Medium shot of Tobi Mohammed

Passion in Motion: Tobi Mohammed

March 4, 2024

Nicolas Riccio

Community Voices

 How mentorship powers a UTM grads’ commitment to help Black students pursue higher education.

“We saw a need and made it happen,” says Tobi Mohammed about her decision as a second-year biology student to contribute to the relaunch of the inactive African Students’ Association (ASA). “There’s no need to wait around for others to do something.”

Her work with ASA showed Mohammed the value of peer and mentor support – and the power of taking initiative. She went on to participate in several campus clubs focused on enhancing success for the campus’ Black communities and expanding access to post-secondary education. She found connecting with local high school students as a mentor and teaching assistant in the SEE@UTM program especially fulfilling:

“It was a very full circle moment for me. Hearing that many of these students wanted to go into STEM reminded me of myself in grade 12.”

Later, as an Access Inclusion Assistant, Mohammed helped run Access Days on campus, hosting workshops for more than 150 Black high school students to facilitate the transition into university. She was heartened at the great turnout, noting how important it is for students to see themselves represented in a university setting. “I didn’t have that when I was younger,” she remarks.

Mohammed also felt the urgency of equity work when she was selected for the 2022 Canada Summer Research Opportunity Program as a researcher. Her project, led by U of T Psychology Professor Cendri Hutcherson, investigated the cognitive processes that contribute to biases in shootings.

“Hearing the stories and experiences some Black men and women have gone through was very eye-opening [and] deepened my interest in research.”

The role also put Mohammed in touch with industry professionals and fellow researchers in the field, which deepened her passion to address equity and access to education at a deeper level.

She has since combined her dedication to health sciences research with her commitment to expand post-secondary access in her current master’s program in global health at McMaster University. “It’s going to allow me to study serious issues in global health intensely and meet different professionals and classmates from diverse backgrounds. I’m very excited.”

When looking back on her time at UTM, Mohammed notes that connecting with eager high schoolers helped her find clarity at a time when she was finishing her undergraduate degree and uncertain of her next steps.

“I was thinking ‘why are you fearful’? If anything, SEE@UTM made me push myself harder.”

Read more about the SEE@UTM program, as well as paths-to-success programs for equity-deserving students across U of T.