Google Search
#UofTGrad16: Lisa Shao

Lisa Shao will be studying Molecular Genetics at the St. George campus next year. (Photo by Ken Jones)

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.


Lisa Shao

In high school, one message rang loud for Lisa Shao.

“You’re just a number in university,” she heard over and over again.

Her time at U of T Scarborough proved that to be false. She says that no matter what school you choose, big or small, being a number is a matter of choice.

“How much you get out of your university experience relies on how much effort you put into it.”

An introvert by nature, the Cell and Molecular Biology Specialist pushed herself to join various clubs and try different courses.

“In first year, I challenged myself to try as much as I can during undergrad. I wanted to meet as many people as I can, learn as much as I can from these people, and figure out what I liked and disliked. My most rewarding accomplishment is that I think I accomplished my first year goal!”

Lisa mentored fellow students through various organizations such as Student Housing and Residence Life and Facilitated Study Groups (FSGs) where she discovered one of her true passions – teaching, which she plans on pursuing in the years to come.

Where did you go to high school? 

I went to Pickering High School. Fun fact: although it is called Pickering High School, it is located in Ajax.

What’s the best-kept secret on campus?

I don’t think this is necessarily a best-kept secret on campus but it is a walking distance from campus. There are so many shops on Old Kingston Road south from the campus on Military Road. I can’t believe I only started exploring that area in my last year. There are different restaurants (some of the best brunch food and burgers you can find in Scarborough), boutiques and even activities to try. For example, I started pottery painting with some friends in the last two months before graduating (there is a U of T student discount, yay!). If I found out about the shop earlier, I would have a collection of personally decorated pottery items by now! It is a fantastic de-stressor.

Where do you feel most at home on campus?

I feel most at home in residence. I was involved in residence from my first year to my last year. I lived on residence in first year to try the full university experience. It was amazing living with my best friend and meeting new people. I applied to become a Residence Advisor in my second year, an Off Campus Housing Educator in my third year and an Area Coordinator in my last year. Throughout the past four years, I was able to find a second family away from home. There was always someone there to support me when I needed it most.  

Quick tip for new first years?

Going to a larger institution and starting at a new place can be daunting. All my friends around me knew exactly what they wanted. That made me felt like I had to have my entire undergrad mapped out step-by-step too. Although it’s good to have a goal in mind, university is a place for you to start figuring out who you are, and what you like and dislike. It’s important to have an open mind and challenge yourself to try new things you have not tried before. Often times, you will find out about other opportunities and things you want to do.  

What is a “must-do” on campus?

I think a “must-do” on campus before graduating is visiting the rooftop telescope in SW (this requires supervision), go down to the valley (especially during the springtime) and try out the new outdoor programs organized by the Athletics Department (they started these amazing programs during the last year for an affordable student budget).  

What are you passionate about? 

Throughout my undergrad, I found out that I really enjoy teaching. I loved being a Facilitator for Calculus FSGs, being a Teaching Assistant for Genetics, and speaking at conferences and lectures. I loved the discussions I had with students as a Facilitator, preparing mini lessons for genetic labs as a Teaching Assistant, and creating presentations for conferences and lectures. It’s hard to explain the feeling I get afterwards but at the end of those days, I always felt happy doing what I did that day. The best way I can describe the feeling is like eating your favourite candy (which is dark chocolate for me) and having a rush of energy… then waiting for the next time I can eat it again.

What’s next?

I picked up a job as a summer research student at SickKids. I will be starting my Master of Science at U of T St. George this September through the Department of Molecular Genetics. I am going to stay involved in residence life as a Don at Chestnut Residence. I am super excited (and a bit nervous) to start the next chapter of my life!


Read about more graduates to watch.

© University of Toronto Scarborough