Scholarship winner enjoying differences between Toronto and Trinidad

By Elaine Smith

Zidane Boodoo, a Sustainable Environmental Management student from Trinidad & Tobago, attended a college fair in Trinidad to learn more about universities in North America and came away sold on York and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Studies (EUC).

“Juanita, the international recruiter for the Caribbean, gave the best pitch I’ve ever heard, so I decided to apply to York and see what happened and here I am,” Boodoo says.

Not only is he here on the York University campus; Boodoo earned one of the 20 prestigious President’s International Scholarships of Excellence, awarded to international high school applicants who demonstrate academic excellence, commitment to volunteer work and extracurricular activities and leadership skills.

“I could have come to York anyway, but this made everything much simpler,” says Boodoo. “I was coming out of my most difficult high school exam when the international York recruiter sent me a message telling me to check my email and open it with my family. It was a nice surprise to get the scholarship, and everyone was excited.”

Boodoo has always been interested in the environment, noting, “Ever since I was young, I didn’t like litter. I wanted to study something where I could make an impact and drive change.”

To that end, he has joined the Environmental Club, as well as the Caribbean Club. He is conscious of the importance of keeping up his grades in order to renew his scholarship, so, “I’ll do more in my second year. I want to get settled first and use this semester to gauge how much I need to study.” 

In high school, he was the vice-president of the Environmental Science club and he hopes to make an even bigger impact at York than at home.

Boodoo lives in residence and has made friends there, during Frosh Week and at various events. Nonetheless, it’s still an adjustment being so far from home. Trying to change his accent to something more understandable was a bit of a challenge. The food here is also more fat-based than the carbohydrate-rich diet to which he is accustomed.

“My diet in Trinidad was healthier,” he says. “Mom always cooks the best food, but if I want some good food here, I do have some family in Brampton to call on.”

Boodoo is enjoying the diversity he finds in Toronto and on campus, although the size of both places took him by surprise. He was also happy to discover the many sporting facilities that York offers, especially soccer.

“I thought I would stand out in a crowd here, but it’s really diverse, so I didn’t have to worry,” he says. “Toronto is so large, and so is the campus. “A tiny slice of Toronto equals the capital of Trinidad, and on campus, I walk too much. I’ve been doing 15,000 steps daily, but I’ll learn the shortcuts. With time comes experience.”