University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Photo of Ishita Aggarwal giving a speech.
Ishita Aggarwal. Photo courtesy of Ishita Aggarwal

From Shy to Shining

A YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Award winner reflects on a pivotal first-year program at U of T

In high school, I was shy. When I enrolled at U of T to study biology, I joined its First-Year Learning Communities program, which helped me come out of my shell.

The program’s leaders placed me and other life-science students in the same classes for core courses. I took sessions with upper-year mentors and faculty advisers on how to write exams and email a professor. I also learned how to join research projects and work-study programs in my faculty. First-Year Learning Communities organized social outings as well – the ROM, frozen yogurt, a board game café. The program helped me become more confident and outgoing, and some of my closest friends are people I met in it. I had such a good experience, I chose to mentor students in my third and fourth years.

My First-Year Learning Communities faculty adviser recommended I pursue a diverse science education. It’s one reason I felt comfortable serving as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Undergraduate Life Sciences and helping to plan U of T’s first Women in Science and Engineering conference. It’s also why I now enjoy a career as a neurogenetics research analyst. The program played a big role in so much of my growth.

Ishita Aggarwal (BSc 2015), as told to Sharon Aschaiek.

Recent Posts

Darren Hamilton in a blue patterned, long-sleeved shirt, seated in front of a piano, smiling and looking off camera

Spreading the Gospel

A Juno Award-winning teacher wants all his students to feel there is a place for them in music

A grassy field full of white clovers in a Toronto park, surrounded by trees and condo buildings in the distance

Cities Are Driving Evolution

Globally crowdsourced study shows that white clovers are biologically adapting to city life, demonstrating the profound impact of urbanization

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *