Summer Abroad Awards: Meet the award recipients

November 1, 2023

Meet the 2023 Summer Abroad Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence award recipients

The Summer Abroad Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence award was created to recognize exceptional students at the University of Toronto who are contributing to the advancement of equity, diversity and inclusion. We are pleased to announce these outstanding Summer Abroad participants as members of the 2023 cohort of Summer Abroad award recipients.

If you have any questions you would like to ask about awards granted through Summer Abroad, please contact the Summer Abroad team at

Picture of Inioluwa

Inioluwa Ajenifuja

Italy | MGT397Y0 - Banks and Markets: History, Economics and Regulation

Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michaels College, Rotman Commerce – Finance and Economics Specialist

Ini's contributions to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) have spanned various forms, reflecting her commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable world. Her journey in EDIA work has included teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to refugees, which was a fundamental step towards her journey in empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds and helping them integrate and communicate effectively in their new environments. She also volunteered in post-operative care to ensure visitors and families were treated with dignity and respect. Currently, she works in various student groups focusing on women's empowerment and black students' advancement with the aim of creating more inclusive educational environments. She has served as a mentor and speaker on various panels, addressing topics related to representation and student life. 

Her participation in the Summer Abroad program in Siena, Italy, had a profound impact on her EDIA initiatives. While in Italy, she became acutely aware of the language barriers that ESL students likely faced, experiencing firsthand the challenges of adapting to a new environment. Despite these challenges, she observed the remarkable adaptability of humans and their ability to have fun and thrive in new spaces. Siena's historical significance as the birthplace of modern financial institutions and markets also enriched her understanding of European culture and history, along with the integration of foreigners into such spaces. This experience piqued her curiosity about how humans adapt to new environments and the role of 'reception culture' in this process. 

Ini hopes to inspire and motivate others to push for EDIA initiatives in their respective spaces, as she believes individuals have different roles to play in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive community. 

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Tamara Altarac

Italy | CRI389Y0 - Current Issues in International Criminology

Faculty of Arts and Science, Woodsworth College, Criminology and Psychology

Tamara is a passionate advocate for human rights with a strong commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Her commitment to EDIA values is exemplified by the establishment of MealCare at the University of Toronto, which is an organization dedicated to rescuing surplus food and diverting it to those in need. This initiative addresses two pressing issues simultaneously: food insecurity and food waste. Her experience in Italy deepened her passion for these issues as she witnessed how they manifest in different global contexts, and intersect with other human rights issues, such as housing insecurity, migration, and gender equality. Tamara aspires to pursue a career as a human rights lawyer and lead meaningful, systemic changes. 

On a personal note, Tamara’s adoration of cats is vividly captured in her photo. While she was missing her two cats that waited for her at home, she made new furry friends on the streets of Italy. Tamara carried cat snacks with her wherever she went, so many of her nights ended with feeding kitties she ran into. 

Picture of Jolie Gan

Jolie Gan

Germany | GER358Y0 - A Tale of More Than Two Cities: Berlin Between East and West

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Political Science/Business Fundamentals

Jolie is a third-year student whose EDIA work has spanned multiple avenues, innovating primarily around aspects of global health. At the age of 14, she founded her first non-profit organization; to date she has built a community of 5,000+ students, a non-profit reaching over 65,000 people globally, and has worked with governments, startups, and corporates of multiple sizes in everything from food and agriculture to AI and synthetic data. Previously, Jolie worked as a Policy and Analytics Student at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, served as a Global Health Fellow to the United Nations General Assembly and World Health Organization, and conducted research with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. 

Jolie's experience in Germany exposed her to the startup and innovation culture in Europe, which allowed her to foster and make connections to expand her EDIA initiatives to stakeholders in the region. Having lived in and understood the cultural connotations of North America and Asia, this experience provided her with the opportunity to bridge the knowledge and tools of all three continents. 

Picture of Noah Rudder

Noah Rudder

Greece | POL300Y0 - Modern Greek Culture: People, Tradition, Language and Cuisine

Faculty of Arts and Science, Victoria College, Drama and Peace, Conflict and Justice

Noah’s Summer Abroad program took place in Athens, Greece, and during his time, he jumped at the opportunity to build a sense of community amongst trip participants. This led to him planning several initiatives, day trips, and activities for everyone to participate in. These activities would range in physical and visual engagement and were always shared with all members of the class. Among other experiences, classmates watched movies, bowled, explored cafés, and saw live shows. Sometimes the whole class would tag along, other times it would just be Noah heading out on these adventures, but that never discouraged him from planning more.  

This Summer Abroad program has encouraged him to continue to take that initiative in group settings to foster a sense of community and togetherness. It was a good dress rehearsal for the year ahead, as he is now a Residence Don, seeking to make U of T feel like home for domestic and international students alike. Noah has pursued EDIA initiatives through student mentorship, volunteering with “Success Beyond Limits” program, designed to provide youth with holistic supports to complete their education and experience success in their lives. Noah has also mentored for the Ideas for the World programs: “Humanities for Humanity” and “Theatre for Thought,” which offer Toronto community members the opportunity to experience university and break down social barriers between academic institutions and the public.  

Noah is most proud of founding his very own club, the “One Piece Cake Club,” which prioritizes mental wellness and grants students with a safe space to enjoy the treats we provide while also meeting peers taking a step back from the rigors of university. Community-building is important to Noah, and it is something he will never stop pursuing.