UGSLA Recipient: Emily Mathers, Pharmacology and Toxicology

Emily Mathers

Everyone has the potential to make a positive, meaningful impact on the world. Throughout history, leaders have been shaped from previous leaders in support of their endeavours – but at the same time, leaders are only as strong as their team. Therefore, my leadership philosophy is rooted in empowering others and cultivating the leaders of the future by supporting holistic learning and providing opportunities for students to reach their full potential.

As a second-year student, I joined the Pharmacology & Toxicology Student Association (PTSA) mentorship program as a mentee, and I quickly realized the importance of community. Two more years of learning about student life in-depth through my roles as a Member-at-Large and Director of Finance provided me with the framework to become a Co-President, inspired by those before me. I was elected the following year at the start of the pandemic, and again following my Professional Experience Year at Procter & Gamble. As Co-President, I have been committed to supporting student initiatives to increase online engagement. I worked with the executive and listened to the student body to create events tailored to student interests, including graduate panels, mentorship events and research seminars. Student passion was reflected in these events, as over 20 students attended each event. Being Co-President taught me that whilst adapting to new circumstances and collaboration are essential for success, a leader needs to integrate feedback and is greatly defined by the strength of their team.

These values have carried into my work on the PharmaChronicle Magazine, as I have been fortunate to cultivate and experience the passions of others whilst learning new things from every edition of the magazine. From Writing Lead to becoming Editor-In-Chief (EIC), the team and I recognized a gap in knowledge, as the magazine was originally focused on pharmacological mechanisms. I believe that a core value of academics is holistic learning, therefore we promoted broader topics, prioritizing student interest. More innovative and societally relevant topics were explored, including nanomedicine and mental health, additionally causing a 400% increase in engagement. Maximizing the potential of others through sparking their passion is what I aimed to do as EIC, and the resulting attention has required the team & I to spend this year refining a full-bodied executive team. The journal has reached all undergraduates from Arts & Science, as the magazine has received writing applications from those with a range of academic backgrounds who are also passionate about pharmacology. Whilst promoting students’ passions for science and providing growth opportunities, the PharmaChronicle has uniquely allowed me to assist in uplifting student voices and share pharmacology with other students regardless of scientific background, as there is something in the magazine for everyone.

Although my philosophy has grown from my undergraduate, my passion for inspiring future leaders to drive positive change continues to extend into my community. I was provided the opportunity to become a Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader as I had completed all award levels, receiving my Gold Award in 2017 from Prince Harry. As an Award Leader, I support the holistic growth of my participants through mastery of a skill, service learning, endurance from sports, and overall perseverance. Despite COVID-19, I have supported three participants to Bronze Award completion, and I will continue to support them through their journey to Gold.

Overall, I believe that cultivating an environment that supports emerging leaders is essential to catalyzing positive change. Through my passion for community, the growth of others and well-rounded learning, I will continue to carry my leadership philosophy beyond the University of Toronto to empower others and ultimately make the world a better place.