By Fatima Raza
Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU) name change from the former Ryerson finally came through for hopeless University of Toronto (U of T) rejects and dropouts, who can now wrongfully identify as U of T students. Rejects just like me.
Growing up in an immigrant household, there were only three things required of me: 1) Get good grades, 2) Get better grades than the neighbour’s children and of course, 3) Get into U of T. I managed to fulfil all three requirements. Well…sort of, because I did get into the University of Toronto, Mississauga campus (UTM).
Me: So … I’m switching to Ryerson for their journalism program!
Dad: Why? What is wrong with UTM?
Me: It’s just better for my mental health and they have a better program : )
Dad: But no medical school will take you in, how will you be a doctor?
Me: Dad… I’m in journalism
Mom: Does this mean I have to update my facebook status?
The smile on my parents’ faces the day I got my acceptance mail said it all. The news of their smartest child getting accepted into Canada’s Harvard-equivalent spread like wildfire across family group chats with WhatsApp forwards and Facebook posts.
Their joy was alike to that of a Brown boy whose beard finally connects or to a Brown girl who finally fights her sunset curfew. Fast forward, I ended up switching to Toronto Metropolitan University, previously known as Ryerson.
Me: Guys, Ryerson just changed their name, it’s gonna be TMU now lol. Kinda like UTM!
Dad: You’re going to UTM again? Thank god.
Me: No, dad. I’m going to TMU, my school changed its name.
Dad: What do you mean?
Mom: This is great news, I just told your grandmother and my friends about it.
Mom: Woohoo, back to future UTM grad!
The shift away from U of T was a devastating blow for my parents, who still refuse to accept it to this day. But let’s be fair, all immigrant parents are always in some sort of denial. Just last week, I was told by my mom that my stress-induced hair loss was in fact caused by me not oiling my hair regularly.
Our new name makes getting my family adjusted to the change in schools coincidentally convenient. Since I was at the Mississauga campus, going from UTM to TMU doesn’t entirely seem too bad, just a little rearrangement of the letters, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, my entire family—including relatives back home—think I go to UTM and am pursuing a prestigious degree at one of Canada’s top-ranked universities.
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies but I live for the free respect. It does get really awkward, though, when a relative of another relative happens to know someone down the street whose daughter also wants to get into U of T and reaches out to ask how I like the university. Do they mean the classes I take in a movie theatre with dingy cup holder lap tables and NOT an ornate lecture hall? Or my campus that’s basically a mall surrounded by deserted alleyways and endless construction, which is definitely not the epitome of woodland core and high-end architecture?
Some Distant Relative’s Neighbour’s Bestie: Hey Fatima, your mom told me you’re studying at UTM to become a doctor. What is campus like? How big is the library? I might be joining you next year!
I’m gonna be honest, I dig the new name. Despite the full title making it sound like I study at a subway station, I enjoy getting royal treatment at family events. I’m sure my name comes up in the “good role model” conversations far more often than I deserve. I’m probably the child every other kid in the family gets compared to, thanks to my parents’ inability to differentiate two acronyms.
Lol Metro university
Fatima, oh my god, I literally laughed out loud!!
Loved your story.
Thanks for sharing
I hope that you put no value yourself on the “where” of where you go for your higher education like your parents irrationally do, and be proud of your achievements. And besides, as far as I know, going to U of T’s Mississauga campus still means you were accepted at U of T, for whatever that’s worth. I mean, I went to York and took some classes at Glendon campus but my degree was still issued by York. Just saying…
And to be honest, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent the 15 years I did, taking night school classes when I could afford them; working in dead-end office jobs, often getting laid off when economic downturns happened, or took a chance and borrowed from OSAP to try full-time
school for a couple years in my late-20’s, to hard earn that degree that didn’t translate to better opportunity, as I had hoped. I tell young people now to consider a trade, and my nephew did just that when he found university wasn’t for him. Now as an HVAC expert, he’ll never be out of work, as I have. Or, more recently, I have taken a couple college courses to become qualified to work in my local hospital. If I had done that back then, I would have been in a steady career for the past 30 years, I’d be more financially stable and have earned multiple weeks vacation. I’ve never worked anywhere long enough to earn the coveted 3 weeks, or more. Oddly, that’s my goal when I rejoin the work force, having lost my job due to Covid, then being the caregiver for my father-in-law who battled cancer, and who recently passed away. I also considered joining the military a few times but at the time they didn’t pay as much as my job. But if I had at least gone to a recruiter, I would have found out to my would have paid for my education I struggled to get, and I would have a damn good pension and probably retired by now. But here I am, at age 53, about to yet again embark on a new employment journey. Stability would be nice for a change. At least when I was visiting my father-in-law in the hospital during his last days, a nurse told me they are always looking for ward clerks so maybe there is some hope for me.
So all’s I’m saying is no more nonsense talk of feeling inadequate somehow about the name of the institution which educates you. In the long run, no one (except your parents apparently) cares, and the book learning means nothing (except if it’s a practical thing like medicine or engineering of course).
Take care and I wish you all the blessings this world has to offer!
My daughter goes to TMU and I am proud of her. It’s time we start changing our outdated point-of-views.
Bizarre interjection of Race into this article for no reason except the authors desire to perpetuate her ingrained victim hood nonsense
I’ve now blocked your site from my news feed.
NGL, I wouldn’t have written this. If people are confusing TMU with UofT then they could have grounds to force TMU to change its name…again. They could argue that the similarity devalues their prestige.
can totally relate. And if it makes you feel any better, you don’t have to have been raised in an immigrant family to have been subjected to similar pressures. Goes on all over!
Love the article. It is indeed true as far as expectations and general commentary goes from immigrants parents. But in any case, good luck with UTM …I mean TMU and enjoy your university years.
I felt for you and for your parents.
“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet, Shakespeare.
All you have to do is make the most of your learning experience and align it with your desired dreams.
I once was my family’s first and understand your pressure. I am now 73, summa cum laude, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish , UC, U of T. Higher education offers a chance to learn how to think, to focus on adult responsibilities and discover surprising life possibilities.. I do not doubt you will achieve all that at TMU as you would have at UTM, since your willingness to learn is evident.
Be proud of yourself for already recognising what you need. You’re an adult. You need no one’s permission to chart your own course.
You will make your parents proud!
Wishing you happiness and success,
Google recommend me this story and I’m glad it did! As someone who is an immigrant, this story was so funny. Greetings from UBC!
Do you like TMU now? I am at York University because I was late to apply for UTM and they said I have to wait for one year. Well, I am also a I’m.of 3 boys.my oldest son is in Highschool. I never asked them to fulfill the 3 things I.e. 1) Get good grades, 2) Get better grades than the neighbour’s children and of course, 3) Get into U of T. i asked them to organize themselves, get a plenty of sleep , eat well before studying ( don’t eat during study time) and complete their homework. Your article gave me a smile… Well best of luck