It was her passion for global affairs that drew Elizabeth Shaw to U of T, where she double majored in contemporary Asian studies and peace, conflict and justice. A member of Victoria College, she’s earned numerous awards over the course of her undergraduate career, including the Dr. David Chu Scholarship in Asia Pacific Studies, the Louis Savlov Scholarship in Peace & Conflict Studies, the Richard Charles Lee Insights Through Asia Challenge grant and a University of Toronto Student Leadership Award. Next September, she’ll begin graduate studies in international migration and public policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Why did you choose U of T for your undergrad?
I am from the Toronto area and, being a top research university, U of T felt like the natural choice. I knew I wanted to study global affairs and was impressed by the multiplicity (and diversity!) of degree options available. I am so glad I chose U of T — I love the campus, my programs and, most of all, my friends.
What inspired you to study contemporary Asian studies and peace, conflict and justice?
I entered undergrad knowing I wanted to study global affairs in an interdisciplinary setting. Peace, conflict and justice and contemporary Asian studies complemented each other well as my double majors. Through peace, conflict and justice, I learned about macro-level governance, whereas with contemporary Asian studies, I focused on Asia as a region. I am a person of Asian descent myself, and it was really invigorating to learn about contemporary topics in Taiwan — especially since I visit my relatives there every couple of years.
What was your most memorable experience during your time at U of T?
Where do I start? I don’t have a specific experience per se, but I’m incredibly grateful for the friends I made at U of T. Having a healthy support system really helps take the edge off undergrad, and I know that many of the friends I made at university will continue to be friends for life.
Is there a lesson you learned as an undergraduate student that you'll take with you moving forward?
Be open to new experiences! Earlier in undergrad, I was convinced I had to follow one career path and stick with it, no matter what, but that was simply not true. I changed my environment, started taking courses outside my department, got involved in new extracurriculars and met students with completely different academic backgrounds from myself. It was so fun! It also made U of T’s large campus feel a lot less daunting.
What advice would you give to students considering U of T and Victoria College? Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started undergrad?
At a university as large as U of T, it’s important to have community spaces that make you feel welcomed. Victoria College hosts many spaces like this — from Caffiends to the Cat’s Eye to the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council — and I found they really helped my mental well-being during times of stress. Even the registrar’s office helped make me feel at home. I wish I had actively sought them out when I was in first year!
What’s next for you?
I am pursuing a master’s degree in international migration and public policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science next September! I’m looking forward to living in London and benefitting from the wealth of knowledge at the school. The program runs for 12 months, and after I graduate, I hope to work in immigration policy.
Congratulations to U of T’s Class of 2021!
Celebrate Convocation 2021 with us and on social media by using the hashtag #UofTGrad21 and tagging @UofTArtSci in your posts.