Triplets share spotlight at scholarship awards

Triplets share spotlight at scholarship awards

October 14, 2018

For a parent, attending a child’s graduation ceremony is an exceptionally proud moment.

Just imagine what the feeling is like when all three of your children are honoured at the same time.

Margarette Johnson was on cloud nine when her 18-year-olds – Janelle, Lalique and Marcus Allan – were presented with Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA)-administered scholarships on September 15.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Johnson who migrated from Jamaica in 1976. “I did my best to put them in good situations to succeed. Thank God they took full advantage of every opportunity.”

Janelle and Lalique graduated this year from Bishop Strachan School (BSS), Canada’s oldest independent junior kindergarten to Grade 12 day and boarding school for girls founded in 1867 by Toronto’s first Anglican bishop.

Marcus attended Holy Trinity School which is a private, co-education and university preparatory institution in Richmond Hill.

“I am a supporter of the public school system, but I just felt my kids would be better served by going to private institutions,” added Johnson who is a longtime Grant AME church member. “As a single parent, I couldn’t afford to send them to elite schools. They got full scholarships and I am grateful to everyone that played a part in making that happen.”

The sisters were awarded scholarships through the African-Canadian Christian Network (ACCN) that has partnered with elite private schools since 2007.

In Grade 12, Lalique started the first Black Student Union at BSS.

“It was there that I learnt I have leadership qualities and a voice that I could use to help those that are disadvantaged,” the Queen’s University science program student said.

Janelle, who is in the University of Western Ontario media information & technoculture program, relished the independent school experience.

“I learnt how to develop a solid work ethic and time management and was able to access resources that I would not have had in a public school,” she pointed out. “In Grade 11, I did a media arts class and had Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at my disposal. That allowed me to create pieces of work that were recognized by the school. That’s where my interest in digital arts was fuelled.”

Pursuing biochemistry studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Marcus enjoyed growing up with his sisters.

“We did a lot of things together, including homework,” said the aspiring optometrist. “We are close.”

Margarette Johnson and triplets Janelle, Marcus and Lalique Allan

Margarette Johnson and triplets Janelle, Marcus and Lalique Allan

Marcus and Lalique were awarded Dr. Lancelot Brown dental scholarships.

A captain in the Canadian Armed Forces Dental Services for eight years before opening a private practice in Toronto in 1992, Brown has donated numerous scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education.

Janelle was the recipient of the Marcia Brown Productions scholarship.

Though making the adjustment to living on campus and being away from home for an extended period for the first time, nothing was going to stop the triplets from coming to Toronto to receive their awards. They were back again on October 4 for Black Business & Professional Association-administered scholarships.

The Allan’s were among 28 recipients of scholarships worth $44,200. Of that total, Dr. Ezra Nesbeth -- a former head of clinical education at the Clinical Institute Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto -- donated $20,000 to four students.

“This is what I am supposed to do,” said the University of Waterloo and University of Toronto graduate who has contributed over $300,000 since the awards program started in 2003.

The recipients were Pickering High School graduate and Carleton University second-year student Venassa Baptiste, Alia Whyte who is enrolled in Ottawa University’s health sciences program, Nicholas Ahwai-Chang who is in his second year in Wilfrid Laurier University’s business administration program and Julianah Oguntala who is pursuing integrated science studies at York University.

After a one-year hiatus, Stacy-Ann Buchanan – who started donating scholarships on her own in 2013 – returned to the program this year in tow with younger brother Kenneth Buchanan who is a digital marketing consultant.

“I was inspired by the good things my sister is doing to change lives,” he said.

Struggling with a perceived lack of success as an actress, Stacy-Ann Buchanan contemplated suicide after becoming depressed and anxious.

She created and directed a documentary, ‘The Blind Stigma’, in which she shared stories – including her own -- of Black Canadians living with mental illness and was among 150 Canadians recognized last year for changing the course of mental health in Canada.

Siblings Kenneth and Stacy-Ann Buchanan (r) presented a scholarship to Kendell Parks

Siblings Kenneth and Stacy-Ann Buchanan (r) presented a scholarship to Kendell Parks

The siblings were raised in Canada by a single Rastafarian father after leaving Jamaica in 1996.

Ryerson University performance acting student Kendell Parks was the scholarship winner.

“This is going to help me pursue my dream of acting and my desire to represent females and people of colour on stage,” the St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School Centre for the Arts graduate said.

Ida-Ehosa Olaye is pursuing a kinesiology degree at McMaster University as a stepping stone to enter medical school.

The St. Francis Xavier Secondary School salutatorian was turned on to medicine in Grade 10.

Ida-Ehosa Olaye

Ida-Ehosa Olaye

“I had to figure out a career path and after doing my research, I felt I could make the most impact in the health sciences,” said Olaye who was the recipient of the Raphaelita Walker Memorial Scholarship.

The longtime JCA member and volunteer died in 2016 at age 90.

International students Toni-Ann Daley and Alison Fletcher, who are enrolled in the practical nursing and office administration executive programs respectively at Sheridan College, were also bestowed with scholarships. They are Jamaicans.

Daley, who graduated from Ardenne High School with honours, aspires to be a registered nurse while Fletcher switched careers after leaving the electric utility company in 2015 to care for her ailing father who passed away last year.

Alison Fletcher

Alison Fletcher

“I have family here and that was the reason for me choosing to come to the Greater Toronto Area to do my studies,” she said. “When I am finished with this two-year diploma program, I will consider going for a degree.”

Scholarships were also presented to aspiring police officer De’Quan Whyte who is pursuing a criminology degree at Laurentian University, Deneisha Hammith who is enrolled in the University of Guelph biological science program, Shayla Nelson who is studying practical nursing at Fleming College, St. Edmund Campion Secondary School graduate Martina Christopher who is in Humber’s College’s architectural technology program, University of Toronto (U of T) public policy student Ahthia Waugh and Humber College administration program student Annisha Ramjattan who intends to be an entrepreneur.

Other recipients were Lisa Smart who overcame hurdles living in Regent Park to make it to university and pursue graduate studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of T kinesiology program student Racquel Brown, Michallia Banks who is at Humber College pursuing a baccalaureate in digital business management, Nordia Newell who did a three-month internship in Rwanda and is enrolled in the University of Western Ontario political science program, Ryerson University business management program student Hailey McCalla, Oghenstega Aror who is in the University of Western Ontario music program and University of Ottawa first-year international development & globalization student Nana Boahen.

Bursaries were also awarded to Humber College business management program student Christian Edward, Shaquille Morgan who is pursuing global affairs studies at U of T, Mayfield Secondary School Grade 10 student Matthew Reynolds and 14-year-old Weston Collegiate Institute student Raheem Bennett.

A total of 500 students have benefitted from scholarships and bursaries worth $588,200 since the program was launched 16 years ago.

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