Adrian de Leon

Adrian de Leon


Adrian completed an Honours BA (with Distinction) from UTSC in 2014 in the Specialist Program in English. After working in the IT profession for some time, he entered as a Direct-Entry student into the doctoral program of the Department of History at the University of Toronto. As a graduate student, he has served as Managing Editor of the Global Food History journal, and sits on the Editorial Collective of the Graduate Journal for Food Studies. In 2015, he was admitted as a Junior Fellow at Massey College, and in the following year was elected as the Don of Hall. His research on empire, industrial capitalism, and the Filipino labor diaspora is supported by SSHRC and the Fulbright Scholarship Program. In 2017-2018, he will be a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Hawai‘i and the University of Washington.

At UTSC, Adrian initially pursued student politics and campus leadership. In 2013, he was elected as VP Academics at the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union. In 2014, he co-founded and served as the first President of SELF, was among the first members (and conference delegates) of Sigma Tau Delta, all while serving on the Governing Council of UofT. Being involved on campus and getting to know faculty mentors inspired Adrian to pursue research as an undergraduate student. In 2013, he co-founded the Interdisciplinary Research and Discovery Symposium. That summer, while working with Prof. Marjorie Rubright, he received a research grant to travel to the Philippines and Hawai‘i and study Filipino diasporic literatures and labor history. The results became his ENGD98 capstone project (supervised by Profs. Neal Dolan and Maria Assif), and an essay at the UTSC Humanities Conference. For the latter paper, he won Best Paper in English. The insights and networks he gained as an undergraduate researcher continue to inform his doctoral work. 

Thanks to UTSC’s strengths in Creative Writing, Adrian’s scholarly work tends to cross-pollinate with his training as a poet. At UTSC, he worked with Prof. Daniel Tysdal while writing a poetry collection and publishing in various creative venues. He continues to write creatively and critically—distinguishing, not dividing the two. As a historian, he believes that storytelling and poetics are among the most useful skills for writing about the past, in order to speak as effectively as possible to the readers of today. 

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