Danya Assaf: Canada’s Student of the Week

This week, we’re celebrating Danya Assaf as Canada’s Student of the Week.

Danya is a rower, soccer player, huge contributor to her community, and senior at Havergal College.

CampusRankings caught up with Danya to find out what inspires her work, and how she spends her day-to-day.

If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would have dinner with William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is one of the most celebrated writers ever and his works have important messages about human interaction. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare and have great memories of watching performances with my family. I would love to talk about his writing techniques and understand more about the inspirations for his powerful stories.

If we had to describe you in a tweet (140 characters), what would it look like?

A passionate young woman who loves to live every day to the fullest and is determined to make a difference in the lives of others through sport, activism and kindness.

Favourite app?


What’s been a major challenge that you have overcome?

As a rower and only 5’3”, I was always worried that I was too short to be competitive. However, I was able to overcome this height disadvantage through hard work and perseverance. I trained and committed myself to being the strongest I could be to compensate for my size and become the best rower I possibly could.

Favourite mentor at school?

As Admissions Prefect at Havergal, I work closely with the admissions team which is led by Ms. Houston-White. She has offered me a lot of guidance and support in my role.

Favourite subject at school?

I enjoy studying economics because it is a subject that touches on many disciplines and has a direct impact on my daily life. The concepts I have learned in my economics class have enabled me to look deeper into some of the greatest issues facing our world in the past and present. Economic principles are universal and through the understanding of economics we can improve our lives and the lives of others.

What’s a life lesson most people should know?

That failure is not the end of the world and you need to put failure in perspective. Fear of failure can be very limiting so I have learned to take any failures in stride and use them in a positive way. Often what may seem a “failure” actually opens the door for other opportunities. It is important to be grateful and have a positive outlook and always look at the bigger picture when you are met with inevitable challenges and failures. This attitude has allowed me to flourish as a learner, and take my mistakes and turn them into lessons for the future.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

I would have the power to time travel. I would want to be able to go back or forward into different periods of time and experience life as it then existed. I am passionate about understanding things of the past to help me better understand our world today.

Most important thing in a friendship?

My friends are a big part of my life and they have so many qualities that I love but I think most importantly my friends are always positive and make me laugh. I believe that being positive and enjoying life is the most important attribute in a friendship. Happiness is infectious and a positive attitude allows you to enjoy every day no matter what the circumstances.

What’s on your plate right now, community involvement-wise?

– Havergal College and Argonaut Rowing
– Havergal College Soccer
– Admissions Prefect
– Voice of Toronto Internship
– Member of the American Sign Language Club
– Running
– Spending time with family and trying new restaurants

Why do you do it all?

Athletics have always been a large part of my life and have shaped me into who I am. Sports have been a way for me to relieve stress and channel some of my emotions in a productive way. It has also allowed for me to make some of the most important friendships in my life. I don’t think there is any better way to make a friend than through involvement on a team as you are all working toward a common goal and the bonds that are created will hopefully last a lifetime. I am also passionate about making a difference in the world and I have been given an opportunity to voice my opinions and thoughts through my student leadership roles as well as my work with Voices of Toronto. I want to make our world the best that it can be not only for myself, but for others.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope to have just completed my undergraduate degree in commerce or another form of business degree and be working towards my MBA. The future is unpredictable, so most importantly, I hope to be happy, healthy and surrounded by friends and family.

What’s a favourite memory you have from your extracurriculars?

One of my favourite memories from my years on the rowing team is the bus ride to our training camp in Tennessee. There is nothing like a sixteen-hour bus ride with some of your best friends!

What’s a life-saving life hack you love?

Using a cup as a speaker is my most used life hack. I love listening to music with friends or when working out, so if I don’t have a speaker, putting my phone in a cup really amplifies the sound!

Two things most people don’t know about you?

1. I have three siblings, and each of them are a big part of my life. Having a large family means there is never a dull moment! Also, having five role models constantly around me, from whom I can learn and who are always there to support me, is amazing.

2. My two grandfathers and I have the same birthday, October 2nd, so birthdays have always been a family affair!

Want to send a shoutout to anybody while you’re here?

I want to say thank you to all my amazing friends and teachers for helping me discover who I am and what I am passionate about. I would not be the confident young women I am today without all of you.

P.S. If you’d like to be nominated for Student of the Week, please sign up to CampusRankings and create a profile — our mission is to recognize young people doing great things in their school, community, or otherwise.
Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski is the Editor-At-Large at Student Life Network. Also CGP (Chief Guinea Pig) in her search for brilliant career advice.