DSR Graduate Awards


Phool Maya Chen Scholarship in Buddhist Studies 

Summary: To be awarded to a PhD student enrolled in the Buddhist Studies program on the basis of academic merit.  Preference will be given towards the support of international students enrolled in the PhD program.  Financial need will be considered. 

Description: This scholarship was established by a generous gift from Christina and Peter Jose in memory of Christina’s grandmother. Christina Jose explains the significance of this award: “We established this scholarship in memory of my grandmother, who passed away in 2011.  She was born in Nepal and orphaned at a young age. Raised in poverty, she nevertheless developed a strong sense of obligation to charity and unfailingly donated a portion of her meagre earnings to local  temples. At 14, she fled to India and was taken in by a lady who offered her a choice: a lifetime of servitude or marriage to a man many years her senior. She chose marriage and, although illiterate, absorbed much of her husband’s Chinese culture and language. She dutifully passed this heritage on to her five children, who later immigrated to Canada and sent for her when they had the means. My grandmother was always a spiritual individual. She volunteered at the Buddhist temple she attended, and when health permitted, she participated in conferences and pilgrimages. Near the end of her life, members of her congregation, including many monks, cancelled travel plans in order to pray and hold vigil at her bedside. This scholarship is intended to be a legacy that honours her faith and her deep respect for higher education. We hope it will assist students who aspire to a level of academic achievement of which she could only dream.” 

2023-2024 Recipients:  Austin Simoes-Gomes, Thinley Gyatso, Amber Moore
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Molly Spitzer Award 

Summary: To be awarded to a graduate student enrolled in a graduate student in the DSR whose principal subject of study is Judaism. This award was created at the bequest of Mrs. Esther Spitzer in memory of her daughter Molly Spitzer.   

2023-2024 Recipient: Martin Pinckney 
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Jane Trombley Award 

Summary: To be awarded to a PhD student enrolled in the DSR on the basis of academic merit.  Financial need will also be considered.  Preference will be given to students who have studied in the DSR at either the undergraduate or graduate level.   

Description: Through the generosity of Gaye Trombley and in memory of her sister, Jane Trombley a graduate scholarship was established for students in the Department for the Study of Religion. Jane was a mature student who, after a career in the arts and business, entered university to pursue studies in religion. She took several courses in religion, and worked extensively with Leslie Hayes, pursuing her interests in the study of mediaeval and early modern witchcraft. 

2023-2024 Recipients: Albert Yang, River Hobel
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Helen Mo Memorial Scholarship 

Summary: To be awarded to one student who is registered as a full- or part-time PhD student, based on academic merit. Preference will be given to students who have achieved candidacy and are in the fieldwork and/or writing stages of their dissertation. 

Description: Through the generosity of the many communities who loved her, an annual scholarship has been established in the Department for the Study of Religion in memory of Helen Mo.  

Helen Mo was a PhD Candidate and beloved member of the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation, entitled “Evangelicals in the Ethnoburbs: Chinese Christian Imaginaries and the Landscape of the Canadian Dream,” was highly anticipated. At the heart of several communities, Helen was a Junior Fellow at Massey College and Victoria College. She committed herself fully to academic and non-academic pursuits alike; Helen was a writer and editor for the online magazine Ethnic Aisle and was the co-founder of the monthly discussion series Sunday Morning Salon which aimed to cultivate engaged citizenship for young adults in Canada. 

Helen was born in Hong Kong in 1983, and moved to Scarborough, ON in 1988. She held a BA and a BEd in History and English Literature, as well as an MA in History from Queen’s University. Before beginning the PhD program at the University of Toronto, she was a teacher at Hon. W.C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor, ON for three years, where she founded the Institute’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Helen was a fierce feminist, deeply talented writer, artist, and public speaker; her plate was often full of a myriad of projects, each of which received the whole of her heart, attention, and talents.  

This scholarship is founded in the spirit of the unflinching intellectual boldness, warmth, and integrity for which Helen was renowned. 

2022-2023 Recipients: Sadaf Ahmed and Jeizelle Solitario
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H. Albert Ellam Award 

Summary: To be awarded to a graduate student in the DSR on the basis of financial need.  Academic merit will also be considered.  On the recommendation of the Department Chair and restricted for travel support.  Recipients must meet Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Funds II conditions.  Created from the Estate of Ida Maud Lillian Ellam. 

2023-2024 Recipient: Joy Saade
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DSR Student Award 

Summary:  Awarded to a graduate student in the DSR for the purpose of conference travel. 

Last awarded in 2018-2019 to Filip Andjelkovic 
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DSR Graduate Student Service Award 

Summary: This award was created to acknowledge the amazing contributions that our students make to the life of the DSR. 

2022-2023 Recipients: Ankita Choudhary, Edward Escalon, Jr., Ridhima Sharma 
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Bill and Belle Levman Graduate Award 

Summary: To be awarded to one or more MA or PhD students in the DSR who is/are studying Buddhist Studies, with a focus on Pali or Theravada Buddhism. 

Description: The generosity of alumnus Bryan Levman, together with Rosi Levman, has created the Bill and Belle Levman Graduate Award in the Department for the Study of Religion (DSR). This endowed award will be made to one or more MA or PhD students in the DSR engaged in Buddhist studies with focus on Pali or Theravada Buddhism.  

The University of Toronto is the only academic institution in Canada that regularly conducts Pali courses and one of the few in North America in which the language is taught at all. A central goal of the DSR is to foster growth in Buddhist studies research and teaching. The Bill and Belle Levman Graduate Award is a significant and timely contribution to that aim, while simultaneously supporting the transformative power of language study. 

2022-2023 Recipient: Andrew Dade