by the Reverend John Strachan, the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, the University of Trinity College was originally located in what is now Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Trinity federated with the University of Toronto in 1904 and acquired its present property on Hoskin Avenue in 1913, but the First World War postponed construction and the building was not completed until 1925.

The College System

Every Arts & Science student is a member of one of the seven colleges on the St. George campus.

Steeped in history and tradition yet firmly grounded in the 21st century, Trinity offers an exceptional academic experience and fosters a culture that emphasizes community, responsibility and leadership.

A&S News caught up with Trinity graduates Nathan Chan and Sameen Zehra, both recipients of a 2017 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award.

Nathan Chan

Nathan Chan in a graduation gown outside of Trinity College

Nathan Chan. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

Nathan Chan is graduating today with an honours bachelor of science degree with a specialist in physiology and a major in pharmacology.

It’s perhaps no surprise then that he hopes to become a clinician scientist, a goal that would “involve obtaining both an MD and PhD — over a decade of school!”

“Some would find it daunting, said Chan. “But I’m looking forward to the journey both in school and of practicing both science and medicine.”

In September, he plans to start graduate school for a master’s of science in clinical research — or head off to medical school.

“I’m currently on wait lists for MD programs at Queen’s University and the University of British Columbia,” said Chan. “If the schools choose to accept me later this summer, I would be delighted to go, but it would hardly hinder my aspirations to enter graduate school and eventually complete a PhD as well.”

But for Chan — who has dedicated himself to social justice advocacy for racialized and LGBTQ+ students — university has not been just been about coursework, studying and exams.

He co-founded People of Colour at Trinity College (PoC@Trin), a social support group.

“We wanted to create a safe space for racialized students to discuss and validate each other’s experiences with racism and exclusion,” said Chan. “PoC@Trin facilitates community building and supports the voices of students attempting to create a space for themselves within the wider Trinity College community.”

Chan also served on the executive of Rainbow Trinity — an LGBTQ+ club dedicated to creating more positive spaces and fostering an open and friendly environment.

“My participation in social justice can be summed up as simply ‘doing the right thing.’” said Chan. “I am committed to the recognition of human rights and the promotion of social equity.”

Sameen Zehra

Sameen Zehra in a graduation gown outside of Trinity College

Sameen Zehra. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

Sameen Zehra is graduating today with a major in peace, conflict & justice and a double minor in political science and contemporary Asian studies

The recipient of the 2017 Dean’s Student Leadership Award, Zehra was recognized for her work as a fundraiser and community leader.

The best part about winning the award for Zehra was sharing the moment with her parents.

“After the ceremony, they said to me: ‘can you believe we immigrated to Canada 20 years ago, and now we’re here?’” said Zehra. “They’ve taught me everything I know about hard work, staying humble and helping others whenever you can.”

As president of the University of Toronto Refugee Alliance — a student-led organization committed to raising awareness about refugee issues — Zehra has led fundraising initiatives that have raised $10,000 in support of the Red Cross and the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.

“My interest in refugee issues stemmed from my research on the Syrian conflict in the Munk One program,” said Zehra. “After an entire year of writing about and conducting an interview project on the topic, I was very much invested in the issue of those suffering in this relentless war.”

I realized that it was not enough to be studying the conflict and its effects, and then letting my research collect dust after it had been graded. I wanted to get involved and contribute, even if it was in a minor way.”

Zehra is also involved in the community through her leadership at Sol Music — a student-run volunteer program that provides free, weekly piano and guitar lessons to students in Toronto’s Alexandra Park neighbourhood.

“I know from personal experience how much of a financial burden private music lessons can be,” said Zehra. “Like the children we teach, I also attended schools that couldn’t afford instruments for every student interested in music.

As for her future, Zehra hopes to do graduate work in international affairs, but first would like to gain some work experience.

Her advice for new students: don’t be afraid to take risks.

“There is never one right way to do something or get to where you want to be. Take on things that feel right to you, even if they don’t make sense to others.”

Trinity College

Founded in 1851 by the Reverend John Strachan, the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto.

Notable alumni include: Adrienne Clarkson, the 26th Governor General of Canada; acclaimed filmmaker Atom Egoyan; humanitarian, activist and social entrepreneur Craig Kielburger; Renowned historian Margaret Macmillan; accomplished public servant, businessman and U of T’s 33rd Chancellor, Michael Wilson.

Congratulations to the 369 students who are graduating today!