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Faces of ’14: Frosh Week Approaches

They’re smart, globally aware, tech savvy — and still a little nervous about starting at U of T

September 10, 2010

They prefer texting to talking on the phone, they know Fergie as a pop singer not a princess, and for them, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have always been separate countries. Meet the “faces of ’14”— members of the Faculty of Arts and Science’s incoming class.

Many were born in 1992, one in nine come from outside Canada and 60 per cent are female. They may be the most technologically advanced class ever to attend U of T, spending hours a day using their smartphones and laptops to connect with others on Facebook and watch and upload videos on YouTube (among many other things). They’re Canada’s future businesspeople, lawyers, writers, teachers and diplomats, and we profile seven of them below.

Photo of Li Jia (Betty) Wei

Jiawei (Betty) Li, 19
Hometown: Shenzhen, China
Planned course of study: Commerce
University College
Awards: Howard Ferguson Provincial Scholarship

What are your goals for first year?
Get used to university life as soon as possible, and get a high GPA in order to apply for scholarships. Meanwhile, try to balance activities and study.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Adapting to a new environment.

And the most exciting aspect?
I heard that the orientation is really fun and I can make a lot of new friends.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
We’re experiencing much more competition, which motivates us to study harder and fight for a better future. I think my generation is more energetic, diligent and ambitious.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
After I got an unsatisfactory result from an entrance examination in China, my friend told me to go abroad to study instead of going to a so-so university in China. Now I’ve been admitted to U of T!

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
Many people think I am an introvert but I’m very outgoing.

Who is your hero and why?
My father. He is very hard-working and he struggles all the time to give our family a decent life. He sets a good example and teaches me perseverance and modesty. In my mind, he is like a huge mountain that stands behind me and gives me strength.

A last word?
Math was a nightmare for me in high school. I felt so upset that I nearly wanted to give up. But after listening to my teacher’s advice and receiving encouragement from my friends and parents, I kept fighting and changed my study method. All of my efforts finally paid off.

Photo of Hormuz Dadabhoy

Hormuz Dadabhoy, 18
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Planned course of study: Arts and Science (history and international relations)
Victoria College

Why did you choose U of T?
Studying in a multicultural school such as U of T will give me access to many different perspectives, opinions and viewpoints, which will no doubt be a fantastic learning opportunity.

What are your career goals?
To do a job that I am passionate about – one that will make a difference in a global context. I was thinking along the lines of international law, perhaps leading to experiences in the United Nations, the International Criminal Court or even a micro-finance bank such as the Grameen Bank.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
We’re probably the most globally aware generation to date, which makes it possible for us to be more socially and politically engaged at the national and international level.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
The large class sizes, and the feeling of anonymity. Being one of 20,000-odd students is a scary prospect.

And the most exciting aspect?
Meeting like-minded people and engaging in discussions with them, making lifelong friends and studying subjects because I want to, not have to.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Do not dish out what you cannot take.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
One of my favorite pastimes is watching Prime Ministers Questions in the U.K. House of Commons on YouTube.

Who is your hero and why?
My grandfather. Throughout my childhood he always taught me by example the values of honesty and integrity.

A last word?
I am passionate about trains and have a model train set at home, which is set up for four months of the year on our dining table at home. We eat on our laps for those four months.

Photo of Danielle Klein
Danielle Julia Klein, 17
Hometown: Ottawa
Planned course of study: Arts and Science (international relations or history)
University College
Awards: Howard Ferguson Provincial Scholarship

Why did you choose U of T?
I wanted my university experience to include interesting courses, enthusiastic professors and students who share the desire to learn.

What are your career goals?
I hope to become a lawyer, and eventually work in either international law or for an NGO. In a broader sense, I want to make a difference on a global scale. I also hope to publish a novel.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
Apathy. My generation seems to believe that an individual cannot make a difference.

What are your goals for first year?
To make friends, do well in my classes, and learn how to get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. I’d also like to explore the clubs and associations, so that I can become significantly more involved in future years.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Taking astronomy, because I do not consider anything involving science to be my strength.

What impact do you think you’ll have at U of T?
I may write for the school newspaper, or do volunteer work for a charitable club. Who knows? Maybe I will become very involved in the astronomy department!

In the movie of your life, who would you want to play you and why?
Kate Winslet. She is an incredibly versatile actress who tends to choose roles involving strong, determined women who persevere and exceed expectations.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Not to procrastinate and not to dwell on misfortunes. When your goals are hefty like mine (some might say “unrealistic” but I beg to differ!), these are two extremely important lessons.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I am a closet soap opera junkie, and I may or may not love greeting cards with cats on them.

Who is your hero and why?
My hero is anybody who does what they are passionate about, and who creates an extraordinary life for themselves. By these criteria, my heroes include Julia Child, Jane Austen and Pierre Trudeau.

A last word?
I have been writing since the moment I was given my first diary, which I still have. In grades 5 and 6, I sent out a monthly newsletter called The Meep to about 30 of my friends. My love for writing has prompted a strong desire to be published one day, and I will continue writing until I stumble upon my masterpiece!

Photo by Jing-Ling Kao-Beserve

Fatima Bella Braimoh, 18
Hometown: London, Ontario
Planned course of study: Kinesiology (as well as a teaching degree in the concurrent education program)
University College
Awards: 2010 Tanenbaum Scholarship

Why did you choose U of T?
U of T encourages student-athletes. Not only are the academic programs of a high calibre, but the soccer team is extremely competitive, successful and talented.

And why kinesiology?
I enjoy both physical activity and working with people. I’ve always loved sports so this is a way I can incorporate this passion into my work.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
Our global awareness, an appreciation for social and environmental issues and a willingness to insist on change.

What are your goals for first year?
Maintain a high academic average and work towards making first string on the women’s soccer team.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Adjusting to a new lifestyle (sharing a bathroom haha), living away from home and my dog.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
To treat people the way I would want to be treated. The message reminds me every day to stay grounded and humble.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I try to read my horoscope every day because I’m pretty superstitious.

What superpower would you most like to have?
Being able to freeze time would be awesome because it would allow me to do things such as go the bathroom during a movie without missing anything, take a break when I need one (during a soccer game), get to work or school on time and finish homework on time.

A last word?
I’ve loved playing soccer since the age of 5, and have attended the Women’s Soccer Nationals three times. I can play both the tenor saxophone, and the trumpet. I’m also really good at baking.

Photo of Sophie Qu

Sophie Summer Qu, 18
Hometown: Toronto
Planned course of study: French
Victoria College
Awards: Vari Scholarship

Why did you choose U of T?
U of T offered me a generous scholarship.

And why French?
French is a very sexy language.

What are your career goals?
I would like to become one of those inspiring teachers that students never forget.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
We prefer texting over face-to-face social interaction.

What are your goals for first year?
Join U of T’s varsity wrestling team and obtain a high GPA.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Annoying roommates – and the idea that I may be eating a lot of microwave dinners

And the most exciting aspect?
The novelty.

What impact do you think you’ll have at U of T?
As one of thousands of students, I will probably just exist.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
My co-worker told me to never give up…until it gets hard. He also said you don’t get anywhere without complaining.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I don’t delete emails. I have 5,121 messages in my inbox.

If you were a superhero who would you be?
I would be Hit Girl from the movie Kick-Ass. She’s just a regular girl in an awesome outfit who kicks ass. She breaks the traditional mold of a superheroine.

Photo of Katherine Castello
Katherine Elizabeth Castello, 18
Hometown: St. Catharines, Ontario
Planned course of study: Arts and Science (film studies)
University College
Awards: Howard Ferguson Scholarship

Why did you choose U of T?
I felt the need to be in an environment that embraces diversity.

And why Arts & Science?
Creativity and imagination are two traits that define my character but I want to be able to express myself with intellectual gravity as well.

What are your career goals?
Ideally I want to get into the entertainment industry — I think it’s important to make other people laugh. I’d also like to travel the world.

What do you think is the biggest difference between your generation and the previous one?
Work ethic. This generation seems so unmotivated and impassive; the mentality is “every man for himself.” We need to find a deeper connection to our world and to each other.

What are your goals for first year?
To find balance and stay true to myself; academics are important but there is no reason to stress out.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Being invisible amongst thousands of other first-year students who also feel invisible.

And the most exciting aspect?
Change! It’s unbelievable that I’ve finally reached this stage in my life and I’m excited to pursue this new beginning.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing something is real even if we do not see it (Hebrews 11:1).

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I’m an old-fashioned romantic. Sometimes I come across as pessimistic and overly sensible, so the idea that I would believe in passion or love is inconceivable, especially to my friends and family.

Who is your hero and why?
My mom. I’m so grateful and blessed to have a mother that loves me unconditionally. She taught me self worth, courage and perseverance, even if she did it unintentionally.

A last word?
I was raised by a single mother in an environment that wasn’t always supportive or dependable. But, no matter what, I always had faith in God and the idea that my life had a purpose far greater than I could ever imagine. Soccer is the only sport that matters and Jesus is my homeboy.

Photo of George Steel

George T. Steel, 19
Hometown: Aurora, Ontario
Planned course of study: Physics and computer science
University College
Awards: George Roderick Fraser scholarship in Mathematics from University College

Why did you choose U of T?
I like the strength of the programs in my chosen field. I also like the flexibility that U of T offers when choosing a program, and it is close enough to my family that I can still visit.

And why physics and computer science?
I’ve been using computers for many years, starting with my dad’s 486 machine, learning to program it in QBASIC for DOS. As for physics, it’s the study of the world we live in. How can anyone not take interest in that?

What are your goals for first year?
Get a GPA of at least 3.5 to renew my scholarship.

What’s your biggest apprehension about starting university?
Having to borrow money. Leaving home for the first time.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
“Any sufficiently advanced degree of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice” (with apologies to Arthur C. Clarke). That saying is great to keep in mind when you suspect malice. Also, when you study the sciences, you never just have one teacher or a few teachers: you have an entire world full of them to learn from.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I’m not just interested in the maths and sciences. At high school, I was involved in arts productions, often running sound and lights. I even acted a part in one of the school plays this year. I am also interested in philosophy, literature and aboriginal studies.

What superpower would you like to have?
I’d want the powers of author Tamora Pierce’s super-spy Aly Cooper. Her powers of investigation (zoom eyes, instant chemical analysis, lie detecting) sound incredibly useful for a lot more then espionage.

Who is your hero and why?
Farley Mowat. He was a great advocate for human rights and environmental issues at a time when few others were.


Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Aly BSc%202011 on September 23rd, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

So…U of T only has first years in UC and Vic? I enjoy these kinds of articles, but the lack of representation amongst the colleges is a little disheartening.

# 2
Posted by Nikita BASc%202010 on September 27th, 2010 @ 3:57 am

Congrats everyone!

Unsolicited advice from a recent grad: Do not give up. Specialize. The world needs specialists
more than ever. Pick one club and one sport. Develop a routine. Say hello to the people next to you in class. Become confident in presentation and public speaking. It is a huge campus, walk it boundary to boundary.

U of T is the antithesis of high school. There are 50,000 people, everyone is busy and a great majority of students and faculty simply do not care. But you must not settle. Find the passionate and the curious. Find a cause.

Live long and prosper.

# 3
Posted by JJ BSc%202008 on September 27th, 2010 @ 11:24 am

Very interesting bios that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!
If I ever wanted to get in touch with any of these students to learn more about their student experience, how would I do that?

# 4
Posted by Catie HBA%202010 on September 27th, 2010 @ 11:45 am

I agree, it would have been great to see more diversity in terms of colleges. Also, it would have been good to see a mix of students from other Canadian provinces. But I do like the concept. It may be cool to find these students again in 3 years and see how they would respond to similar questions.

# 5
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 27th, 2010 @ 11:51 am

Thanks for the comments.

@JJ: The university doesn’t give out students’ contact information but we could pass along a message from you to them, or you could go through the colleges.

On the issue of diversity, we tried to get men and women, people from different ethnic backgrounds and countries, studying different subjects, from different colleges. It was a tall order to find complete diversity in seven students, but we tried!

# 6
Posted by Irene Withers on September 28th, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

Fascinating! I always enjoy the young and their views. Thanks.

# 7
Posted by Barney Stinson on January 19th, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

Keep up the good work, George!

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