Giving back to a rewarding program: the Yat family scholarship supports Black student soccer athletes
Former U of T varsity athlete Michael Yat (BA 2008 UTM) has established the first scholarship of its kind within the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education to support Black student soccer athletes. It’s his way of giving back to a varsity program that gave him so much.
“My hope is that this scholarship will help varsity students have the same rewarding experience I did playing competitive soccer through school, without the financial stress,” he said.
The Yat Family Student Athlete Scholarship will be awarded annually to two recipients, one male and one female, in varsity soccer based on academic merit and financial need. Preference will be given to Black student athletes.
“In my first two years at the University of Toronto, I was training with the varsity soccer team, travelling for games and maintaining a full course load, all while working nights,” said Yat. “It was a grind. I was sleeping any chance I could get, but it was worth it to study, play soccer and finish school debt free.”
It would be a shame for any student athlete to give up an opportunity to go to school and play sports because of financial constraints.Michael Yat
Yat said he realized he needed to work when his parents made a long-term decision to change career paths that affected the family income during that time.
“I have two younger brothers who also had aspirations to go to school, so I knew I needed to do my part,” he said. “It would be a shame for any student athlete to give up an opportunity to go to school and play sports because of financial constraints.”
Today Yat is a successful real estate broker, investor and new dad. He remembers moving to Ottawa from Nigeria when he was eight years old, then making the move to Toronto five years later. When he came to Toronto, he began to see more Black families facing financial hardships.
“I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind to do something impactful for the Black community,” said Yat. “Over the past year, I had some time to reflect and was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and so I decided to act.”