Alumna Anjum Sultana says U of T gave her 'the tools to be a global citizen'
Anjum Sultana credits her University of Toronto education for giving her the global perspective to make an impact as the inaugural director of youth leadership and policy advocacy at Plan International Canada.
An alumna of U of T Scarborough and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Sultana advocates for the health of young women and children at development and humanitarian organization.
“We help young people to activate their global leadership by providing them with the skills, tools and networks to make meaningful change on children's rights. My team and I also do work influencing Canadian and global decision-makers on children's rights and equality for girls,” Sultana says.
“As a G7 nation, Canada can make a difference. Our world’s experiencing climate change, COVID-19 and conflict – what many are calling the ‘Triple C’. I want to figure out what positive role our country can play because we want to be that platform for global citizenship.”
During her undergraduate degree at U of T Scarborough, Sultana took advantage of the university’s wide range of academic offerings after realizing that studying across disciplines could better position her to effect change by bringing new perspectives. She graduated with a double major in health studies and neuroscience, and a minor in psychology.
"Studying at U of T gave me the tools to be a global citizen,” Sultana says. “We must understand how what happens in one part of the world impacts all of us.”
Sultana also completed a master’s of public health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with a focus in health promotion, global health and public health policy.
“I wanted to know how elements outside our bodies impact health and well-being,” says Sultana. “It was great to learn about the biology behind good health such as neurotransmitters, but it was also important to understand public policy and economics and how these variables influence health.”
While at U of T, Sultana volunteered with the University of Toronto International Health Program and War Child Canada, and was a first-year director with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, among many other activities. She received the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award in and the D.R. Campbell Merit Award.
“U of T instilled the importance of learning in the classroom,” says Sultana. “But it also inspired me to soak up everything I could through extracurriculars, which compounded my understanding of public service.”
Anjum Sultana, left, wth Plan International Canada coworker Stu Solomon (supplied image)
Suzanne Sicchia, an associate professor, teaching stream, in U of T Scarborough’s department of health and society, says she enjoyed sharing her classroom with Sultana.
“Her critical and creative contributions to our collective learning still stand out,” Sicchia says. “It has been wonderful to watch her career unfold. She’s doing important policy and advocacy work to the benefit of us all.”
Sultana makes time to give back to her alma mater. She has volunteered as a member of several mentorship programs at U of T and offered her expertise as a guest speaker.
“I also work with the Public Good Initiative located on the St. George campus,” Sultana says. “It’s a pro bono consulting service for students who want to learn more about how they can support charities and non-profits. It's been such a joy to be part of that because I’m helping students think about how they want to contribute and play a role in those sectors, but also give back while they're at U of T.”
Growing up in Scarborough, Sultana remembers wanting to attend U of T from a young age. Both her and her brother attended the university for their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
“I’m grateful my family achieved these milestones in higher education,” says Sultana, who was the first in her family to graduate from a university program in Canada. “And we were able to do it in our hometown.”