University of Toronto Student Leadership Awards

UTSLA Banner. Photo of student awards ceremony

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award continues U of T’s long-standing tradition of recognizing outstanding student leadership, service, and commitment to the university. This tradition began with the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, which was established in 1994 by the UTAA in honour of Mr. Gordon Cressy, former Vice-President, Development and University Relations. In naming the award in his honour, the University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA) recognized his leadership and service across various spheres, as well as his term at the university. During the award’s 25-year history, it celebrated the exemplary contributions of more than 4,000 students whose commitment and service had a lasting impact on their peers and the university.

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award (UTSLA) continues the Cressy Award legacy. Recipients of this award will join the distinguished community of past Cressy Award recipients in being honoured for their exemplary leadership and service to U of T.

For more information on this award, please click here

2020 Award Recipients

Photo of Aimee Padillo

Aimee Jeanne Beley Padillo

Honours Bachelor of Science - Major in Psychology, Double Minor in Biology and Linguistics Studies

Aimee was the Senior Student Ambassador, Communications for Student Recruitment and Admission, a digital content creator, who strived to promote the academic excellence and community UTM has to offer through her online campaigns. Aligned with the goal of showcasing UTM to a global audience, she created a series called #MyUTM to highlight the opportunities available at U of T through the unique stories of current students and alumni.

Photo of Alex Moschella

Alexa Moschella

Honours Bachelor of Science -  Double Major in Biology for Health Sciences and Psychology, Minor in Chemistry

Alexa has not only strived for academic excellence, but has also championed and supported the in well-being of UTM students and the broader community. She has worked for UTM Residence as the Life Science Living Learning Community Peer Academic Leader and supported equity and inclusion initiatives as a member of the Equity Outreach Network and the Tri-Campus Mental Health Task Force. She also advocated for a culture of consent on campus as the Programming and Events Assistant at the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre, supported students academically through her roles as a PSY100 lab assistant, and a facilitated study group leader. Alexa is most proud to see that her efforts have allowed her community of residence students to be persistently united as one, despite the competitive nature of the academic programs in which they are enrolled.

Photo of Alexandria Jamieson

Alexandria Jamieson

Honours Bachelor of Arts- Double Major in Sociology and Criminology & Socio-legal Studies

Alex held many leadership positions during her undergraduate career at UTM such as being a co-chair to inclusive and equity-focused committees, including Diversity Task Force. She also organized inclusive events for the UTM community such as the Positive Space Gala. Additionally, she was a planning committee member and activities & contests coordinator for the Canadian Conference of Student Leadership (CCSL) of which was hosted by UofT that showcased student leaders across Canada. Alex made significant contributions to the residence community by serving as the Student Engagement Assistant, Residence Don, and Residence Community Assistant.

Photo of Anjalika Balasuriya

Anjalika Balasuriya

Honours Bachelor of Science - Forensic Biology Specialist

Anjalika has made significant contributions to the Forensic Science Program through her volunteer work with the Outreach Program and numerous leadership positions within the IVNVI Forensics Society, including her roles as Second Year Representative, Treasurer, and President. She was also actively involved with the department of Student Housing and Residence Life in numerous paid and volunteer positions.

Photo of Dariya Darvin

Dariya Darvin

Honours Bachelor of Science - Major in Mathematics, Double Minor in Geographical Information Systems and Biology

Since her first year at UTM, Dariya has been highly involved on campus and has held various positions at UTM International Education Centre, Office of Student Transition, UTMSU, Centre for Student Engagement, Health and Counselling Centre, and the RGASC.  She is currently working as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences. She always shares her personal experiences with her peers and guides them in finding opportunities to get involved and enrich their own experiences at UTM. Overall, she not only participates extensively within UTM, but also encourages others to do so through her work as a strong student leader.

Photo of Grace Chan

Grace Chan

Honours Bachelor of Science – Specialist in Forensic Anthropology

Grace was a Peer Academic Leader and Community Assistant with Student Housing and Residence Life, assisting in the continued development of residence's academic transition program. Additionally, Grace served as a peer mentor with Accessibility Services, Chair of Year Representatives on the IVNVI Forensics Society, and a workshop facilitator for the Forensics Outreach Program.

Photo of UTM Eagle

Habon Ali

An outstanding student leader! Bio coming soon.

Hifsa Noor

Hifsa Noor

Honours Bachelor of Science - Biotechnology Specialist and Chemistry Minor

Hifsa has taken on a number of leadership roles during her undergraduate career, including administrative executive and president of the Because I am a Girl Club, Senior Library Ambassador, Food Center Volunteer, Vice President of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Peer Academic Leader for the Biology Living Learning Community. In these roles, she has tried to make our UTM community more aware of gender inequalities and create an environment that is fun, welcoming, and promotes learning beyond the classroom.  

Photo of Janina Malapitan

Janina Malapitan

Honours Bachelor of Arts – Major in Communications, Culture, Information and Technology, Minors in Professional Writing and Communication and Cinema Studies

Janina is a strong leader on campus, filling the role of Orientation Team Lead at the Centre for Student Engagement (CSE) for the past three years. In this role she has helped plan and execute an engaging, interactive and informative Orientation Week year after year. Outside of her role at CSE, she was also a LAUNCH leader, acting as an upper-year mentor to support the transition of first-year students into university. She has also contributed to the academic community within the Cinema program, co-founding the Cinema Studies Association.

Photo of Joanna Matthews

Joanna Matthews

Honours Bachelor of Science - Major in Psychology, Double Minor in Biology and Sociology 

Joanna contributed to increased mental health awareness and interculturalism at UTM through her roles as a Mental Health & Events Programming Assistant and Intercultural Programming Assistant respectively. She volunteered and advocated for campus inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities through Community on Campus. Joanna made significant contributions to the residence community serving as Peer Academic Leader, Living Learning Community Leader, and as a Residence Don.

Photo of the UTM Eagle

Katherine Pak

An outstanding student leader! Bio coming soon. 

Photo of Mitchel Selby

Mitchel Selby

Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM)

Mitchel was highly involved with campus life during his two years in the MScSM program. He took a leadership role in organizing the Let’s Talk Sustainability Conference for grade 7 and 8 students, and helped organize the inaugural STTPA Conference connecting sustainability leaders from around the world. Mitchel organized workshops for his peers to practice applying class concepts, guest lectured to undergraduate students, and supported the MScSM program director on sustainability curriculum initiatives.

Photo of the UTM Eagle

Nikki Sigurdson

An outstanding student leader! Bio coming soon.

Photo of Raheleh H. G. Saryazdi

Raheleh Saryazdi

PhD Candidate, Psychology -  Cognition, Perception, and Cognitive Neuroscience

Raheleh has been involved in several initiatives with the goal of enhancing the graduate student experience. She is most proud of her contribution to the Psychology Peer Mentorship program, which has made a significant impact in establishing a peer support system for graduate students across the three campuses and affiliated hospitals. Raheleh is also passionate about science outreach and sparking interest in young scientists


Photo of Rishabh Nanda

Rishabh Nanda

Master of Science in Sustainability Management

Being a sustainability professional, Rishabh is very much interested in creating a positive impact on the environment and people around him. He held many leadership roles during his master’s such as Graduate Wellness Coordinator, Peer Mentor, Speaker at Let’s Talk Science, Sustainability Week Coordinator, and Director of Alumni Relations and Outreach at MScSM Program Student Executive Council (MSEC). Additionally, he assisted in organizing various events at the campus such as STTPA conference and Exam Jam and implemented “peers’ achievement” project through his program’s social media. Rishabh was also awarded UTGSU’s Graduate Community Development Fund (GCDF) Award.

Photo of Rylan Urban

Rylan Urban

Master of Science in Sustainability Management

Rylan created UTM's first annual Sustainability Week, which engaged over 1000 students in more than 40 events and activities held on UTM campus. During his degree, he also facilitated several sustainability-related workshops for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students - as well as at multiple academic conferences. Rylan was elected class president for the MScSM class of 2020.

Photo of an UTM Eagle

Sabrina Rodgers

Outstanding student leader, bio coming soon!

Photo of Zeynab Asadi Lari

Zeynab Asadi Lari

Honours Bachelor of Science

Zeynab was an active member of her community, with a strong admiration for medicine, public and global health, STEM education, mental health advocacy and humanitarianism. She served as the mental health network co-ordinator for the Youth Mental Health Association, a youth member at Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, and executive board member at the Iran University of Medical Sciences Medical Student Association for Cancer Research. She previously interned with the Worth Health Organization. She was a “fierce advocate” for mental health, reducing stigma, public health and global health. She was the founder and president of the U of T Mississauga branch of STEM Fellowship, a student-run, non-profit organization that strives to engage future STEM leaders and innovators in data science and scientific communication.