Marquela Nunes
Marquela Nunes will celebrate convocation on Nov. 18 having graduated with distinction from the English Co-op program at U of T Scarborough.
Wednesday, November 17 - 2021
Tina Adamopoulos

U of T Scarborough graduate Marquela Nunes found an outlet for activism through the world of fantasy. The genre allows her to create a safe space to unpack and rewrite history, where LGBTQ rights and racial equality have always existed.

Her debut high fantasy novel – a genre characterized by elements such as magic and epic characters – pulls from the mythologies and histories of West Africa and Central Asia in order to “re-imagine how wondrous our world could be.” She recently completed the book’s first draft.

“It’s almost too raw to write non-fiction because I’m not content with the world we live in. Sometimes, I want to escape, and writing fantasy is that escape for me,” Nunes says.

“Ultimately, I like to write fantasy because it opens a world of possibilities.”

On November 18, Nunes graduates with distinction with a specialist from the English Co-op program and minor in creative writing.

The field wasn’t Nunes’ first choice. She originally wanted to apply to film school but switched gears to explore creative writing and build a stronger foundation in communication to utilize in the film industry.

This helped me decide the type of activist I wanted to be. It was a stepping stone to what I’m doing right now with my writing.

Nunes attributes two professors from the department of English as having a profound impact on her. The first is Associate Professor Karina Vernon, who nurtured each student's interpretation of course material. Assistant Professor SJ Sindu was instrumental in helping Nunes gain confidence while working on the novel in the course, Independent Studies.

“Being able to bounce certain ideas off her and get in-depth feedback was very valuable to me. She had a huge influence on me,” Nunes says.

Nunes’ activism and dedication to initiate conversations about equity and inclusion were shaped by her multiple volunteer and communications roles on campus and in the community. In 2017, Nunes started to volunteer with the Imani Academic Mentorship Program, an initiative that helps Black youth in Scarborough pursue post-secondary education.

“This helped me decide the type of activist I wanted to be. It was a stepping stone to what I’m doing right now with my writing.”

As a co-op student, Nunes worked as an online projects coordinator to support the development of unconscious bias training modules, a new equity and diversity initiative led by Maydianne Andrade, a professor in the department of biological sciences at U of T Scarborough. Nunes designed a series of web videos to provide a user-friendly experience for University of Toronto staff and faculty to learn about how to spot unconscious bias in the workplace.

Nunes currently works in finance and continues her equity work part-time at the Federation of Black Canadians, a non-profit organization that works with community partners to advance the interests of Black communities across the country.

After juggling jobs while scoring high grades throughout the weight of the pandemic, her advice to students is to not allow grades to define your worth or compare yourself to others.

“Grades are one part of your time at university,” Nunes says. “Do a lot of self-searching and prioritize learning about who you are as a person.”