Daviel Lazure Vieira

Abdullah Shihipar has kept a busy schedule since his first year at the University of Toronto. From writing for The Varsity, to serving on the Arts and Science Students’ Union and working for the Office of Student Life, the Cell and Molecular Biology major is no stranger to hard work. Shihipar, along with five more students from the Munk School of Global Affairs, will be honoured tonight at the 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards, which celebrates their outstanding extracurricular contributions to university life. “It’s important to get involved in the community because university is more than just about what you learn in the classroom, or getting the right skills for a job—it’s about developing yourself as a person, and that happens inside and outside the classroom,” says Shihipar.

Fellow award recipient Jahaan Pittalwala echoes his sentiments. A fourth-year student in the Peace, Conflict and Justice (PCJ) program at Munk, Pittalwala led the Undergraduate Research Division at the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, served as Co-President of the PCJ Student Society, and was Chair of the PCJ Academic Conference Humanitarianism Exposed, which was held last February. When she wasn’t studying for an exam or finishing up a paper, she contributed in developing initiatives such as the PCJ Mentorship Program and the first ever joint undergraduate research colloquium. “Not only has my involvement given me a more holistic experience outside the classroom, but it allowed me to collaborate with and learn from my talented and diverse peers,” she says. “It gave me the opportunity to solidify my interests and explore my passions while establishing meaningful connections and relationships with fellow students.”

Established in 1994 by the University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA) and the Division of University Advancement, the Gordon Cressy Award is named after U of T’s former vice-president of development and university relations, Gordon Cressy, who has been involved in higher education and community service for over 30 years. The award recognizes graduating students for outstanding contributions to improving the world around them and inspiring others to do the same.

Pittalwala encourages other students to participate in activities that have the potential to transform their academic experience—and possibly change the world. “Take advantage of the opportunities that are at your fingertips,” she says. “Be confident in your capacities and your talent and use the avenues available to you in order to create positive change. Being involved is the best way to engage with and work alongside the amazing people that surround you—don’t let that pass you by!”

The Munk School of Global Affairs congratulates all six of its 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award Winners: Susan Cui, Eros Grinzato, Bushra Nassab, Haley O’Shaughnessy, Jahaan Pittalwala and Abdullah Shihipar. See the full list of winners.

April 20, 2016