In fact, there are as many incredible things to do with your U of T degree as there are alumni of the university. But here are a few ideas we hope will inspire you!
Become Prime Minister of Canada
Four U of T grads have held the title of Prime Minister – for as little as nine months (Arthur Meighen, BA 1896 UC) and as long as 22 years (William Lyon Mackenzie King, BA 1895, LLB 1896 and MA 1897).
Paul Martin (BA 1961 St, Michael’s) and Lester B. Pearson (BA 1919) kept the keys to 24 Sussex for eight years between them.
Compose an Oscar-winning score
Mychael Danna (BMus 1986, BEd 1987) won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2013 for his beautiful and haunting composition for Life of Pi.
Sell your startup to Google
Anand Agarawala (MSc 2010) turned his computer science master’s thesis into a hugely successful software company, Bump Top, which he sold to Google the same year he graduated.
Sing at New York’s Carnegie Hall
Measha Brueggergosman (BMus 1999) has given soaring solo recitals at Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s famed opera house. But her biggest audience ever was the more than three billion people worldwide who tuned in to hear her perform the Olympic Hymn at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
Report on world-changing events
For more than 40 years, journalist Lyse Doucet (MA 1982) has been helping Canadians understand what’s happening in the Middle East and Asia. In 2011, she played a major role in the BBC’s coverage of the “Arab Spring.”
Write a Booker Prize-winning novel
Margaret Atwood (BA 1961 Victoria, MA 1962) not only won the Booker Prize in 2000 for her novel The Blind Assassin, she’s been shortlisted for the worldwide honour five times.
Fly into space
Roberta Bondar (PhD 1974), Canada’s first female astronaut, was a crew member on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1992, where she performed experiments in microgravity more than 300 kilometres above the Earth. Julie Payette (MASc 1990) flew on the Discovery in 1999, and became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station – where she also got to operate the iconic Canadarm.
Build a telecommunications empire
Ted Rogers (BA 1956 Trinity) bought Toronto radio station CHFI in 1960, and from that humble beginning, built Rogers Communications into one of Canada’s largest media conglomerates.
Paint the Canadian landscape
For more than 70 years, Canadian artist Doris McCarthy (BA 1989 UTSC) celebrated Canada’s diverse and rugged wilderness with her bold and spirited works of art. Now, UTSC’s art gallery is named for her.
Discover a life-saving drug
In 1921, Frederick Banting (MD 1916), along with colleagues Charles Best, John Macleod and James Collip (PhD 1916), discovered insulin, a substance that has since saved millions and millions of lives. “Although insulin doesn’t cure diabetes, it’s one of the biggest discoveries in medicine,” said the foundation that awarded Banting and Macleod a Nobel Prize in 1923.
Change how writers and readers interact
In 2006, Allen Lau (BEng 1991, MEng 1992) co-founded Wattpad, an online creative writing community that allows anyone to upload what they’ve written – from fan fiction to poetry – for 20 million users to read and comment on. Even Margaret Atwood has published on the site.
Win an Olympic medal – or five
U of T’s own Golden Girl is hockey player Jayna Hefford (BPHE 2004), who made her world championship debut in 1997 and has played in five Olympic Games, winning four gold medals and one silver.
Prove the power of crowdfunding
Shawn Ahmed (BA 2005 Trinity) didn’t really have a plan when he dropped out of grad school for a trip to the country where he was born, Bangladesh. But when his videos documenting daily struggles of Bangladeshis became viral hits, Ahmed was able to raise funds for health-care workers, clean water and a school.
Design amusement parks
Sywa Sung (BArch 1994) helped design a Warner Bros. theme park in Abu Dhabi and is now overseeing the design of 20th Century Fox’s first amusement park (shown above), set to open in 2016 in Malaysia.
Win a Nobel Prize
Six U of T alumni already have! Frederick Banting (MD 1916) shared the Medicine Prize in 1923, Lester B. Pearson (BA 1919) won the Peace Prize in 1957, Arthur Schawlow (BA 1941, MSc 1942, PhD 1949) and Bertram Brockhouse (MA 1948, PhD 1950) were each co-winners of the Physics Prize, in 1981 and 1994 respectively, Walter Kohn (BSc 1945 UC, MSc 1946) shared the Chemistry Prize in 1998, and James Orbinski (MA 1998) claimed the Peace Prize on behalf of Medécins sans frontières in 1999.
Start a legendary late-night comedy show
In 1975, Lorne Michaels (BA 1966 UC) created NBC’s Saturday Night, featuring sketch comedy by stars Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Chevy Chase. The name changed to Saturday Night Live two years later. We can’t count the laughs but know this: the iconic show has nabbed a record 175 Emmy Award nominations.
Become one of Canada’s best known chefs
Bonnie Stern (BA 1969 New) founded her own school of cooking in 1973, has authored 12 bestselling cookbooks and hosted national cooking shows. Yum!
Build an international movement against child labour
Craig Kielburger (BA 2006 Trinity) founded Free the Children in 1995 when he was 12. By 2010, the organization had built 650 schools and schoolrooms that educate 55,000 children a day in several countries.
Represent Canada as Governor-General
Two of the three women to have served as Canada’s Governor-General are U of T grads: Adrienne Clarkson (BA 1960 Trinity), left, who served from 1999 to 2005, and Jeanne Sauvé (BA 1960 St. Mike’s) who held the post from 1984 to 1990.
Write for a Gemini Award-winning television show
Invent the world’s most energy-efficient light bulb
Christian Yan (BASc 2006), Tom Rodinger (PhD 2007) and Gimmy Chu (BASc 2006) designed this funky-looking LED light that uses a small fraction of the electricity of an incandescent bulb and works for up to 27 years. Their company, Nanoleaf, now has offices in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.
What do you want to do with your degree? Share your dream in the comments box below!
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre