“Working with students and helping others” is how Ary Maharaj describes both his time at University of Toronto Scarborough and his career goals. While earning his undergraduate degree in neuroscience and psychology, he became an advocate for mental health, as a co-founder for Minds Matter Magazine. The web-based publication promotes actionable awareness on mental health from the student perspective. As an active campus volunteer, he promoted student engagement, convinced that there is a connection between well-being and academic success, and was a recipient of U of T’s Gordon Cressy Award
Ary was the mental health lead for the Department of Athletics & Recreation. With fellow BSc student Alyona Koulanova, he introduced Fit Breaks, using the 10-minute class break period to encourage students to engage in stress-reducing movement. Fit Breaks have been implemented across several academic departments at U of T Scarborough as part of the Healthy Campus Initiative.
“By incorporating physical activity in the classroom setting, we help students make the link between physical activity, mental health, and academic performance, as well as teach them a valuable life skill that they will hopefully carry forward post-graduation.”
Ary and Alyona’s professionalism and passion was recognized with the national 2017 Teaching Assistant Graduate Student Advancement Award for Best Conference Session.
Ary continues to pursue his interest in student mental health in his graduate work at OISE, collaborating with the Toronto District School Board and Scarborough Rouge Hospital to work with students in Grades 10 and 11 to help them build mental health skills to successfully transition to post-secondary education. After completing his studies at OISE, he hopes to be both a practicing therapist and have an impact on public policy.
“Mental health is something that affects everyone in a multitude of ways.”