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U of T Scarborough student wins prestigious Moss scholarship

Jemy Joseph has won the University of Toronto Moss Scholarship. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Patrick Clarke

Jemy Joseph, a fourth year neuroscience and biology student at U of T Scarborough, couldn’t hold back the tears when she learned she had won the prestigious John H. Moss Scholarship.

Joseph received the good news on her cell phone while riding the subway a few hours after her interview by the selection committee. “I couldn’t stop crying when I heard. I did attract some stares from the other commuters, but they were definitely tears of joy.”

The scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating University of Toronto student with top marks who demonstrates outstanding academic and extracurricular leadership on and off campus, and who has shown dedication in enhancing the student experience of peers.

The scholarship, worth more than $16,000, will be presented in a ceremony on April 16 on the St. George campus. It was established in 1920 by friends of the late John H. Moss to foster a supportive student experience for those affected by the First World War.

Being passionate about student government, Joseph has been extensively involved in organizations on campus where she says she tries to effect change. She has served in various executive positions on the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) as well as on various university administrative committees, student associations and clubs. Joseph has also been active in residence life and volunteered for various university and community causes.

She is also dedicated to laboratory science. Joseph did research on epilepsy with biological sciences professor Jim Gurd and is listed as a co-author on four abstracts. In November 2007, she traveled to San Diego to present the results of her research to the Society for Neuroscience International Conference. She also did research in the labs of several other biology faculty members including Professors Rene Harrison and Lisa Manne.

In 2004, Joseph helped to create a registered charity called Reaching with Compassion (RWC). Operating in southern India, the organization aims to promote education and improve the living conditions of women and youth in rural communities. RWC does this in a number of ways such as giving scholarships to high school students who have demonstrated academic excellence, as well as providing women in local trades with sewing machines, and supplying farms with tools and money.

Joseph’s accomplishments and activities are numerous, and the Moss Scholarship committee chose her from a field of competitive candidates.

U of T alumnus Matt Chapman, chair of the selection committee, says Joseph is truly deserving of the scholarship. He describes her academic record as “consistently exceptional.” Chapman adds that her leadership roles at U of T Scarborough are “awe-inspiring” and her commitment to the broader community is “remarkable.”

“The account of Jemy's achievements in her application and the glowing reviews from her references ensured she was a finalist for the award,” Chapman says. “Meeting her confirmed that she was truly a deserving candidate for the Moss Scholarship.”

She measures just 4 feet 10 inches in height, but Joseph’s achievements stand tall, according to others on campus.

“Rarely have I seen a student who is so engaged and engaging,” says Prof. Ragnar-Olaf Buchweitz, vice principal (academic) and dean. “On every occasion in which I met with her, she stood out through her positive, thoughtful contributions and her full grasp of complex issues. She always represented the student's perspective in an exemplary, straightforward, to-the-point way.”

“Jemy gives 100 per cent dedication and commitment to her extracurricular involvements, both within and outside of U of T Scarborough,” says her classmate and best friend, Jemcy Joy.

Joseph says the secret to her success is indeed being totally committed to everything she does. “It’s either a 100 per cent or nothing. If I can’t commit to something totally, I will not get involved,” Joseph says. “In any activity I have participated in, I ask myself: How can I contribute or help others? What do I hope to learn at the end? If I have a clear answer for both, I get involved.”

The 21-year-old was born in Kuwait to Indian parents and grew up in both India and Kuwait. She says the desire for better opportunities led the family to immigrate to Canada in 2000, and she is very grateful for the opportunities available to her. After she graduates from U of T Scarborough in June, Joseph hopes to go on to graduate school to study neuroscience and public health.

Joseph says she treasures her student experience. “The best thing about studying at U of T Scarborough is its small size,” she says. “This enabled me to meet and work with incredible faculty and students. I enjoyed every moment, from chairing a meeting for student governance, to doing research in a lab, to making new friends every day. The intimate community setting definitely gave me ample opportunities to be active on campus and discover who I am, my passions and my strengths.”

Patrick Clarke is a third-year student in the journalism program offered jointly by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College.

© University of Toronto Scarborough