Home > Study: Arts & Science > TRINITY ONE > Alumni Reflections

Alumni Reflections

Trinity One Summer Program Assistants interviewed graduating Trinity One alumni and asked how Trinity One impacted their undergraduate years. Hear what they had to say below!

June 2023 Convocation - International Relations

A heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2023! Your perseverance through your education is deserving of celebration! I am grateful to have the opportunity to interview two exceptional graduates from the Margaret Macmillan Trinity One International Relation stream, Maryam and Nivaal Rehman. They reflect on a supportive and positive university experience that significantly influenced their continuing education.

Trinity One Alumni (IR Stream) Maryam and Nivaal Rehman

Trinity One Alumni (IR Stream) Maryam and Nivaal Rehman

As students of the Trinity One Program, Nivaal found that the International Relations stream pushed her ideas about preconceived perspectives and Maryam produced long-lasting connections from the program that lasted throughout undergrad. The classes were a strong foundation for their pursuit of international relations: “It was a great way to start our undergrad. Participating in the program was inspiring, and the courses were inspiring.”

The sisters found that the program’s seminar style though challenging, helped them grow. Upper-year courses were easier to navigate and less daunting due to early exposure to extensive research, close interaction with educators, and opportunities for direct interaction and support from professors throughout the program.

Trinity One and U of T had a lasting impact on their global perspectives. In their last year at U of T, the twins won the Adams Sustainability Innovation Prize. Nival was particularly proud of their work with the Sustainability film festival s where they were able to combine their passion for film, storytelling, and UN sustainable development. For Maryam, her proudest moment was organizing orientation for Trinity College, both in 2021 as a mostly hybrid and online experience and then again in 2022 where she directed the return to in-person activities, creating a memorable first impression for new students at the college not once but twice!

To all incoming students, the twins want to let you know to be open and prepared for change. Don’t be overwhelmed by the questions you might still have. You might not be able to learn about everything and might have more questions than you started with, but that’s okay. It’s essential always to have a drive to learn.

They also want to let you know not to feel stuck to one path or feel pressured to follow other people’s paths: “Go out of your way to find courses and programs that interest you and pursue things that are specific or different from what your interests are.” “If you don’t see what you want to get out of university, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and look for other courses.” Finally, for those of you who might be wondering how to make this happen, they advise: “Make sure to take advantage of the campus support; they can help accommodate your needs and passions.”

After graduation, Maryam and Nivaal are excited to attend post-grad at Oxford University. Before they go, they have one more adventure to share. They’ve just been in Brazil to communicate with climate defenders and activists in preparation for creating their first feature film since 2019.

Thank you so much, Maryam and Nivaal, for taking the time to attend an interview. Congratulations on graduating, and best wishes to all graduates and their future endeavours!

Written by: Eugene Seo, Trinity One Program Assistant, Medicine and Global Health ’22

June 2023 Convocation - International Relations

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 on your Convocation! I am grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Quinn Teague-Colfer (International Relations ‘20), an alumnus of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program who is part of the graduating class. He shares fond memories of the program and is excited to enter a new chapter of his life.

Trinity One Alumnus (IR Stream) Quinn Teague-Colfer

Quinn expresses gratitude for the Trinity One program, where he developed meaningful relationships with peers and faculty. Quinn recalls entering first-year with some self-doubt, but he was able to overcome “imposter syndrome” thanks to the program’s supportive community and opportunities to practice both academic and social skills in seminars. Quinn decided to further pursue studying International Relations in his upper years. He thanks the program not only for sparking his interests in this field, but for providing a solid academic foundation for his major.

Having spent half of his time at the university online, Quinn is proud of his achievements during this tough time. Quinn shares that his favourite accomplishment is the work he put into the Trinity One program as a mentor in his upper years, seeing the crucial difference that the mentors made to the program. He feels grateful that he was able to stay connected to this community and form a close bond with the mentorship team. We thank Quinn for his contributions and lasting impacts on the Trinity One program.

Reflecting on his undergraduate experience, Quinn emphasizes the importance of “collaboration over competition” in academia. With regards to Trinity One, Quinn advises students to take full advantage of the resources and support available in the program. He recognizes that everybody struggles and says there is no shame in speaking up about it. Quinn encourages incoming students to be confident in their abilities and prepare to step out of their comfort zone.

Quinn will be attending law school at the University of Cambridge. I would like to thank Quinn for sharing his valuable experiences with us, and I extend my sincerest congratulations to him on behalf of the Trinity One community.

Written by: Jessica Wang, Trinity One Program Assistant, Ethics Society and Law ‘22.

June 2023 Convocation - Biomedical Health

This year we are lucky to congratulate the graduating class of 2023 after their first full year in-person! I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Damiano and Rhidita Saha from the Anne Stacey Biomedical Health (BH) stream about their undergraduate experiences at UofT.

Trinity One Alumnus - BH Stream - Nicholas Damiano Headshot

Nicholas and Rhidita discussed TRN125, Contemporary Issues in Health Science, and the benefits of exploring new career paths and small group discussions. This small class gave them a sense of community which contrasted the large classes of the introductory life sciences courses. Nicholas expressed that Trin One “taught me to put myself out there. It’s okay to be wrong and learn from your mistakes because you don’t know everything”. Entering a course where there is new terminology, a new environment, and new people can be intimidating, but it helps students learn to be better communicators and think critically about science. Rhidita shared that BH helped her to “always think about the perspectives involved and expand my scope of knowledge. This has helped me to understand how different perspectives shape different ideas in science literature”. This reasoning is used in her regular activities such as doing research, watching the news ,and studying for upper level classes.

COVID-19 began at the end of the alumni’s first year and  continued through to third year with back-and-forth online and in-person classes. Despite the isolation and social distancing, Rhidita and Nicholas reconnected with the relations they made in Trin One to find a new sense of community in a virtual environment.

Trin One Alumna (BH Stream) Rhidita Saha

Rhidita saw an opportunity to co-found a club, with another Trin One alumna, called Women Stronger Together (WST). This club, with some executive positions filled by other Trin One alumni, focused on creating a nonjudgmental, motivational online community that helped with fitness programming. For her work in the club, Rhidita received a student leadership award from UofT. Taking a different approach, Nicholas became a mentor in his upper years with Trin One to be a support system for incoming first year student and share his knowledge. Some of his fondest memories were formed at the peer support group meetings for various streams and the first year learning communities that he hosted. These experiences made him more confident and inspired him to always find a connection back to Trin One in his undergraduate career.

As a lasting message, the alumni wanted to highlight the importance of looking for new experiences such as Nicholas’s continued mentoring or Rhidita’s research abroad. They highly recommend going for new opportunities which are fruitful, exciting, and unique during your undergraduate studies because of the support available and the network of amazing people that you can meet.

Thank you again to Nicholas and Rhidita for your time and words of advice. We wish you the best in your future endeavours while you seek more opportunities to uplift those around you.

Written by: Maria Acosta, Trinity One Program Assistant, Medicine and Global Health ‘23.

June 2023 Convocation - Policy, Philosophy, and Economics

Congratulations to the class of 2023! I had the pleasure of interviewing Raaghav Chaudhry from the Policy, Philosophy & Economics (PPE) Stream about their undergraduate experiences at the University of Toronto and future plans.

Trinity One Alumnus (PPE Stream) Raagjav ChaudhryRaaghav enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of the Trinity One PPE courses, as it was fundamental in developing his worldviews. Classes, like TRN161 (Public Policy and the Public Good) and TRN172 (Political Economy and Social Inequality) enabled him to examine global issues through varying perspectives, including political and philosophical lenses. Raaghav further shared that the seminar-styled courses facilitated collaboration and communication between students and professors, providing a sense of community that may be challenging to find in larger first-year courses.

After his first year, Raaghav gravitated toward a Computer Science Specialist with a Buddhism, Psychology, and Mental Health minor. Raaghav expressed that UofT provides a plethora of opportunities to “meet different people and [be] exposed to numerous new ideas” and urged students to immerse themselves in the academic and cultural richness of the university. Some of Raaghav’s highlights and accomplishments during his undergraduate experience included receiving the Margaret McMillian Scholarship, successfully getting into the Computer Science specialist program, and, most of all, meeting lifelong friends who made the university experience even more memorable.

To incoming and current students, Raaghav highlights the importance of slowing down and practicing mindfulness. Students often find themselves thinking about the next tasks they must complete or feel overwhelmed by the workload. Raaghav shares a quote he resonated deeply with to provide a new perspective: “You cannot become happy, you can only be happy,” whereby happiness is a state of consciousness that exists while being mindful of the present moments. By shifting our attitudes, we can ground ourselves when difficulties or challenges come our way.

For the summer, Raaghav will be going to a four-month meditation retreat to cultivate his mindfulness and passion for Buddhist teachings. I would like to thank Raaghav for speaking about his experience with Trinity One and his plans for the future. It was an absolute pleasure hearing about his journey and his introspective insights!

Written by: Yang Jing Zheng, Trinity One Program Assistant, Policy, Philosophy & Economics ‘22.

June 2023 Convocation - Medicine and Global Health

Congratulations to the class of 2023 for completing their undergraduate journey! After a full year of in-person classes Joshya Singh and Matthew Cormie, two alumni from the Medicine and Global Health (MGH) Stream, wanted to share some of the experiences they had during their time at UofT as a parting graduation gift to the current undergraduate students.

Trinity One Alumna (MGH Stream) Joshya Singh HeadshotJoshya and Matthew completed TRN135, Science and Social Choice, and TRN136, Canadian Health Policy in a Global Context, during their time with the Trinity One program. Taking these courses together gave Matthew a better perspective on how “health policy is a unique intersection between scientific knowledge and the implementation of that knowledge to help others”. Being able to see the larger context behind upper year classes and connecting them to government decisions on health policy helps students understand the need for science literacy and proper communication at every level. Additionally, Joshya noted that these classes “played a big role in enhancing my creativity, verbal and written communication, critical thinking, and organizational skills”. The skills developed in first-year are critical to a successful undergraduate career for any program a student intends to pursue.

Trinity One Alumnus (MGH) Matthew Cormie Headshot

In addition to the classes, Trin One cultivates a sense of community which has left a lasting impact on the students. Within this community, first-years have the chance to interact and develop relationships with other streams, upper year mentors, and faculty. Joshya shared, “my interactions enabled me to explore new subject areas through my peers’ lenses and discover how distinct disciplines can interconnect”. With the isolation brought by COVID-19, these connections were still able to continue through the alumni’s undergraduate career. Matthew explained, “I am very fortunate to have had at least one year following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions that allowed me to once again connect with my professors and peers, as well as engage with the material more”. Being back for their last year re-ignited that sense of community and allowed them to get in touch with the network of amazing people they met throughout their time at UofT.

As a lasting message, the alumni wanted to share the importance of enjoying your time at UofT. Remember to join discussions during and outside of class to get a better perspective on the problems and topics being discussed. Try to speak up and have your voice heard as your opinion and ideas are valued, and in the process you may make a few friends. By taking care of yourself, you are reminded that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Thank you to Joshya and Matthew for sharing your words of wisdom for incoming and current undergraduate students. We wish you the best of luck as you pursue challenges and opportunities to learn and grow in your academic and professional careers.

Written by: Maria Acosta, Trinity One Program Assistant, Medicine and Global Health ‘23.

June 2023 Convocation - Environment and Sustainability

I had the pleasure of speaking with Angel Bella about her Trinity One and undergraduate experiences, along with her future plans now that she is graduating with Peace Conflict and Justice Studies major and Environmental Science and Creative Expression & Society minors.

Trinity One Alumna (ENV Stream) Angel Bella

Trinity One Alumna (ENV Stream) Angel Bella

Angel completed the Environment and Sustainability (ENV) Stream and believed the program significantly impacted her undergraduate and career trajectory. She found the holistic educational approach nourishing, especially because of the many opportunities to spent time outdoors. Her experiences with the ENV stream opened her eyes to the possibilities in Environmental Science oriented research. TRN141 (Environmental Science and Pathway to Sustainability) and especially Professor Spiegelaar gave Angel the skills and confidence to apply to become a Laidlaw Scholar. Now, 2 years into her research into sachet consumption in the Philippines, Angel has found “the heart and soul that goes into research.”

As a commuter student, Angel worried about missing out on the full college experience. During her first year, she realized that she must be proactive and overcome her limiting beliefs. She would explore various activities, events, and opportunities to explore her interests further and amplify her voice wherever possible. This past year, Angel was the co-executive director of the Feminist Equal Rights Alliance and conducted research as a Laidlaw Undergraduate and Research program. Angel’s advice to future TrinOne students: Although easier said than done, we must have the belief and confidence to pursue our goals, to go for it!

After graduation, Angel will pursue her Master’s in Human Geography at the University of British Columbia, where she will be conducting research in food systems and women migrant-care workers. Along with her academia, Angel hopes to dedicate more time to her visual arts endeavours and develop her music album to be released by the end of summer 2023. I would like to thank Angel for the wonderful conversation we had! We would like to congratulate Angel and all the other new graduates of U of T and wish them the best in their future endeavours.

Written by: Yang Jing Zheng, Trinity One Program Assistant, Environment & Sustainability ‘22

June 2023 Convocation - Ethics, Society, and Law

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 on your Convocation! I am grateful to have had the opportunity to interview an outstanding alumna of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program who is part of the graduating class: Megan Campbell (Ethics, Society and Law ‘20). She shares fond memories of the program and is excited to enter a new chapter of her life.

Trinity One Alumnus (ESL Stream) Megan Campbell

Megan emphasized the excellent experience she had in the Trinity One program, where she developed strong academic skills that she will always carry with her. Megan shares that she felt intimidated to speak in her other first-year courses. By contrast, her Trinity One courses encouraged her to speak up, which prepared her for upper year seminars. Megan says that the program laid a great foundation for her future courses and solidified her choice to study Ethics, Society and Law in her upper years.

As an active student who loves to be involved, Megan shares some of her achievements during her time at the university. Megan took part in an exchange program to France and multiple political fellowships in the States and with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. However, her proudest accomplishment is being able to make time for extracurricular activities, such as organizing the French Language Global Café, being the editor in chief for the Ethics, Society and Law student journal, and involvements in the Arts and Sciences Student Union. Over the course of her university journey, she learned to “do things for herself” and not just for her resume. Megan was especially happy to have performed in two productions of Connections, the Musical with the Trinity College Dramatic Society.

Megan shares her biggest takeaways as an undergraduate student. She says that attending university during the pandemic taught her to be resilient and willing to adapt. In her words, “You can’t predict everything, but everything will be okay.” Megan encourages incoming students to embrace uncertainty and to be open to change. Additionally, she advises Trinity One students to “speak up even when it’s a little scary” and to hold themselves accountable to what they’re learning.

Megan will be attending law school at McGill University. I would like to thank Megan for sharing her valuable experiences with us, and I extend my sincerest congratulations to her on behalf of the Trinity One community.

Written by: Jessica Wang, Trinity One Program Assistant, Ethics, Society and Law ‘22.

June 2022 Convocation - International Relations

June 22, 2022

Tessa Di Vizio (Left), Rachel Zack (Centre), and Sarah Weiner (right) completed the International Relations stream in 2019.

To celebrate the Convocation of the Class of 2022, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tessa Di Vizio, Rachel Zack and Sarah Weiner, who are three Trinity One International Relations stream alumni. They graciously shared their experiences with Trinity One, how it affected the rest of their undergrad and their plans following this incredible milestone.

All the alumni cherished their time in Trinity One and highlighted the sense of community that Trinity One fosters, especially in a large University like UofT. They emphasized their ability to develop long-lasting relationships with not only their classmates, but other Trinity One students and even Professors.

Looking back, all the alumni appreciated the rigorous nature of the Trinity One program because it prepared them for the challenges of upper year courses. They were already familiar with much of the content thanks to Trinity One and it helped them succeed for the rest of their undergrad. They were also able to better manage their time and gained experience with complex readings and citations. Additionally, the seminar setting helped them gain confidence with public speaking and debate. Sarah said “the experience felt very much like being thrown in the deep end [but] in the years following I felt so much more prepared, capable and confident because of my experiences in Trin One”.

Each alumnus also credited the stream for influencing their future program decisions as well by developing their interests in different aspects of International Relations. Tessa said that the content from the International Relations stream also helped foster her love for History alongside her International Relations academic interests.  Similarly, Rachel stated that her experiences with her professor encouraged her to also pursue a history major in addition to her International Relations major. Sarah’s exposure to International Relations through the Trinity One Program also led her to pursue an International Relations major with an English major.

Unsurprisingly, their university journeys have seen many challenges, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When classes were moved online, they all felt that they were losing out on their university experience. Rachel couldn’t play her two varsity sports, rugby and wrestling, and also had an exciting study abroad opportunity cancelled. Tessa lost out on the sense of community that she had enjoyed up until the pandemic as well. However, they expressed that there were some upsides like being able to rewind or pause asynchronous lectures or even being a part of online group chats to maintain the social aspect of class. Nevertheless, all the alumni are extremely excited to be able to attend convocation in person and celebrate their massive accomplishments.

This group of alumni has overcome many obstacles that university or the pandemic threw at them and wanted to impart some advice on incoming students. Tessa stressed the importance that there is no one right way to get your degree and urges students to take courses that they are interested in. Rachel emphasized that “you are not your resume” and that your grades or extracurriculars do not define your worth. Sarah highlighted the fact that “you belong in that room just as much as everyone else does, even when you feel like that’s not true” and to not be afraid to fail.

After convocation, each of the alumni will be taking a well-deserved break from academics and starting new careers. Tessa will soon be applying to various master’s programs so that she can pursue her dream of becoming a History professor. Sarah will be studying for the LSAT so she can apply to law schools for the Fall 2023 term.

I would like to thank Tessa, Rachel and Sarah for taking the time to speak with me during this extremely busy and exciting time and wish them all the best in their future endeavors. Congratulations on these amazing milestones and we can’t wait to see what you will do next!

Written by: Armaan Ahmad, Trinity One Program Assistant, International Relations ’22

June 2022 Convocation - Biomedical Health

June 22, 2022

This year we are excited to celebrate our first in person convocation in over two years! The graduates of 2022 have had an experience unlike any other, requiring them to adapt to ever changing circumstances and yet they continued to persevere through the many hurdles they had to overcome. This past week I had the opportunity to talk with Clara Hick, about her experience at UofT and what will be next now that she is graduating with her Honors Bachelor of Science degree after completing a specialist in Molecular Genetics & Microbiology.

Clara completed the Anne Steacy Biomedical Health stream in 2020. She felt that she had a great experience with the Trinity One program and believed that it provided her with many insights into the field of science. She touched on how TRN225 “The Art of Health Science Discovery”, a course in which students design a research proposal, sparked her interest in getting involved with research and made her eager to learn more about the research process. She felt the stream helped open her eyes to how broad the science field could be and allowed her to explore paths she might not have found otherwise. 

Trinity One was only one aspect of Clara’s UofT journey that enriched her experience. She described how getting involved both on and off campus was a crucial part in making her time at UofT as enjoyable as it was. Clara had an opportunity to participate in research at UofT but also join a jazz acapella choir and it was these experiences that she felt helped to enhance her time at UofT. Clara felt that being able to balance your academic studies while also finding ways to have fun and distress was critical to her success at UofT. 

As we ended our conversation we had a chance to chat about what advice Clara might have for incoming students. She reflected and felt that being at such a large school like UofT can be challenging especially at first, but it is the people around you that make such a large place feel so much smaller. Trinity One allowed her to have a smaller group of people who she might recognize in her larger classes but she also had many friends around her who she was able to lean on for support. An undergraduate experience can be filled with many ups and downs and Clara felt that it was the people she met who helped her get through the tougher times. 

After Convocation, Clara will be attending McMaster University Medical School this coming August. I would like to thank Clara for the wonderful conversation we were able to have and wish her all the best on the next chapter of her journey. We would like to congratulate Clara along with all the other new graduates of UofT and we are excited to see what they do next! 

Written by: Nicholas Damiano, Trinity One Program Assistant, Biomedical Health ’20

June 2022 Convocation - Policy, Philosophy & Economics

June 22, 2022

Wenny Jin (Left), and Paul Grewar (right) completed the Policy, Philosophy & Economics stream in 2019.

The past school year has been rife with uncertainty. The graduates of 2022 have shown perseverance and a willingness to adapt to quickly changing circumstances. I had the pleasure to sit down with two graduates of Trinity One’s Policy, Philosophy and Economics Stream as they approached their convocation– the first in-person convocation since 2019! I spoke with Wenny Jin and Paul Grewar about their experiences at UofT and in the Trinity One program. 

Wenny Jin is graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a specialist in International Relations and a minor in Spanish. Wenny completed Trinity One’s PPE stream in 2019. She spoke about how the PPE stream exposed her to complex readings and content that informed her critical thinking skills and inspired her future research. 

Trinity One was just a portion of Wenny’s time at UofT, although Wenny attributes her determination to building a better society to the social justice-oriented focus of the PPE stream. Wenny worked with the G20 and BRICS Research Groups and as a consultant with 180 Degrees Consulting, where she helped a local youth education non-profit enhance its marketing and communications strategies. She also founded an organisation called “Ensemble,” which facilitated conversations between academics, industry professionals, and students about personal experiences and social issues.

Wenny felt that she had learned a lot during her time at UofT, especially regarding the importance of maintaining a work-life balance. She extended some words of advice for incoming students: “Be certain that you are enough. Come with a fresh and open mind to learn, get to know people, and embrace opportunities within and outside of the Trinity One community.” 

After convocation, Wenny will be pursuing a Masters in Global Affair at University of Toronto’s Munk School for Public Policy and Global Affairs. She is excited to spend more time with her friends and family and for the opportunity to get to know Toronto a little bit more (uninterrupted by the pandemic). 

Paul Grewar is graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Economics (Data Analytics) and Public Policy. Paul also completed the PPE stream in 2020. He spoke about how his time in Trinity One invited him to think differently about his academic and professional interests. 

In Trinity One, Paul appreciated the opportunity to examine the practical side of policy and the ways in which we can use policy to improve the lives of others. In his classes, Paul was able to break down the policy process into a policy cycle. He explored how policy makers move from an abstract problem, to possible solutions, to consultations with interest groups, to action. Paul’s time in the PPE stream showed him that he was not as interested in political or economic theory as he was in producing tangible outcomes for the lives of others. This informed his decision to double major in economics and public policy, as well as his long-term objective of working in public policy. 

At UofT, Paul was inspired by the support and passion of his professors. He spoke about how his professors really encouraged him to overcome his sense of imposter syndrome in academia. 

After convocation, Paul will be pursuing a Masters in Economics at the University of Toronto. He will also be working as a research assistant for a project in Health Economics. He is excited to continue to learn how the skills he has learned in academic settings can be applied. 

I would like to extend my gratitude to Wenny and Paul for taking the time out of her busy schedule to speak with me. We would like to offer both of our alumni a warm congratulations and best wishes on the next chapters of their journeys. We are excited to see what their futures look like! 

Written by: Katherine Delay, Trinity One Program Assistant, Ethics, Society & Law ‘20

June 2022 Convocation - Medicine & Global Health

June 22, 2022

Ayesha Shakeel (Left), and Abdula Maher (right) completed the Medicine & Global Health stream in 2019.

Congratulations to the class of 2022! I had the pleasure of interviewing Ayesha Shakeel and Abdula Maher on their experience with the Trinity One Medicine and Global Health Stream. They kindly shared how Trinity One had inspired them to pursue their academic and career interests.

Ayesha and Abdula expressed that Trinity One cultivated their academic and interpersonal skills. Additionally, they were able to explore their interests through their courses and connect with their professors and peers. Ayesha says that “my first interactions with my professors significantly shaped my program choices. Hearing my professor speak passionately about immunotherapy and the latest research in the field was incredibly inspiring. As such, I find that the drive and passion are important aspects of why I choose my academic path.” Similarly, Abdula shares that “my experience at Trinity One influenced me to pursue the Pathobiology program and engage in cancer research, which I did later on. Moreover, Trinity One allowed me to approach academic interest from a global health perspective and think about how we can translate scientific findings into accessible medical therapy available to everyone.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting in the midst of their undergrad, they have had a great share of challenges traversing through university. Transitioning to online classes was difficult and isolating, but the alumni expressed gratitude for their experience as it pushed them to explore campus more and connect with their peers.

Throughout their journey, they have learned many valuable lessons and hope to impart them to future students of UofT. Ayesha encourages students to pursue mentorship and connect with their professors. She finds mentorships to be significant in providing fortifying experiences for undergrad students. Moreover, she emphasizes that you should “always ask for things because the worst thing that [could] happen is a no.” Abdula stresses that “the possibilities are endless [at UofT], whether it is something you are pursuing in your academic, professional or personal goals […] you will face many challenges along your journey through UofT, but these experiences will foster an appreciation for [all] the ups and downs.” 

As the conversation came to a conclusion, Ayesha and Abdula shared their plans for the future. Ayesha had completed her Global Health major and double minors in immunology and education, and will be starting medical school in the following term at Queens University. Abdula plans on continuing his research on the drivers of acute myeloid leukaemia resistance to therapy at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. 

Thank you to Ayesha and Abdula for making the time to share their experiences with Trinity One and their plans for the future. We wish you the best in all your future endeavors!

Written by: Yang Jing Zheng, Trinity One Program Assistant, Environment & Sustainability ‘22

June 2022 Convocation - Ethics, Society & Law

June 22, 2022

I loved my time in Trinity One. While the materials were initially a bit daunting, I found myself embedded in a close-knit community. I was able to build relationships with both my professors and my peers. In fact, I met some of my best friends in Trinity One. The COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning really showed me how valuable that network I built for myself in first year was.One thing that sticks out to me at the beginning of the pandemic was the support that my Trinity One professors offered us. They were so understanding about how we were feeling and altered assignment structures and deadlines accordingly. They also offered additional office hours to us if we wanted to come by and chat about things that were worrying us. I’ll always remember that care, especially considering our profs were probably also experiencing the same anxieties. I would not have been able to succeed in online courses, or in my courses generally, without the friendship and care of my friends, family, and roommates. A lot of those people were folks I met in Trinity One or in Trinity College residence. I am super grateful that I had the opportunity to embed myself in those smaller communities given the sheer size of UofT. 

I had always thought about attending law school or working in the legal field in some capacity, and participating in the Ethics, Society and Law stream exposed me to many flaws in our socio-legal system and the many possibilities for reform. As such, my time in the ES&L stream influenced my decision to major in ES&L and, eventually, my decision to work in policy analysis for Manitoba’s Department of Health after graduation. I still hope to pursue a Masters in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and, then, a law degree, but my courses in the ES&L stream showed me that there are many possible approaches to working within legal frameworks. 

Written by: Katherine Delay, Trinity One Program Assistant, Ethics, Society & Law ‘20

June 2022 Convocation - Environment & Sustainability

June 22, 2022

I had the pleasure of interviewing Joyce Dason about her experience in the Environment and Sustainability (ENV) stream and her future plans. She shares how the Trinity One program had a prominent impact on her academic and career pathways, and how her experiences helped build towards her academic goals and personal aspirations. 

Joyce expressed that Trinity One impacted her future career as one of the ENV professors provided a reference for law school. The program further shaped her future majors as she pursued environmental studies, focusing on environmental ethics, which was one of the core courses. She felt that Trinity One had prepared her for the rest of her university experience. For instance, she learned academic skills like citations or writing reports and intrapersonal skills like connecting with your professors and peers, which she carried on with her through university. Throughout the four years, UofT has taught her the importance of reaching out for support from professors, peers, and other university resources. Moreover, UofT’s diverse community encouraged her to keep an open mind and put effort into making friends. 

Something Joyce feels proud of accomplishing is getting through UofT, especially with the uncertainty during the pandemic. UofT has led her to the jobs she works at now, which she is very proud of and enjoys. For instance, she discovered two non-profit organizations, Story Planet and Reading Partnership, through UofT resources and has been working with them since.

With her undergrad coming to a conclusion, Joyce recounts some lessons and advice derived from her university experience that she strives to take on with her after she graduates. She encourages students to connect with their professors, especially for help or feedback on assignments. She further stresses to not hesitate to reach out for help and to present your idea as constructive criticisms will aid in producing a more refined work. Another piece of advice is to be more consistent with friends as these friendships made her university experiences much better. 

After convocation, Joyce will be heading off to law school in the fall term and taking some time off for herself to relax and travel. I would like to thank Joyce for making the time to speak about her experience with TrinOne and her plans for the future. Congratulations on your convocation and I wish you the best in your future endeavours!

Written by: Yang Jing Zheng, Trinity One Program Assistant, Environment & Sustainability ‘22

June 2021 Convocation - Medicine & Global Health

June 23, 2021

Dante Wong MGH

This past school year has been one like no other and students have had to learn to adapt to a completely new learning style. The uncertainty of the situation we are currently in has only added an additional challenge for students. We recognize this year has been very difficult and so we want to take the time to celebrate our graduates of the class of 2021. 

This past week I was able to speak with one of the 2021 graduates Dante Wong, who studied Immunology and Global Health. Dante, who completed the MGH stream, mentioned how participating in Trinity One influenced the trajectory of his program choice. “A lot of what I learned through the course ended up changing the direction of my degree as it was really interesting to see that epidemiology can extend to so many different societal factors.” Dante expanded by discussing how going into university he thought that it was pure science that had the biggest impact on healthcare and helping others but he learned there was more than just the biological aspects but also the societal aspects as well. As a result, he decided to pursue a degree that allowed him to explore both of these aspects simultaneously. 

Dante also continued to be a part of the Trinity One program in his second year as a mentor. On this topic he mentioned how he appreciated having upper year students who had a similar school experience to him and that being able to ask these mentors questions about not only Trinity One but university in general was super helpful so he wanted to provide that for others.

We later got onto the topic of how different Trin One courses could be from other first year courses. Dante specifically enjoyed the smaller class sizes in Trinity One as it gave him the ability to develop a familiarity with his professor that didn’t exist in other first year courses. Furthermore, Dante really appreciated how the seminar style of Trin One helped him prepare for his upper year courses and how Trinity One courses “stepped up from just the fundamentals and allowed for more significant discussions between students.” He felt that Trinity One offered a quality of learning that you couldn’t find elsewhere in first-year. 

On the topic of advice for incoming students Dante advises students to take advantage of the smaller class size and to try and find students who have similar interests to you as this can sometimes be harder in your larger classes. He found that having that sense of community helped him to develop many skills including study habits that were specific for university. Additionally, Dante learned that the amount of effort you put in was proportional to the grades that you received not only for Trin One but other courses as well.

Dante’s experience in Trinity One highlights how unique of a program it can be and how it can completely shape a student’s university experience. This summer Dante is working at SickKids helping out with a research project related to neonatal vitamin deficiencies. He will be applying for Master’s programs later this year and plans to translate his passion for science communication and sustainability into a career in pediatric healthcare.

We at Trinity one would like to congratulate Dante Wong along with all the other students who are graduating this year. We wish them the best with everything in the future!

Written by: Nicholas Damiano, Trinity One Program Assistant, Biomedical Health ’20

June 2021 Convocation - Policy, Philosophy, & Economics

June 23, 2021

Kate Schneider PPEDisha Nayak PPEHenry Rhyu PPE

Kate Schneider (Left), Disha Nayak (Centre), and Henry Rhyu (Right) completed the Policy, Philosophy, & Economics stream in 2018 (formerly Public Policy stream).

As the end of June draws near, U of T students everywhere are unceremoniously dragged back into planning mode as they think about course enrolment and programs. For those of us worried about the future, it may be helpful to hear and celebrate the stories of the graduates who are moving on to exciting new things. Before today’s Convocation ceremony, I had the pleasure to speak with three alumni from Trinity One’s Public Policy stream (now known as Policy, Philosophy, and Economics) about how their Trinity One experience shaped their undergraduate years and beyond. 

We started by discussing what alumni found unique about the program. “Trinity One really took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to speak up more and engage in class discussions,” says Kate Schneider, a political science specialist who is now going on to pursue a Master of Science Politics Research Program at the University of Oxford. Alumni frequently mentioned how Trinity One helped prepare them for upper-year courses, especially thanks to the self-directed nature of the course, an unparalleled opportunity to discuss ideas with peers and professors, and the collegial academic atmosphere.

For Disha Nayak, the Public Policy stream offered “a lot of eye-opening hands-on opportunities that allowed me to see the value of public policy consultations,” including visits to the Ontario Legislature and Toronto City Hall. Disha is graduating as an International Relations and Economics double major and is starting a full-time job in Online Product Marketing Management at Google this August. She credits Trinity One with exposing her to various policy areas that she will actively be involved in at Google, such as small business policy in the context of COVID-19. 

Alumni also discussed how Trinity One gave them the experience and skills necessary to succeed in their studies and beyond. Henry Rhyu, who completed a specialist program in Criminology, says that his time in the Public Policy stream directly contributed to his acceptance into the University of Oxford’s Master of Science in Criminology program. “Trinity One was my first introduction to law-related writing,” he says, adding that a TRN160 essay about the legal landscapes surrounding corporal punishment in South Korea formed part of his Oxford application.

As for advice for incoming first- and second-year students, alumni had much to offer. “Do what you’re interested in,” says Henry. “Don’t be in a situation where you graduate and realize ‘I did nothing that I wanted’ during your four years at U of T.” He pointed to the numerous opportunities available for personal and academic development at the university, citing his experience with the ROP program during his third and fourth years.

Disha echoed this sentiment and talked about how it’s never too late to explore your interests. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my first year and took a bunch of different courses, like computer science.” Her decision eventually led to an interest in the intersection between technology and public policy, which contributed to her joining Google, first as an intern and later a full-time employee. 

Finally, alumni urged students to have confidence in themselves and their abilities. “You’re in a room full of people who are extremely accomplished,” Henry recalls. “The faster you realize everyone is feeling imposter syndrome and everyone is scared, the easier it is.” 

As my second year at U of T dawns on me, I get the feeling that convocation might come sooner than expected. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and reflect with talented Trinity One graduates who were in this position not too long ago. We thank Kate, Disha, and Henry for their time, and wish the entire 2021 graduating class all the best in their future endeavours!

Written by Jacob Li, Trinity One Program Assistant, Policy, Philosophy & Economics ‘21

June 2021 Convocation - International Relations

June 23, 2021

Keenan KrauseSterling MancusoMohammad_Faaris_Hussain

Keenan Krause (Left), Sterling Mancuso (Centre), and Mohammad Faaris Hussain (Right) completed the International Relations stream in 2018.

In celebration of the Class of 2021’s Convocation today, I interviewed Keenan Krause, Sterling Mancuso, and Mohammad Faaris Hussain, three alumni from the International Relations stream of Trinity One to reflect on their undergraduate experiences.

Each of the alumni enjoyed their time in Trinity One and emphasized the benefits of the seminar environment—namely, the rarity of small classes and direct relationships with professors in first year, a supportive learning community, and exposure to the interdisciplinary nature of IR—as their main motivations to enroll in Trinity One IR.

Keenan called Trinity One an incredibly formative experience. He was able to identify gaps in IR scholarship that, as he said, “really changed how I thought about the world.” This approach played an important role in his decision to minor in African Studies alongside his double major in IR and Diaspora and Transnational Studies.

Due to the focused nature of the seminars, “all [of the experiences] felt meaningful in Trin One and that never really happened again,” said Sterling. He also mentioned that the higher-level assignments, intense reading lists, and general rigour of the program prepared him for his upper-year classes in his IR specialist and Economics minor.

Trinity One also provided unique and fun pedagogical experiences. Faaris recounted a TRN150 class, where he had to think on his feet and work through various foreign policy approaches during the Vietnam War with a series of US presidents, all played by Professor Kislenko. He appreciated how his emphasis on deductive reasoning, logical thinking, and the Socratic method of teaching helped him grow intellectually.

Faaris’s biggest advice to students is to be active listeners because this will help them be deliberate in their remarks and add more insightful comments to the conversation—a mindset he employed in upper-year seminars as part of his Political Science specialist degree. While many people are intimidated to speak up in class, he emphasized, “It’s just a feeling. Just take a leap of faith and trust your gut to participate in the discussion.”

Keenan highlighted the role of the stream mentors and co-curricular events as important opportunities for informal bonding between current and past students, regardless of college affiliation. He also recommended that students go to office hours to foster invaluable relationships with their professors. Faaris likewise enjoyed the co-curricular talks with guest speakers because they were opportunities to see how the IR theories and concepts discussed in class were applied in the field.

 While Sterling noted that even though not all of his peers ended up in IR, he recommended taking the program regardless of your intended major because “you’re only expanding your options with Trin One.” But, he cautioned, “Don’t treat it like another introductory class. You can’t just show up and sit back silently.”

After Convocation, Keenan is off to the University of Chicago for a Master of Public Policy, with a focus on conflict and development in Africa—a passion that grew out of his work in Trin One. Faaris will be attending the University of Ottawa to study Law in the fall. Sterling is working at a law firm in Toronto this summer, learning about a variety of fields of civil law, before returning to UofT’s Faculty of Law.

I’d like to thank Keenan, Sterling, and Faaris for their thoughtful and engaging conversations this past week and wish them all the best in their future endeavours. On behalf of Trinity One, congratulations to Graduating Class of 2021; we cannot wait to see what you accomplish next!

Written by Tessa Di Vizio, Trinity One Program Assistant, International Relations ‘19

June 2020 Convocation - Biomedical Health, Medicine & Global Health

June 11, 2020

Lilin Tong (Left) and Dorota Borovsky (Right) completed the Anne Steacy Biomedical Health stream in 2017.

This year, we celebrate the virtual convocation of the class of 2020. In spite of the peculiar circumstances that developed over the last few months, our new graduates continue to demonstrate their resilience. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to connect with a few alumni of The Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program to chat about their unique four-year journeys, and what their next big steps are as University of Toronto graduates.

As the alumni reflected on their first years, we chatted about their experience in the Trinity One program and how it shaped their undergraduate experience. “[Trinity One] was very fulfilling, and the professors did a very good job in not just passing on relevant content, but rather the important skills students need in their upper years to understand the logistics of research”, Dorota Borovsky says, who is starting her Master’s in Applied Immunology here at UofT.

Her sentiments were shared amongst the other alumni as well. From choosing their POSt programs to careers, they all felt that the program gave them a better insight to current-day topics and career fields, especially being first years with little knowledge on what their intended fields were truly like. Lilin Tong, a mentor from the Biomedical Health stream, switched her major after realizing that the material her Trinity One professor, Joy Fitzgibbon, was teaching was the most interesting and engaging to her, and will now be moving to the United States to work as a healthcare consultant before applying for medical school.

We ended our nostalgic conversations with some advice and key tips for incoming students. “It’s easy to have the tunnel vision mentality going into first year. You have to be realistic and have a backup plan. Trinity One helped me explore many career paths, and allowed me to broaden my interests while exploring all avenues and possibilities. It gave me a holistic idea of what medicine is like, along with maturity and insight,” says Rutvij Khanolkar, who will be pursuing his medical degree at the University of Calgary this July.

Reflecting on my own experiences, I am proud to say that my beliefs parallel the recent alumni as well, with the Trinity One program playing a huge role in shaping my undergraduate career. Being wrapped up in the fast-paced lifestyle of a student, convocation is time that has always seemed so far away from my reality. As I enter my third-year at the University of Toronto, I have come to realize it will soon be myself that will be pursuing post-graduate endeavours, and I am excited to grow in yet another chapter of my life. Once again, congratulations to the graduating class of 2020, and all the best from Trinity One!

Written by: Felice Chun, Trinity One Program Assistant, Biomedical Health ’20

June 2020 Convocation - Policy, Philosophy & Economics

June 11, 2020

Christopher Sims completed the Policy, Philosophy & Economics stream in 2017 (formerly Public Policy stream).

For many incoming first-year students, the start of the academic year seems distant enough — graduating from university seems like a lifetime away. Moreover, first-year students can become too focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, forgetting that their lived experience now has the potential to lead to their future success.

This is why Christopher Sims, a 2020 UofT economics, mathematics, and philosophy graduate who completed the Trinity One Public Policy stream (now the Policy, Philosophy, and Economics stream), says that “Everyone should try something like [Trinity One] — because really, once you get to higher levels, that’s what university is really like.” I had the opportunity to chat with Chris this week about what the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program meant to him and how it influenced his studies.

The structure of Trinity One courses is rather distinct compared to what students are familiar with from high school — learning is rooted in rich discussion and written reflection. Chris emphasized that in-class discussions in Trinity One helped him learn how to meaningfully engage with others in a seminar setting and become a more effective communicator. As well, the supportive community fostered in the program among his peers and professors gave him the confidence to regularly make contributions. He noted that these skills served him well in his upper-year seminar courses, where professors often expect students to pose, consider, and respond to complex questions.

Further, Chris cited the substantial exegesis and argumentation he was expected to complete in Trinity One through a wide variety of written assignments as an intellectually rewarding process that challenged his preexisting ideas, forced him to think and engage with texts in new ways, and become a much stronger writer. 

On top of this, the support of professors who knew him and his individual strengths bolstered his ability to grow as an academic. Trinity One’s small class sizes and ability to engage one-on-one with professors led to relationships that outlasted the program; in fact, some of Chris’ best friends in undergrad were from Trinity One. Chris also ended up doing an independent study (TRN377) with one of his Trinity One professors, Michael Kessler, in his third year.

One piece of advice Chris had for incoming students was to expose yourself to as many different fields of study as you can; he suggests being open to learning something new or unexpected — for him, this was philosophy. In fact, it was his study of such a wide (yet cohesive) array of topics in Trinity One that led him to pursue a philosophy minor. The process of analyzing and critiquing text in his Trinity One courses — and many of the texts themselves — mirrored much of what he was expected to do in his upper-year philosophy courses.

Chris’ story is a testament to the value programs like Trinity One have in setting first-year students up for success in both their upper-year courses and beyond. While Chris does not plan on explicitly studying philosophy or the topics he analyzed in Trinity One when he commences his PhD program at Northwestern University this September, he made clear that the thinking, discussion, and writing skills that Trinity One helped foster will be invaluable to him as he continues his academic career.

On behalf of the Trinity One Program, congratulations on your graduation and we wish you the best of luck at Northwestern!

Written by: Paul Grewar, Trinity One Program Assistant, Policy, Philosophy & Economics ’19

June 2020 Convocation - International Relations

June 11, 2020

Maria Alba Benoit Mariaca completed the International Relations stream in 2017.

From new graduates making plans for entering the workforce or further study, to incoming second year students anxiously awaiting POSt applications, spring and early summer at U of T is a time of both excitement and uncertainty. My time as a first year student in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program just concluded in April, and the question of “What comes next?” has been at the forefront of my mind. This weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to Maria Alba Benoit Mariaca, a Trinity One alumna who just graduated from U of T, to gain some insight into university life after Trinity One. 

Maria Alba was drawn to the International Relations (IR) stream of Trinity One to learn about the most challenging international issues of our time while simultaneously building a connection with a smaller cohort of students within U of T’s large campus. She was “blown away by the material” in TRN150 and TRN151, which “challenged [her] beliefs and enhanced [her] understanding of what constitutes IR”.

Reflecting on her experience in Trinity One, Maria Alba described the program as “unique and special” in its ability to foster “engaging, critical, and analytical conversations” and bring together “like-minded people wanting to seek truth in academia”. She mentioned her cohort’s diversity of lived experiences, high calibre of students, and supportive environment as particular highlights of her experience in Trinity One. Maria-Alba said that the “level of critical thinking that Trinity One instills is something that sets [its students] ahead of a lot of people throughout [their] university career”.

She advised first year students entering the Trinity One program to “go into class with an open mind and a willingness to learn, without any preconceptions about the courses” and to take advantage of the program’s unique opportunity to build relationships with classmates and professors. She encourages current Trinity One students to maintain these relationships after first year, as several of her Trinity One classmates became some of her best friends at university. 

Her experience in the program motivated her to pursue a specialist in Peace, Conflict, and Justice, alongside minors in Latin American Studies and Human Geography. Maria Alba found that the knowledge and academic skills she gained from the IR stream set her up for success in upper-year courses. 

Maria Alba is spending lockdown at home with her family in Ottawa, and is taking different online courses to expand her skill-set and technological proficiencies. In the context of this global pandemic and increased advocacy for justice, she is writing a “Student View” for ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America on the shared experiences of the Latin American communities she is connected to across the broader American continent. Maria Alba plans to continue working in the field of Environmental and Social Policy for a couple of years, before continuing her studies at a postgraduate level.

We would like to congratulate Maria Alba and all of the Trinity One alumni who graduated last week, and to wish them all luck with their future endeavours! 

Written by: Quinn Teague-Colfer, Trinity One Program Assistant, International Relations ’20

Contact Us:

Sharon Reid
Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program Coordinator (Acting)