We Are All Ryersonians
A storytelling Project for Ryerson University Alumni
Graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada was a proud moment for me. The pride came from knowing that I was able to find my voice and contribute to a community that always encouraged me to make my own mark in the world.
I’ve seen the Ryerson community accomplish tremendous growth during a decade of my time as a student and young professional, graduating from and then working within post secondary education at Ryerson U.
From this journey I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting a number of amazing people from Ryerson U that have become my extended family and I truly believe that it’s this diverse family who makes the Ryersonian community so unique and vibrant.
After graduating and leaving the university sector to pursue work in the creative industries, I continued to look for ways to keep giving back to Ryerson as an alumni.
So over the past year I began working with Ryerson University Alumni Relations to help support a special project to capture the unique stories of our alumni community.
Together we documented 10 different stories of Ryerson alumni to reminds us that “We Are All Ryersonians.”
Here are the stories from our first season
My parents came to Canada only because I wanted to pursue higher education.
For the first few years as like other people, we struggled. Everyone has to go through that phase, after that you start to get comfortable and It becomes a nice place but those transition stages is always harsh. I use to work 15 to 16 hours, seven days a week for my first year in Canada.
You have to live for tomorrow,
if you have a bad day, just think that you need to move on for tomorrow. If you have a great day, just think that you will have a greater one tomorrow. I think that for me on a personal level, what I’ve been going after since my experience with depression was this idea, that you have to live for tomorrow, because the sun will always rise.
I don’t know how it started, I always had an affinity or an attraction to the bodybuilding world.
My grandfather was a World War II vet. If you imagine a World War II vet, he probably looks like what you’re imagining, he was a very strong & tough man but a big teddy bear with me as his granddaughter. I could not imagine what he lived through, he landed in on normandy on D-day on the second world war and when he came back after the war, he worked in the mines underground. He and my grandmother eventually became small start up owners through owning a tavern. Growing up, it was a place I knew very well. My grandmother had an apartment upstairs and an office in the back & my grandfather had a gym in the basement. It was just for him, it was a really scrappy gym but it had a punching bag, it had weights and it had a bench press.
I remember going down there and really feeling like it was a place for him to be himself and escape and shape himself physically mentally and spiritually and so I had an affinity for this place that had nothing in it but had such tools to really shape a person. So when I was doing my masters degree, I was trying to figure out what the next challenges was that I wanted take on in my life & that’s when I decided that I would dive heavily within bodybuilding culture.
Graduating from my first degree in Ryerson was a little bit emotional for me.
For the first time I had my family there but most importantly my young girl was present. As much as I was graduating, I was not graduating alone because I was with my small girl and she could see that her father was graduating. Maybe one day she will become someone who is inspired to graduate from university to push those issues of social justice just like I am today
I could have decided not to go back to school and just do normal manual work and get money but I was persistent. I persisted in saying that even though I was old I was going to continue to learn even with young people and be like that young person. Life is all about persistence if you want to achieve.
Ryerson was my training facility for when I was in the army. When I met my wife it gave her a feeling that I was on the right track.
I went home to Owen Sounds with my a friend there was this young girl there. I didn’t realize it but I had three dances with her and I said we are going to get married. She thought I was nuts of course but I was serious. We were married for 53 years.
Playing on the women’s hockey team, we weren’t an Ontario University Athletics team and we were constantly trying to prove that we could be.
I knew I wasn’t a strong hockey player, I was a house league athlete and I had to train my ass off. I trained with the men’s team because I knew I was little and I knew I had to be that much stronger.
I won the Dennis Mock student leadership award but I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony because I was in Geneva for my dad’s funeral.
I remember my Associate Dean at the time had speaker phoned me while the ceremony was going on. My mom and I were listening to everything that was actually being said about me. I lost complete control and was balling my eyes out. I physically was not there, so none of these nice things had to be said but my peers and Ryerson’s administration wanted to say it. That was when I realized that my work was really was appreciated, it was a special moment for me.
TRSM was my favourite place to study, on the 3rd floor right by the windows.
During my final week when I was studying for finance and my really heavy classes felt like I lived here.I found myself eating breakfast lunch and dinner in the same study room. So I made my study room kind of like my house. I reorganized the furniture, I took some chairs out and put in one of those big red leather couches that you see around TRSM, I put it against the wall and I reorganized the table and chairs until it all felt very homey. I would nap on the couch and then study on the chairs, I pretty much owned that room & people knew I owned that room. I didn’t have a booking reference or anything but it was my room. It sounds crazy but it felt really awesome & just like my house.
I wasn’t an academic guy, growing up I always had sports, baseball or basketball and that kind of got me through everything,
I hated school, that’s why I dropped out the first time around but now that I’m finished it’s one of those things that I look back at. I didn’t like school and I didn’t want to come back and do it but I told myself I’m going to be more upset with myself if I leave something unfinished. If I leave my degree incomplete, it was going to piss me off forever.
I got through it so it helped me realize that I’m mentally and physically stronger that I think I am. Now coming into life, I’m going to attack every obstacle, every problem and every situation with the mind frame of I can do this, I know I can!
When I was here I was most privileged to be on what was then called the academic council.
I was the student rep at the time when the council approved the course outline for the first degree that was ever to be granted at Ryerson.
Now you looking at this place literally 40 years later and you say wow! 40 years later we have postgraduate degrees, now we have scholarships, now we’ve got research going on all all over the world and it all started from that one decision.