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#UofTGrad16: Richard Li

Richard Li: "I believe most ideas are achievable. You just have to try."

As Convocation day approaches, we’re filled with pride at the incredible accomplishments of our students. No matter what program they’re in, no matter what their major, our students have made contributions to the campus, to the community and to the world at large. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll highlight students who have made a huge impact already, and are poised to do even more now that they’re graduating. From an Olympic weight lifter to a social activist featured on the CBC, we’re certain that you’ll be reading a lot more about them in the future! Follow the all the U of T Convocation excitement at #UofTGrad16.


Richard Li

Richard Li’s moment of triumph happened not during the convocation ceremony, but weeks before while checking his emails.

“I received this message which said, ‘Congratulations! You completed all the requirements of your degree.’ It was such a simple token but that’s when it really hit me that I’m finally done,” he remembers.

He founded the Language Translation and Social Science Career Path Association (TSCPA) in 2014. The club offers professional development workshops and holds an annual Public Speaking Contest for UTSC students.

“TSCPA was a small idea between me and my friend Christopher Go. We wanted to create more professional development support for students. We also wanted to promote the language diversity and connect the international students with the domestic students at UTSC ,” Li explains.

The Public Speaking Contest is the first of its kind to offer both Debate and Impromptu at the same time. The Impromptu category has three language options including English, Cantonese Chinese and Mandarin Chinese to promote the language diversity as well as the English/Chinese Translation Program (ECT) at U of T Scarborough. 

Where did you go to high school? 

Before going to Bur Oak Secondary School for Grade 11 and 12 in Markham, I was attending high school at the Lingnan Heng Yee Memorial Secondary school in Hong Kong. I also spent my entire primary school years in Hong Kong.

Why did you choose your program? 

I majored in International Development Studies, and completed a double minor in Economics & Environmental Science. I am passionate about developing solutions to improve the economy in the developing World. Meanwhile, environmental science is also one of my interests since high school. I am interested in renewable energy, reducing emissions as well as solving pollution problems. International Development Studies along with these two minor programs helped me to combine my personal interest to become an academic study, which can also become a field that is so practical in the workplace. Both Environmental Science and Economics theories and applications broadened my vision in the field of international development.

Where do you feel most at home on campus?

I would say the UTSC Library is quite different compared to most of the other libraries I have visited before. It is compact and has everything I need. The library is divided into different sections, and accommodates all kinds of studying. It is also close to different spaces like the Tim Hortons and Marketplace that can fill me up when I need them while studying late.

What would you like the world to know about you?

I believe most ideas are achievable, you just have to try. The club I founded at UTSC is an example that displays the world is full of chances. If you have an idea and a good plan, you should really give it a try. Even if I don’t succeed at the end, I would always take that as an important lesson. Then I will adjust, improve and retry. It is pretty much like a science experiment, without trials and failures a successful result would never come!

What was your most rewarding accomplishment during your time here?

I founded TSCPA in my third year, and established the first annual Public Speaking Contest that was opened to all students across U of T in 2015. It began as a small club with limited funding. The first Public Speaking Contest had an attendance of around 40 people, and later the second annual Public Speaking Contest in Jan 2016 had over 100 students and guests attending. Being the Co- Founder and the President helped me to earn a lot of practical skills through sponsorship, marketing, leading a team of 30 executives and associates. This year, I successfully helped TSCPA gain TD Canada Trust as the Diamond Sponsor of the club and the contest. 

What’s next?

I would like to be in the workplace for a year, then, I will likely continue towards the graduate level of academic studies in either business or international development.


Read about more graduates to watch.

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