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Faculty of Science

Meet the 2019 Governor General Academic Medal Winner, Victoria Emily Barbosa Hipolito 

Victoria Emily Barbosa Hipolito

What does receiving the gold medal mean to you?

Receiving the gold medal is an amazing honour that I am extremely grateful for. I’ve found myself reflecting on the more difficult times during graduate school and it’s really emphasized the importance of accepting failure and moving past it to better embrace the successes that may arrive shortly after. This medal is a testament to my dedication and hard work during my studies, but was only possible with the unlimited support I received from my family, friends and mentors at Ryerson.

What advice would you give students entering their first year?

For new students entering a research-focused graduate program, the most important advice I could offer is to not give up on the research and most importantly on yourself. From my own experience, I found myself fixated on trying to get everything done perfectly right in the beginning. It may sound obvious, but I realized that science and lack of experience don’t work that way. Embrace the failed experiments as a way to improve if that’s your technique or even how you approach the problem. Also, realize that everyone makes mistakes and has failed experiments. So, believe in yourself, and most importantly, when you do succeed, celebrate every moment!

I would also say: take advantage of what Ryerson and your program have to offer. I found the most rewarding and enriching experiences were those I spent with colleagues, faculty and staff outside of the lab. If it was going to networking events, symposiums or even passing someone in the hallway. Making those connections could be valuable to you then or in the future. Additionally, I found that while in a research-intensive program, you tend to stay within the bubble of your program, but I challenge you to branch out and get involved, go to networking events, Zone learning initiatives, career events, GRADTalks or whatever else you feel drawn to! Graduate school shouldn’t be a lonely time.These are great places to meet new friends and mentors.

Do you have any favourite classes/teachers, and what made them stand out?

I value all relationships and advice I’ve received from FOS faculty. I do have to say that I was extremely grateful to have Dr. Botelho as a supervisor. If it wasn’t for his support and confidence in me, I would not have succeeded as much as I have professionally and personally. I was able to go to him with ideas about research or extracurricular initiatives for feedback and advice, and he never made me feel guilty if I was passionate about initiatives outside of research.

How did Ryerson support you during your time here?

Ryerson has supported me in so many ways – I’ve gained valuable scientific research expertise in the field of cellular biology through Ryerson’s advanced facilities and connections to nearby institutions, like the Hospital for Sick Children. Additionally, I took advantage of many resources, like the services offered at the Career & Co-op Centre and the Student Learning Centre, which have helped me develop skills outside of those in technical research. I also made connections with many experts that allowed me to co-organize a variety of events and workshops for students and alumni of the Molecular Science program. This was a great, growing experience for me and at the same time, I was able to offer something to the student body. So, to students: if you have an idea or would like to bring something new to the program, go for it. See what resources the staff and faculty in Ryerson can offer you.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Aside from receiving the GGGM and Ryerson Gold medals during convocation, my proudest accomplishment would be receiving the Bill Cott Award for Graduate Teaching Excellence. I was extremely lucky to have great mentors during grad school, and it became natural for me to enjoy mentoring and coaching undergraduate and graduate students during my graduate career. Being recognized was a wonderful honour and testament to the dedicated mentors I had.

What are your future plans?

I am interested in transitioning into the biopharma and biotech industry sectors where I can utilize my extensive research acumen in molecular health sciences to help inform business strategy, such as identifying research trends and increasing efficiency and productivity in R&D.