Motivating Millennials

Even before the term Baby Boomers was given to the 75 million or so people born between 1946 and 1964, we’ve been categorizing generations based on defining characteristics. (My generation might call this shorthand; Gen X might call it a sound byte.) It’s become part of popular culture. Maybe there are some truths behind the generalizations about the generation coming of age today, the Millennials. But presiding over three convocation ceremonies last week brought home how limiting labels can be. Each of our new alumni is an individual like no one else on the planet, with their own experiences, their own memories, and their own stories.

More than 1,600 students graduated from University of Toronto Scarborough this spring. That’s more than 1,600 stories. I wish I could share them all with you because each one is remarkable, and each is promising in a way that makes me feel proud and excited for the future.

Mihilkumar Hemalkumar Patel studied Neuroscience. His family came to Canada from India when he was very young. He grew up in Toronto—mostly right here in Scarborough. Mihil is singularly focused. When he saw how well doctors cared for his grandmother in India—and he was quite young at the time, he made up his mind that medicine would be his profession. Mihil’s dedication earned him the Governor General’s Silver Medal and the University of Toronto’s John Black Aird Award as U of T’s top student this year. (Mihil is the fourth U of T Scarborough student in four years to receive this incredible honour!) In his down time, he volunteers at Centenary Hospital. He’s just taken his MCAT and after more volunteering at Centenary, he will be bound for medical school.

Katherine McGregor found “classrooms” for her International Development Studies Co-op program in Botswana and Ghana. Now that she’s graduated, she’s off to Sri Lanka with the World University Services Canada. Fariha Ekra raised money for the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and became a spokesperson for humanitarian efforts. Feras Shamoun’s work as a student tutor helped others comprehend complex concepts; his patience, dedication and accomplishments earned him an international award. From an Olympic weight lifter, to a social activist who is the eldest of four singing siblings, and a double major raising triplets, our newest alumni have already been making a huge impact on our campus, in the community and to the world. They are poised to do even more. We’re featuring just a few of their stories, each one extraordinary.

The University of Toronto also recognized the contributions of one of Canada’s most recognizable figures in international sport—anti-doping crusader Dick Pound—with an honorary Doctor of Laws. What a privilege it was to be part of the ceremony. Dick is a mentor and a colleague, an inspiring and influential leader, and a good friend.

It is my honour to share this milestone moment with each and every one of our graduates. Congratulations!