Bursary winners urged to embrace quest for learning
July 6, 2017
Some students leave high school just doing enough to graduate.
Others academic performance and extra-curricular activities are off the charts.
Khari Thomas belongs to this group.
The Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute student graduated with a 91 per cent mark while performing as the environmental team president and a member of the varsity soccer and the school newspaper editorial teams.
As an op-ed writer for the paper, Thomas clinched first prize in the opinion-writing category in last year’s 20th annual Toronto Star Newspaper Awards for high school students. He also took part in this year’s Toronto Brain Bee competition that tests the knowledge of high schoolers in neuroscience.
The honour roll graduate was among 15 students of Jamaican heritage recognized with bursaries at the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations (AJAA) 25th annual graduates’ awards luncheon.
“This is just the second time I have received a community award, so it feels good,” he said.
The Westend Sports & Cultural Club honoured Thomas last year.
He’s pursuing life sciences studies at the University of Toronto.
“My goal is to pursue either a medical or law career,” the 17-year-old added.
Moriah Kennedy is pursuing post-secondary schooling outside the province.
The Richview Collegiate Institute graduate is enrolled in Burman University sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. The independent publicly funded university is located in Lacombe, Alberta.
“I have always wanted to be immersed in Seventh-day Adventist education,” said Kennedy who plans to become a medical doctor. “I have been in public education all my life and now is the time for me to make the switch. I wanted to stay in Canada and Burman is the only university in this country that offers what I am looking for.”
The honour roll student, who graduated with a 93 per cent mark, excelled in track & field and frisbee in school and directs the children’s choir at her church.
Kennedy is also a Pathfinders of Canada mentor. Launched in the summer of 2014, the national afterschool program offers academic, life skills and leadership support for young Canadians.
Graduating from Stouffville District Secondary School, Osten Conville will pursue mechatronics engineering studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
“I want to have my own company and be the one calling the shots,” said the high school valedictorian and grandson of long-time Jamaican Canadian Association member Dr. Vincent Conville.
After a stellar high school career at Markham District High where she took part in several extra-curricular activities and achieved a 93 per cent mark, Janae Knott is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s commerce program.
She intends to pursue a career in finance or health care.
The other honourees were Tia Dennis, Alafia Williamson, Aliyah Whyte, Destiny Walsh, Kareem Elliott, Kiara Picart, Thomas Kean, Tisanna Walton, Tshai Carter, Tameka Castle and Zavian Buchanan.
In the keynote address, Jamaica’s high commissioner Janice Miller told the graduates that they will spend their time in university and college exercising increased independence and responsibility, expanding their learning and undertaking the rigorous preparation for entry to the work world.
“As you embark on this new phase of your life, you will be surprised as to how much you already know and be amazed as to how much there is still to learn,” she said. “The challenges of university or college life may overwhelm you, but that is all part of the process. Embrace the quest for increased learning as the path towards educational fulfillment is a journey and not an event. The advances in technology have made online learning, distance education and refresher courses easy to access, so as beneficiaries of the information age, formal schooling is just part of your education.
“…You can learn about almost anything in the world with the click of a button or through an app. All that it takes is will power, an inquiring mind and the strength to discern what is valuable as opposed to the merely trivial. Pursue education in whatever way you can during your formal studies and even after you graduate as the fastest way to become irrelevant is to stop learning.”
Miller, the daughter of late Guyana cabinet minister Dr. Dale Bisnauth, urged the youths not to shy away from taking risks as post-secondary education offers opportunities to challenge themselves.
“This is different from engaging in risky behavior,” Jamaica’s top diplomat in Canada added. “Taking risks involves being prepared to step out of your comfort zone when necessary and taking the opportunity to enjoy new experiences and adventures that will enrich your educational and life experience. When you have responsibilities and obligations, it may be difficult to challenge oneself and it’ safer to stay in a familiar comfort zone. New experiences and different activities, however, will not only add to personal satisfaction, but will also add to the depth of your character and greatly enrich your educational experience. Part of taking risks also means never giving up no matter how difficult the journey may be or how much rejection you may face.”