Going to school can often be taken for granted, especially when we are overwhelmed with the stress of assignments and midterms. It is very easy to overlook how lucky we are to be studying at university, instead of acknowledging how privileged we are to be able to study, attend classes, and learn beyond ourselves.

As students at one of the best universities in the world, it is imperative that we take a step back and recognize the many advantages that come with having access to an education — an opportunity that many people are deprived of during their childhood and adolescent years.

Yearn 2 Learn is a project created by U of T’s chapter of The Citizens Foundation, which aims to raise awareness and fundraise to help create educational infrastructure through community building and mentorship programs. The foundation also started an initiative to build primary and secondary schools for children in Pakistan.

The Yearn 2 Learn photo project hopes to shine a light on the diverse perspectives of U of T students about what education really means to them. In doing so, the project seeks to demonstrate the various ways in which education has had a role in “shaping individuals and society” and in turn, make us more mindful about why we choose to pursue higher education.

“I have had the privilege of being able to attend the University of Toronto for my undergrad. The University of Toronto, in every way, has fundamentally changed the way I carry myself: Every type of knowledge I experienced at UofT was a gain, especially grammar knowledge! My education is something I hold onto dearly: It has literally created a huge part of my being and purpose. Education is the one thing that makes me hopeful for the future, for my own and the world around me.”

Alexandra Sterjovski is a fourth-year student studying English and Human Geography.

“Education to me means freedom. It’s the power to think critically and examine the world as we know it. It gives us the tools to unbiasedly formulate our own opinions and as a result creates who we are. I think education is the most important opportunity anyone can ever receive because it’s the value to not only learn about the world but also about yourself. Education is freedom because without it you’re left vulnerable to the biased views of others. Education gives you the ability to take knowledge and examine it from multiple angles. It’s the freedom to formulate your own ideas that you can take into the world, and hopefully, make it a little better.”

Aryana Munsamy is a fourth-year student studying Environmental Studies and Sociology.

“For me, education is the gateway to success. It is the ability to inspire others with knowledge, it’s awareness of self. All the advancements and inventions that we see around us are a result of it. I believe it is a basic right of every human to have access to education and accomplish their dreams.”

Fatima Zahidi is a third-year student studying at Rotman Commerce.

“Education is the ability to obtain the tools needed to take on the challenges of the future. It is the pathway to creatively discover the unknown, and provides the resources to implement new knowledge in a productive and beneficial way. Education provides an avenue to challenge the knowledge of the present and to consistently improve and better our understanding of ourselves, and the world we live in. Ultimately, it provides the necessary mechanisms to discover one’s own capabilities, enabling one to use these skills to innovatively contribute to society.”

Georgia Dryden is a fourth-year student studying Evolutionary Anthropology and Archeology.

“Education to me is a chance to change lives. Education is the gateway to success. From education, we are able to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to grow, mature and be successful. I consider myself to be extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to study in one of the best schools in Saudi Arabia and now at one of the top universities in the world. However, many children around the world are not as fortunate… I see education as an opportunity to teach others as well as an opportunity to learn from those that you teach.”

Haya Faisal is a first-year student studying at Rotman Commerce.

“Education is a privilege and a power. We have to realize how lucky we are to be in the positions we are and how much opportunities we receive because of where we are. It is easy to let the stresses of it all fog up the freedoms education offers us, but I think it’s important to always take a step back and realize how lucky we are to have the resources necessary to consume new information. I believe we are a mixture of personality, experiences, and knowledge so education does take a huge part of who we are.”

Sabrina Rollock is a fourth-year student studying English and History.

You can visit The Citizens Foundation’s Facebook page to learn more about Yearn 2 Learn.

Yasaman Mohaddes is the Director of Corporate Relations for The Citizens Foundation.