Celebrating Ryerson’s medal-winning grads of 2020
In what has been a truly exceptional year, meet some of Ryerson’s most exceptional 2020 graduates, recognized for their incredible achievements with a Ryerson Gold Medal, Governor General Academic Silver Award or the Board of Governor Leadership Award. The awards are the top honours for graduates.
“Coming to Ryerson is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The way Ryerson delivered an academic experience premised on experiential learning and community involvement ensured that each day was meaningful.
Like many students, starting out at Ryerson had its fair share of challenges. Navigating the vast landscape that is a university can be daunting without the proper resources. But, without hesitation and with complete authenticity, Ryerson delivered.
My professors taught with integrity, passion and charisma, leading to my own personal academic success. I had a wealth of extracurricular opportunities at my disposal to ensure I was enhancing my personal and professional development. But most of all, what made my experience at Ryerson so unequivocally meaningful was the unique sense of community that was built in every corridor of the school. My journey at Ryerson was far from individual, it really was something collective and I attribute the relationships I built over the four years to this.
Knowing that no matter the situation, a diverse community was right there to support you, I was able to achieve my goals - whether as president of a student group, planning a university-wide event, volunteering for an important cause, or one of the many other endeavours I undertook.
Ryerson taught me that you get more out of life by giving more, and not in a tangible sense - you get a sense of nourishment that truly comes from giving all of yourself at all times, to the community you are a part of, and that illusive feeling I will forever be grateful for.”
To learn more about Handelman’s contributions, please visit the Ted Rogers School of Management website.
“My experience at Ryerson was incredibly meaningful. I proved to myself that through resiliency, I could achieve professional and academic success while remaining well-rounded.
After transferring to Ryerson, I was slightly nervous about the transition. Thus, I made it my mission to actively volunteer and participate in the Ryerson community, strive for academic excellence, gain professional experience and maintain a social life.
Over the following years, I was the vice-president, events of the Professional Communication Course Union (PCCU) for two terms, marketing associate & corporate relations associate at Ted Rogers Students’ Society, public relations associate at Ted Rogers Management Conference, RCDS Street Team member and Ryerson Equestrian Team member and social media manager. I also helped with the Ryerson Leadership Lab and Professional Communication and volunteered with the Children's Book Bank, ICC, ROAR Festival and KidsAbility. I interned at Conversation Agency and since then, have been part of the team. Despite being incredibly busy (and loving it!), I was on the Dean's List for two years and maintained a competitive GPA. Last summer, I was even fortunate enough to spend eight weeks studying in Cortona, Tuscany.
My time at Ryerson taught me the power of resilience and how it’s okay to reach out for help – we are all human. Keep your head up, a positive attitude and you can accomplish anything.”
“There have been many memorable moments while I was a student at Ryerson: Meeting my life partner and co-conspirator on a panel discussion; bringing speakers with lived experience of drug use, sex work, homelessness and incarceration to talk at the university, paying them good honorariums, showing support and solidarity, and amplifying their calls for action; bringing Ryerson community members on tours of the Works Supervised Injection Site and witnessing their transformation and surprise at the importance of the site, how it operates, and how wonderful the people who work there are; and training people in overdose prevention and response via naloxone and CPR training, and being able to give folks practical means by which they can become first responders to keep their own community safe.”
To learn more about Fricker, please visit the Faculty of Community Services website.
“Ryerson helped guide me toward the path I am on today in my studies and career. I graduated with a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning in 2015, and in 2016 I began The Chang School's Certificate in Aging and Gerontology. The certificate program helped orient me to the field of gerontology and to better understand the needs and unique experiences of older adults in our communities. My experience in the certificate program helped to reinforce my interest in gerontology, and served as an important stepping stone to where I am now, completing a master’s degree in gerontology at Simon Fraser University. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during my time at Ryerson and in my endeavours.”
“I couldn’t have dreamed how rewarding my experience at Ryerson would be. From before the first day of class, I was swept into the arms of the Ryerson community, shown kindness, and given opportunity and confidence.
My undergraduate experience turned into so much more than 40 full-credit courses. I loved what I learned in class, but I grew because of the advice I received from friends, professors and advisors. I was not hesitant to jump at opportunities like competitive scholarships, an international exchange, or grad school applications thanks to the unconditional support I felt at Ryerson and from my family.
The most important product of my undergraduate experience will not be my paper diploma, but the network of innovative and supportive people that has developed around me. Although I’ve gained invaluable technical skills and theoretical knowledge through courses, the most meaningful lessons I’ve learned are how to be thoughtful, and how to make the decisions that will allow me to pursue real-world challenges I care about. For this, I am so proud to be a part of Ryerson, and I am honoured to be able to view my successes today as the product of focused, intentional work and a strong community.”
“Ryerson is more than just the place I went to university. It’s the place where I figured out how to create a cyclone in a tube to collect martian dust and program a robot to palletize. It’s a place where I met some incredible people and made lifelong friends. It’s a place where I became who I am today. Ryerson not only helped me to grow but also allowed me to share my passion for STEM with the community and with kids from all over Ontario.
As a member of the Ryerson Rams Robotics (R3) team, I helped start and support the African Canadian Christian Network FIRST robotics team. As mentors for this team we inspired out-of-the-box thinking, taught hands-on mechanical skills and showed the engineering design process to children from elementary to high school. This experience truly emphasized the importance of diversity in STEM-related fields and showed that to make that diversity a reality, we need to inspire and empower all children from a young age in science and technology. I hope that as a graduate I will continue to support and encourage underrepresented groups in STEM and show that these fields of study are just as much a possibility for them as they are for anyone else.”
“The last four years had the highs and lows of all great adventures. I could not have succeeded without my friends and family. During my undergraduate degree, I married my wife, Elizabeth, went through a major surgery, and lost loved ones who I wish were here to help us celebrate.
At Ryerson, I had the opportunity to participate in meaningful, hands-on research in both chemistry and biology, including a laboratory research course, synthesizing novel porphyrin molecules under the supervision of Dr. Marc Adler and a fourth-year honour’s thesis investigating the effects of plant metabolites on Daphnia behaviour, under the insightful supervision of Dr. Lesley Campbell and Dr. Janet Koprivnikar.
I was lucky enough to be able to share my research at two Ryerson conferences. I was also granted an NSERC-USRA to do research this summer with Dr. Koprivnikar. I would be remiss not to mention the Invertebrate Zoology course taught by Dr. Andrew Laursen. He brought enthusiasm, creativity, and depth of knowledge to a course which gave us direct experience with invertebrate trapping, pinning and preservation.
Regrettably, it is hardly sufficient to pick out just a handful of people and events that made my time at Ryerson so memorable. I could never thank enough the brilliant and supportive faculty, administrators, and fellow students at Ryerson. I am so incredibly proud and grateful to be a Ryerson alumnus and I will become a better scientist for the experiences and connections I have made during my time here.”
“I came to Ryerson looking for a career change. My initial intent was to finish the program and start working as quickly as possible. To that end, I frequently took over 100% course loads and that, coupled with the rather high standards to which I hold myself, could have made for a very boring degree. And yet, despite the studiousness which is both my best and worst trait, my time at Ryerson was unexpectedly, delightfully rich.
One of the great things about the Retail Management program is that it’s always innovating, which leads to some very interesting assignments, the most notable of which was an experimental assignment that involved creating a store-schedule model to maximize sales. I loved it, and, as a result, I shifted my career plans in a much more analytical direction.
The other lovely thing about the program is how tight-knit it is. The encouragement I received throughout my degree really helped me to step outside of my comfort zone and try things that I never would have sought out on my own, such as tutoring at TRSM’s Academic Success Centre, working on the initial research for TRSM’s 8th floor pop-up space, or organizing a Retail Student Association experiential learning trip to Italy. Without the direct support of my professors and peers, I would have missed out on some of my most memorable experiences.”
To learn more about Morton’s contributions, please visit the Ted Rogers School of Management website.
“Having always held a genuine interest in every subject I took, science has become a passion. As L. Bohannon said, 'Passion is not found; passion is built.' The same could be said of professional skills, such as teamwork, which I gained at Ryerson. Through group projects, my peers and I were challenged and learned from each other to become the best we could be.
Ryerson offers a rich and diverse student life. Through socializing with other students, I picked up table tennis. With countless hours of practice and the guidance of staff and teammates, I made it to the varsity team.
I’ve also developed lasting friendships through teams and clubs, especially Kingdom Come Ryerson (formerly Agape Impact). Running into familiar faces helped get me through long days and 8 a.m. classes, sometimes even becoming highlights of my day. During my time at Ryerson, I also recharged through the performing arts, including drama and rapping.
I’m honoured to receive this award, and sincerely thank Ryerson for my successes. The professors are approachable, not treating us as a number – they made an effort to know our names. They also inspired us to think critically and apply what we’ve learned to current issues, including COVID-19 and the rapidly evolving understanding of the virus. The solid foundation in the sciences has prepared us to be future leaders in innovation and to make an impact in the lives of others. Although this chapter at Ryerson has come to an end, I’ll always be a Ram at heart.”
“My Ryerson journey was meaningful, unique, and nothing I ever expected. Entering my first year, I was a timid, anxious, in-the-closet boy who often felt isolated and afraid to take risks. But by the end of my five years at Ryerson, I can confidently say I made the most out of my university experience.
I ventured into extracurriculars by being a member of the Chemistry Course Union, eventually making my way up to become co-president. I participated in an exchange program and co-ops, which enabled me to work and live in two of the world's greatest global cities — London and New York. I worked hard academically, which led to me being on the Dean's List every year, winning a total of 12 academic awards, and achieving an A+ in every course I took.
Equally important, I made many strides in my personal life, where I learned to understand and appreciate all the different aspects that compose my identity — Latinx, Miskito, first generation, person of colour, queer.
I attribute all of my personal growth and an all-encompassing Ryerson experience to my amazing support system: My fellow classmates who would share both the joy of elaborate lab experiments and the grind of the tedious lab reports; My boyfriend, who would buy me breakfast for every 8 a.m. class, always stay up late with me while I studied, and always advocate for better work-life balance. And lastly, my mother, who never added unnecessary pressure, but rather would consistently be an advocate for my well-being and happiness.
Following my positive experience at Ryerson, I will continue striving for excellence while pursuing a fully funded chemistry doctorate program at Rutgers University in the greater NYC area.”