The Ryerson Gold Medal is the university’s highest award. It is given to students with outstanding academic achievement and involvement with the university, their profession and the community. This year’s winner is Jeanette Korosi, a graduate of the School of Disability Studies (DST) at the Faculty of Community Services (FCS). Recently we asked her about winning this award and her journey to this point. In her own words:
What does winning the Gold medal mean to you?
As the first student from DST to win this award, I am both honoured and humbled. It has been both a challenging and rewarding experience completing my undergraduate degree online. Still, with incredible support from the staff and faculty at DST, I have made incredible connections, grown, expanded and developed my knowledge about disability and disability-related issues which I have been able to apply to both my professional and volunteer experience. Winning this award means that the work I have done in the classroom, my profession and my community is recognized and appreciated.
What is your advice for first-year students?
Exercise grace and be patient with yourself. University is hard. Balancing life and university is even harder. Life happens outside the classroom. Sometimes we cannot dedicate the time or the energy we want to all the tasks we have to complete and that is OK. Our value as humans does not come solely from our grades. University is busy, but take the time to slow down and find your community of people. These will be the people you go to when balancing life and university becomes a challenge. They will lift you up and motivate you to keep going.
What do you know now that you wish you knew in your first year?
You are on your own path. There is no right or wrong way to finish your degree, so don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. It’s OK to complete your degree part-time. It’s OK to take time off, drop a course, and try again later. It is not a race to finish and there is not only one way to complete it.
What were your favourite classes and professors? Why?
Mad People’s History was definitely my favourite course! This course shifted my thinking and understanding of madness and the perceptions our society holds about mental illness. It really laid the foundation for my other favourite course which was my Independent Student course mentored by Kathryn Church, professor, DST. My thesis was centred around mental health talk on post-secondary campuses and the way we are taught resilience as a response to COVID-19. This was all informed by learning from Mad People’s History.
Additionally, there have been several professors who have supported me along the way and I would like to take a brief moment to thank them. To Kathryn Church, thank you for your care and attention while I navigated DST 99 A/B. Your mentorship has been a gift. To Chelsea Jones, instructor, DST, thank you for encouraging my creativity in writing and allowing me to think flexibly about research. And lastly, to Esther Ignagni, director, DST, thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement. Thank you for supporting my continual involvement at DST.
I would also like to thank my colleagues and mentors at Mohawk College who have provided me with opportunities to apply the concepts learned in class.
What were some of your favourite moments as a student? Why? Were there any challenges here?
The last six years completing my degree were full of memorable moments! I did not complete my degree full-time or on campus but did so while working towards my career. Therefore, my memorable moments may look different than those of a typical university experience. These are some of my favourite:
- Taught my very first class (a dream of mine since kindergarten!)
- Built bridges for funding for post-secondary students with disabilities
- Started my full-time career
- Connected with incredible local mutual aid organizations
Of course, the last six years were not without challenges; however, leaning on my community during those challenges made them bearable. So, a huge thank you to those who brought me dinner when the assignments felt insurmountable, dropped me off at coffee shops so I could no longer procrastinate, celebrated with sushi when I finally finished my thesis, and all the mundane moments in between where you provided me with a word of encouragement, told me to pull myself together or understood when I had to reschedule plans. I could not have done this so successfully without my community.
What is your proudest moment as a student at Ryerson?
Besides nailing the perfect parallel park in downtown Toronto, my proudest moment as a student was completing my thesis and sharing my findings with my classmates. It was truly a culmination of all my learning and opened the doors to connect with some incredible local mutual aid organizations that I have continued my involvement with since submitting my thesis.
What are your future plans?
The future is exciting. My immediate plans are to take some time to enjoy my creative hobbies, to connect with friends over coffee, and take some guilt-free afternoon naps. Then, with my extra time, I will continue volunteering with a local food security organization called Roots to Justice , external link . We will continue to connect with Black and Indigenous, racialized, and disabled communities in the pursuit of food justice.
I will also continue living out my dream of teaching at Mohawk College. I will continue building bridges that expand opportunities for disabled students to attend post-secondary education.
I am also currently exploring several avenues for continuing my studies. I am looking into several master’s programs that will complement my undergraduate degree, but also will continue to support my passion for equity and disability justice.