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Cressy recipient aims to spend her life working with youth


by Fred Michah Rynor


Cristina GuerreroCristina Guerrero, one of this year’s Cressy Student Leadership Award recipients, wants to be “everywhere” when it comes to working with youth she says.

A prominent OISE student activist, she was “happy and excited to learn that I’d been given the Cressy Award.  It’s awesome!”

An OISE media release describes Guerrero as “a busy student who balances a hectic schedule of research, activism and academic studies” and that she “promoted student involvement in community-based activities.”

One of her happiest memories at OISE was working with graduate students to organize 'Blooring the Boundaries', an event intended to bridge the physical/academic gap between OISE and the Faculty of Social Work (the two faculties sit side by side on Bloor Street).

“We’re neighbours and it was wonderful to organize an event in which the students, staff and faculty from both buildings could meet and mingle.”

Guerrero, who graduated with a Bachelor of Education from OISE in 2005 and returned in 2008 to begin her doctoral studies, will graduate with a PhD from the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Intertwined with her personal and academic identity, she says, is community activism.

“In my three years serving on the Executive for CUPE Local 3907 I've worked with community initiatives both inside and outside OISE, and I also served on the Graduate Student Association."

As a member of the CUPE Local 3907 Bargaining Committee, Guerrero helped secure increased benefits for members and, as Co-Chair of the Dean’s Graduate Student Research Conference, was instrumental in encouraging student participation that resulted in an impressive increase in research presentations in 2012.

At present, she’s working on her dissertation based on the findings of 'Proyecto Latino', a joint OISE and Toronto District School Board study which she collaborated on as a graduate assistant researcher.

“This study, which was initiated in response to the alarmingly high rates of early school leaving among Latino youth, aimed to find out what factors were holding them back," Guerrero states. "So little Canadian research has been done on this demographic and we found that Latinos in Canada were victims of racism, prejudice and stereotyping based on such markers as their last names, language, verbal accents and skin colour.”

On top of all of this, she’s a busy mother for six-year-old daughter Isabel.

Teaching, she says (she's currently at Etobicoke Collegiate) is her true calling and she’ll “be spending the rest of my life wherever there are kids and classrooms.”

Guerrero's graduate work was funded by the OISE funding package (comprised of four years of Graduate Assistantships) and the OISE Graduate Student Funding Grant. She also received two Research Assistantships and a Research and Development Graduate Assistantship.

The Cressy Awards, named after Gordon Cressy, former vice-president of development and university relations, were created by the University of Toronto Alumni Association and the Division of University Advancement in 1994. They recognize “graduating students for their outstanding contributions to improving the world around them and inspiring others to do the same.”

The awards committee chooses students who, through their extra-curricular activities and participation in student and campus life, have made real change to their faculty, school, college or the University of Toronto as a whole.