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Championing diversity in STEM: Meet incoming MScAC student Ashenafee Mandefro, recipient of an Inclusive Excellence Admissions Scholarship

Ashenafee Mandefro is an incoming Master of Science in Applied Computing (MScAC) student in the 2024 cohort who has received an Inclusive Excellence Admissions Scholarship (IEAS) presented by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto.

Ashenafee Mandefro, incoming MScAC student.

The goal of these scholarships is to diversify academia by supporting the recruitment of underrepresented groups, specifically first-year Black and Indigenous master’s students to PhD stream programs that are commonly a stepping stone to the UofT PhD. Scholarship recipients receive up to $15,000 for one year (i.e. $5,000 per registered session).

Ashenafee is due to complete his undergraduate degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (with majors in Computer Science and Neuroscience) at the University of Toronto and decided to apply to the MScAC program because of its unique applied research internship and the opportunities the collaboration between academia and industry affords. “My passions lie in making a positive impact in society and inspiring the Black youth in my community to get into STEM.”

Ashenafee is currently the Education & Outreach Director of the Black Students Association where he engages with high schools across the Greater Toronto Area to forge a bridge to post-secondary for Black youth in the city. “I grew up in Scarborough and did not have many Black people I knew in my area to look up to in higher education let alone STEM. I took it upon myself to be that example for those younger than me to show them Black excellence knows no bounds.”

Ashenafee joins the MScAC program’s Data Science for Biology concentration in the Fall of 2024 and is looking forward to conducting applied research in computational biology. MScAC congratulates Ashenafee for receiving the Inclusive Excellence Admissions Scholarship. We know he will inspire the next generation of world-class innovators to make the same wide-scale impact he strives to achieve.