Get involved on campus, says new University College grad Daniella Colangelo

June 22, 2022 by Susannah Cao - A&S News

Graduand Daniella Colangelo didn’t have a clear plan when she started her U of T studies as a member of University College — but she did know U of T would offer her the flexibility to explore different areas of academic interest and maximize her university experience.

Now, graduating with an honours bachelor of arts, specializing in industrial relations and human resources, she is looking back at the experiences that helped shaped who she is today. Getting involved — including Tradition, an event she says must be experienced to be appreciated — didn’t go unnoticed, either; she was awarded a 2022 University of Toronto Student Leadership Award for her contribution to the University College community.

What inspired you to choose the University of Toronto and University College?

I chose the University of Toronto on a whim. I knew I wanted to experience life in the city and determine how I faired independently, but I was not completely set on what I wanted to study. At the time, more than any other institution, U of T offered me that flexibility to explore. When it came time to choose my college, I’d heard University College happened to be the largest of them all, which I equated to having more people to connect with. I was “sold,” despite later learning the “fact” rang false. Still, I could not be happier with my decisions.

You worked in various positions helping the University College community, including being an orientation leader. What is your most memorable experience in this role?

At University College, we host an event called Tradition during frosh week, which I can’t speak much on. Incoming students will just have to commit to University College to find out what exactly I’m talking about. In my first year, I experienced the thrill that comes along with this event and something that remains with me to this day is the image of watching my frosh go through that same, highest-of-energy experience. It is something University College students can reminisce over and will forever be a standout moment of my university experience.

What inspired you to take on the role of deputy and finance commissioner for University College Literary and Athletic Society? What were your responsibilities and challenges?

Early in my second year, I hit a roadblock. I had a million and one interests and wasn’t ready to commit to just one path. I knew I wouldn’t make any progress deciding on future aspirations if I didn’t try the opportunities that excited me, so I decided to channel my interest in numbers into a finance position. I began by shadowing the finance commissioner of the UC Lit and was so intrigued by the work that I signed on to be the commissioner myself the next year. It was my duty to produce the annual audit and biannual budget and deliver programs to strengthen the financial literacy of the society and students at the college. It is a challenge to balance the need to provide engaging programming with the need to use students’ funds in a meaningful and non-excessive manner.

What advice would you give to a first-year student in terms of being involved on campus?

Getting involved is what shaped my experience at U of T and what I will remain most fond of when I look back on my time at the University. To any first-year student, I say, “Get involved, but don’t restrict yourself to just one thing. Explore your interests through volunteer work or by joining a club. You’ll find an outlet for your passions and people with similar interests that will enrich your university experience. It may be daunting but ask a friend to try out something new with you or attend a first meeting and see if it’s the thing for you.”

What will you miss most about being a U of T student?

I will miss all the people I was so lucky to cross paths with on the way to class, in class or outside of it, but most of all, I will miss the million opportunities that come along with being a U of T student. This University allowed me to explore interests that fall within and beyond the classroom through various volunteer, work-study, and casual positions. There is something for everyone on campus so long as you are willing to go out and find it.

What is next for you?

A break! I will be taking some time away from the classroom to expand on my industry experience. I am excited to find my way in the workforce, following a short summer break and explore my interests. I plan to take a year or two to ponder what I might want to return to graduate school to pursue.

Congratulations to U of T's Class of 2022!

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