How the Ryerson alumnus and director, Sport Programming at MLSE LaunchPad, uses his sociology degree to cultivate equity, engagement and community.
Justin Bobb understands what it means to multitask. As the director of Sport Programming at MLSE LaunchPad, and the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Centennial College, he hustles everyday to improve the lives of urban youth both on and off the court.
“I’ve got a wonderful team of staff that I work with here [at MLSE LaunchPad] and we execute sports programs for youth facing barriers from the city of Toronto,” he shares. “We really try to inspire young people to be ready for school – ready for work – when they leave our sports programs.”
The ‘living lab’ nature of the program, located in Toronto’s Moss Park, means that no two days are the same for Justin, a reality with which he’s familiar. As a full-time student and varsity athlete who simultaneously maintained a full-time job, there was no such thing as an average day during his time at Ryerson.
“A typical day for me would be going for a 9 a.m. meeting at my full-time job and then showing up for an eleven o’clock class. As a student I learned how to be multidimensional – I learned how to really manage myself.”
Justin’s favourite thing about studying at Ryerson was the sense of community. He describes the campus as not just a bricks and mortar institution, but a place where culture really exists between the walls of the buildings.
“When I was coming out of high school, as an athlete I had a couple of options to go to schools, and Ryerson really emerged as the number one choice for me,” he reveals. “The first time I stepped on campus I felt comfortable. I felt like it was a place I wanted to be.”
Justin has built his career on sport and community development, and credits the sociology program, alongside his own experiences, with helping him acquire the skills needed to help shepherd young people from diverse backgrounds facing barriers. Yet, the path to earning his degree in 2012 wasn’t without obstacles. As a first generation Canadian, Justin found the university application process challenging to navigate. After deciding to switch from business management, he sought guidance from the Tri-Mentoring Program (TMP), which offers mentorship and learning opportunities to Ryerson students. TMP mentors helped Justin realize that sociology was the right fit for his goals and needs. The experience not only taught him about the importance of mentorship, but the value of perseverance.
“I think being in sociology was useful for me to kind of explore who I was, to get a better understanding of what my passions were, what really drives me. I think the diversity of Ryerson, and the diversity of the sociology program, really helped me to build my career path.”
While at Ryerson, Justin gained a lense for equity and the ability to balance all the priorities in his life. He acknowledges the vital role his professors played in his education, calling it an academic partnership which enabled him to achieve his goals.
Ultimately, Justin is most proud of being able to pay his success forward. In both his leadership roles at MLSE and Centennial College, he strives to inspire and foster opportunities for people who look like him, including encouraging young Black males to pursue higher education. For Justin, the key has always been about finding the right fit, which is why he chose Ryerson.
“It didn’t feel like a stuffy university – it felt like a place I belonged,” he concludes. “Ryerson always felt like my school while I was there.”