New Beginnings with a New Summer Team at the Innovation Hub!

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length blonde hair in black shirtBy: Michelle Johnstone, Knowledge Management Team, first year Masters of Information student.

Last Wednesday, the Innovation Hub Summer Student Team met for the first time. It was the first (truly) nice day of spring, and we got right down to business and took each other on a “reverse campus tour,” in which each of us showed our new team members a spot on campus that was meaningful to us.

Group of people walking down pathway in park on sunny dayGroup of students listening to a speaker in well-light room with glass windowsTwo students listening to third student speak outside on a sunny day

During the tour, many of us saw parts of campus we hadn’t encountered before. Although we were introduced to new spaces, the stories each of us told had similar themes: the places we chose were ones that helped us feel connected to the U of T community, be it through the physical infrastructure or through involvement in organized campus groups and events. More often than not, the spots that held meaning for us, and the stories that animated them, were about moving from feeling isolated to feeling a sense of belonging or connectedness. Our anecdotes served as powerful corroboration for the stories the Innovation Hub has heard through one-on-one conversations with students.

For the rest of the day, we discussed the six initiatives the Innovation Hub plans to implement in order to foster a sense of belonging that the research identified as being integral to a successful student life. All in all, there was a fresh energy in the room paired with an enthusiasm for continuing to build on the work that dozens of students, staff, and faculty have already channeled into building a better U of T.  We are looking forward to an innovative summer!

Meet our summer team:


Headshot of smiling young woman with short curly brown hair in grey topGabriele Simmons – Implementation Leader – Gabriele Simmons is finishing up her Women and Gender Studies Specialist Major. She’s excited to work with such an engaged team and to put all of the hard work that people have been doing in collaboration with the Innovation Hub into action. When she isn’t studying, Gabriele can be found watching Chopped Canada and/or crying about how much she loves to read fiction.

Headshot of smiling woman with brown hair and glasses in white flower dress Clara Luca – Implementation Leader – Clara Luca is currently working on her Masters of Information at the iSchool, where she is studying Library and Information Sciences as well as Archives and Records Management. Clara is excited for her role at the Innovation Hub because she thinks it’s a great opportunity to unite the community on campus and beyond. In her spare time, she love’s to write creatively, as well as work on her bullet journal and care for her small collection of plants.

Headshot of smiling young man with short black hair in white shirtVincent Tu – Implementation Leader – Vincent Tu is currently a third year Finance Specialist student in Rotman Commerce. Vincent was part of the Future Ready domain during the fall and winter semester and he cannot wait to develop the ideas his team has thought of over the previous year, and bringing them into fruition. In his spare time, Vincent enjoys studying Japanese and singing. He has recently been getting into voice acting – as a hobby.

Headshot of smiling young woman with black hair in blue shirtHeerea Rikhraj  – Organizational Learning Team Leader –  Heerea Rikhraj is entering her third year at UofT, and is doing a Specialist in Political Science and Minor in Psychology. Heerea is drawn to stories and different realities, which is why she loves to read (her favourite genre is historical fiction).She is also an avid movie watcher (she loves fantasy and thriller films). Heerea also enjoys baking.

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length blonde hair in black shirtMichelle Johnstone – Knowledge Management Team –Michelle Johnstone is a first year Masters of Information student studying Knowledge and Information Management. She’s interested in designing for knowledge systems and social information sharing practices. She also loves squash (the sport and the vegetable) and is a honey enthusiast.


Headshot icon of womanAfrodita Kujumdzieva – Knowledge Management Team – Afrodita Kujumdzjeva is a third year student doing a Specialist in Computer Science and a Minor in French as a second language. In her free time Afrodita loves to play sports such as tennis and flag football. She also has a passion for traveling. She is very excited to be a part of the Innovation Hub because as a student she has experienced the issues that the Innovation Hub aims to resolve.

Headshot of smiling young woman with black hair in grey top Angela Wang – Knowledge Management Team –  Angela Wang is going into her second year in grad school, in the Faculty of Information. Angela is really excited about being part of the team, and working together to create something that will benefit the student population as a whole! Interest-wise, Angela loves cooking, going out with friends, and travel.


Headshot of smiling young man with light brown hair in light blue dress shirt William Pullen – Innovation Hub Summer Team – William Pullen has recently finished his second year at UofT, and is pursuing a double major in political science and history. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada and thus has spent most of his life on the West coast, however, he was extremely excited to move out East to attend university. William loves the outdoors and takes every opportunity to get outside and explore nature (even when he has to go out of his way to find greenery downtown).

Headshot of smiling young man with brown hair in denim topAli Seyed Norani – Innovation Hub Summer Team – Ali Norani is a third year student at UofT, pursuing a specialist in psychology and a major in international relations. Ali loves video games, movies and Mexican food. After an incredible experience volunteering with the Innovation Hub during alternative reading week, Ali jumped at the opportunity to work with us again and is highly excited for what is sure to be a fun, and (dare he say it) innovative summer!






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