In addition to her studies, U of T grad finds time to support women in the workplace

(photo courtesy of Sara Imran)

Sara Imran kept busy during her time at the University of Toronto.

While earning her honours bachelor of arts degree – with a double major in political science and English literature – as a member of Trinity College, she co-founded WomINclusive to promote the inclusion of women in leadership roles; received Trinity College’s Neil Reid McLeod Scholarship to study for a semester at the University of Edinburgh; and was awarded a U of T Excellence Award for research in the social sciences and humanities to support her work as a research assistant this summer. Amid all that, she graduated with high distinction.

Imran recently caught up with Arts & Science writer Michael McKinnon to reflect on her accomplishments and plans following convocation.

You were the first woman in your family to graduate from a university outside Pakistan. Why U of T?

Part of my goal is to go back to Pakistan someday, so I chose a university that would be recognized globally. I had some idea of what I wanted to study, but I wanted a university good in all subjects – not just one – in case I changed my mind, and U of T checked that box. U of T has a great international reputation and excellent professors.

How did you find the Canadian winters? 

Compared to what everyone hyped it up to be, it was not as bad as I expected. Where I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, it’s humid and hot. Our winters are like a Canadian fall, so it was nice to experience a different kind of winter.

You also spent a semester studying at the University of Edinburgh how was that?

The universities are similar – large, world-renowned and with great professors. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel around Europe and meet and befriend people from all over the world while studying at Edinburgh.

Tell me about WomINclusive, the U of T club you co-founded to increase female representation in the workforce.

There are so few women in leadership positions, especially women of colour, so my friend and I started WomINnclusive to hold panel discussions, networking events and a speaker series to help students connect with women in leadership positions, get advice and succeed in careers in corporate, nonprofit and government sectors.

Did you arrive at U of T with that passion or did it develop here?

It was with me from the start, but it developed further while I was studying at U of T. Where I’m from, the country and culture don’t provide a lot of opportunities for women beyond the traditional role of mother or caregiver. While these roles are extremely important, I think it is also necessary to provide more professional opportunities for women.

How are you celebrating your graduation? 

My friend and I are going to watch the virtual convocation ceremony together, put up a few balloons and decorations and talk to family back home.

What’s next?

I’m working for the summer as a research assistant at U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on a project on emotions and narratives of racial and national belonging within politics until August. I’ve received an offer from an information services consulting firm in Montreal for the fall. I’m excited to start; there’s a lot of research work involved in the role. Ultimately, I may think about graduate school.

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