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Canada: Career Prospects - Must read

Who are notable alumni from Canadian universities?

Sometimes it’s not easy to imagine what is possible and how you’ll be able to achieve your goals. Luckily there are many people who can serve as inspiration, especially notable university alumni. We take a look at those who studied in Canada.

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It’s very possible that when you’re weighing up your study abroad options your interest may be drawn to some of the famous faces and notable alumni of a university. While having world-renowned alumni doesn’t mean an institution is the right fit for you, seeing someone who has gone on to achieve impressive feats can serve as an inspiration and motivation for you to pursue your study abroad dreams. We’ve taken a look at the yearbooks of Canadian universities and picked out some famous graduates who decided to study in Canada and then succeeded in their respective fields.


University of Toronto


We start off at Canada’s top-ranked university, the University of Toronto, which is first in Canada and 25th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2021.  With a reputation for intensive research and offering over 700 undergraduate qualifications, it is a favourite amongst international students. The university also boasts ten Nobel Prize winners in fields from physics to physiology. Some of the University of Toronto’s notable alumni include:


Noor Hassanali  (Trinidad and Tobago)


The second president of Trinidad and Tobago (1987-1997), Noor Hassanali studied a law degree at the university. He worked as a teacher, lawyer and magistrate prior to his political career.


Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (Latvia)


Another famous graduate of the university who reached the highest political office, is the former president of Latvia (1997-2000), Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. Speaking five languages fluently, she initially pursued a bachelor of arts degree before moving on to study a master’s degree in psychology. She worked as a teacher, clinical psychologist and later, having completed her PhD, as a lecturer at the University of Montreal. She worked in Canada for many years, prior returning to Latvia and becoming president of the country.


Walter Ofonagoro (Nigeria)


Graduating with a first-class honour’s degree from the university, Walter Ofonagoro went on to later study a master’s and PhD degree. He has served as Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, and as chairman of a number of successful businesses. He is noted for his contributions to history and economics, having worked at both Columbia University in New York and the University of Lagos in Nigeria.


Margaret Atwood (Canada)


An author and a poet, Margaret Atwood is world-famous for her book The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel, The Testaments, for which she won a Booker Prize (the second of her career). Atwood is the recipient of 20 honorary university degrees and a significant number of literary accolades. She graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in English and went on to become arguably one of the most influential Canadian writers of all time, often using her platform to raise awareness of important issues such as animal rights, feminism and identity. 


Ryerson University


Another of Toronto’s well-known institutions is Ryerson University. The university sits comfortably inside the top 1,000 institutions in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021) and has developed a reputation for preparing students for employment via a co-operative education model. Some of the famous alumni from Ryerson University include:


David Anaglate (Ghana)


Former Ghanaian Ambassador to Togo and the former head of the Ghanaian Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), David Anaglate was a journalist, lawyer and politician. Anaglate pursued a degree in Radio-TV arts at Ryerson University and later went on to obtain a law degree in Ghana.


Nasra Agil (Somalia)


A civil engineering graduate from the university, Nasra Agil began her career in the field working for the city authority in Toronto. She later moved to the United Arab Emirates to work in real estate development, as an advisor and engineer. She also developed her entrepreneurial abilities and opened up the first dollar store in Somalia.


Olivia Grange (Jamaica)


Jamaican politician Olivia Grange served as the country’s Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture from 2007 until 2011. She also served as Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister and is a prominent member of the Jamaica Labour Party.



McGill University


Based in the world-famous Canadian city of Montreal, McGill University is ranked second in Canada and 31st in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2021. With almost 40,000 students the university is known for its international outlook often being dubbed “Canada’s international university” and has an unrivalled reputation in the country for its medical faculty. Some of the notable alumni from McGill University are:


Justin Trudeau (Canada)


The current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is an alumnus of the university having graduated with a bachelor of arts degree. He’s been prime minister of the country since 2015 and is the 23rd in the country’s history. Prior to taking political office, Trudeau was a teacher and a campaigner for non-governmental organisations.


Joanne Liu (Canada)


A medical graduate specialising in paediatric emergency medicine Joanne Liu has served as a professor of medicine at the University of Montreal and clinical medicine at McGill University. She has also served as international president of Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and has provided medical support during humanitarian crises around the world.


Timothy Harris (Saint Kitts and Nevis)


Timothy Harris is the current Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and holds a doctoral degree in administration with a major in accounting. He has held a number of portfolios within the national government of Saint Kitts and Nevis, including foreign affairs, and international trade, industry, and commerce.


University of Alberta


The University of Alberta is a top 200 world university and ranked fifth in Canada (QS World University Rankings 2021). The university is based in the city of Edmonton, which is the northernmost city in North America and boasts the largest stretch of parkland in the country. The university is known for its innovative teaching and has over a century of history under its belt. Some of the famous graduates of the University of Alberta are:


Olawale Sulaiman (Nigeria)


Olawale Sulaiman studied a degree in neuroscience, a medical specialisation, at the University of Alberta and went on to practice as a neurosurgeon and work as an academic. He is known for providing surgery without cost for people in Nigeria and has launched a charitable foundation in the country.


Sir John Bell (Canada)


A graduate in medicine, with a specialisation in genetics and immunology, Sir John Bell has enjoyed a distinguished academic career in both the United States and the UK. Some of the positions he has held include a professorship at the University of Oxford and a member of the Institute of Molecular Medicine.


Su Guaning (Singapore)


An electrical engineering graduate from the university, Su Guaning, has worked as both an engineer and academic, including for the Singaporean government. He helped found the Global Alliance of Technological Universities and is the emeritus president of the Nanyang Technological University.


Hopefully, you have got a sense of what is possible and feel inspired by the stories of famous and notable alumni from Canadian universities. You may also find reading about what makes Canada so unique useful, our guide on how to understand the Canadian grading system may help as well, and don’t forget to explore the top universities in Canada.