Alumni are the heart and pulse of an institution, embodying its values and showcasing its potential to the world. We are thrilled to announce the recipients of the second University of Toronto Scarborough Alumni Awards. The calibre of nominations this year was truly outstanding, reflecting the depth and breadth of achievements and contributions from our community.
The achievements of our award recipients exemplify the UTSC's commitment to excellence and community impact. From outstanding contributions to their professional fields to significant contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion, these alumni and staff members illuminate UTSC's name beyond the campus. Their stories embolden current students and other alumni to continue striving for excellence. Their successes underscore the pivotal role UTSC is playing in nurturing leaders and visionaries who make a profound difference in the world.
The honorees this year are:
University of Toronto Scarborough Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement
This award is posthumously bestowed upon the Honourable David C. Onley, C.M., O.Ont., honouring his profound impact that resonates even beyond his lifetime. A beacon of hope and resilience, Mr. Onley dedicated his life to championing accessibility, leaving an indelible mark on Canada's landscape. As a staunch advocate for accessibility, he played a pivotal role in shaping the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), championing a more inclusive Canada for all. Overcoming childhood polio, Mr. Onley emerged as Canada's first broadcaster with a visible disability, consistently advocating for the full portrayal of his mobility device on screen. This stance not only broke barriers but also inspired self-reliance in the disabled community, encouraging them to realize their potential. His unparalleled advocacy was acknowledged through numerous accolades, including the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, Rick Hanson Award of Excellence, and inductions into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and the Scarborough Walk of Fame. In 2009, the University of Toronto conferred upon him an honorary degree.
After dedicating over twenty years to Citytv as a reporter and anchor, he transitioned into the esteemed role of the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (2007-2014). His tenure showcased his leadership, epitomizing a statesman deeply dedicated to societal advancement. Beyond his public service, Mr. Onley enriched young minds at the University of Toronto Scarborough, teaching in the Department of Political Science. His teachings, infused with wisdom and a zeal for change, left a lasting imprint. The UTSC community cherishes memories of him as an innovative educator who championed experiential learning. Throughout his life, Mr. Onley's endearing personality, marked by warmth, humour, and profound empathy, endeared him to many. His legacy is a poignant reminder of the power of perseverance and the profound impact of a life dedicated to service and inclusivity.
University of Toronto Scarborough Young Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement
Efosa Obano manages the Black Founders Network (BFN), a platform committed to propelling Black startups to success by offering holistic support and resources for entrepreneurs throughout their ventures. Volunteering within this community, Efosa has cultivated an environment where individuals with shared experiences can mutually learn and grow, promoting collective progress and knowledge exchange.
He also initiated and spearheads the African Impact Initiative (AII), a revolutionary platform going beyond mere dialogue by young Africans about challenges in their native countries. The African Impact Challenge, a joint endeavor between the African Impact Initiative and The BRIDGE, collaborates with local entrepreneurs passionate about advancing social development and enduring economic prosperity in their respective nations. This began with the Ghana Challenge in 2020, proceeded to Kenya in 2021, and will soon embrace three additional host nations. Chosen startups receive crucial systems infrastructure, such as reliable internet access, as well as operational assistance and strategic advice to craft and roll out their solutions.
Proficient in harnessing technology for societal transformation, impactful investments, and fostering nascent ventures, Efosa has earned accolades from the United Nations and the Ontario Minister's Award of Excellence. Prior to these undertakings, he led a team at Dell Technologies Canada, guiding startups through digital metamorphoses. He also championed community involvement for both Dell Canada's Social Impact Team and the Black Networking Alliance, merits that secured him Dell's Corporate Social Responsibility Award.
Moreover, Efosa offered his expertise as a mentor in the distinguished IMANI mentorship program, preparing high school students with vital university skills. His mentorship ensured numerous students had a seamless progression from high school to tertiary education. A revered speaker, Efosa perpetually leaves a lasting impression on both mentors and proteges, significantly influencing their journeys.
University of Toronto Scarborough Alumni Inclusive Excellence Award
Sumudini Sathi is a social advocate, body-positive model, and actor. As a Labour Relations Specialist in the Labour Movement, she supports unionized workers across Canada. Sumudini holds the prominent position of Unit Chair for York Region and Long-Term Care Units within CUPE local 905, representing a diverse group of over 3,500 public employees. This group includes professionals from Long Term Care, Paramedic Services, Water and Wastewater Services, Roads, Court Services, Social Services, Homelessness, and other essential sectors. In addition to this role, she represents Local 905, advocating for 6,000 Municipal and Library workers affiliated with CUPE 905. Sumudini co-founded the BIPOC Collective Human Rights Committee with CUPE905.
With nearly two decades in media and community leadership, her résumé boasts ten years as a frontline caseworker in the government social services sector. Her community initiatives have garnered attention from media outlets like Toronto.com, NOW Toronto, and the Toronto Star. In 2017, Sumudini contributed to post-war socio-economic development in Sri Lanka, serving as a Leadership facilitator. She holds a B.Sc from UTSC, a BSW from the University of Manitoba, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work at U of T. A graduate of the Leadership in Social Justice Fellowship by U of T and United Way, she also previously presided as the President of the Tamil Students Association at UTSC.
In the arts, Sumudini has been a TV host, producer, dancer, and theatre actress within the Tamil Canadian community. She has demonstrated her acting prowess in two Toronto-based films and has graced CityTV as a model. With fervour, she promotes body positivity and actively pushes for the representation of people of colour in the arts, fashion, media, and social justice arenas.
University of Toronto Scarborough Faculty and Staff Award for Alumni Engagement
Dr. Béatrice Lego serves as the Campus Farm Coordinator, responsible for providing administrative support to manage the teaching and pedagogical farm projects. In this capacity, she assists with site visits, experiential learning content production, and the farm's overall operation. A stalwart for the initiative, Dr. Lego engages with farm users, including administrators, faculty, staff, and students, with contagious passion. Her creativity shines when curating engaging experiential learning opportunities for the University community.
Dr. Lego has been a keen partner on alumni events, such as the UTSCAA Food for Thought series, dedicating extensive time to delivering high-quality programs that raised the campus farm's profile and offering practical insights on food and cultivation for alumni. Her online workshop "Soil in the City" was highly praised by alumni for its relevance to both outdoor and indoor gardening. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in organizing a family alumni event at the Campus Farm, featuring activities like potato digging and insights into Indigenous gardens. Her outreach initiatives offer alumni life-long learning experiences, ranging from pedagogy and research to cross-disciplinary networking opportunities.
With a PhD in Polymer and Surface Chemistry from the Université de Montréal, and certifications in permaculture design and advanced social systems design from the Permaculture Women’s Guild, Dr. Lego's academic background informs her innovative approach to the Campus Farm initiative, which she has been involved with since its inception in 2018. Her expertise extends beyond the university's boundaries. Dr. Lego has successfully fostered campus partnerships, diligently understanding her diverse audiences, notably in programming for alumni.
A natural mentor, Dr. Lego's listening skills, value for diverse perspectives, and boundless enthusiasm are evident. Her knowledge and resourcefulness are matched only by her foresight in "planting the seeds" of interest for students. Recognizing that alumni relations start well before graduation, she consistently fosters strong ties with students at various academic stages, enhancing community spirit. This, combined with her previous experiences in project management, facility operation, and urban agriculture, makes Dr. Lego an invaluable asset to the UTSC community.
Congratulations to all the recipients! Their endeavours not only make UTSC's name shine but also inspire others to keep pushing their boundaries. Stay tuned to discover more about their incredible journeys!