University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Photo of Cheryl Perera (BA 2010 Trinity)
Cheryl Perera. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Perera

The Registrar Who Championed Me

A U of T staff member helped Cheryl Perera manage her schoolwork while she fought for children’s rights

In my first year at U of T, I founded OneChild – a non-profit organization that empowers young people to take action against child sex slavery. At 19, I didn’t know what it took to develop a non-profit, but I learned the ropes as I went along. As the organization grew, it demanded more of my free time. It was a very busy, stressful period. I considered taking a break from U of T to prioritize the development of OneChild.

Bruce Bowden, Trinity College’s registrar at the time, supported me to continue as a student while also growing OneChild. He advocated for me to have extra time to complete essays or write tests. He also wrote a recommendation letter for my entry into graduate school, and another such letter that helped me land my current fellowship at Care, an international development and humanitarian relief agency. I am now based out of its Washington office, where I work on efforts to end child marriage and gender-based violence.

Bruce enabled me to manage my undergraduate career and develop as a social entrepreneur. By sticking with my education, I gained the theoretical knowledge to build my non-profit, and to pursue other youth advocate roles at organizations such as the UN. To have someone at U of T as a champion was so helpful.

As told to Sharon Aschaiek

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