Convocation 2013: celebrating graduates from U of T Mississauga
Being involved is the key to a successful University of Toronto Mississauga student life. That’s the final advice of Gurveer Bains, UTM’s valedictorian for the class of 2013.
“There’s such a positive impact associated with being involved in the world around you,” says Bains, who is graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Science. “Doing volunteer and other work not only opens your mind to new experiences, it lets you give back to the community that is giving so much to you.”
Bains speaks from experience. As a student, she worked as a career assistant with the UTM Career Centre, and volunteered as a peer health educator, a medical first Responder and with the ALS Society of Ontario and Heart and Stroke Foundation. She received many awards, including the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award.
Academically, she’s drawn to understanding access to health care and medical geographic disparities, which she plans to continue studying at Queen’s University for her master’s degree. Her honours thesis examined the unmet health care needs of immigrants in Mississauga.
Bains admits that organizing her time was often challenging but well-worth the effort.
“I had a lot of support from faculty, staff and my peers, and I really wanted to take advantage of my time in university to do everything I could.”
As valedictorian, Bains represents 1,675 UTM students in her farewell speech.
“It was an honour and very humbling to be selected as valedictorian,” she says. “I want everyone to know that this isn’t the end – it’s finishing one chapter and starting another with even more opportunities.”
Rahim Khanani, who is also graduating from UTM this year, agrees that university is a time to open your mind. Graduating with a degree in commerce (specialist in accounting), Khanani says he’s glad he explored different subjects while at school.
“I took classes in Persian, Buddhism and volcanoes, just because I was interested in them,” he says. “I found I loved statistics.”
Khanani transferred to UTM from the St. George campus after his first year, and he says that UTM quickly became his home away from home. At UTM, he found a great, close-knit community where he was able to learn leadership and team-building life skills.
Khanani honed these skills as vice-chair of this year’s successful Show Me the Green Conference, which pitted 19 teams from across Ontario to create environmentally friendly and economically feasible tweaks to organizational processes.
“This was an incredible opportunity to grow, and I think I learned more about myself in the eight months of setting the conference up than in the previous four years,” he says. “It was a huge accomplishment for me, and my favourite memory.”
It was also fun to do, says Khanani, and that’s one of the most important things about university.
“I would say to anyone starting UTM in September to take the time to have fun and learn about yourself,” he says. “You’re an adult once you step foot through that door and it can be a little intimidating to balance everything. But it’s amazing.”
Bains adds, “And take time to watch the deer. The deer are fascinating in your first year, and they’re fascinating in your final year. Everyone loves the deer.”
UTM convocation ceremonies will be held on June 10, and will celebrate students graduating with degrees in the arts, science, commerce and business administration.