U of T offers unique academic opportunities for students, says Arts & Science grad Talia Holy

June 17, 2021 by Peter Boisseau - A&S News

Resurrecting a dormant journal focused on LGBTQ2S+ issues and blogging about student life are two of the many highlights new Faculty of Arts & Science grad Talia Holy will take with her from her time at U of T.

Along with those milestones comes a deep sense of gratitude for the chance she’s had to learn and grow, says Holy, who earned her bachelor of arts with a specialist in political science and a minor in sexual diversity studies as a member of Victoria College.

“I am super thankful for the breadth of academic opportunities that are available at U of T, like sexual diversity studies, which is a unique niche program,” says Holy, who was recently recognized with a 2021 U of T Student Leadership Award.

“There are lots of equity-focused courses here I really appreciated that guided me on my journey. I’m very grateful this was the place I was able to situate myself academically. I’m not sure I would have had those opportunities at other universities.”

Named a University of Toronto Scholar in 2019-20 as one of the most outstanding first, second or third year students in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Holy became editor-in-chief of Hardwire: The Undergraduate Journal of Sexual Diversity Studies in just her second year at U of T.

The annual journal had not published an issue since 2013 when Assistant Professor Julia Moreau of the Department of Political Science put out a call for students to help her bring it back to life.

“As someone who identifies as queer, I thought it was a missing piece in the academic publishing realm, and since we started it up again, other journals in related disciplines have popped up, so I’m glad we kind of paved the way for that.”

Talia Holy.
While at Victoria College, Holy helped revive Hardwire: The Undergraduate Journal of Sexual Diversity Studies. Photo credit: Will Lochhead.

The journal accepts both academic papers and creative submissions from undergrads, providing students with a unique opportunity for publishing credits early in their academic careers.

More broadly, the sexual diversity studies program is part of a welcoming community across U of T that allows students to explore their identity in a safe space without fear of discrimination, says Holy.

Another important issue for Holy is student mental health, which she wrote about during her two years as a student blogger for Life@UofT.

“It felt necessary to show students what resources are available because I went through that mental health system,” says Holy.

“It was a nice opportunity for me to share things I've learned along the way and help other students on campus, which is something I feel passionate about.”

The range of academic subjects she had a chance to explore as an undergrad led her to the next phase in her studies, pursuing a master’s degree in political science at the University of British Columbia starting in September, focusing on relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activist groups.

It’s a subject originally inspired by an essay she wrote in her first year about the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis in Canada. Her studies at UBC will expand on a thesis she completed at U of T under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Uahikea Maile, whom she credits as one her greatest influences as a student.

Her advice to other students is to be patient and curious as they find their path forward.

“Get involved in campus and don't just focus on your studies, because that's only half of it,” says Holy.

“And feel free to shop around for courses because you don't have a fixed idea of exactly what you want to study. Take time to find something you're actually passionate about.”

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. 

To celebrate Pride Month, we are recognizing the achievements and experiences of the A&S LGBTQ2S+ community and — as allies and community members alike — we are working to build on a more welcoming, inclusive and representative community.