UGSLA Recipient: Derek Tsang

Undergraduate Student Leader: Immunology

Derek Tsang

In the past four years at the University of Toronto, I have been privileged to have worked and connected with faculty members, leaders, and communities who have challenged me academically and personally and taught me to become a leader who uses reflection as a guide to bringing new ideas to life. As a previous member of the University of Toronto Tennis Club, I came to appreciate the importance of community in being a student and a leader. This was the first club I had joined after coming to university and it led me to meeting great mentors who guided me through my first year. After becoming co-president of the club, I worked to strengthen relationships with the Intramurals program to create the first Intramural Tennis League at the St. George Campus.

Being a peer mentor in the Trinity College First Year Learning Community (FLC), I mentored groups of 15-20 first-year life science students for a year in their transition into university. Working with faculty, staff and peer mentors, I would always create tailored sessions for my students by seeking feedback and input. Being a leader and facilitator of this mentorship program, I led my group by fostering an environment of curiosity, empathy, and openness. I would listen and guide students towards finding solutions independently and help them back up if they failed. 

As the vice-president for the Immunology Student Association, I work closely with our team to provide feedback and insight into securing grants to support our academic and social events. We strive to create stronger faculty-student interactions and further support undergraduate research in the Department of Immunology. While I have a strong passion for fundamental science and research in immunology and physiology, I also explored my interest in global health through the University of Toronto International Health Program (UTIHP). As the Co-Director of UTIHP, I have arranged a partnership with the Institute of Global Health, Equity and Innovation to launched a food pilot project to tackle the issue of food insecurity among students.

As I reflect upon my time as an undergraduate at U of T, I would like to thank everyone who I have had the pleasure of working with. Leaders are nothing without their communities. I hope that I have left a positive impact and empowered others to do the same.