Recognizing Undergraduate Student Leaders

Foram VyasForam Vyas Foram Vyas, 4th Year Immunology

My leadership philosophy is fairly simple. For me, leadership has never been about telling people to do things. Rather, it is more about a dialogue between myself and my teammates. I have always believed that there can be many leaders in a single team as long as they are able to set standards for themselves, keep an open mind and an open dialogue between others and themselves. I believe that every opinion and idea is important and should be taken into consideration, never written off.

As a part of IMMSA, I have been given the opportunity to meet and interact with amazing individuals. It taught me that leadership is also about taking a step back and delegating tasks when someone is more interested and enthusiastic about a topic. An integral part of IMMSA are the undergraduate students. Being one myself, I understand the fear it takes for them to converse with the rest of the undergraduates, with us as a student group, and with the faculty. IMMSA as a team has continued to strengthen the relationship with the undergraduate students to foster a better supportive environment and build a community.

Outside of IMMSA, I also believe that my research experience has helped mold me into an individual who has learned to read the situation, think about what needs to be done and take action. I have learned to become more confident in myself, and that, in itself, has allowed me to put more faith into the people around me.

I would not be the person I am without the amazing opportunities I have been given to become a better individual and a confident leader.

David WonDavid Won David Won, 4th Year Immunology Specialist

My name is David Won and I am a 4thyear Immunology Specialist student at the University of Toronto, St. George’s Campus. Being in my 4thyear of my undergraduate studies, I have been fortunate to take up more leadership roles within clubs that I have been associated with throughout my undergraduate years. One example is that I am one of the co-presidents of the Immunology Students’ Association (IMMSA), which is a undergraduate, student-run organization representing all students enrolled in the Immunology Program at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. By taking up these sorts of roles, I have displayed leadership by setting goals for my affiliated clubs, planning and helping run social and academic events, being willing to try new things and organizing logistical and technical aspects required to run a club efficiently. My personal leadership philosophy involves 3 tenets – being persistent at achieving set goals, taking on worthwhile challenges and serving members of the community for the greater good.

Tijana DespotTijana Despot Tijana Despot, 4th year Immunology Specialist

A strong personal belief I embody is that listening and learning lays the foundation for the development of empathetic and meaningful leadership qualities in an individual. As I enter my 4th year of undergraduate study in the Immunology Specialist Program at the University of Toronto, I have applied this principle with regards to my academics, research, and involvement in Student Life.

As a student in the Immunology Department, I have had the privilege of conducting research on numerous occasions during the course of my studies. As a recipient of the Trinity College Queen Elizabeth II Immunology Scholarship, I travelled to the Hudson Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia where I investigated Type I interferon anti-viral responses. Currently, I am conducting research through the Immunology Undergraduate Summer Research Program in Dr. Thierry Mallevaey’s lab where I am characterizing factors affecting CD1d expression in the context of iNKT cell responses. I hope to apply the leadership qualities I obtained in the laboratory to future projects and to future pursuits in medicine and graduate studies.

During my time at the University of Toronto I have had the opportunity to mentor, support, and inspire throughout numerous engagements by encouraging student involvement in extracurricular activities and welcoming prospective students to the St. George Campus. For the past 2 years, I have been serving as the Executive Director of the University of Toronto Emergency First Responders (UTEFR). This role entails overseeing the executive team, organizing and mentoring first aid response teams for various University of Toronto events, and promoting safety and first aid awareness for the student body. I have also welcomed prospective students and supported current students in the capacity of Trinity College Tour Guide, Trinity College Peer Advisor, and Trinity College Orientation Week Leader.

Overall, the University of Toronto community has provided me with a multitude of opportunities to foster and build upon my leadership skills. I hope to extend these qualities during my last year of undergraduate studies and to all future endeavors.