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#UofTGrad16: Natasha Allen

Through her many activities during her UTSC years, Natasha Allen has worked to make the world a safer place for marginalized women and children. (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.

 Natasha Allen

Natasha Allen began her U of T Scarborough journey as a Psychology major. After taking Women’s and Gender Studies courses, she found her true passion. She shifted programs and is graduating with a major in Women’s and Gender Studies and a double minor in Public Law and Sociology.

“I desire to make the world a safer place for marginalized women and children. I want to help Black children especially. They are largely overrepresented in Toronto’s foster care system, yet the Black community only makes up approximately eight percent of Toronto’s population,” she says.

Natasha jumpstarted her work against social inequality through several U of T Scarborough initiatives. She is the founder and president of the Jamaican Canadian Student Affiliation and was a student representative on the U of T Provostial and Presidential Advisory committee on Sexual Violence. She also mentored students through the Imani Black Students’ Alliance, Imani Academic Mentorship Program and UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre.

Natasha plans on pursuing a career as a family lawyer with an organization that specializes in helping underprivileged women and children.

Where did you go to high school?

I went to RH King Academy in Scarborough. After that, I did two years of studies at George Brown College studying dentistry, because once upon a time I wanted to be a dentist, so I figured that I would go to college and get some hands on experience before I pursue my undergraduate degree.

Why did you come to UTSC?

I came to UTSC because I was intrigued by the UTSC’s track record. Given the fact that University of Toronto is the top university in Canada, I wanted to pursue my undergraduate education at an institution that equips me with both hard and soft skills needed for me to succeed in the professional world. UTSC also has a sense of community that other campuses and universities lack. Lastly, I live a five-minute drive away from UTSC - about a twenty minute walk - so that was an added bonus.

What’s the best-kept secret on campus?

The Women’s and Trans Centre on campus is a best-kept secret at UTSC. The WTC (located upstairs in the Student Centre) is a safe space for self-identified women to decompress and destress while on campus. The Centre offers free snacks, tea, coffee, juice, and other items. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s especially beneficial when school starts to get stressful. There were times when I would just go in and sit on the couch and just relax during my break. It definitely made school a bit easier to handle, and I definitely believe that more spaces like this are needed for students to destress. When students are under pressure from school and other responsibilities, their mental health can be impacted negatively. Having a place to unwind and meet new people is definitely helpful in ensuring that students don’t crack while under pressure.

Quick tip for new first years?

Always ask questions. This includes going to your professor’s office hours whenever you have a question about an assignment, or content that you may need clarification on. This is a great way to get to know your professors, and to demonstrate that you are engaging with the course content. Professors like this, and it will work in your favour when you are looking to obtain things like a research position, or even a reference letter.

What should every student do before graduating?

Get involved and go to events. I always meet students who are in their final years of studies, who always state that they regret that they never got involved on campus, because they have not developed any skills outside of their academics. 

What was your most rewarding accomplishment during your time here?

Presenting my research at the Second Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Research Symposium at UTSC. My research was on how Afro-Caribbean women in Toronto make sense of, and respond to domestic violence. It was my first time doing something like this, and it showed me that academia exists beyond the classroom, as students are able to contribute their work to a larger network, and be celebrated for their accomplishments. 

 

Read about more graduates to watch.




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