GRADUATE & LIFE SCIENCES EDUCATION

Sonya Kim, Immunology

Sonya KimSonya Kim My name is Sonya Kim and I am an HBSc candidate at the University of Toronto. As
shown on my curriculum vitae, I have been a recipient of numerous awards and scholarships
while pursuing double majors in immunology and neuroscience. Throughout my undergraduate
studies, I have been extensively involved in scientific research and in a wide range of
extracurricular activities, which helped me build robust interpersonal skills and demonstrate
substantial leadership capabilities. I believe the experiences and skills I gained from such
opportunities qualify me as a competitive candidate for the Graduate and Life Sciences
Education Undergraduate Student Leadership Award.

Throughout my undergraduate studies, I have been engrossed in research that improves
healthcare for patients. As a result, I pursued a major in immunology to expand my knowledge
about the human immune system and strived to explore cutting-edge research techniques in
immunology. For my first research experience, I took on a clinical research project at the
Hospital for Sick Children, aimed to improve patient outcomes following organ transplantation.
Then, to broaden my perspective on research, I sought experience in a basic science research
laboratory in Dr. Adam Gehring’s lab where I study the capacity of circulating T cells to respond
to hepatitis B antigen. Moreover, my passion towards healthcare extends beyond the boundaries
of research. I remain informed of current health issues and raise awareness in our society by
working in as an executive member of the University of Toronto International Health Program
(UTIHP). I joined a sub-committee of UTIHP called High School Partnership Program (HSPP)
as the external partnership coordinator. We intend to host a global health conference for high
school students to discuss antibiotic resistance challenge with current university students and
professors.

This year, I have been working as the Co-President of Immunology Student Association
(IMMSA), representing over 400 students enrolled in the undergraduate immunology program.
A fundamental role of the Co-President is to act as the bridge between the undergraduate
students and the immunology faculty. As an undergraduate student, it can be intimidating to
approach professors after classes, especially in convocation hall-sized classes in the University
of Toronto. While leading IMMSA, I have more opportunity to interact with the faculty and
garner their support for our work. By doing this, I am now able to give aspiring students more
opportunities to break the ice and begin networking with students and professors through
academic seminars and the most anticipated event of the year, Ontario-Quebec Undergraduate
Immunology Conference (OQUIC). Through this experience, I am learning that one of the
essential roles of a leader is strengthening the internal bond between council members. I wish to
create a cohesive team of students who wish to have a memorable learning experience during
their undergraduate years and share that experience with the rest of the students. I believe that
developing such a team would help us not only to communicate better but also to enhance
performance by allowing us to be part of a tight-knit community. In order to accomplish this
goal, it is important to have frequent meetings to hear their feedback on our progress and
entertaining team-building activities to create a friendly environment.

Through extracurricular activities inside and outside of the university, I have contributed
to enhancing the student learning experience of my peers and the wellbeing of our community.
Furthermore, I believe that my academic and extra-curricular experiences made me into a
competent student leader.