She’s a connector, a catalyst and a champion. Using skills and degrees from the U of T, Anjum Sultana (HBSc 2014 UTSC) is making an impact as the inaugural director of youth leadership and policy advocacy at Plan International Canada.
"Studying at U of T gave me the tools to be a global citizen,” says Sultana, who graduated with an honours bachelor of science from U of T Scarborough in 2014. “We must understand how what happens in one part of the world impacts all of us.”
During her undergraduate degree, Sultana harnessed UTSC’s wide range of academic offerings, realizing that crossing disciplines develops a unique perspective to effect real change. Sultana graduated with a double major in health studies and neuroscience, and a minor in psychology. She also completed a master’s of public health with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in 2016 (MPH 2016 UofT), with a focus in health, promotion, global health and public health policy.
“I wanted to know how elements outside our bodies impact health and well-being,” says Sultana. “It was great to learn about the biology behind good health such as neurotransmitters, but it was also important to understand public policy and economics and how these variables influence health.”
While at U of T, Sultana volunteered with the University of Toronto International Health Program and War Child Canada and was a First Year Director with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union among many other activities. For her efforts, she was honoured with the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award in and the D.R Campbell Merid Award 2014.
“U of T instilled the importance of learning in the classroom,” says Sultana. “But it also inspired me to soak up everything I could through extracurriculars, which compounded my understanding of public service.”
For her success, Sultana also cites the inspiration of Professor Suzanne Sicchia.
“Anjum is spectacular in so many ways; she always has been. I enjoyed sharing a classroom with her all those years ago,” says Sicchia. “Her critical and creative contributions to our collective learning still stand out. It has been wonderful to watch her career unfold. She’s doing important policy and advocacy work, to the benefit of us all. She is definitely one of UTSC’s best!”
Despite her demanding schedule, Sultana still makes time to give back to her alma mater. She has volunteered as a member of several mentorship programs at the University of Toronto, such as the Hart House Mentorship Program, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and offering her expertise as a guest speaker with several faculties, such as the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Bloomberg School of Nursing, and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
“I also work with the Public Good Initiative located on the St. George Campus,” says Sultana. “It’s a pro bono consulting service for students who want to learn more about how they can support charities and non-profits. It's been such a joy part of that, because I’m helping students think about how they want to contribute and play a role in those sectors, but also give back while they're at U of T.”
Today, Sultana advocates for the health of young women and children in her role at Plan International Canada, “We help young people to activate their global leadership by providing them with the skills, tools and networks to make meaningful change on children's rights. My team and I also do work influencing Canadian and global decision makers on children's rights and equality for girls.
“As a G7 nation, Canada can make a difference. Our world’s experiencing climate change, COVID-19 and conflict; what many are calling the ‘Triple C’. I want to figure out what positive role our country can play because we want to be that platform for global citizenship.”
Growing up in Scarborough, Sultana remembers wanting to go to U of T from a young age and it's a school that holds special significance as both she and her brother studied there for their undergraduate and graduate education. She hopes to remain connected with the school that gave her so much, she is the first person in her family to graduate from a university program in Canada.
“I’m grateful my family achieved these milestones in higher education,” says Sultana. “And we were able to do it in our hometown.”