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GRAD Contests

The Yeates School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (YSGPS) holds annual contests to showcase the creativity, talent and experiences of Toronto Metropolitan graduate students beyond their scholarly activities.

Time Capsule Contest

This fall, the Time Capsule Contest invited original photo submissions of objects that graduate students would place in a time capsule for their future self, and explain their significance with a brief description. Students were asked to share their views and tell us why their objects were meaningful to them.

Other Submissions

Speak Your Truth Contest

In the Winter term, the Speak Your Truth Contest asked graduate students to share a transformative graduate school experience using video, audio or poetry. 

Zainab Mansoor, Biomedical Engineering MEng

Grad School Chronicles: A Journey Through Learning

In halls of wisdom, where dreams take flight,
I maneuvered through the day and night.
Late in the library, my books by my side,
Seeking knowledge and growth, a mind opens wide.

A hot coffee's warmth, before lectures commenced,
A ritual of comfort, in moments intense.
The odd joy of late night classes, what a delight,
Eureka! As grad students’ brains work slightly better at night.

The smaller classes, allowed friendships to bloom,
The occasional heart-to-heart with professors and peers, dispelling gloom.
Nights that stretched, seemingly without end,
Buried in research articles, a scholar's blend.

Walking beneath the stars, on cold campus ground,
Lost in a roller coaster of thoughts, and dreams unbound.
Researching endocytosis, nanobubbles in view,
Unraveling hidden stories, with each breakthrough.

Rehabilitation engineering, the first class at hand,
Where science meets compassion, a fusion so effortlessly grand.
Puzzling possibilities, in the journey ahead,
A tapestry of hope, on paths yet to tread.

An ode to the memories, both joyful and gray,
For they shaped my grad school experience, along the way.
In each chapter, there was a lesson to find,
As I finish this book, with an embellished heart and mind.

Omar Nusrat, Medical Physics PhD 

In a lab where particles dance and collide,
Where photons and waves coincide,

With equations and theories so grand,
Describing a nature we aspire to understand

In the silence of late night's obsessive pursuit,
Amidst the hum of machines resolute,

Through the failures that test and dismay,
From experiments that often don't go our way,

I learned very fast,
That assumptions don't last,
And in curiosity, true wisdom resides.

Sally Vusi, Digital Media MDM

There is no I in graduate

Two decades in school
Countless classes and instructors
Presentations and assignments
All to prepare me for this moment
There is no I in graduate

One application
Three recommendation letters
Many colleagues and friends
Encouraging and wishing me well
There is no I in graduate

Many group projects
Partners of all types
Some days, I pull my weight
Some days D, S or K carry me
There is no I in graduate

Juggling one job, one program
Work-grad life “balance” in the pits
I am fed by neighbor, sister, boyfriend, parents
Held accountable by many more
Ever grateful that there is no I in graduate.

Newsha Mohammadzadeh, Master of Science in Management MScM

From generations denied education's light,
I, a Bahá'í in Iran, began my fight.
A minority branded, dirty, oppressed, confined,
Yet within books, solace, freedom I find.

""Najis"" they called me, scars of childhood pain,
But in secret, knowledge I sought to gain.
Ruhi books hidden, power concealed,
The government's fear of truth revealed.

Not bound by religion, but yearning to be free,
At seven, a refugee, with books and family.
Envious of normal childhoods, left far behind,
Escaping sorrow and pain, seeking education's kind.

Exiled, burdened by ""otherness"" plight,
Yet in hardship's grasp, I found my light.
In TMU's halls, in SLC's cubicles,
In TRSM's classrooms, I chased miracles.

Though cringe-worthy it may seem,
In learning's quest, I found my dream.
For I learned, rejected by my homeland's regime,
A space exists for refugees, like me, to redeem.

Kimberley Okafor, Master of Science in Management MScM

The More I Know 

The more I know, the more I realize,
There is so much truth beyond the lies.
A part of me paralyzed,
Trying so hard to keep a friendly guise.

The fear of not being seen as wise,
Overcomes my mind with endless sighs.
Do I really belong here or is this just a disguise,
That requires a lot of money and school supplies.

But to my surprise,
This time taught me to empathize and untangle the web of cries.
I was able to reach for the skies,
With the help of my peers, my fellow allies.

Because it’s not about the size,
But being able to see the world differently with a new pair of eyes.
And it might be in a way that defies,
Or even takes one hundred tries.

You could probably ask a million whys,
And experience a lot of lows and highs.
Nevertheless, school has become my enterprise,
And I strive for more knowledge, the inevitable prize.

Julia Menezes, Urban Planning MPI

To A Younger Version of Me

Get to class early.
Sit next to the classmate you've not yet met.
Savour every possible minute of pre-class conversation and post-lecture debrief.
Laugh loudly, and often.
Count smiles, not grades.
Ask questions.
Ask for help.
Send grateful heart emojis when someone in the group chat inevitably responds.
Tell your classmate how much you appreciated that idea they shared. Because they're brilliant. And they make you believe that you are too.
Say yes when you can, and be kind to yourself when you need to say no.
Attend the guest lecture.
Stay an extra hour after the group meeting ends to talk about CGI dinosaurs and the state of the housing crisis; about nothing and everything.

Somewhere along the way those classmates will turn into shoulders to cry on.
One day those shoulders will turn into friends.

Months will pass, or maybe years, and one day they will be colleagues.

Forever, they will be what taught you the most important thing you've learned as a grad student: how to love this new version of you.

Shruti Vyas, Psychology PhD

Six years have passed since I came here to be a scholar,
Every year it got harder.

I found comfort in empty apartments,
peace in isolated places.
I found a home running along the shore.
It opened doors to timeless spaces.

This is where my restless mind would feel the safest.

In myself I learned to trust,
through conversations with the sun.
It gave me courage to find wisdom,
And in exchange, I gave it love.

I was taught to be persistent by the wind along the lake.
And its relentlessly still waves,
showed me how to let things go.
I learned suffering accompanied pain,
and found lifelong friendships with both.

Six years have passed since I came here,
as a sister and a daughter,
to be a first generation scholar.

With what I learned along the way,
I’ve become a student of the Earth,
I will live as her monk.
I will leave as your sage.

Deanna Armenti, Media and Design Innovation PhD

Luck is not a four-leaf clover
pressed against the pages of a book.
Nor string around a finger,
a reminder to remember.

But rather it is the striving
even with a pebble in your boot.
Writing with a dull pencil
to let the words out before they are lost.
Shedding light in the darkest corners
with a single candle.

The will to create
is in the practice of doing,
not in the four leaves of a clover.

Hanifa Chhiboo, Fashion MA

never before have I sat in a classroom in which what I looked liked mattered less than what I could share
in the walls of the studio I share a space that is warm inviting and sparkling with knowledge
creative brains, kind herts and thoughtful speech guides me back
Day after day
I dread not of the days when I’ll have nothing to say
But rather the days I will one day not be there
Will I hold an empty degree once again
Will the bonds like felt , be felt in the years that will come and come yet again
These walls have stripped me of my naivety, ignorance and what is left are the strands of fibres that connect(with all the rest) with all the others
The past and future laid bare , these walls have ignited a desire to learn once again
A juvenile no more, but a woman with the capacity to change, and make and create
I’ll pass on once the stories of my days in the helices of the halls
Where I wove stories of those who un-wove the structure and system that we together rebuilt.

Aashana Dhingra, Digital Media MDM

"A Celebration of Diversity: My Journey Through Time"

In the heart of Toronto, where cultures intertwine,
I discovered a kaleidoscope, a treasure divine.
From India's rich fabric to London's historic flair,
My path unfolded, embracing each cultural layer.

Every step a revelation, every encounter a tale,
In this mosaic of experiences, I found my sail.
Through bustling markets and bustling minds,
I learned the beauty of differences, in every find.

From Scandinavian landscapes to Singapore's allure,
I traversed lands and hearts, seeking to ensure.
Every encounter, every interaction, became a dance,
A celebration of diversity, a newfound stance.

In Toronto's embrace, I found my home,
A place where cultures converge, no longer alone.
In the tapestry of this city, I saw my reflection,
A medley of identities, a beautiful collection.

So let us raise a toast, to the beauty we've found,
In embracing diversity, our hearts unbound.
For in the composition of life, our colours blend,
Creating a symphony, where all wounds mend.

Here's to the journey, with hope in our sight,
Embracing diversity, with all our might.
For in the richness of cultures, we find our truth,
A canvas of humanity, forever in youth.

In the heart of Toronto, where cultures intertwine,
I found a journey that's uniquely mine.

Charlotte Ferworn, Medical Physics PhD

bubble (noun): a nearly spherical body of gas in a thin envelope

The comfort of simple definitions is lost to me now.
Explaining anything in a single line is a good way to hook my interest.
Sentence-long factoids are scented tracks on a forest floor.

bubble (verb): to form, to produce, to effervesce

Deep in the bowels of my PhD, I am a bloodhound
Inspecting every claim for falsity, for insecurity, for weakness.
Questions pour out of me and leave me hungry for answers.
If I can’t get them from you, I’ll hunt them down myself.

bubble (verb, obsolete): to cheat, to fool, to deceive

It’s not pleasant, the hunting. I don’t know if it ever was.
Hours and hours spent in the lab, moving small volumes from flask to flask.
But it’s not the day-to-day I crave --
It’s the satisfaction of truth caught neatly in my jaws.

microbubble (noun): bubble of micro-scale, small bubble

The hunt is endless and my human errors change its outcome.
Still every attempt hones my skills, sharpens my teeth,
And prepares me for bigger, faster, more complex prey.

nanobubble (noun): bubble of nano-scale, small(er) bubble

The hunt is endless and still, nose to ground, I am in pursuit.

Ozlem Bektas, Master of Building Science MBSc

I rest on a bench on Gould Street
my backpack heavy, weighing on my back
filled to the brim with books, sorrows, and joys,
old and new,
and the ominous loom of expectation.

She is usually no more
than a gust of wind, rustling through the leaves
or a patter of rain on the pavement
reminding me of her presence;
in the strands of my hair, on my exposed skin,
and splashed over my boots.

But I put my backpack down, slide across Lake Devo,
and make my way toward a laughing pair.
Their hair is tangled, and their skates are stained.
They must have met her too.
And yet they laugh.
And I laugh too.

Today she is no more
than the distant melody that plays
across Lake Devo.

Vanessa Cordiano, Professional Communication MPC

A Life, Lived

You met my hand in yours, many years ago,
Like the sun you shine on me, moon’s delight,
The waking in a dream, you’re all I know

Your heartbeat hears mine, whispers us astray,
Our universe wore a colour so bright,
You met my hand in yours, many years ago.

Drink the silence; your breath passes away,
Stars hold your gaze; I rest my heavy sight,
The waking in a dream, you’re all I know.

Cigarettes dance in lips, while ashes sway,
So close, as the morning protects the night,
You met my hand in yours, many years ago.

Unfold my love, you’ll find a letter today,
Reply with a kiss; watch my heart take flight
The waking in a dream, you’re all I know.

Telling me your story, write how you’ll stay,
Our souls lose tomorrow, for now keep tight.
You met my hand in yours many years ago,
The waking in a dream you’re all I know.

Mo (Mariam) El Toukhy, Urban Planning MPI

I am a woman. I am brown. I am young. I’ve always been told that the older white man knows best. Knows about money, knows about land, knows about our bodies. In every school, we learn what the older white man has learned and what he chooses to teach us.

Coming into graduate school, I expected nothing less, but hoped for something more. Planners are the people who design the city. They are the people who decide what is “the city”. They are still the older white men.

The most important thing I have learned so far as a graduate student? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Our class may be diverse, what we’re learning struggles to be. We are reading the words of the older white man. We’re practicing the ways of the older white man. We’re perpetuating the practices of the older white man.

As a young brown woman, my greatest strength is my voice, even if it’s not the same as the older white man’s. I am grateful to be here as a learner. But I also have a duty to remind the older white man that he doesn’t always know best.

Meredith Graham, Child and Youth Care MA

And leaning, and stealing, and delving into the uncomfortable.
Exploring the construct of a table and who is invited to have a seat, to feed, to eat, to feast.
Curious around the intention and retention inside education institutions of people who show up to the table empty handed but full hearted. The ones desperate to get started.
Curious, more, around the ones we do not see.
The ones for whom we planted seeds.
The ones for whom this poem reads.
The ones for whom this universe-city needs to reach and lead but more so follow.
Borrowing bravery to move today and rest tomorrow.
Because the most important thing is listening to the voices of those we actually actively ostracize and marginalize and racialize and otherwise other who sing of wanting to walk these hollow hallowed halls together.
And break bread to break barriers and build tables anew that include both me and you.
Because we are hungry.
So let our bodies and minds and spirits feast.
Creating community. Common unity.
In a building built on reserved responsibility revelling in the possibility and opportunity to be instruments in a person’s symphony of resiliency.

Mujtaba Haris, Media & Design Innovation PhD

If we never seen
My cherished little one, my heartbeat’s part,
Know deeply that my love was true,
Like my Barbie doll which I left at
My dad home, after forced to marry
With a 65-year-old evil
If we never seen
my daughter, my silver of hope
You must survive
Go to your grandpa's home
Took my doll, my school uniform
That black-and-white one
Ware it, go to school, and live my dream
Become a lawyer, fight for thousands girls
Like me who forced to born a child at the age of 14, I didn't save my life
You shall save thousands

Marcia Hon, Environmental Applied Science and Management PhD

"A Passion Reborn"
A youth stolen, A youth destroyed
Opportunities seemingly dissappearing
Hopes gone forever, dreams gone forever
Into the depths of despair
Into the abyss of nothingness
Never become an expert
Never become a PhD
The fire, the passion
That once burned so brilliantly
Almost extinguished
By some miracle
It has become rekindled
In my forties
Eyes are opening wider
Realizing that
No, life did not stop
It was just delayed
The fire is now burning
More wild than ever before
A passion reborn

Aadi Kalloo, Biomedical Engineering PhD

Bipolar, “psychotic features”. Gifted, twice-exceptional. Intersex. Two-spirited.

Motivated, highly-educated researcher. Procrastinator. Fearless leader. Anxious.

What keeps me going? Fear of failure. Why do I persist? I have dreams of achieving greatness.

I can’t say that I understand balance, although it certainly would seem that way. I can’t say that I am the highest achiever, although it certainly would seem that way. From my perspective, I only see my disabilities. They are not me, but they do cloud my vision, my reality. From time to time, I am accosted for being “disabled”; more often, I am praised for being “stellar”. Based on these polarized experiences, I can’t say that I understand my true identity.

But that begs the question ‘Who am I?’ What I have learned about myself through my time as a graduate student is that which is most important to me -- that which I see through my own lens. And that is as follows – I am everything; I am nothing; I am a PhD student; I’ve had failures; I am resilient; I make mistakes; I am hopeful; but most importantly, I am me.

Kimia Khatibzadeh, Documentary Media MFA

White Smoke

February 2024

White smoke is coming out of the ground, everywhere you look in this city

There is one right beside my condo, and one at Bay and Richmond Street

People are sleeping, on these warm hush of air
Where does this smoke come from? My head keeps shouting Fire! Fire!

The smoke reminds me of the tear gas, once in the street where I lived
Miles and miles away, the city I left six months ago to come live here

I remember my eyes started burning, tears came down my cheek
I cry every time the weather is cold, I cry every day on my way to Bond Street

They told me it’s going to be cold, colder than you ever imagined
I bought gloves and boots, and layers to cover me

But it has been sunny, It has been rain
There were few minus ten somethings, but overall we are now warmer than LA

Every day at the Dundas Square, I try to choose
How will I cross this intersection, crossway or straight to the school

I have learned where to buy bread, and how to keep my bananas from turning grey
I have learned how to cook for one, and how to sleep when no one is here

I’m surrounded by the empty offices, shining through the night
I can see the lady who cleans in there, each night around 8 o clock

Do you remember your life? Because sometimes I forget
I have been here, for six months and two days
Pouring water on my brain shouting Fire! Fire!

Julia Krulicki, Architectural Science MArch

The most important thing I have learned so far, as a graduate student, has been the value of connection to others. In my experience, in graduate school your network sets you up for success both now and in the future. Professors, fellow colleagues, companies that have association with the university, and extracurricular activities that connect you to all of those people are invaluable beyond the scope of graduate education. Aligned interests, shared values, and a drive for knowledge have fueled my relationships with faculty and fellow students and alumni. Most notably, helping procure funding for our annual Master of Architecture Symposium and assisting with a gallery exhibit at the school have allowed me to work with staff and other industry organizations that I otherwise would not have gotten the chance to collaborate with. It is clear through how receptive these new connections are that Toronto Metropolitan University maintains an esteemed reputation in the professional realm, and it is an honour to contribute to that reputation. Both personally and professionally, the network that Toronto Metropolitan University has helped me to build allows me to approach new ventures outside of the university classroom with confidence and excitement.

Christina Lee, Nutrition Communication MHSc

i used to
power in
coming together
the power of
community and the
connections that can be made in classroom,
i was wrong to think long lost to my childhood years.

living in solidarity with others, whether through the encouraged exchange of ideas or through the tiring triumph of overcoming tears.

now i know that, like words, people really do make so much more sense together.

and still, i’m learning.
how we should all try harder to stop tearing
ourselves and
other apart.

Labiba Nawar, Health Administration MHA(CC)

A girl dreamt of adventures, of answering her notions,
From Calgary's embrace to embark on the journey to Toronto's lively commotions.
A girl from the mountains, seeking her way,
With a luggage and courage, she set out one day.

To Toronto's streets, she set ablaze,
Graduating amidst the COVID haze.
Uncertain yet hopeful, she embarked anew to the place, where her spirit would play,
In the megacity's pulse, her dreams grew everyday.

Amidst neon lights and bustling sound,
She sought to know Toronto, where stories abound.
She found herself feeling this is where she belonged.

Yonge and Dundas, mirrored her vibrant persona.
The fun and adventure reflects her spirit with diversity in every corner.

TMU, a bridge to the world she sought,
In its halls of learning, she embraced the wisdom taught.
Toronto, a city that holds the globe,
In its hold, she found her hope.

For a girl from the mountains, now a part,
Of a city that pulsates with a beating heart.

Javeriya Hasan, Building Science PhD

Being a graduate for the past six years,
I have learnt to overcome my fears,
The fear of loosing,
And this is my choosing,
To decide what to let go of,
To discover the true meaning of,
What it is to be a graduate student,
The importance of being prudent,
To understand what it takes to grow and shine,
Let your curiosity polish you and make you fine,
What to read, how to read, what to write, how to write,
This is part of the process to make you right,
And it is unending,
The process of maneuvering and bending,
Through the obstacles and stops,
That are there always, but finally it is you who tops,
When you discover what it takes,
To learn through those realities and those fakes,
To infer and
Finally, to decipher.

Sheharyar Hussain, Digital Media MDM

I still remember how when Spring arrived, my parents would dress us up in the brightest of yellows. This was nearly 18 years ago when the kite-flying festival ‘Basant’ had not yet been banned in Pakistan.

On the day of Basant, the sky would become as if a spider had intricately woven a spectacular web, the colourful kites slithering across the blue sky. My parents would equally participate in our childlike wonder, dressing up just as colourfully as they’d dress us.

Me and my brother would recklessly jump from one roof to another trying to chase kites, always under our parents’ watchful eyes. The thousands of kites soaring like eagles would make me secretly wish for a superhero who would capture all of them for me- a treasure I could be king of forever.

And now, as adulthood strangles its hold on us and March is almost here, I find myself reminiscing about the springs of our childhood. I wish I knew back then that superheroes did not go soaring as high as kites did to capture them for us. They dressed up in the brightest of yellows and kept you from falling.

Christopher Kelly, Scriptwriting & Story Design MFA

No one’s coming, little writer, as you wander the museum of fading call numbers. Everything’s digital now. Ghosts on screens, a universe in their hands. No one’s looking for you in the library. It's a world of make-believe where your name doesn't exist. Just get lost in the second-hand book shop and enjoy the works of the greats. No one requires you to try and add your voice to history, little writer. Enjoy the silence. Laugh. No one's coming.
You ignore this voice. Instinctively. Writing. It’s a choice. To create. To collaborate. To consistently make mistakes. To adapt. To pivot. To learn. To evolve. It’s a choice. To ask for help. To team up. To create a sketch show. No budget. Four of you embarked on an adventure because your new program wasn't enough. It wasn't championing you. So you championed yourselves.
You wrote, shot, and produced a sketch show. You saw actors bring your words to life. Undergrads volunteered their time. Your team's project won the Just for Laughs CBC Pitch Contest. No one's looking for you, so you learned to speak up. You learned there's a strength in teamwork. You learned to write anyway.

Catherine Kim, Urban Health PhD

The Hunt for a Supervisor

One, two, five in the running
Curious and bold, self-doubt encroaches
Outreach, network, despair arising
Daunting but hopeful, their resumes stunning

Visibly near, attainments impressive
At times responsive, friendly, encouraging
Other times ghosted, waiting once more
Who will it be, becoming obsessive

One within reach, the search is over
Inspirational, smart, congenial yet distant
Revision, adaptation, an unsuitable fit
Consider another, welcome them closer

Persevere in the search and pray for a match
In for the long haul, together for years
The hunt for a supervisor, a startling trial
Endure for a catch, prevail and move forth
A smooth relationship, you’ll never detach

Krischanda Bemister, Psychology PhD


Full halls - Full books - Full minds

Busy train - Busy streets - Busy eyes

My heart beats to the rhythm of my worry
As I run in a constant flurry – gotta get to class, gotta get to lab, gotta get home
God why do I worry…About this life, that is mine but not mine at the same time

How am I expected not just to survive
But to thrive?
How am I expected to breathe
When all I can do is seethe
At the never-ending list of tasks…

The mask I wear is waning. My blood and tears are staining this heart I worked so hard to build

I just want to be fulfilled
To find my fate…

But wait.

The tick from the clock will never stop
You will always be expected to run, jump, hop
To new heights
Fall to new depths
So create your own steps

Take care of yourself. Be happy.

Jacob Krywetzky, Ted Rogers MBA

The most important thing that I have learned as a graduate student is to lean on your classmates and remember above all else, that you are all in this together. No matter how many impossible-feeling assignments are thrown your way, or how much self doubt you face when trying to tackle your thesis and finish on time for graduation, you have to remember that you are not alone. Your peers, your classmates, your fellow soldiers in academia, your new life-long friends, are always going to be there right by your side. There for you along each and every step of the way to pick you up if you ever fall down, knowing very well that you’ll be there for them when they fall too. No matter if it’s a bad professor that refuses to innovate in the classroom, the painstaking REB approval process, supervisors not getting back to you for weeks at a time, or the stress and overwhelm of everything all at once compounding together - you always have each other. Remembering that we are not alone, and that this struggle is a shared one, has made all the difference. After all, the greatest pressures forge the strongest of bonds.

Barry Liu, Digital Media MDM

At TMU, where learning is like a big adventure, I am just starting my first semester. And you know what? I have already picked up a few cool things. Like, when stuff gets tough, I learned to bounce back, like a rubber ball! That is what they call resilience.

Then there's adaptability. It is like being a superhero who can handle any situation. Whether it is a surprise quiz or a sudden change in plans, I am ready to roll with the punches.

And oh boy, critical thinking! It is like having a superpower that helps me solve puzzles and figure stuff out. I am getting pretty good at spotting the tricky bits and finding smart solutions.

But you know what really keeps me going? Passion and curiosity! It is like having a fire in my belly that makes me wanna learn more and explore new things. I'm like a little detective, always curious and eager to uncover the next big mystery.

So yeah, even though I am just starting out, I am already feeling like a mini superhero with all these cool skills under my belt. Go TMU!

Charlotte Scott, Urban Planning MPI

Sparkle (Early Morning Musings)

The sparkle of my glitter highlighter
in the early morning sunlight
makes me pause.

I run my hand over the smooth pages of my notebook,
my pen lying haphazardly across the open pages.
These are the tools of a seasoned student.

With these tools
I create.
With these tools
I question.
With these tools
I rebuild.

With these tools
I sparkle.

Stephen Severn, Media and Design Innovation PhD


In a knotted net catching things unseen,
In a rigging of lines sewn taut at the seams,
It cinches, it tightens, with tension in tune,
connecting and joining on communal loom.

Knots attaching, and knots holding tight,
They ground and secure, yet try as they might,
They come undone in jumble and mess,
forming new relations of connectedness.

In tangled twists of apprehension,
Or faithfully precise attention,
Knots undoing and reforming,
entwining—in a life transforming.

Ishita Shreshtha, Biomedical Engineering PhD

in 2 suitcases, i packed my life
travelled 7702 miles
not knowing what would become of me
unknown to the world of novel technologies

in 2 suitcases, i packed my life
i travelled 7702 miles
a new life, starting from scratch,
as i left my old life behind

in 2 suitcases, i packed my life
to pursue the field of science
at every step, i made so many mistakes
but things get better with time

in 2 suitcases, i packed my life
worked most days and some nights
this city is full of people and dreams
it makes me feel hopeful inside

two suitcases, a million dreams,
working hard, above my means
science is beautiful but also tough
and nothing is as easy as it seems!

Rahavi Sureshkumar, Environmental Applied Science and Management MASc

Failed experiments, lab hours extend long,
Repeating trials, but need to be strong.
Tears may flow, but my passion is bright,
In this journey of graduate school, a fearless fight.
The graduate path, not always the same,
Yet never forgot my aim.
A bright blue sky, outside the lab's door,
A contrast to struggles, felt to the core.
On the third trial, persistence blooms,
Lab mates' cheers, relieve the gloom.
Never giving up, a lesson learned,
In the face of hardship, a lesson is affirmed.
For the younger self, dreams held dear,
Now lived out, without fear.
We walk through highs and lows,
But our persistence never slows.
For my younger self, with a dream so bright,
I am living in her light.

Nardos Tedros, Public Policy and Administration MPPA

Dear younger me,

I know school never felt safe for us. Constant fear of our introvertedness as a hindrance to our success. Society says the Black girl is meant to be loud, entertaining, and the one who makes everyone comfortable. We quickly observed that success aligned with fulfilling expectations that stripped you of your soul.

High school will be exhausting. It was four years of calculating how we were going to make our parents’ adversities worth it. Four years of searching for external rationale as to why our academic abilities were insufficient. We looked long and hard for that missing piece. I’m sorry.

Grad school never seemed attainable. You’ll transition into adulthood in an academic environment that makes you more confident through challenging ideas including your own. We’ve obtained the courage to contribute the insight you’ve always had. In a close-knit environment, learning is now empowering.

As much as I hope this validates you, you have always been intelligent, attentive, and creative. Grad school will help you grasp that being our most authentic self is the most valuable attribute of self-love. Remember, what others see as a weakness has always been our strength. I’m so proud of you.

Gabriela Traplin, Medical Physics PhD

Can you understand my reluctance?

My mother didn’t go to college. My father left high school
in grade ten. The principal called him down:
this is in the best interest of everyone.
When I went to college
I blew through five years of savings
from the meat counter
at the grocery store, five years of hiding
in a bright green apron
when local boys came in to buy chips.
I was born embarrassed,
born feeling sorry for myself. What I mean is, I really believed it.
Where you come from, and
some choice on which you can undo it all -
if you’re careful, if
you deserve it. I’m smarter now.
I know life unfolds in my palm, like a trinket
a child makes, like something
that can only be what it is.

Sujeet Sennik, Communication and Culture PhD



The tide.

You can hear it from my room on the cresting coast of Malindi. If I point in the dark, I imagine the tip of Madagascar and onto Mauritius where my kin took up the work after the Malagasy were forced onto its shores. Where has our story gone?...

Did we meet in the 1800’s when my great-great-grandmother stepped onto the red earth of Isle de France? Or when our ancestors first set eyes on Malik Ambar of Khadki. Or was it on Church Street, just south of this building, where Black Lives Matter staged an intervention at a parade? Have we ever left each other’s sight- since that great migration? Tall grasses bending in the Alkebulan wind. You looking ahead, me gazing at the small of your back.

We have met- we are meeting- we will meet.

What will we share? A smile? A hug? Our minds? Our bodies? Our anger and fear? Our hopes and unions?

Where is the book of our exchange? Where has our-story gone?...

Is it held in the tomes of Ashurbanipal? Is it written in the sequences of our cells? Is it floating in the air I breath, you breath.

Is there a volume of our duets buried under a well? A recording hidden in a Brixton closet? Is someone screaming our words in a pitch we can’t detect? Do the birds remember the tales we wove after we twisted our tongues to bring their songs to life in our mouths?

When the new ones appear will they know where to look? Where has ourstory gone?...

Is it held with a child sitting on the edge of a bed?

Is it whispered in a coffee shop into your lover’s ear?

Is it spoken in a classroom where we cobble hope into language?

And so we wait, eyes closed…

On this new land, On this old land…

listening for the waves within.

Raveena Sureshkumar, Environmental Applied Science and Management MASc

Samuel Johnson, an astounding English writer, once said “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” Perseverance is the most important lesson I learned as a grad student. From being called too ambitious to feeling imposter syndrome in graduate classes, the list can go on, but within the deeper subconscious mind, there is the assurance that I can conquer it all. Graduate school is known to have its highs and lows. As a qualitative researcher, there are super high days, like getting approval from the REB to conduct research or having participants willing to partake in your study. However, there are also super low days when you are waiting on approval or trying to cram thesis writing to submit it on time to your supervisor. To navigate the journey of graduate school and overcome the obstacles thrown at you, perseverance will play a major role. The ability to keep moving forward despite the hurdles along the way will showcase how much you are truly capable of.

Carol Sutherland, Environmental Applied Science and Management MASc

Tapestry of Time

This tapestry of time, woven with the threads of history,
Voices that echo through the ages, Black women, of my slave ancestors,
Whose resilience and strength shape the fabric of my existence.
Their stories intertwine with the seasons, like roots reaching deep into the earth,
Anchoring me to my past and guiding me towards the future.

Amidst the colors of spring, I hear the whispers of their dreams,
Carried on the gentle breeze, they plant seeds of hope in the soil of tomorrow.
In the heat of summer, their laughter rings out like music,
A testament to their enduring spirit and unwavering resolve.

Autumn leaves fall, painting the world in shades of gold and purple,
I remember their sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs.
In the stillness of winter, I find solace in their wisdom,
They beckon us to gather around the hearth of memory,
warming our souls with tales of resilience and resistance.
As the seasons change and the wheel of time turns, I honor their legacy,
Weaving, their stories into the tapestry to my own life,
Knowing that they are the guiding stars that lead me home,
To a future were, justice and equality reign supreme.

Zuley Torres Munoz, Immigration and Settlement Studies MA

If I had known…
If I had known what it takes to be a graduate student, I would have thought twice. At 53 years of age, when others are thinking about retirement, I read papers all day, every day, for many days. I am writing about theories I have never heard before; I am exhausted, I am excited, I am proud of myself, and I am doubting myself. I dream about writing flawlessly; I dream of unknown theories and research methods that, in my dream, I understand. It is clear: it is beautiful, research is beautiful, demanding, and critical. I dream of the times I dreamt about becoming a scholar but dismissed it, believing it was too late. I dream awake and asleep about making a difference in refugees' lives. Their lives matter. My life matters. The most important thing I learned is never to underestimate myself, to wake up every day and keep going, to question everything I read, to debate, to cry, to wipe the tears, to let it go, to see the result a bit closer every day, to do my best and leave the rest.

Eunice Tunggal, Occupational and Public Health MSc

II am soft and I am gentle, and I love colour, sometimes. And I like this about myself.

Here is what I want:

I want to be a successful academic. But I do not want to sacrifice my personality in pursuit of success.

I want to be perceived as strong and valuable and worthy of authority, without losing the sweetness that all those who know me, see in me. A human who sometimes wears pink to the office and who sometimes wears all black and sneakers, without a second glance from those around me. 

I want to be acknowledged for my personhood first, and my femininity later. And I want for my femininity to not be considered weaker, lesser, or less worthy of praise for its strength and intelligence.

Why must people change themselves to fit into this world of academia? Why cannot intelligence be observed, not only in power and assertion and clipped tones, but also in compassion, easy smiles, and patience?

I will continue to be soft-spoken, while strong. I will laugh freely. I will wear my sunflower earrings as I present in graduate meetings. I will view colleagues as cooperators and not competition.

I will be me.

Mehrdad Zaredoost Master of Science in Management MScM

In a library maze, with books stacked to the moon,
I aimed for wisdom, but snoozed by noon.
Dreamt of theories, in quiet's embrace,
Woke up with a book, marking my face.
Discovered self-kick is the spark of the quest,
Without it, my studies are just a long rest.
Realized my drive comes from within, quite a jest,
It's not just coffee, but grit that passes the test


Speak Your Truth: Austin Vuong

Speak Your Truth: Rui Zeng

Black woman holding pen and paper and Asian woman

The contest is now closed. Unfortunately, the April 1 GRAD Contests Awards Showcase has been cancelled due to low registration during this very busy time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please stay tuned for the winners announcement in the April 2 Grad+Postdoc News!

What's the most important thing you have learned so far as a graduate student? 

Share your unique experience through original:

  • Prose (max. 200 words)
  • Poetry (max. 20 lines) - In contrast to prose (sentences), poetry tends to feature line breaks, figurative language, rhythm and rhyme (although this is not necessary).
  • Spoken word, poetry, rap or song (max. 1 min. audio or video clip)


Prizes are awarded at the judges’ discretion:

  • Up to 5 winners: $600 each
  • Up to 3 honourable mentions: $200 each

Winners of the fall and winter contests will be announced at the GRAD Contests Awards Showcase (details to follow).



The contest is open to all currently enrolled TMU graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, including those who entered the fall GRAD Time Capsule Contest and previous years’ contest winners.

The contest is now closed.

Waiver, indemnity and release

By entering these contests, entrants declare that they are the sole creator of their work and acknowledge that Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) owns all rights to the words, images, illustrations and recordings. Contest entrants grant permission to TMU and its representatives the right to reproduce, use, exhibit, display, broadcast and distribute their words, images, illustrations and recordings in any media now known or later developed for promoting, publicizing or explaining TMU and its activities and for administrative, educational or research purposes.

Contest entrants agree to release, defend, indemnify and hold harmless TMU, its Board of Governors, officers, employees or agents from and against any claims, damages or liability arising from or related to the use of the words, images, recordings or materials, including but not limited to claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, or rights of publicity or copyright infringement, or any misuse, distortion, blurring, alteration, optical illusion or use in composite form that may occur or be produced in taking, processing, reduction or production of the finished product, its publication or distribution.

My GRAD Space Contest

View other My GRAD Space submissions

My GRAD Change Contest

Winner: Andrey Maltsev, Ted Rogers MBA

Winner: Tara Costello, Literatures of Modernity MA

Winner: Lauren Morris, Communication and Culture MA


Christopher Driscoll, Literatures of Modernity MA

I never thought I would end up in Toronto.
There is no— sea, here, no— salt in the air.
As a kid in Nova Scotia, Toronto was where people disappeared to,
—the not-at-home people.
—the what-ever-happened-to people.

But my mum was born here, adopted by an English family to the beaches of Ajax, the mountains of Vancouver, and finally back east to Halifax, where she herself found home.

And I have not been at-home for many years.
Not the home that is contained in a place of birth and childhood nostalgia
but the home of found space, carved out, embodied in the contours of
street lamps against the skyline line and roads written upon us like wrinkles.

It wasn’t until I got my offer to TMU that my mum told me that her biological parents had gone here, had met here, had made space here before their lives slipped from her’s.

And I felt the space open. I feel their faceless figures, in the library rows, the Quad’s grass, the halls of Jorgenson, of bodies unknown but felt in the surrounding skyline of Toronto, in Dundas Square, in the stone faces flanking Nelson Mandela Walk.

I have returned, in mimicry, to (re)write these spatial stories anew.

It is up to us to carve new homes, new memories, new communities in the space we fill with our bodies, in the stories they write and reflect. Here is my TMU– from past into present.
Now made all the more beautiful.

Stanley Francispillai, Building Science MASc

The biggest change is my mind’s not the same,
Back then, before now, my days went and came,
A job that paid bills, no fulfillment sustained,
Dreams left unchased and driving me insane.
This school gave a chance for me to pursue,
The mission, the goals I’ve always wanted to,
Combining Architecture and Eng., all into one,
Building science, construction, something I’d never done.
Moving here, all alone, and starting anew,
In a city so different than the M-T-L I’m used to;
Missed home, missed friends, and missed family,
But this experience’s been worth it, an opportunity,
To discover myself, what I love, and who I am,
To study and research and do all that I can.
I left to live a life I would never regret,
And I’ve been given so much more than I thought I’d ever get;
The way that I think has been changed forevermore,
And there’s still so much in me I’ve yet to explore;
5011, 3-4-9, 39,
Toronto, TMU – you’ve changed my mind.

Catherine Kim, Urban Health PhD

I went back to school even though I’ve grown old
Filled with hesitation, fear, lost and overwhelmed
My eyes are bad and my feet always cold
But I remember the days when I once excelled

Imposter syndrome is an actual state
Can I keep up? Or will I soon fail
I want to succeed but am I too late?
I’ll prepare for class early and I will prevail

Sat front and center with paper and pen
Determined to triumph but then looked back
Embarrassed, turned red, and felt old again
Only I with no laptop to unpack

Be strong! I don’t care! I thought with a groan
Ball-point pen and not even gel
Who cares? I’m smart! I have a cellphone
Be calm, stay true, and I’ll still excel

So happy to learn TMU grads are kind
Millennials, Gen-Z, all down-to-earth groups
Progressive, diverse, and open in mind
I’m safe, it took time, but I’m in the loop

Soham Trivedi, Aerospace Engineering MASc

Amidst the pandemic's dreary race,
I returned to Toronto, my home base.
With eyes fixed on the starry night,
My passion for space took flight.

As a graduate student, I took the leap,
Into the unknown, a journey to keep.
I delved into research with all my might,
Exploring the mysteries of the universe in sight.

The stars and galaxies, so far and wide,
Filled me with wonder and a sense of pride.
My passion for space, now reignited,
With every discovery, I felt more delighted.

The mysteries of the universe to unveil,
With knowledge, I hoped to prevail.
The knowledge I gained, the skills I honed,
Prepare me for a future that has grown.

So, I say with certainty, with pride,
That choosing graduate school was the best ride.
For it set me on a path of discovery,
And my love for space, a lifelong journey.

Rose Ghamari, Ted Rogers MBA

A graduate student steps on campus new,
With a heart full of hope and a mind full of fear.
A world of opportunity opens up before her,
But the unknown can be daunting, it's clear.

She walks through the halls, searching for her place,
A community of like-minded individuals to embrace.
And as she looks around, she sees familiar faces,
Iranians like her, who understand her struggles and her pace.

A new life, a new chance
But with the weight of circumstance
The ongoing revolution back home
A constant gnawing, like a gnarled gnome

But here she finds a community
Of like-minded individuals, who see
The struggle and offer support
A beacon in the midst of a troubled sort

They come together, united
Sharing their hopes and fears, they're ignited
With the fire of a new start
They'll navigate this journey, heart-to-heart

The university becomes a sanctuary
Where they find strength and camaraderie
And together, they'll pave a new way
For a brighter tomorrow, come what may.

Abhishek Parinam, Aerospace Engineering MEng

I came to Toronto, a city so grand,
As an international graduate student, with an open hand.
Ready to learn, and to grow every day,
At Toronto Metropolitan University, where I found my way.

The city was bustling, with cultures so diverse,
And the campus was alive, with knowledge to immerse.
From lectures and discussions, to projects so grand,
I was learning and growing, with each step I stand.

The professors were wise, with experience so bright,
And their guidance and support, guided me through the night.
I made friends from all over, each with their own story,
And together we learned, and explored this city of glory.

As an international student, I felt so alive,
With new perspectives and ideas, I felt so inspired.
I learned about cultures, that were so different from mine,
And my view of the world, became more expansive, over time.

So here's to my experience, as a student in Toronto,
A journey that I cherish, with memories to follow.
For the city and the university, have given me so much,
And I will always be grateful, for their gentle touch.

Khadro Abdulle, Criminology and Social Justice MA

Thoughts from a Graduate

Next stop Dundas
So many people but we may never speak
Maneuvering through the crowd
My last class this week

These bright lights gave me insight
I see my future thriving
Climbing the stairs to a new height
Reminders for my striving

Food in abundance but I sense hunger
Here is where the competition begins
Were not getting any younger
So I turn my losses to wins

Toronto Metropolitan University
Being a graduate is my honour
A city flourishing with diversity
But got nothing on her

Marcia Hon, Environmental Applied Science Management PhD

A Hero
Wanting to save people
Wanting to save the world
Medicine was the dream
But, collapsed in Undergrad
Now, no way to do Medicine
Alternative is Engineering
I am a hero now
Not in Medicine, but in Engineering
I solve Green Energy
I solve Electric Grid
Now Batteries, Electrification, Solar, Wind
Delivering electricity to save people
Surgery needs Electricity
Radiation needs Electricity
Chemotherapy needs Electricity
Everything needs Electricity
I save people, I save the world
Engineering is the dream
To be
A Hero

Diana Hotka, Film + Phgotography Preservation MA

An Ode to the Film Lab Technician

In the war of degree… there is me.
A mere student undead with no friend nor foe or enemy.
This army of texts devour me.
With no end in sight and the terror I fight; I declare, I am absentee forever
I plead to whomever, please, have mercy on me.

My aimless wanders, lead me yonder,
To the hum-drum of the film beckoning me from my glum,
Where there, a humble artisan ushers film to its predestined fruition.
This, I insist, is the mark of a film lab technician.

Here, the dying meets the undead,
And as I have said I am a mere student undead
But alas, I have no choice but to succumb to the living.
The film in the lab is my beginning.
My pride, my purpose and thus,
I am indeed a student, but now freed.
I can and I will succeed.
It is not a war but a reward of degree.

There is no measure on how to thank you forever,
The film lab technician at the university.

Ravinthiran Kishork, Chemical Engineering MEng

Not always we have to Win,
We are happy with Confidence to win
We will search for it when it is Lost
in melting candle, Light will overcome Darkness as belief
In life too, let it be
At this minute
How hard life is
It may be obvious, but
To do and to win
Every second is something
It's still there
In life!

Talveen Saini, Communication and Culture MA

when i used to think about my hustle and grind
i thought about survival, bravery, and an uphill fight
it was always about my determination against deadlines
my grit.

but now i’ve changed,
i’ve learned that
grit needs a little grace sometimes
and where there is rest,
there is resistance
and ultimately, how this unlearning is the hardest work

so now, instead of a time out
i practice taking time off

and i have decided to challenge
the reading, and
the writing

by relishing in
incomparable, righteous, and brave

Hemanshu Bhargav, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering MASc

The most transformative and non-normative
A serene lake, picturesque views, for heaven's sake
Set at Lake Como and its rolling hills
Where talent and hope fills
Was the Young Researchers Consortium
Broke down barriers and tore some
Bright talents in assistive technology
And molding inclusive methodology
Then came icing on the cake
When we took a trip to a pediatric facility
There held the key to equity and accessibility
A conduit of hopes and dreams
With innovation filled to the reams
Reinvigorating long-term goals
What every agent of Inclusive Design holds
Unexpectedly, on a trip to Italy, what’s this
Renewed responsibility to engineer social just-ice
Sure, I expected more than a vacation
But left with unimagined inspiration
Is this my new lifetime career objective

Ahmed Hussein Mechanical and Industrial Engineering MEng

Graduate school, a journey so grand,
A path filled with research, knowledge to be planned.
Discovering passions, solutions to be found,
A transformation waiting, waiting to be found,
Building relationships, with mentors by our side,
Guiding us through challenges, with wisdom as our guide.
Peers too, a support system so divine,
Together we strive, our future to align,
Protected person, retun to school , a new land to explore,
Broadening perspectives, cultures to implore.
Independence and self-reliance, values to hold dear,
Adapting to new surroundings, with courage, no fear,
Graduate school, a transformative ride,
A path to knowledge, skills, and pride.
A journey not just for the mind,
But for the soul, a growth of a different kind,
So embrace the challenge, the journey to begin,
Embrace the transformation, that lies within.
For in this grand adventure, success you shall find,
A future so bright, a future so kind

Fatimah Zuhrah Mazahir Mohamed Mazahir, Data Science and Analytics MSc

"Life Goes On"

She spent a life
Unsure and uncertain
A means to survive
Hidden behind a curtain

But step by step
There she goes
A missed footstep
She never slows

Moving forward
A winding shot
Like a bluebird
Despair she will not

Christopher Randall, Environmental Applied Science Management MASc

Endless alternatives, yet this one chosen.
Now to justify is just the thing,
The more I learn, the less I know.

And yet here I sit, and speak,
In the first class, and the second.
Friends both new and old.

Is it just one moment? No.
From Victoria to Daphne, Sheldon to Kerr.
Down, down, down into the darkness of our studies,
We find hope.

Karen Natalie Penaranda Valdivia, Industrial Engineering MASc

Please note that I've numbered the lines. There are a total of 14 lines in the poem titled "My Dear Elders".

My Dear Elders

1. Talking to elders and their kin about how my app can aid, transformed me and showed me how much of a difference can be made.
2. My app features voice reminders for elders, relieving caregiver stress, Helping caregivers keep up with demands and keeping their loved ones feeling blessed.
3. Watching loved ones lose their autonomy is truly hard, It's a heartbreak that we all must face, our souls scarred.
4. Tears of desperation and the inability to keep up with needs, build walls of isolation, as caregivers face ever-mounting deeds.
5. Family caregivers aim to do everything they can, but they're human, with limits that can wear them down like sand.
6. Caregivers have needs, they grow tired, and they need to say when they need help to make it through every day.
7. I hope this app will make the urge to write things down less a strain, making it easier for elders to recall their schedule and maintain.
8. I hope it enables elders to feel less undignified when they forget their agenda and can't remember what they've tried.
9. I hope that caregivers won't have to face their loved one's tears, if they too forget important dates, like social visits or medical years.
10. I hope this app will also help the lives of PSWs and Nurses too, as they help elders with their daily routines, and keep their spirits anew.
11. Although elders appreciate the help, they may lash out in frustration, when little things like eating habits are forgotten, causing agitation.
12. But caregivers are only human, and they too need support, technology can help us all, bringing a little comfort of a sort.
13. Human-computer interaction is a powerful tool indeed, it can improve the lives of elders, caregivers, and medical providers in need.
14. It's just an app, but I hope it can make a difference great or small, a way to make life a little easier, and relieve some stress for all.

Onyinyechi Duru, Environmental Applied Science Management PhD

Metamorphosis of the mind: A scholar’s journey

A scholar once was, in search of truth and light,
With passion for science and thirst to ignite,
The flames of knowledge, a quest so bright,
In her native land, where the future seemed bright,

But fate had other plans, with a scholarship call,
To study in maple land, where knowledge stands tall,
An opportunity to broaden her mind,
And transform her future, no longer confined.

Arrived in a land of progress and might,
Where science is a way of life, with all its sights,
The scholar immersed in the culture so new,
And learned a lot, beyond what she thought she knew.

The classes were tough, the pandemic and all, with work to be done,
But with each challenge that came, she grew, bolstered, and won,
And found new ways of thinking and doing,
With access to resources, her knowledge pursuing.

The transformation was slow, but it was so grand,
From a scholar to a scientist, with a mind so planned,
Her perspectives changed, as she evolved,
With a new world view, that was truly involved.

Saini Khoshdouni, Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (MEIE)

Hey there, listen to my story,
Of growth, adventure, and a new territory.
I ventured out and crossed the sea,
To Canada, an international student, that's me.

With fear and uncertainty, I came,
But soon discovered a new and shining flame.
They helped me grow and break the mold,
Now I'm bold and confident, it's been told.

In graduate school, I found my voice,
And learned to embrace my power and rejoice.
With knowledge and skills, I climbed the height,
And paved my way, with newfound might.

Don't be scared to take a chance,
Explore and grow, let life enhance.
I left my fears behind, I took the leap,
And found success, my journey to keep.

So listen to my tale, of growth and pride,
From a timid student, to a leader now I stride.
Thanks to the journey, I found my way,
And now I stand tall, with nothing to sway.

Saba Sabet, Civil Engineering PhD

A student from Iran, now in Toronto,
With a PhD and dreams yet to unfurl.
A journey long, but worth the toll,
To learn and grow, to gain control.

The transition may be hard,
Culture shock and homesickness bard.
But I'm determined, I'm bold,
To make a difference, to be told.

I'll miss the warmth of Persian sun,
And the familiar sights of home, done.
But I'll find new friends, new ways,
And make this place, my home for days.

I'll find my place, in this new land,
And make a mark, take a stand.
I'll learn and grow, and be a leader,
For this transition, was meant to be a achiever.

Though my journey here may be tough,
I'll find my way, and that's enough.
For I am strong, I am brave,
And I'll make the most of this new chapter, pave.


Winner: Carlea Blight, Communication and Culture MA

Winner: Sara Blair, Criminology and Social Justice MA

GRAD Contests

On March 15, 2022, the Yeates School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (YSGPS) revealed the winners and honourable mentions of the 2021-22 GRAD Contests at a virtual Grad Awards Showcase. The fall and winter contests invited graduate students across disciplines to share their graduate experiences and creativity.

This year, YSGPS received over 100 entries featuring a wide array of ideas, reflections and visions for the future. Here’s a look at the contests and winning submissions:

GRAD Postcard Contest

“During this time of transition and reflection, what’s the next chapter in your graduate journey?” Graduate students shared a snapshot of their next chapter, through either a postcard image or text.

Postcard image


Jessica Sherk

Jessica Sherk, Social Work MSW

Steven Kenny

Steven Kenny, Digital Media MDM

Nikole McGregor

Nikole McGregor, Communication and Culture MA

Honourable mentions

Marienka Bishop-Kovac

Marienka Bishop-Kovac, Urban Development MPI

Rukhsar Jaffer

Rukhsar Jaffer, Master of Health Administration (Community Care) (MHA(CC))

Hadis Torabi

Hadis Torabi, Chemical Engineering PhD

Postcard text


“The Things I No Longer Abandon”

There are things I have started and never finished. And things I finished without even starting. Worst of all, there are things I never started. Maybe they were too consequential, or hard, or I too lazy. Perhaps I was scared and, most likely, unprepared. But not anymore. The things I start I will finish, Because I will not start the things not worth finishing. I will not avoid the difficult, the uncomfortable, the painful, or impossible. Not because I am better than, or above, my challenges, But because I am equipped to take on the things that are too big for me to do.

Douglas MacDonald, Documentary Media MFA

“I will be, I will feel, when: ___” What happens when you realize that what was once your “when”, is at present your “now”? Look back, look forward, but never press pause it seems. Pray one day your “when I am” becomes “now I am”, and your world can stand still. However, the journey to “when”, is built upon many a “now”. There is no pause to press, “now” moves quick, and time moves quicker. Reflect and appreciate the transition from “when” to “now”, and you will see yourself growing.

Sophie Leadbetter, Professional Communication MPC

A black woman in science and so very proud
If only my struggles to be here seemed just as loud
Mountains climbed and many barriers surpassed
Without strength from within, I would never last
The doubts of my peers can’t supersede my dreams
To impact change in global climate, yes, but change in the roots of science equally
I am doing the work to help our world get to a better place
And taking the steps to help little girls like me feel comfortable to be in this space
For long we have struggled in silence, but now we can be loud
A black woman in science, do not stutter, do not waiver, be proud!

Krystal Henry-Mathieu, Environmental Applied Science and Management MASc

Honourable mentions

I wished for this, like a star.
It's as if ages have passed,
my passion for design.
The hard work will pay off.
I worked on my foundation to be the best
in the next chapter, waiting to welcome me.
I'm eager to see a structure,
to be proud of being its designer.
I'm destined to reach there sooner than later.

Nouman Ijaz Chatha, Civil Engineering MASc

I shift into change and yet am the same.
The more I've learned, the more unblind I've become.
To the presence of the unknown; a beast I cannot fully tame.
For the world is too vast; transforming my ambition to humility and doubt.
With new weakness, I realize that in knowing nothing I am strong.
For only in unknowing does one value life's pearls.
It seems that the cranial cornucopia grows in volume, making the fruits of my labour seem less significant; an emptiness that both excites and terrifies me.
As the term ends, to sow new beginnings.


Natalie Cheng, Nursing MN

Believe it or not, I am here
I shine through the pine tree needles
And glisten in the snowflake falling on a winter night
You've made it and I am proud
I see you fill your cup with love and tears
Do not worry, I am here
Your hands covered in dirt and sweat
In our garden grows fruit of your bearing
The sun will set and in the sky will appear roses and reds
Like on the morning I gained my wings

Camille Horrocks-Denis, Documentary Media MFA

GRAD Collage Contest

“How is your graduate education inspiring you to make an impact in today’s world?” Graduate students showed us their vision as a collage of original photos and illustrations, along with a brief description.


Herbert Bonifacio

As a physician-turned filmmaker, I am using my graduate education to enable thoughtful discussion through documentary. This collage represents my navigation in the provision of transgender care within a culture of changing ideology, divisive politics, and a lack of medical literature regarding children with gender dysphoria.

Herbert Bonifacio, Documentary Media MFA

Talveen Saini

bell hooks (1992) writes about the oppositional gaze and turning the dominant gaze back onto itself. Through my education, I hope to apply this theory by addressing how Brampton, a racialized city and ethnic enclave, is perceived and othered due to the politics of visual culture and representations of race.

Talveen Saini, Communication and Culture MA

Mahshid Yaali

I work on developing "nano-bubble" enhanced ultrasound-imaging methods leading to accurate noninvasive diagnostic techniques. Imagine the extent of possibilities in a world where simply listening to the music of playful bubbles could lead to saving lives. Keep an open mind, brilliant solutions are still lying around waiting to be discovered.

Mahshid Yaali, Physics MSc

Honourable mentions

Annette Chrzaniecki

This graphic represents my journey navigating the food system in Canada and my role in advocating for food security and food justice as a future registered dietitian. Food security not only encompasses the right to food but also dignity in being able to do so. As a future dietitian, I want to help fill everyone’s plate.

Annette Chrzaniecki, Dietetics PMDip

Camilo Saenz

This composition uses various images, vectors, and retouching to tell how graduate education gives us tools to innovate better and revolutionize communities for good. There are many steps towards those goals, but we’ll get there with new ideas.

Camilo Saenz, Digital Media MDM

Joy Webster

I am inspired to embrace my creativity and the power of storytelling to not only move, comfort, and entertain people, but to connect us all through revealing our shared humanity. At the bottom is a quote from author Libba Bray that affirms the power of stories to change the world.

Joy Webster, Scriptwriting and Story Design MFA

A student walks across Lake Devo in the snow.

On April 28, 2021, the Yeates School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies revealed the winners and honourable mentions of the 2020-21 GRAD Contests at a special virtual awards ceremony (external link) . This year, a contest was held each semester and invited graduate students across disciplines to creatively share their experiences, insights and advice amidst the pandemic. 

In all, 161 graduate students participated in the fall and winter grad contests, and many submitted entries to both. In total, YSGPS received 183 submissions.

My Grad Moment

What’s your most memorable moment as a graduate student? Graduate students were asked to capture a quintessential experience of achievement, discovery, growth, inspiration, etc. in one of the following ways:

  • Prose 
  • Poetry 
  • Photograph
  • Illustration
  • Video 
  • Audio 

My Grad Message

What’s one piece of advice you would give to incoming or fellow graduate students? Graduate students were asked to share an inspirational message in the form of a engaging social media graphic. 

And the winners are…

My Grad Moment



 (image file)  A graphic of a building and student gliding down with a parachute in the shape of a graduation cap.  (opens in new window) 

Rukhsar Jaffer, Master of Health Administration (Community Care)

Honourable mentions

 (image file)  A blue background with swirling yellow icons with the word "Connecting"  (opens in new window) 

Marienka Bishop-Kovac, Urban Development MPl


 (image file)  A hand-drawn diagram of a smartphone and text messages.  (opens in new window) 

Thanh Thanh Chung, Early Childhood Studies MA



 (image file)  A black-and-white image of a home office.  (opens in new window) 

Rhea Tubigan, Master of Health Administration (Community Care)

“My tiny corner: this 5’x4’ tiny area is my classroom, office, meeting room and family room. During isolation, it became my space to connect to all that matters to me.”

Honourable mentions

 (image file)  A woman with the caption “My inspiration: My mother, a refugee from Somalia, is my daily source of inspiration and the reason why I entered the MA program in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University.”  (opens in new window) 

Muna Jama, Immigration and Settlement Studies MA

“My inspiration: My mother, a refugee from Somalia, is my daily source of inspiration and the reason why I entered the MA program in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University.”



Julia Wittmann, Documentary Media MFA

Honourable mentions

Marian Mendoza, Spatial Analysis MSA

Alex Cyr, Journalism MJ



Felipe Castaneda Gamboa, Documentary Media MFA

Honourable mentions

Katryna Klepacki, Ted Rogers MBA

“My Grad Moment” video category honourable mention: Tasala Tahir, Professional Communication MPC

Special jury prize

Elleanna Wright, Environmental Applied Science and Management MSc



"Where The Fall Leaves Go"

I remember pathways filled with laughter and light,
The smell of sweet and comforting aromas,
Anxiety and excitement mingle in my body like two old friends catching up,
As I walk past the changing autumn hue I take notice,
Their patterns, their colours, facing the challenges of a changing season,
They do not yield or crumble instantly and remain steadfast with a beautiful reverence,
They teach me that I do not need to crumble at a new beginning,
That I can remain tall, proud, and take on the brisk wind of change,
That I too, can go where the fall leaves go

Ammaar Kidwai, Psychology PhD

Honourable mentions

 (image file)  A graphic with a cherry blossom branch and the words “Zoom calls, long nights. Summer will come. We will meet again.”  (opens in new window) 

Andrey Maltsev, Ted Rogers MBA

“Zoom calls, long nights. Summer will come. We will meet again.”

Time flies and flies as the virus spreads
face-to-face now face-to-screen
RyeU looks a lot like my room
we attend, they teach
that is all it supposed to be
yet something wrong with the whole thing
humans need humans to see
smile, talk, hug and feel
let us not forget
after the pandemic
how we used to be

Mohammad Maldar, Civil Engineering PhD


Crisp coffee beans brewing in a pot and sunshine peeking through cream curtains. The alarm reads 7:30 a.m. and your cat, curled into a bun, perks his ears at the chirps of the birds waking. The world is still as you swirl out of bed, into the washroom, the kitchen, and finally your desk with the illuminated blue keys and coffee mug placed smoothly beside you.

Online the lecture is lively. Twenty-five different faces, all smiling, laughing, and listening to the discussions of others. The limbo of waiting for a pandemic to end, is all but forgotten, among a little constellation of boxes. And you are grateful, for your friends, for your professors, for yourself. In turmoil, 25 different faces, with 25 different ideas, can connect like the milky way, carving a path in the vast, empty sky. The busyness of the past, now halted, to a new appreciation of the smoothness of homemade coffee and the warmness of the cat on your lap, curled in contentment. A grad student in a moment of grand connection, in a space where little moments have room.

Honourable mention: Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Psychology MA

When I take a second to look at the world around me, I am met with unwavering determination. Here I am, a twenty-three-year-old woman, completing a master’s degree, taught by another phenomenal women. I know the phrase, “the world is your oyster” but I only ever understood its true meaning right now. The most memorable moment as a graduate student is being a part of ground-breaking studies by professors who thrive on the success of their students. These opportunities have instilled a resolution within me, that yearns to spread my developing knowledge with those around me. As a graduate student, I have had the utmost of fortune to be surrounded by those who thrive on learning, creativity and moving the world forward. Graduate studies have opened up a new world of academia that has provided me with the opportunity to have my interests become innovative research. Brilliant minds encircle and urge me to continue learning and educating others, so we can all lift each other up and observe as society grows and shifts before us because of the work we are doing.

My Grad Message


 (image file)  A graphic of an hourglass with the words "The time work takes, expands to fill the time you give it, so never forget to give enough time for your life outside of work."  (opens in new window) 

Arvin Jagayat, Psychology PhD

"The time work takes, expands to fill the time you give it, so never forget to give enough time for your life outside of work."

 (image file)  A poster with images of the TMU campus.  (opens in new window) 

Sara Taghinia, Master of Science in Management

Honourable mentions

 (image file)  A "Stay Balanced" bingo game with a green background.  (opens in new window) 

Luella Marcos, Electrical and Computer Engineering MASc

"Stay Balanced Bingo" (click to enlarge)

“Dear first year me:

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sure, the expectations of being a graduate student can seem intimidating at first, but the truth? You are going to be greeted by a community of people who will support you and your academic journey with open arms. So, make the most of it! Join a club, network with professors and scholars in your field, and connect with your graduate cohort. You’ll soon realize that the relationships you make here will last you a lifetime.

“Seize every opportunity, but don’t forget to enjoy the small moments, too. Before you know it, you’re off into the big city!”

 (image file)  A student a their desk with the words "“When you feel like stopping, remember why you started”  (opens in new window) 

Victoria Gomez, Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management MA

“When you feel like stopping, remember why you started”

 (image file)  The Toronto skyline at sunset with the words "“Your education is more than your degree. Live in the moment and engage with the community.”  (opens in new window) 

Luke Galati, Documentary Media MFA

“Your education is more than your degree. Live in the moment and engage with the community.”

 (image file)  A diagram showing the growth of houseplants.  (opens in new window) 

Kylie Gonsalves, Nutrition Communication MHSc

Special jury prize

“Be well, so you can do well

“During grad school, you have to keep caring for yourself in order to keep succeeding. Just like your house plant!

“Feed & water it. You still need food, water and rest, even when things get stressful!

“Add some sun. Positivity is a MUST when your workload feels unmanageable.

“Give it time and love. You need those things too to feel your best!

“What you water, grows!”

 (image file)  A poster with different internet browser windows with the words "I am creating the life of my dreams."  (opens in new window) 

Jennifer Nguyen, Fashion MA

“I am creating the life of my dreams

“If you are looking for a sign

“This is it. You made the right decision.

“Pursuing a Graduate Studies program at Toronto Metropolitan University was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

“My one piece of advice to future graduate students is to rest assured that you made the right decision. I spent a lot of time questioning whether or not a Master’s degree was right for me. TMU has the facilities to ensure that no matter your goal — whether it be to make an impact in industry or academia — you will be supported in creating the life of your dreams.

“While pursuing a Master’s degree may have moments of difficulties. Rest assured knowing that the outcome is well worth the hard work.”

On Feb. 6, 2020, the Yeates School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies revealed the winners of the 2019-20 GRAD Contests at a special awards reception. More than 120 students from all faculties shared their ideas and creativity by entering the two contests:

My Grad Story

How is your graduate education transforming you? In three images/video clips (with optional text) grad students illustrated their past, present and future, and how graduate education is transforming them.

My Motto

What does graduate education mean to you? How do you plan to use your knowledge and skills to create change in the world? Grad students were asked to write a concise personal motto on what graduate education means to them.

Guests also participated in a Sticky Note Challenge to win prizes. The winners were… 

My Grad Story: Winners

Atheer Abu Zaid, Computer Science MSc

Atheer Abu Zaid, Computer Science MSc

Niko Casuncad, Urban Development MPI

Niko Casuncad, Urban Development MPI

Peter Totten, Documentary Media MFA

Peter Totten, Documentary Media MFA

My Grad Story: Honourable Mentions

Three images of a grad story submitted by Masooma Ali, Urban Development MPI

Masooma Ali, Urban Development MPI

Three images of a grad story submitted by Michael Mercer, Molecular Science MSc

Michael Mercer, Molecular Science MSc

Three images of a grad story submitted by Melanie Zuzarte, Child and Youth Care MA

Melanie Zuzarte, Child and Youth Care MA

My Motto: Winners

"Challenge yourself to be in charge! You’re surrounded by smart, passionate problem solvers - dare to lead them to tackle today’s issues."

Charlotte Ferworn, Biomedical Physics PhD

"Graduate education is a pathway to opportunities. Having the opportunity to inspire just one person can change their world. One word, one page, one step at a time."

Justin Rain, Policy Studies PhD

"Never forget: 

busy days are tangible moments of pursuit."

Kimia Rashidisisan, Literatures of Modernity MA

My Motto: Honourable Mentions

"Everyone learns to live in our world. Graduate studies is learning to expand the world everyone lives in."

Joseph Fida, Chemical Engineering MASc

"We push back against social amnesia and self-serving myths; we exercise our power to question the limits of the past."

Nick Papalabropoulos, International Economics and Finance MA

"Studying alone in a foreign country can be challenging.

But when things are challenging,

it also means change and growth.

Embrace that."

Jae Duk Seo, Computer Science MSc

Sticky Note Challenge: Winners

"Graduate studies is hand crafting the key to unlock any door of your choosing."

Joseph Fida, Chemical Engineering MASc

"Making the invisible  visible. #marginalizedpop #Nursinggrad"

Tingna Xu, Nursing MN

"Saying cool things like 'I'm building an artificial intelligence-based system'"

Anum Khan, Civil Engineering MASc

The Yeates School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies revealed the winners of the 2018-19 GRAD Contests at a special awards ceremony on Feb. 7, 2019, featuring instapoetry and poetry readings by contest judges Natasha Ramoutar, Andy Lee and Tara Farahani, and feature poet Ivy Reiss, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Artis (external link)  magazine.

Graduate students from all faculties showcased their talents in two contests that asked, "How is your graduate education helping you shape our future world?":

  1. Write a Micropoem (A pocket book of all the entries is now available in TMU Libraries)
  2. Design the Grad Studies T-Shirt (Individuals and teams were invited to design the official YSGPS T-shirt. Two of the winning designs are available for purchase in the RU Campus Store. See (*) below)

The winners are ...


Contest 1: Write a Micropoem


Honourable Mentions

what I learned from the water

a river carves first its own space


                         carries           along
for ages after

Terence Abrahams
Literatures of Modernity MA

for med-
ical diagnosis
it’s only glim-
pses of
this future

Nabila Abraham
Electrical and Computer Engineering MASc

in the centre of the
i learn
how to keep its heartbeat

Danielle Lenarcic Biss
Urban Development MPl

Lines that divide seem immutable.

Grasping them
I shake. 

fragments reform

bonds are born.

Alexandra Pospisil
Literatures of Modernity MA

From inchoate to magisterial,
the sieve of knowledge never fills.
So with humility I grow

Nick Papalabropoulos
International Economics and Finance MA

Unleash your mind.
The world needs more
colour in its raindrops
and strange snowflake designs.

Kelsey Shaw
Nursing MN

Contest 2: Design the Grad Studies T-shirt


A graphic illustration of a brain with the text "Unleash Your Mind"

Seyed-Youns Sadat-Nejad (*)
Electrical and Computer Engineering MASc

A graphic of a blue circle outline with a sprout and the words "leadership, integrity, innovation"

Ryan Fernandes (*)
Master of Architecture MArch

A white t-shirt with a graphic of a head with various icons in the head space

Rafael Vasquez
Civil Engineering MASc

Honourable Mention

An illustration of two white t-shirts and two gray sweatshirts modelling a YSGPS logo

Jan Wozniak
Philosophy MA