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Renowned Activist Ruth Lor Malloy Among Vic Alumni Award Winners

Jun. 12, 2024
 Ruth Lor Malloy, Helen Hayes, David Lockhart, James Janerio and Justin P’ng,

This year’s Victoria College Alumni Award winners Ruth Lor Malloy, Helen Hayes, David Lockhart, James Janerio and Justin P’ng helped cap reunion weekend at the 2024 Burwash Dinner. (Photos by Minh Truong)

By Joe Howell 

The Victoria College community is bright with stars—and every year the AVC (Alumni of Victoria College) recognizes a few graduates that are especially luminous. At the 2024 Burwash Dinner, which closed out this year’s Alumni Reunion weekend, the group celebrated the winners of the 2023 alumni awards. 
Ruth Lor Malloy Vic 5T4 and David Lockhart Vic 8T1 both received a Distinguished Alumni Award, which commends extraordinary contributions to society at large through social, business, political, educational, cultural or religious life and is the highest honour Vic alumni can hold. 
James Janeiro Vic 1T0, Justin P’ng Vic 1T5 and Helen Hayes Vic 1T8 each received an Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes recent graduates 40 and under who have excelled in their careers, community work or philanthropic endeavours. 

Ruth Lor Malloy Vic 5T4 holds up her Distinguished Alumni Award with Vic U President Rhonda McEwen.

Ruth Lor Malloy Vic 5T4 holds up her Distinguished Alumni Award with Vic U President Rhonda McEwen.

Malloy received the first award of the night in honour of her “lifetime vocation in the quest for national and global social justice,” said emcee Vito Labate Vic 0T0, outgoing president of the AVC. Her “passion for change all began in Dresden, Ontario in 1954,” he continued, “where she participated in a sit-in to demonstrate discriminatory treatment of Black, Asian and Jewish people that culminated in Canada’s first racial discrimination case.” Labate encouraged everyone to read Malloy’s recent memoir, Brightening My Corner, which he said “emphasizes that greatness is not inherent in certain people, but rather is born from acts of kindness anyone can perform.” 
In a powerful acceptance speech, the 91-year-old alumna spoke of a time in high school when a reporter told her Chinese Canadians couldn’t become journalists. “Luckily, I didn’t believe him, and neither did my English teacher,” said Malloy. “He suggested that I learn as much as possible about the world and become a journalist. He recommended his college and that is how I ended up here at Vic. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Victoria College, for starting me on an amazing journey.” 
Lockhart, who has supported a prime minister and minister of finance among many other distinguished civil servants through his work in communications and speech writing, was also named a Distinguished Alumnus. He was honoured for his “contributions to the political landscape in Canada—a call to service that began when he won an election to serve on VUSAC,” said Labate. In an acceptance speech that was both humorous and moving, Lockhart said Vic does “the invaluable work of turning students into was here that my mind was widened, my life was changed and some of my greatest friendships were born.” 
Then came time for the Emerging Leader Awards. Janeiro, who is now director of policy and government relations at the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, was recognized for his work in public policy, government relations and community engagement: “During the COVID-19 pandemic he made instrumental contributions to vulnerable members of our community while working at Community Living Toronto,” said Labate. 
P’ng, who recently graduated from Georgetown Law with an LL.M. as a National Security Law Scholar, was cited for his dedication to serving the public interest. “He’s helped numerous organizations prepare for and respond to cyber security incidents as a legal professional, and has made significant contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession as an advocate for Asian Canadian lawyers and law students.” 

Hayes, an emerging policy leader currently pursuing her Ph.D. at McGill University, works as a research manager at the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy. She received the final award of the evening for her advancement of civic engagement and deliberative democracy: “Her dedication toward volunteer efforts, her integrity and her ability to engage others has contributed to positive changes within the communities in which she serves,” said Labate, noting that Hayes also is a member of the AVC. 

Alumni gathered in the Burwash quad before dinner to greet familiar faces and introduce themselves to new ones.

Alumni gathered in the Burwash quad before dinner to greet familiar faces and introduce themselves to new ones.

The AVC chooses each year’s winners from nominations submitted by anyone in Vic’s alumni community, explained Louise Yearwood Vic 8T6, executive director of Alumni Affairs & Advancement. She invited attendees to consider getting involved in next year’s awards by joining the AVC or nominating a fellow graduate. 

“The AVC is a fantastic group of people who organize events and activities throughout the academic year, both in person and online,” said Yearwood. “We have incredible Vic alumni all over the world, all doing incredible things. If there’s anyone in your own network you’d like to honour with a nomination for one of our awards, I really encourage you to go online and do that,” she continued. “And I hope you’ll come back next year to join us for Burwash Dinner 2025!”

Vito Labate standing in Burwash Dining Hall.

Labate closed out the night by thanking the Office of Alumni Affairs & Advancement for their leadership in bringing the evening to fruition. He also encouraged attendees to consider joining the Victoria Alumni Mentorship Program: “That’s how I got involved myself—I was a career mentor for young alumni of Victoria University,” said Labate. “This is an opportunity for everyone. Being part of the mentorship program makes a big difference to young alumni as they embark on the next chapters of their lives.” 

To learn more about joining the AVC or nominating someone for an alumni award, visit here or email

For more info on becoming an alumni mentor or mentee, visit here or email Meghan Junke, mentorship co-ordinator and alumni liaison with Alumni Affairs & Advancement, at

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