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Posted June 21, 2017

Spring 2017 Convocation

Moving Forward: A Sampling of Woodsworth’s 2017 Grads

Zak Jones is continuing his studies at U of T and entering a master’s program in creative writing. A poet, he is excited about the workshop possibilities this two-year program offers and is already planning a “full-length novel in verse” for his thesis. His long-term plan is to become a professor, which is not surprising since Zak considers himself to have been the beneficiary of good teaching.  He entered Woodsworth at age 25 through the Academic Bridging Program, and feels indebted to the faculty, saying, “I couldn’t have figured it out on my own.”  Zak was one of the 2017 winners of the Bronfman Leadership award –he calls it the “vote of confidence” that gave him the boost he needed to finish his degree.


Abdullah Khan is graduating with two options in his pocket. He will first spend a year at Oxford getting a master of science in Global Governance and Diplomacy, working on a thesis about the India-Pakistan dispute over the Kashmir region. Then he will return to U of T to study law. For Abdullah, an important support while at Woodsworth was the Academic Writing Centre; he had studied engineering in Pakistan and admits he “had no idea how to write papers.” Another key support was the Alumni–Students Mentorship Program, which matched him with an attorney. Their interactions helped him realize that he “could make the biggest impact on the world by becoming a lawyer.”

Vithu Ranjan leaves Woodsworth with a degree in criminology and has applied for a job at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services working with young offenders. In the future he might pursue a master of social work and a career in law enforcement, but right now feels he “will get the most enjoyment by helping youth.” What helped to shape Vithu’s career choice was his experience at Woodsworth where he served as a student liaison, and a don in the residence. Through those roles, “I realized how much I enjoyed working with young people.” Also important to his experience was being matched with a former police officer through the college’s mentorship program. 

Jacquelyn Laurenda came to Woodsworth in her mid-thirties through The Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program (ABP). Jacquelyn defines the ABP not as a ‘second’ but a ‘first chance’. With her father in the navy, she had a peripatetic childhood and was homeschooled. Though she had “written hundreds of poems and stories”, she had never written an essay. Entry into degree studies in English changed all that, and Jacquelyn’s academic development is set to continue as she commences a graduate program in English at U of T this fall. According to Jacquelyn, the support she received along the way was “immeasurable, I feel everyone at Woodsworth is like family”. The icing on the cake was her selection in 2017 as one of the winners of the Bronfman Leadership Scholarship. 

Jingru (Jenny) Zhang came to Canada from Shanghai at the age of 4, settling in Windsor, Ontario, when her father was appointed as professor of neuroscience at the university there. After high school Jenny opted to move to Toronto, seeking “the opportunity to grow as a person.” The University of Toronto appealed because of its academic program, and Woodsworth College appealed because of its residence, which is reputed to be “the best on the campus.” Having earned anhonours bachelor of arts, Jenny has now landed a job in the field of her choice as marketing coordinator for an international financial services company based in Toronto.   Along with her studies at Woodsworth, Jenny was a porter in the residence and coordinated the mentorship program for the alumni office. Those two experiences, she says, “prepared me to enter the workforce.”