Community Efforts

Ted Rogers School students, alumni, faculty and staff work hard to make a difference in our community. They have used their skills, time and effort to help others and improve life for those around them, inside and outside of the campus.

Three images of the EDI well-being space sign, room and Husnaa Zzmarai holding the CABS award

Students advocating for students: TRSS launches EDI Well-Being Space

Ted Rogers School students developed a new space on campus and members of the student community describe it as a game-changer.

Launched in February 2023, the EDI Well-Being Space is a safe, inclusive space located on the 7th floor of the Ted Rogers School for students, staff and faculty to pray, meditate, reflect, bereave or find quiet. It was sponsored by the Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) and led by their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee after outreach to the student community.

The space took eight months from initial conversation to launch, and is tangible evidence of the effort and hard work students have done to advocate for students.

For close to a decade, there have been students asking for a space like the EDI Well-Being Room in the Ted Rogers School, said Husnaa Zamarai, business management director on the TRSS EDI committee. The EDI committee’s role is to find different means of promoting equity, diversity and inclusion, and creating a more accessible space for students at the Ted Rogers School.

Read more about EDI Well-Being Space

“We were seeing and hearing from students, faculty and staff members of the building that some students were praying in the stairwells, which is both inconvenient and poses a safety hazard,” she said. 

Last fall, the committee did research and a survey within the school community to assess the needs. Their research found that the eight largest universities across Ontario averaged five multi-faith spaces on and around their campuses. Over 600 people across TMU responded to the survey.

“In the end, over 99 per cent of respondents were in favour of having a space similar to what we had proposed,” Zamarai said. “It was exciting to see our thoughts being validated by the actual data.”

The committee anonymized and presented the data to the Office of the Dean to show that there was a need for a well-being space. They spoke with Ted Rogers School facilities management to confirm the campus had capacity. They received unanimous support from the TRSS board of directors to fund the space. 

“It’s quite rare for an initiative like this to be advocated for by students, implemented by students and completely funded by a students’ society,” Zamarai said.

In 2023, TRSS won the Best Wellness Initiative Award for the EDI Well-Being Space at the Canadian Association of Business Students (CABS) Awards.

Five members of the TRSS posing for the camera as a group

TRSS members

Student association empowers Black student community

The Black Business Student Association (BBSA) has had a considerable impact on the Black community at the Ted Rogers School and the student population at Toronto Metropolitan University at large.

The BBSA was founded in 2020 by TMU alumnus Edmund Sofo, and strives to increase the representation of Black students at TMU by empowering, educating and elevating the Black student community. The association empowers student leaders by organizing events and initiatives around community engagement, professional development and academic excellence. They are the biggest and most active Black-focused student group within TMU.

Read more about Black student community

They built their membership by having a good balance of professional and social events. Their board is 35-strong, with an executive and admin team, finance team, corporate relations team, marketing team, events team and a growth and development team.

“Since we started our events on campus we have grown and improved exponentially as each one passed by,” said co-president Mohammad Badawy. “Our events sell out quickly. Students know the quality of our events and the value we bring. We’ve built our reputation which has allowed us to become recognized in the Black community, the Ted Rogers School, TMU and beyond.”

In their first year, BBSA collaborated with a lot of other TMU student groups to hold events. They held events focused on professional development, including collaborating with Ted Rogers School’s Women in Technology Management and Ted Rogers Pride Alliance for an event called “Working Without Worries,” focusing on how to navigate sexual harassment conversations in the workplace.

In their second year, BBSA held an IT speaker series and a finance speaker series. They also held events that engaged the community, like their Open Mic nights and Trivia nights, which allowed them to expand their reach outside of the university setting.

Going forward, BBSA wants to organize larger events, like conferences, off campus. They also want to create a community of Black student associations across Canada and to grow their alumni presence and corporate partnerships this year.

“I think BBSA has grown to a place where it’s been recognized throughout the Ted Rogers School as a strong student group that is willing to go above and beyond for students,” Badawy said.

Nya Martin-Hemming and Mo Badawy

Nya Martin-Hemming and Mohammad Badawy

“I wanted to create support for Black students in my community. I think it’s something that I felt really passionate about and I felt like we needed.”

Edmund Sofo, founder, BBSA

Indigenous Healing Garden rendered design Indigenous Healing Garden concept design

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Growing forward: Plans for Indigenous Healing Garden advancing

The Ted Rogers School’s Indigenous Healing Garden now has a design concept shared with the community, which details the elements and features of the plan for the 7th floor courtyard space.

The concept for the Indigenous Healing Garden celebrates the garden as an Indigenous prioritized space, and is designed to be connected, peaceful, calm, relaxed, inspired, grounded, energized and safe. It takes as inspiration what was learned through extensive engagement, such as requests for a combination of open spaces for gathering, and quiet and secluded areas for private contemplation and meditation.

In 2020, the Ted Rogers School announced plans to create an Indigenous Healing Garden in the outdoor courtyard of the school to help Indigenous students and staff to feel at home on campus and to educate the entire university community about aspects of Indigenous culture, while also addressing many of the health and wellness issues currently faced by students.

After months of research, meetings and community consultation, the final design for the new Indigenous Healing Garden was presented in July 2022.

The plans include a pergola with integrated art, a food garden with grandparent stones, a reflecting pool, a birch grove with medicinal planting, totem art, a rain garden, a shade garden and a sacred circle with tables, desks, seating and art. The design responds to the need for opportunities to be involved with the garden, such as growing food for the cafe, herbs, medicines and plants for traditional crafts and ceremony.

Close up of TMU Boldest Presented by MBA Sport Leadership sign with crowd standing in the background
Speaker at podium and large crowd in the audience at MBA event

Game on: Business is a team sport at MBA event

Talk about perfect timing. In May 2023, the MBA Sport Leadership Association (SLA) hosted TMU’s Boldest, a sport business alumni panel and industry networking event at the Mattamy Athletic Centre’s Jet Ice Lounge. The event drew over 120 students, alumni, industry professionals and staff.

It also happened to occur during a Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game and within the walls of the team’s original rink, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

“This event was something that we talked a lot about when we started last fall,” said Naveed Tagari, president of the MBA Sport Leadership Association at Ted Rogers School. “There were a lot of iterations of it and a lot of it getting shut down for different reasons, but we were able to bring it to life in a big way.”

Read more about TMU Boldest

The TMU Boldest event featured a panel of sport business leaders who are TMU alumni including Greg Douglas, (manager, Deloitte Canada’s Sport Business Advisory Group), Dakota Whyte, MBA (digital/retail brand manager at Nike and retired professional athlete) and Sana Minhas (manager, email, CRM and digital campaign strategy at MLSE) and was moderated by Samir Bhatla, MBA (sales executive, global partnerships at MLSE).

The goal of the event was to highlight the career journeys of TMU alumni who’ve entered the world of sport business, how they got there, how Toronto Metropolitan University helped them get to where they are today, and for students to network, Tagari explained.

“I think our TMU Boldest event really gave students that opportunity to network with different industry professionals,” said Derek Colquitt, vice president of operations, TMU MBA SLA.

“We had over 60 industry professionals sign up for the event. We had a really great turnout. The response from the event has been great from the individuals that I’ve talked to – they loved it and had the opportunity to meet with people from different backgrounds in sport.

Inaugural MScM alumni networking event a night to forge bonds

The Master of Science in Management (MScM) program held its first alumni networking event in May 2023. The event, presented by Graduate Careers and Engagement, hosted more than 30 alumni, graduate students and faculty at the Ted Rogers School.

Andre Laplume, graduate program director of the Master of Science in Management and PhD in Management, said MScM alumni have diverse paths, but share a common thread of research methods. “MScM students have all been trained to conduct research and evaluate research critically and therefore become subject matter experts, which unites them,” he said.

This event was an opportunity for alumni to connect with each other and with current MScM students, and learn how alumni used their MScM graduate degree to help them get to where they are now.

Read more about MScM alumni

The real value of having a strong Master of Science in Management network is for students to find more opportunities through their connections and learn lessons from each other, but also for alumni to connect with people with whom they have common interests, Laplume said.

The MScM alumni association aims to hold networking events and events where alumni can come together to meet, socialize and connect. They have set up a LinkedIn group to share news about the program, what current students are doing and to connect all of the current and past MScM cohorts with one another.

Four MScM alumni smiling and hugging and posing for the camera
Anatoliy Gruzd at TRSM Computer Lab

Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd at test centre in the Ted Rogers School

Ted Rogers School steps up to help displaced Ukrainian students

When the call went out to help displaced Ukrainian high school students take their university entrance exam, the Ted Rogers School was there to answer it.

In 2022, the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada reached out to universities across Canada to assist Ukrainian officials with hosting test centres to facilitate these exams for displaced Ukrainian students currently residing in Canada.

TMU was one of two universities in Canada to be selected as a testing site. Ted Rogers School’s Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd, the director of research at the Social Media Lab, led the initiative.

“It was an amazingly humbling experience to see the resiliency of these Ukrainian students,” he explains. “I and my Ted Rogers School colleagues were glad to help these students take their university entrance exam and hopefully give them a chance at returning to some sense of normalcy in the midst of such a tragic event.”

Read more about displaced Ukrainian students

Twenty-six Ukrainian high school students came from all across eastern Canada to take the exam at a computer lab at the Ted Rogers School.

Ted Rogers School Technology Support Administrator Hong Ki Lee and Dr. Gruzd administered the test, and Philip Mai and Felipe Bonow Soares volunteered to set up and handle the on-site registration.

Afterwards, Toronto Metropolitan University received a thank you from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment and the Donetsk Regional Center for Educational Quality Assessment, saying, “From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to express our gratitude to the coordinators for their assistance and support in a difficult period for our country, and for creating ideal conditions for the participants. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

ADH-Meet wins 2023 Dean’s Social Innovation Prize

First-year student Kanya Navanathan won the Ted Rogers School’s Dean’s Innovation Prize with their presentation, ADH-Meet.

The Dean’s Social Innovation Prize, created in 2018, is funded annually by alumni and other external supporters of the Ted Rogers School. The $2,000 award is presented each year to Ted Rogers School students who have overseen a project that has made a significant impact on the community, for example, addressing social challenges like isolation, mental health, climate change and homelessness.

The award competition is only open to students who have participated in the Social Venture Zone’s Paid to Innovate program, a 12-week long process dedicated to developing research skills required to deeply understand a social problem and build a solution centering on the target community. The students first went through the ideation phase to define the problem they sought to solve, followed by the incubation phase to come up with a creative solution.

Read more about ADH-Meet

ADH-Meet brings young people with ADHD together by playing board games that encourage people to work together. The goal of the games is for people to get to know each other, to combat social isolation and facilitate connections among youth who experience bullying because of their ADHD diagnoses.

“ADHD can isolate people from the world around them,” Navanathan explained. “Factors like sensory issues, fear of social rejection, or just struggling with mental health overall can affect a person’s social life. There aren’t many initiatives that encourage adults with ADHD to build friendships with fellow ADHDers.”

The Dean’s Social Innovation Prize will be used by Navanathan to secure venues to run board game events for the ADHD community and fund the purchase of games.

Kanya smiling and holding a large cheque for the Dean's Social Innovation Prize with two other people at each side helping to hold the large cheque.

Kanya Navanathan (centre) receiving Dean’s Social Innovation Prize.

Marc Viola

Marc Viola reimagines Human Resources award to be more inclusive

Human Resources executive Marc Viola reimagined the award named after him this year, to be more inclusive.

In 2007, he created the Marc Viola Human Resources Award ($1,000 annually) as a way to help students entering their first-year studies, and brought it to the Ted Rogers School in 2015.

He renewed the award in 2022 and reimagined it. Now called The Marc Viola Future HR Leaders Scholarship, it focuses on students who self-identify as a Black, Indigenous, a Person of Colour, a person with disabilities, or as LGBTQ+ as part of the criteria. Viola also increased the value ($1,500 annually) and number of awards (two).

Read more about Marc

“Two years ago I was reviewing how I wanted to evolve the scholarship, and this change was really driven by world events at the time,” Viola explains. “For me, this was about creating action to be more inclusive.”

“As someone who is mixed race and a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, it was a decision that was very easy for me to make and a rather personal one, too. The team at the school have been so helpful in helping me bring this vision to life.”

The inaugural recipients of the The Marc Viola Future HR Leaders Scholarship were Humaira Rahman and Ann Thomas.


Delegates come together to celebrate Indigenous peoples in business

One of the highlights of 2022 was the Reconciliation in Business conference, organized by Ted Rogers Indigenous in Business student group (TRIBE) to respond to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #92 and celebrate the resurgence of Indigenous peoples and explore the roots and teachings of Indigenous commerce.

Panels included discussions of Indigenous women in entrepreneurship, Indigenous peoples in tech and Indigenous peoples in commerce, with a focus on recruitment, retainment and reconciliation. A Birchbark Canoe Ceremony and a Big Drum and Dance Social were highlights of the afternoon and a feast and marketplace closed out the day.

“We had so many people who made this happen – a whole community, I feel like, came to the Ted Rogers School, [including] dancers, drummers, vendors and speakers.” – Cody Anthony, founder of TRIBE and Reconciliation in Business 2022.



A running start: Awards make a difference

In 2022, the Ted Rogers School gave out over 330 awards totaling more than $2.4 million in funding to deserving students. Take a look at what some of our recipients have to say about the life changing awards they received and how being recognized for their achievements both on and off campus has propelled their studies and allowed them to further explore their aspirations.

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The content of this report covers July 2022-August 2023.

In April 2022, the university announced our new name of Toronto Metropolitan University, which will be implemented in a phased approach. Learn more about our next chapter.