The top scholars for the 2011-2012 academic year in the Toronto Catholic District School Board are striving for careers in medicine. Nicola Sahar of Bishop Allen Academy and Catherine Spagnuolo of Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School have each achieved an average of 100% in their final grades and are planning for futures in the medical profession.
Nicola earned a 100% in six subjects, five of which were taken at the Advanced Placement level (equivalent to first-year university). He is heading to McMaster University in September to study in the Health Sciences, hoping to eventually become a neurosurgeon. Originally born in Bethlehem, Nicola came to Canada when he was 6 years old and attended St. Dorothy and St. Benedict Catholic Schools. Aside from his studies, Nicola was involved in athletics--playing hockey, soccer and participating in track and field. He belonged to the youth club at his Church and volunteered for the William Osler Health Centre at Etobicoke General Hospital in the Emergency Department.
Catherine will be attending York University to study Biology and she, too, hopes to become an M.D. Two of her subjects (Mathematics) were also Advanced Placement. Catherine attended St. Charles Catholic School and, aside from her academics, she played the trumpet for the school’s jazz and concert bands. She tutored students in the trumpet and in mathematics and was a student leader for Camp Olympia and the school’s Grade 9 Orientation. Catherine gives back to her community through the school’s Build 2 Learn Club which raised money for an all girls’ school in South Soudan. Fluent in Italian, she belonged to the school’s Italian Club and Multi-cultural Club and volunteered at Villa Columbo. This summer, Catherine is volunteering at Mount Sinai Hospital as well as the Loretto Abbey Infirmary.
“These students are to be congratulated for their ability to balance high academic standards with service to their community, the cornerstone of Catholic education”, says Director of Education, Bruce Rodrigues. “We are especially grateful to their elementary and secondary school staff for supporting them in meeting their Catholic Graduate Expectations.”
“We commend the students for their achievements and thank their families for their abiding support of publicly-funded Catholic education,” says Board Chair Ann Andrachuk. “Each of us shares responsibility for creating collaborative communities of learning.”
Following close behind and also with their eyes on careers in Medicine were second place Alexandra Majerski with a 99.83 average and Alexander Gabinet-Equihua in third place with a 99.50 average. Both students recently graduated from Bishop Allen Academy.
Alexandra will be studying Life Sciences at the University of Toronto, after achieving 100 percent in 5 of her 6 courses. She attended Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School and is volunteering at the Royal Ontario Museum and Women’s College Hospital, where she is assisting one of the country’s two Canadian headache specialists this summer. Alexandra has been an altar server at her parish (Our Lady of Sorrows) for 10 years.
Alexander will be attending the University of Toronto to study Commerce and Life Sciences. He earned 100 percent in 4 of his 6 courses. He attended Our Lady of Peace Catholic School and is working as a lifeguard and swim instructor this summer to earn money for next year. He played rugby throughout high school and was a speaker at parent events such as Grade 8 Orientation. He assisted Grade 9 students as a Camp Counsellor.
The top student in the former City of Toronto is hoping to make her contribution to the field of medicine as a family doctor. Pamela Ip, from St. Joseph’s College School, earned an average of 99.17 percent and will be attending McGill University with plans on becoming a Family Doctor. She attended Holy Cross Catholic School and, during her years at St. Joe’s, she was Co-President of the United Asians Club and Co-Founder of the school’s Comic Book Club. Active in sports, she also found time to volunteer on the school’s Social Justice Club. She has taken on two summer jobs to help pay for her studies.
Rounding out the list of this year’s top scholars are Natasha Richichi-Fried and Andrew Emilrajan. They are both taking a different path of study from their fellow top scholars and concentrating, instead, on history and computer science, respectively. Natasha is the top student in the former Borough of Scarborough with an average of 98.33 percent. Natasha graduated from Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in June and will be attending St. Michael’s University at the University of Toronto to major in History. She graduated from St. Gerald Catholic School. She competed in cross-country and soccer at Mary Ward and was a leader of the school’s Gender Justice Committee, which addressed inequities and issues affecting both women and men.
Andrew Emilrajan earned an average of 93.67 at Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School in the former Borough of York. Andrew will be studying Computer Science at York University in September. He volunteered as a student leader at Romero, helping with fundraising activities and assisting elementary students with their transition to high school. He was a member of the school’s Student Council and its enrichment program. Andrew attended St. Bernard Catholic Elementary School.