“I want you all to see yourselves being able to sit in these seats,” says Lashae Watson, a recent Vic graduate, to over 30 high school students from the Jane and Finch neighbourhood touring the Isabel Bader Theatre on campus. “Because you do belong here, and I will reiterate that 10 billion times if I have to.”
Like the visiting students, Watson also grew up in a marginalized community of Toronto. She understands the social and financial barriers high school students can face in pursuing higher education from personal experience.
The students spent the morning touring Vic classrooms, residence rooms, and the school library. They then enjoyed a special lunch at Burwash Dining Hall featuring jerk chickens and empanadas.
In addition to immersing themselves in university life from current Vic students, the visiting students also learned information about the application process and financial aid opportunities later in the afternoon. Victoria University has one of the most generous scholarship and bursary programs in the country.
The campus visit in late November was a collaboration between the Office of the Registrar and Academic Advising and Success Beyond Limits, a youth-led, community-based organization that provides academic and social support for Toronto youths in the Jane-Finch area.
“Having grown up in Jane and Finch and gone to various schools in Toronto, I have an intimate perspective of the barriers that exist for young people in schools, especially from communities like ours,” says Success Beyond Limits co-founder Tesfai Mengesha. He believes that partnerships with schools like Victoria University can make substantial efforts to connect young students to higher education.
The students were thankful for the special experience at Vic. “I learned what life would be like as a university student. The visit gave me a better understanding of what university is and how it works, and I received honest insights from current university students,” says one high school student named Amina.
"This is truly a great collaboration with a grassroots organization,” says President Rhonda McEwen. “I hope to welcome back students of Success Beyond Limits here at Vic as first-years."
Chancellor Nick Saul announced a new initiative called “Engage with Vic,” this past fall, which introduces students from priority communities in the GTA to Victoria College and showcases Vic as a possible university destination after high school. To learn more about how you can support this initiative, visit our alumni community page.