June 25, 2024 | Alumni

U of T Mississauga valedictorian strives to leave her mark as an agent of change

By Negin Neghabat-Wolthoff

A portrait of Mariam Ismail wearing a black graduation gown

Mariam Ismail is the UTM valedictorian for the class of 2024. Photo by Nick Iwanyshynl.

Driven by a passion for understanding the intricacies of the legal system and its impact on society, Mariam Ismail, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s valedictorian for the class of 2024, has excelled academically and through extensive extracurricular involvement. 

To her fellow graduates, she shares her congratulations: “We finally did it! We’ve achieved a great milestone as we celebrate the culmination of our undergraduate journey.” 

Graduating with an honours bachelor of arts, majoring in criminology with double minors in political science and forensic science, Ismail's achievements highlight her dedication. 

Ismail’s interest in law began to take shape when she was young.  

“Watching my mother work incredibly hard to pursue her paralegal license sparked my initial interest in the law,” she says.  

This early exposure led her to take high school law classes and experiences that cemented her passion for the legal field.  

“These experiences influenced my decision to pursue a degree in criminology, political science, and forensic science distinct yet interconnected disciplines within the realm of law,” Ismail says. 

UTM’s academic flexibility allowed Ismail to tailor her path in her fields of study. As co-president of the UTM Pre-Law Organization, she built a community for pre-law students and helped organize a free housing legal clinic, making legal knowledge more accessible. Her role as a research assistant for political science professor Randy Besco honed her research skills, which she now applies as a research and advertising intern at the Office of the Prime Minister.  

Miriam sitting at a table outdoors
Mariam Ismail at a Pre-Law Organization info table.

One of Ismail’s most memorable experiences as a UTM student was in the SOC423 Identity Crime class, taught by sociology professor Nathan Innocente.  

“The course structure, which involved working in small groups to present a final policy report on an identity crime case, not only enhanced my learning and collaboration skills but also led to the formation of some of my closest friendships at UTM,” she recalls.  

Ismail is excited about her future, as she will continue working in Ottawa this summer as a federal government intern, and she will be starting law school in the fall. Her engagement in politics, including her work with MP Rechie Valdez and the Mississauga-Streetsville Electoral District Association, has empowered her to vocalize people's concerns and advocate for legal and social change.  

“I am extremely grateful and excited for the journey ahead,” Ismail says.  

Born in the United Arab Emirates and immigrating to Canada at the age of 10, Ismail’s journey is a story of drive and dedication. She credits her accomplishments to the support of her family and friends.  

“I hope to be an active agent of social and legal change, amplifying people’s voices and empowering them to assert their agency.” 

Mariam holding two awards and wearing a leopard-print coat
Mariam Ismail after accepting two UTM student leadership awards earlier this year.

Originally published by University of Toronto Mississauga

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