Carleton University student to intern with GraceKennedy this summer
June 21, 2018
There are multiple stories of Black students being encouraged to consider non-academic streams.
It didn’t take long for a teacher to realize that Keean Nembhard didn’t belong to that category.
On his first day in a predominantly White French Immersion high school in Whitby, the bilingual student challenged a point made by the educator during a lively debate.
“At the end of the class, the teacher pulled me aside and suggested I should pursue a political career and that I would do well in Ottawa,” Nembhard recounted. “He told me I had the capacity to do whatever I want and he gave me a book on philosophy to read.”
The student validated the prediction.
Nembhard is a fourth-year student in the new Bachelor of Global & International Studies (BGIns) program at Carleton University in Ottawa.
He will spend part of the summer in Jamaica – the birthplace of his father Earl Nembhard who is a Toronto Transit Commission employee – as a participant in the GraceKennedy summer internship program.
The six-week birthright program was launched in 2004 to help broaden the horizons of second and third generation Jamaican university students living in Canada, the United States and England. It allows participants’ identification with the Caribbean country to go beyond a superficial level through popular culture, food and religion.
Nembhard leaves on June 27.
“I applied last year and was unsuccessful,” he said. “I am so happy to be given this opportunity to experience Jamaica for a bit of a lengthy period.”
The successful candidates work in a GraceKennedy subsidiary linked to their field of study, therefore granting them hands-on experience in a wide range of industries and exposure to Jamaican culture.
“I don’t know where I will be,” said Nembhard. “When asked where I would like to go during the interview process, I said I would like to do something with remittances because of the program I am in at university and the fact that I have studied remittances and the impact they have on families and countries.”
Former provincial cabinet minister and GraceKennedy director Mary Anne Chambers is a member of the birthright program interview panel.
“Keean is an extremely focused and mature young man,” she said. “He’s very articulate and obviously a natural leader. His interest in public policy at a global level has driven his involvement in programs at his university setting, such as the United Nations Society and the Golden Key International Honour Society, his successful pursuit and performance of jobs as a tour guide interpreter in the parliamentary library at Rideau Hall and as a Page in Senate of Canada. He has also demonstrated a genuine interest in learning more about Jamaica.”
This will be Nembhard’s third visit to Jamaica.
“The first time, I was in either second or third grade and the last occasion was about four years ago when we split two weeks staying with family and at a resort,” he pointed out. “This time I will like to get out and explore parts of the country when I am not working.”
Port Royal, once the largest city in the Caribbean and a buccaneers’ paradise, is at the top of Nembhard’s list of places he intends to visit.
A massive earthquake and tsunami sank a large part of the city into the sea in 1692.
“I love pirates and I remember my dad telling me about this sunken city,” he said. “I have to go there.”
GraceKennedy launched the internship program a decade ago to help students in the Diaspora enhance their professional skills while reconnecting with their heritage.
Douglas Orane, the company’s former chief executive officer and board director, conceived the idea for the program while helping a family member, who was attending an American university at the time, fulfill his dream of scaling Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain.
After graduating with honours from high school, Nembhard chose Carleton over York University and the Universities of Toronto and Ottawa.
“Ottawa is the seat of Canada’s government,” he said. “There is no other place one would rather be when studying international relations and having an interest in politics. Ottawa also offers a great opportunity to network.”
Being a member of the new program’s first graduating class was also a deciding factor in choosing Carleton over the University of Ottawa.
The program takes advantage of Carleton’s strengths and location to provide an undergraduate education in global and international issues that offers students an advantage in today’s job market.
“I chose to pursue this program because of its multidisciplinary approach to creating global citizens,” Nembhard pointed out. “I am surrounded by students interested in law, global development, politics and the environment who are linked together by our passion for international relations. Being in the nation’s capital and with the proximity to the creation of Canadian federal policy has allowed me to begin practically applying my studies at the Library of Parliament.”
Pursuing law or international relations are options that he’s considering after completing his undergraduate degree in 2020.
“Do I want to dive into the world of law right away or do a Master’s and pursue a career in international relations and perhaps go back to law in the future?” Nembhard asks. “Doing my degree over five years gives me some time to figure out what I want to do. You can go into the world of work much quicker than having to go to law school, which is expensive, and then article.”
Though carrying a heavy academic workload, Nembhard found time to be involved in extra-curricular activities.
He was the president of the United Nations Society Diplomacy in Action where he also served as director of training and editor of the Carleton Review of International Affairs.
“Going into my fourth year, this is the first time that I am not the president of an extra-curricular club since I have been on this campus,” said Nembhard. “I am happy that I was able to frontload my degree with all those opportunities so that I can now focus on school and work.”