Meet the Class of 2019—a group of about 3,808 students within the approximately 13,700 undergraduate students here at UTM. While that number may seem small, that’s 21 percent of the entire student population.
We talked to a number of first-years to hear their stories.
Zeahaa Rehman, a first-year CCIT major, chose UTM because it was close to home. “I visited Ryerson and St. George too,” she says. “This campus is bright and open and I really liked that.” The diversity of the UTM community was also a big motivating factor.
Rehman attended Clarkson Secondary School alongside approximately 800 other students. “If you put it into perspective, compared to other schools in Mississauga, my high school was really tiny,” she says.
At Clarkson, Rehman was a co-editor for her high school newspaper—although her path to that position was a long one. “In my first year of high school, I wrote quite a bit for [the newspaper],” she says. In her second year, the newspaper failed to be published. “It was hard finding people wanting to write,” explains Rehman. “People would show up to the first meeting and then they wouldn’t show up again.”
However, the lack of participation didn’t stop her—she continued to write and help out with her paper, and progressed to becoming a co-editor. As co-editor, Rehman made the decision to change mediums for her high school paper. “We wanted to be more current so we decided to move the paper online.” As for her future, Rehman hopes to continue writing throughout her undergrad.
For other new first-year students, the decision to choose UTM was not based on convenience, but experience. “I visited UTM for a conference two years ago—I can’t remember what the conference was,” says Mahera Islam, a first-year humanities major. “But it was such a welcoming environment.”
As for Jessica Agbayani, her family’s experiences encouraged her to choose UTM. “I think I had a lot of influence from my sister—she introduced me to the VCC program,” says the first-year VCC major. Agbayani was a part of her high school drama club, where she helped with stage management for original plays. Given her experience, it was only natural that the VCC program would appeal to Agbayani. “[UTM] was the only school that had something like it, and I found it interesting so I came here,” she says.
Agbayani has to commute a long distance to attend UTM, but she says her classes are worth it. “I’m surprised, I guess—I did choose courses that I liked, but when I got here, it wasn’t like, ‘oh, school again’,” she says. “It was like, now I understand what you’re saying and I like it and I’m interested.”
Jack Bertini, a first-year criminology major, chose UTM because it felt more like home than the other universities he had visited.
“I’m coming from a really small town called Brighton—it’s near Kingston. I went to a high school of 400 kids, so UTM felt like normal to me.
“I played football and hockey both inside and outside school for four years,” he continues. Bertini plans on trying out for the varsity football team in his second year—for now, he’s focusing on getting used to his first year at UTM.
About 18 percent of UTM’s entire student body consists of international students. Julie Zhao, a first-year commerce student, came from the U.S. “I heard a lot of good things about UTM,” says Zhao. “It’s also bigger than what I expected!”
For some of the new students, spotting the UTM deer is already on their minds. “My friend saw four of the white-tailed deer already,” says Po Tin Lai, a first-year CCIT major. “I still haven’t seen any yet.” For Tin Lai, CCIT became her program of choice due to her interest in gaming design.
The 3,000-plus members of the Class of 2019 are incredibly varied. Leonard Lyn, a father, is beginning his undergrad studies alongside his daughter—both are entering their first year together. There’s Anqi Luo: a first-year table tennis player who recently participated in the Pan Am games. What will these four years bring for them? We’ll see in 2019.