York grad gives back to students, creates Christina L. Sgro Entrance Award

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After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at York University, Christina Sgro decided to give back to the people who helped along the way, and current York students, by establishing the Christina L. Sgro Entrance Award.

“Students are struggling financially given ever-rising tuition fees in Ontario, so any assistance we can give, as alumni, is helpful,” says Sgro (BA Hons. ’08, MES ’12). Now an urban planner, she sees the value in the lessons she learned as a student.

The Christina L. Sgro Entrance Award is a yearly prize of $500 given to an undergraduate student accepted into the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies or the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who intends to focus on geography or urban studies. The first one was awarded to a student in Oct. 2013.

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Sgro stays firmly invested in York, saying, “It’s my way of giving back to the place that helped shape me; it’s a chance to nurture tomorrow’s bright minds, the next MPs and teachers and doctors hanging out at Scott Library and Bethune College.”

Teamwork is a key element for success. “While planning often tends to be black-and-white – municipal bylaws and growth projections and density calculations – there are shades of grey. That becomes very real when you consider the huge responsibility you have to the people you’re planning for. That’s key. Success in my profession, and in life, is all about teamwork,” says Sgro. “Whatever you do or think – your philosophy, your approach – can’t exist in a vacuum. Collaboration, awareness and communication; these are tools that guided an open dialogue with the public when I hosted my radio talk show, and now in my profession. These are tools I learned to use here. Timeless lessons like these really pay off in the future.”

Sgro credits the University’s inspired leadership for its success, a factor she believes helps keep alumni interested in being involved. “York is a first-rate institution. It’s a place where learning is about continuous growth and innovation. That’s a reputation Dr. Shoukri has earned with hard work and forward thinking, and I think he’s done a fantastic job as president. He’s not just a leader, he’s a visionary, and the relationship between the two should never be mutually exclusive. As long as that progressive thinking thrives, the students here will continue to benefit immensely.”

Her advice to today’s students? “The road is long when you’re holed up working hard, and sometimes it will feel like it’s only getting longer. But hold tight and don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled. When you encounter opposition – and you will – that’s when you cover your ears and talk over the naysayers. This is your time. Don’t let anyone dissuade you from galloping towards that prize, whatever it may be, at full speed.”

Although she praises the University’s faculty and staff for their dedication, her biggest thanks goes to two special people: “The award is geared to the hard workers and the non-quitters, like my parents, so this was also my way of honouring and thanking my mother and father for being such huge inspirations in mine and my siblings’ lives. We sometimes diminish the significance of parental support, especially once we’re grown and out on our own. But it really is crucial. We have great examples to live up to.”

For more information about this award, visit the Student Financial Services website.