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For graduate Gabriela Estrada, UTSC will always be a second home

Gabriela Estrada embraces Kim Tull during her convocation ceremony on June 8. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Gabriela Estrada may have graduated this week, but she has no intention of leaving the University of Toronto Scarborough just yet.

“I’ve been making a joke to a lot of my friends lately that you just can’t get rid of me,” she says.

Estrada, 23, has called UTSC her second home for the last five years while she has been pursuing an undergraduate degree in socio-cultural anthropology with a double minor in linguistics and English. In addition to her studies, she played a variety of sports, fulfilled a work-study placement with the Athletics and Recreation department, volunteered on three campus sports committees and was an executive of the Scarborough College Athletics Association.

Her total immersion in the UTSC culture has reaped employment opportunities on campus for the Scarborough native.

She is already working at the Athletics department, a job that is scheduled to last beyond the summer for another year. She is involved in a number of programs and projects in the department, is teaching a class, and will eventually be a part of the athletic alumni chapter at UTSC.

“It’s not just taking the alumni title and leaving,” she says. “For me, it’s going to be taking the title and doing something with it and seeing how I can still be involved in the University.”

Next month, she will be busy with the TO2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Appointed to serve as a member of the Parapan Wheelchair Tennis Host Committee, she will also be volunteering as part of the crew ensuring that the field of play is safe and meets the requirements of play.

After that, there is her work with the Athletics Department for the foreseeable future – a position she hopes will turn into a full-time job. If that’s not in the cards, she plans to go back to school for either sports management or public relations, in both cases staying involved in the world of sports.

What is she going to miss most about being a student?

“The whole student community – just the whole feeling of being so connected to the University, knowing that there was class and there was practice and there might be some sort of event later on,” she said, adding with a laugh that she’ll miss class “maybe a little.”

Estrada’s time as an undergrad at UTSC was filled with special moments, but the one that stands out happened just a week before she graduated.

She was wandering in the Rouge Valley when she encountered UTSC Principal Bruce Kidd on one of his famed walking meetings. The two had met and talked a few times in the past, and he immediately recognized her and asked how she was doing.

“Knowing that I made such an impact and was able to reach out to so many individuals and I even got a chance to meet the Principal one-on-one for him to know my name, I thought that was really cool,” she said. “It was like the cherry on top.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough