JCA scholarships focus on students with the most need
September 28, 2017
When their parents separated, Rebecca Louis went to live with her father while her sister stayed with their mom.
In the care of Marcel Louis since age 12, she completed an undergraduate degree and is in her second-year of a Master of Arts legal studies program at Carleton University.
Coming from St. Lucia in 1989 under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the family patriarch worked on a farm and in a greenhouse.
“My dad instilled in me the importance of education even though he had what might have been the equivalent of a Grade five education,” said Louis who was born in Newmarket and raised in Bradford. “He always said he wanted his children to be better educated than he was and he did whatever it took for that to happen.”
While his salary didn’t exceed $18 an hour, he invested in the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for his children’s post-secondary education.
Louis, who aspires to be a criminal defence lawyer, said her mother also played a key role in their educational development.
“Our parents were hands-off and I don’t say that in a pejorative way,” said the CIBC Run for the Cure, Relay for Life and Canadian Blood Services One Match program volunteer. “They supported any activity me and my sister were engaged with. If our school grades weren’t good, they encouraged us to do better and offered to get a tutor or any extra help we needed.”
Recently, Louis received a financial boost to help her through graduate studies.
She was the recipient of the Dr. Gervan Fearon academic award administered by the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA).
“The reason this scholarship is for a student pursuing graduate studies is because I want to say to people they shouldn’t stop with whatever level of education they attained,” said the new Brock University president & vice-chancellor who was the event’s keynote speaker. “They should continue and, even if they are working, pursue the many part-time educational opportunities available throughout the province.”
Like Marcel Louis, Fearon – who also award scholarships annually through Tropicana Community Services Organization where he was the president, the University of Western Ontario where he completed his doctorate and the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University where he was the dean -- worked on a southwestern Ontario farm while he was pursuing an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics at the University of Guelph.
“It was just for a summer, but it was very hard work,” Fearon, who with his family supports two basic schools in Jamaica through the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education, pointed out. “So I can well appreciate the sacrifices that man made for his children. Many of our parents who migrated to Canada came not only for economic betterment. They came and did the heavy lifting like Mr. Louis to ensure their children pursued higher education. I am so proud to be able to support his daughter in just a small way.”
Supported by many community donors, 32 scholarships worth almost $44,000 were presented at the 15th annual JCA awards ceremony.
University of Windsor graduate Natalie Lewin is a first-time donor.
“I have given scholarships before, but I have more autonomy with who gets this one,” said the real estate sales representative whose daughter’s name – Kaila – is also attached to the scholarship. “We have many bright young people in our community who are facing financial barriers and just need that extra-help.”
Aishat Shipeolu, a University of Ottawa first-year medical student, was the award’s proud recipient.
After nine years in Nigeria, she and her family spent three years in Qatar before settling in the Greater Toronto Area.
It was while Shipeolu was enrolled in Qatar Academy, a private, co-educational school, that she developed a passion for medicine.
“I worked with young kids who were really sick and that was a humbling experience,” said the Turner Fenton Secondary School graduate who was on the dean’ honour list throughout her four years of undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario. “That’s was when I knew that’s the career I wanted to pursue.”
Former Jamaica police officer Tamara Williams and Kingston College graduate Alvin Henderson were among four international students from Jamaica who were awarded scholarships.
Williams is in Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning community and justice service program while Henderson in pursuing a post-graduate certificate in global business management at Centennial College.
He said Canada was always at the top of his list as the place to continue with graduate studies after leaving the University of the West Indies.
“Canada does a really good marketing job as a country that’s inclusive and welcoming,” he said. “That, along with the fact that the education system here is first-class and I know that I would be more marketable and well-trained, were more than enough to persuade me to come here.”
A burning desire to be a role model for young people in the challenged Jamaican community where he was raised is the main reason Henderson is pursuing high education.
“I want to be one of those exemplary young men who can go back and share my experience,” said Henderson who aspires to be a chief financial officer and business winner. “I want to give back to my community. It’s because someone decided to give back that I am standing here tonight as a proud scholarship winner.”
In Williams’ case, she’s paving the way for two younger siblings.
“I come from a poor background and I made the leap to come to Canada to set an example for them and help my mom who is a janitor,” the Marcus Mosiah Garvey scholarship recipient said.
Williams served with the Jamaica Constabulary Force bureau of special investigation and the intelligence unit before coming to Canada in January 2016.
The aspiring Toronto Police Service officer is doing a placement with that Service’s legal department.
The other Jamaican international students are Kingston College graduate Jermaine Cowie who is in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts program and Morikia Williams who is in the Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning community and justice services diploma program.
Scholarships were also awarded to Tsahai Carter who is enrolled in the University of Ottawa political science program, aspiring police officer Qasim Newell who is studying criminology at Carleton University, Ryerson University child & youth worker student Shantel Hyndman, N’Keyah Burton who plans to own a private school, former Bramalea Drama Club president Zavian Buchanan who is in Carleton University’s environmental engineering program, Brock University medical sciences student Zabrina Kerr, Jeremy Ahwai-Chang who is pursuing business administration studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Cheree Hawthorne who is enrolled in Sheridan College’s child & youth worker program, recent migrant Yanet Tekle who is at Humber College pursuing tourism & travel management studies, Carleton University human rights & social justice student Ariel Neil and Osten Colville who is the University of Toronto Institute of Technology mechatronic engineering program.
Other winners were Brithney Hanson who is enrolled in York University’s health management program, Humber College’s game programming student D’Matrik Hamilton, aspiring interior decorator Klay Box, Carleton university journalism student Sierra-Anne Conville, Ardenne High School graduate Quinton Costley who is pursuing a degree in global economyand law & governance at York University, Darius Samuels who is the University of Guelph political science & economics program, Shiloh Bell-Higgins who is enrolled in Ryerson University’s computer science program, Samantha Riley who is in York University’s community & justice services program, McMaster University mechatronic engineering student Thomas Kean and Ryerson University biomedical engineering student Nicholas Brooks who was the recipient of the inaugural Errol Grant Snr. Memorial scholarship.
The Humber College graduate and sports coach passed away in March 2014.
Long-time donor Dr. Ezra Nesbeth presented $13,000 in scholarships to University of Toronto life sciences program student Benjamin McDonald who graduated from Upper Canada College, Micheala Palmer who is pursuing a joint major in forensic science and information systems at Trent University, York University biomedical science student Ayomide Fakuade and Toluwalope Falade who is in Ryerson University’s finance faculty.
Former JCA president Audrey Campbell donated a bursary in the name of her parents (Edgar and Enid Campbell) to Cahieja Redway who migrated from Jamaica two years ago and is enrolled in the JCA’s Saturday Morning tutorial program and at Weston Collegiate Institute where she’s a candidate for the international baccalaureate program that starts in Grade 11.
The JCA has presented nearly $544,000 in scholarships to 472 students since the awards program was launched in 2003.