Students in the Spotlight: Yerin Lee

May 5, 2021 by School of Cities Staff

"Students in the Spotlight" is a conversation series with members of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy program

Yerin Lee headshot

  • What are your research and engagement interests?

    I hold a long-standing interest in community health, particularly in relation to underserved and low-income youth. As a fellow in the  School of Cities Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy, I am working alongside my project partner, Maha Mohamed, to highlight the existing diversity within the Greater Toronto Area, and to connect youth with representative leaders in their community. We hope that this will help spark action and advocacy amongst the youth for greater cultural representation and socioeconomic equity.  

  • What has motivated your interests and journey? How do you hope to make a difference?

    My passion for promoting diversity and representation stems from my experiences as a woman of color, as well as through my extensive role in working with underserved youth in urban communities. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, yet it is still deeply classist and socioeconomically segregated. I believe that our youth are the leaders of the next generation, and that some of the greatest impacts on our society will begin with them. Through my work, I hope to continue encouraging and motivating youth in overcoming barriers and pursuing their goals and passions.   

  • What’s the latest project you have been working on that you would like to share with the SofC audiences?

    One project that I have recently completed (alongside Maha Mohamed) is a virtual safe space called 6ixTalk. This was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a lack of face-to-face interactions and a growing reliance on text communications, particularly among youth. Through conversations in the community, we learnt that this shift had resulted in decreased socialization and difficulties in forming connections, as well as increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. To help support the social and emotional well-being of youth during these times, we decided to create 6ixTalk to provide youth with a platform for regular opportunities to virtually interact and engage in ongoing dialogue.  

  • As a student, researcher and or activist, what have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and its global impact? How do you envision post-pandemic recovery? What do you hope for?

    As an undergraduate student and a community activist, I quickly realized the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations across Canada and the world. This highlights the degree of inequality and injustices that continue to persist within our communities. A lot of work has been and is currently underway for the implementation of policy and infrastructural changes, but there is still a lot more to be done. I hope to take an active part in the post-pandemic recovery effort - and continue working towards social justice and equity within the Greater Toronto Area.

  • Please share with us your experiences at the SofC. How do you think being a member of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program has contributed to your scholarship and added to your experience as a student?

    My experiences at the  School of Cities Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy has been one of the most meaningful involvements throughout my undergraduate degree. As a SofC Urban Leadership Fellow, I have grown to believe in myself as an activist and change-maker, and it has given me the confidence to pursue my passions and interests. This has truly enriched my experience as a student and as an individual, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow and to further my impact and involvement within my community.  

  • Any final word or message?

    We all have the potential to become change-makers and to leave a positive impact on our communities. It requires passion, drive, and resilience – attributes which I believe we all possess. Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to connect. My email is always open, and I would love to hear from you.

Student Bio:

Yerin is an undergraduate student at Trinity College studying health & disease, ecology & evolutionary biology, and immunology. She holds a long-standing interest in community health, particularly in relation to marginalized and low-income youth in urban areas. Yerin works on multiple mentorship, outreach and research initiatives throughout the year, and hopes to engage the next generation of leaders in advocating for social equity and equal representation.