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2019 UTAA Awards of Excellence: Meet Arts & Science’s student winners

The UTAA Awards of Excellence are presented annually to the University of Toronto’s most outstanding faculty, staff and student leaders. These prestigious awards honour people at the apex of U of T’s culture of excellence. Their incredible achievements and inspiring examples have made the University—and often the world—a better place for its students, faculty and alumni.

Meet the 2019 Arts & Science student winners:

Jillian Sprenger: John H. Moss Scholarship.

Jillian Sprenger: John H. Moss Scholarship

Hundreds of people around the world know who Jillian Sprenger is. That’s because the fourth-year Trinity College student has already conducted field interviews with them. Her undergraduate research on global health issues has taken her from countries from Pakistan to Taiwan, from Ethiopia to Ecuador. Her documentary film, Road to Colombo, brings the issue of climate refugees to vivid, wrenching life.

Sprenger is also a U of T National Scholar, a high-school mentor and a cross-country runner. The John H. Moss Scholarship will support her future research in graduate school, where she plans to study environmental disaster prevention and response.

The UTAA recognizes the four finalists for the Moss Award as UTAA Scholars.

Stefan Divic: UTAA Scholar

Stefan Divic shouldered heavy family responsibilities when his father died. Now, the fourth-year Trinity College physics major feels that responsibility in a larger way: for fostering a more equitable society—especially through the science he loves. As a volunteer with the Beyond Sciences Initiative, he organized an online conference to benefit global health and immunology students who lack funds to travel to academic gatherings. He also launched a program to distribute care packages to Toronto’s street population.

A U of T President’s Scholar of Excellence, Divic has already won NSERC research grants for his original research on skyrmions—theoretical constructs that could provide insight into atoms in different states of matter. He plans to pursue graduate studies in applied physics.

Hana Nikcevic: UTAA Scholar

Working for U of T’s Caffiends Fair Trade Café led Hana Nikcevic, a history of art student and a keen photographer, to a unique career goal. She hopes to marry her love of creativity with her love of social justice by researching how art intersects with gender and environmental issues. A University of Toronto Scholar, Nikcevic is a fourth-year student at Victoria College.

Nikcevic has been deeply involved in volunteer work– launching a student gallery at Caffiends, leading photography workshops at Hart House and founding Intaglio, the University of Toronto’s first undergraduate journal in Art History. Next up for her: a master’s degree in art history at U of T.

Alisha Stranges: UTAA Scholar

From treading the boards to hitting the books: for Alisha Stranges, life in theatre led her to an original insight worthy of study. Her undergraduate research explores a new way in which dance can be therapeutic for people recovering from trauma. The work is informed by her experiences leading theatre workshops for young people, and facilitating the popular interactive Qu(e)erying Religion program at U of T’s Multi-Faith Centre.

A final-year student in women and gender studies at Innis College and a published playwright, Stranges has won more than 20 scholarships at U of T. When she graduates, she’ll pursue a psychotherapy qualification, then start a practice helping marginalized queer youth.

Darcy Taylor: UTAA Scholar

Where does your moral compass point? For Darcy Taylor, a fourth-year student at Trinity College, focusing on values is a fruitful way to look at international policy issues – and his profs agree, praising his “exceptionally original insights.” He’s already planning complex graduate research on legality of humanitarian interventions.

Taylor is both a Loran Scholar and a University of Toronto Scholar. He coaches tennis, teaches adult literacy, and volunteers with both youths and seniors in his native Newfoundland. His resume includes study and internships in Paris, Beijing, Ottawa and Washington D.C., where he worked for U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.