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University Advancement | April 2019  


Awards help students make a difference in the lives of seniors

Recipients of the LIFE Institute Student Awards stand with Virginia Bosomworth, President, The LIFE Institute and Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, Dean of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education.

Recipients of the LIFE Institute Student Awards stand with Virginia Bosomworth, president, The LIFE Institute (left) and Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, dean, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education (right). Photo by Jae Yang.


A recent event on campus celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the LIFE Institute
Student Awards (LISA).

The LIFE Institute is a volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to offering exceptional learning experiences and encouraging life-long learning to older adults. The Institute has been a valued partner in the delivery of a strong liberal arts program in Programs for 50+ in Ryerson's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education.

Established and maintained thanks to generous ongoing support from LIFE Institute members, the awards support full-time and continuing education students dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for older adults.

Six Ryerson students received an award this year, working on projects in disciplines spanning nursing, planning and urban development, psychology, disability studies, Aboriginal knowledges and experiences, and aging and gerontology. Many attended the ceremony to thank LIFE Institute members and speak about their work.

“Receiving this award is such an honour for me,” said Joseph Rovetti, a fourth-year psychology student. His research and undergraduate thesis focuses on listening effort, using a brain imaging method to measure the effort that seniors put into listening. Ultimately, his goal is to better assess the hearing loss of seniors. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to continue his studies at the graduate level in neuroscience.

“Beyond the recognition it gives to my research, the financial support from the award gives me the chance to continue my research with increased confidence and peace of mind,” said Rovetti.

Raechel Bonomo, one of this year’s continuing education students, was unable to attend the ceremony. She expressed her gratitude in a letter read to members at the event. Bonomo identifies as a non-status member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation, but grew up in a mixed household feeling disconnected from her Indigenous roots. After her grandfather passed five years ago, not only did Bonomo lose a loved one, but also the cultural leader of her family. She sought to reconnect with the culture by enrolling in the Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences certificate program at the Chang School.

“This award has helped provide financial stability throughout my part-time studies,” wrote Bonomo. “I am thankful to the LIFE Institute, the Chang School and Ryerson University for their determination to place post-secondary education within reach.”

With her certificate and past journalism and communications experience, Bonomo plans to build storytelling platforms for members of the Indigenous community nationwide. She hopes her efforts will connect elders with the younger generation and keep traditional knowledge alive.

“These awards acknowledge the important link between youth and older adults in a truly unique and exciting way,” said Marie Bountrogianni, dean of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education. “We look forward to many more great opportunities to continue and expand our connection with the LIFE Institute.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have donated to the LISA Fund,” said Elisabete Way, executive director of the LIFE Institute. “For 20 years we have assisted our students in achieving their goals. Their successes and experiences move our hearts and remind us that we’re doing the right thing.”

The LIFE Institute recently expanded its partnership with Ryerson by funding the Toronto Social Capital Research Project with the university’s National Institute on Ageing and assisting with data collection through the participation of its members. To find out more about the organization, please visit To give to the LIFE Institute Student Awards, please visit the
LISA giving page.