Wali Shah

Wali Shah
Undergraduate Student
Place of Birth: 
Graduation Years: 
Department / Division: 
Political Science
& History

UTM feels like home.

Wali Shah

In April, 22-year-old Wali Shah was named the City of Mississauga's official Poet Laureate. He is a spoken word poet, motivational speaker and current UTM student. He is completing a major in sociology and double minor in political science and history. When deciding to become a UTM student he considered the school’s prestigious academic history, beautiful campus, cultural diversity and its convenient location to his supportive family and home-cooked meals. On campus, Shah is involved in a number of student clubs including the Muslim Student Association and performs his poetry at their events.

As part of his history minor, Shah elected to take an Indigenous religions course with Professor Ken Derry. The class took a field trip to a reservation where they were able to participate in a smudging ceremony – an Indigenous cleansing ritual – which has become one of Shah’s favourite memories at UTM. His education in Indigenous culture came full circle when he was invited to be a motivational speaker at a detention center in Thunder Bay. The centre overwhelmingly consisted of Indigenous youth. Shah spoke about positive outlets and coping strategies in his presentation and was later able to discuss faith with the youth. He said, “It’s a wonderful moment to see theoretical concepts you learn about in a classroom come to fruition in real life.”

Outside of school, Shah volunteers with the United Way. He raises awareness for the charity organization by speaking to corporations about the importance of giving back to the community. He also speaks at educational conferences and schools about mental health and bullying. His passion for public speaking and poetry has allowed him the opportunity to perform at major events such as TEDx, WeDay and Microsoft's World Partner Conference at the Air Canada Centre. He was named a Top 20 Under 20 by Youth in Motion in 2014.

Shah decided to volunteer because he wants to make a difference in the community, share his socially conscious poetry, and most importantly, be a good role model for his younger brother and sister. For Shah, volunteering is his way of paying it forward. In the future, he plans to create a mentorship program for young men where they can use creative writing and poetry as a means to express them themselves. His hope is that the program will help boys become better men.