Photo of Marcus Yu

2021 U of T Student Leadership Award: Marcus Yu

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers. This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.
Below, Marcus Yu shares thoughts on leadership as an occupational therapy student:

What motivates you to take on leadership roles?

Growing up, I was relatively quiet. It was not until I started taking on leadership opportunities while volunteering and working with children at summer camps that I developed my confidence and realized the impact that leadership has on personal growth. I am motivated to take on leadership roles for the opportunities not only to develop my own skills, but to share learning with others and work to make a lasting impact.

Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.

Two leadership roles that I am most proud of are being a Student Representative on the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) which was one of my first leadership roles in the OT program, and in my second year, my classmates had the confidence to elect me as their Student Association Co-President. These leadership roles allowed me to play an integral role in many initiatives to improve the student experience and student wellbeing. For instance, I represented the MScOT program at the Vice Dean’s Graduate Student Wellness Grant review meeting to address mental health among graduate students in the Faculty of Medicine at U of T. I was able to collaborate with a team of students and faculty spanning across the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector to receive a $10,000 grant for our proposal aimed at promoting wellbeing through creative arts.

What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?

Step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself to make as many connections as possible. I later called upon many of these connections to support me and help me succeed while in the program. I also recommend finding strategies to strike a healthy work-life balance. Involving yourself in one of the many clubs at U of T is an incredible start for those seeking to become more active leaders. Find a cause that is meaningful to you and find a group or others who support that cause. If that club or committee does not already exist, consider starting your own. Another word of advice is to not spread yourself too thin. The OT program is fast paced, so balancing several commitments can be draining at times; striking that balance is key.

Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?

I have a strong support network made up of current and past professors, work supervisors, mentors, family, and peers who have supported my academic and extracurricular pursuits. This network has provided me with opportunities to reflect on many situations that I encountered while in the OT program and provided me with feedback and insight into how I can grow and develop personally, academically, and professionally. I have built rapport with many faculty members who have taken the time to get to know me outside of the classroom and connected me with individuals and resources that they felt would benefit my development and leadership activities.

How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?

It is an honour to be nominated for this award and be a recipient. I am humbled to receive this award and I am grateful for all my peers and faculty members who have supported, encouraged, and believed in my potential and leadership. Receiving such an incredible award reaffirms the actions and decisions that I have made over the past year-and-a-half and encourages me to continue to be a leader of today and tomorrow.

March 4, 2021