Bursaries for students of Jamaican heritage
July 19, 2018
The advent of social media and the many communication tools have created digital distractions that have led to students’ declining study habits and academic percentages.
When Franklyn and Tameko Moore realised their son – Xavon Moore – was stumbling through high school nearly two years ago, they acted swiftly.
“In Grade 11, we saw that his grades were not up to par,” said the family patriarch who is pursuing a graduate degree in information systems. “Then is when I stepped in not just as dad and head of the family, but as a mentor.”
Deactivating the PlayStation console was the first order of business.
“I invested in a router for the home internet that allows me to set the access restrictions for the time I want him to be on it,” said Franklyn Moore. “I increased my communication with him and requested that he provide me with a timetable of the things he was doing. I wanted to know where he was allocating his time and what he was getting done. I also encouraged him to set goals and be accountable.”
The plan worked.
Moore graduated with honours from Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School and was the recipient of bursaries on June 24 from Bramalea Christian Fellowship Church and the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations (AJAA).
“My son has tremendous potential, but we try to push him regardless,” said the father. “He got the message when we intervened to help him and was very receptive to everything that we laid out to aid his success.”
The younger of two siblings greatly appreciates his parents’ intercession.
“I was doing extremely well from Grades Nine to about the start of Grade 11, averaging around 85 per cent,” said Moore who spent his first 10 years in Jamaica before coming to the Greater Toronto Area in 2010. “There were distractions and I was definitely slacking off when my parents along with my biology and chemistry teachers stepped in. I needed that wake-up call and I am thankful for everything they did for me in that period.”
Moore chose York University over the University of Toronto Mississauga campus and Wilfrid Laurier University to pursue undergraduate studies in kinesiology.
“York offered an entrance scholarship and the opportunity to be part of the co-op program and do research in something that is near and dear to me in my final year,” he said.
A high school teacher nominated the aspiring dermatologist for the AJAA award.
“I am appreciative of the honour because it shows that there are people out there in the community who believe in our young people and are willing to help them achieve their academic goals,” Moore added. “There are also educators who want to see their students do well and will step up for them. To all of these people, I say ‘thank you’.”
AJAA bursaries were presented to 14 graduating high school students of Jamaican heritage at the 26th annual awards luncheon.
Runnymede Collegiate Institute graduate Faith-Ann Allison was proud to receive her first bursary.
“This is a very big deal for me and my family since it’s the first time that I have been recognized for academic excellence and community service,” she pointed out. “Knowing that my hard work has paid off makes me feel real good.”
Allison has come a long way after overcoming challenges in her first two years in high school.
“I wasn’t focused and I was following the wrong crowd,” she admitted. “That, however, changed in Grade 11 when I started to listen to my parents and I became more matured. Embracing faith also had a large part to play in the turnaround.”
Being part of her high’s school’s ‘Youth to Youth’ program that uses the power of play to empower students as leaders in their schools and communities helped Allison discover her passion for working with children.
She’s enrolled in Seneca College’s social work program.
Eloya Williams begins her undergraduate studies in sociology in September at the University of Toronto after graduating from Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute.
“I really admire the holistic approach that sociology use,” she said when asked what led to her interest in the field.
Williams holds late Kenyan political and environmental activist Wangari Maathai in high esteem.
“I have so much respect for her because of the work she did in the areas of the environment, women and poverty,” she noted.
The first East and Central African woman to receive a doctorate in 1971, Maathai – who succumbed to cancer seven years ago – founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 and, in 2004, was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for ‘her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’.
AJAA founding president Paul Barnett and his three children awarded a bursary in the name of his wife of 48 years -- Sonia Barnett -- who passed away last February.
Migrating to Canada in 1966, she pursued medical laboratory studies at the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories and was a lab technician at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre for two years before the family moved to Oakville in 1973. She worked in the biochemistry lab at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital for 41 years, 35 of them on the night shift, before retiring four years ago.
Westmount Collegiate Institute graduate Abigail Fisher was the recipient of the inaugural award.
“My mom came here from Jamaica at age 15 and worked very hard,” said Fisher who will enter McMaster University in September. “She inspired me and is my number one supporter. Just like my mom, Mrs. Barnett came here in her teens and was able to make a name for herself. I am delighted to be receiving this award in her name.”
The other bursary winners were Jaron Robinson, Tyanna Wright, Rachel Aarons, Amber Townsend, Ashlei Stewart, Gavin Crawford, Tatyana Bailey-Scott, Ahtia Waugh, Wonique Duncan and Elyssia King.
Keynote speaker Ingrid Minott, who manages litigation and risk at Deloitte LLP, told the college and university-bound students to always keep their heads up and be confident in themselves and their abilities.
“As a lawyer, I have experienced that feeling of wondering if I was good enough, that feeling of being an imposter and that feeling that I didn’t belong,” said the Canadian General Counsel 2017 Tomorrow’s Leader Award recipient who migrated from Jamaica at age 12 and is a duty counsel with Pro Bono Law Ontario. “Even though those words were never said to me, I felt those things because they were deep rooted in the culture of the environment that I was in.
“For five years, I was the only Black lawyer in one of the country’s biggest law firms. During that time, I felt that I stood out and that I was invisible at the same time…I did not let the doubt overcome the belief I had in myself. I looked back at where I had started and how far I had progressed and I had to remind myself that I was good enough and better than those who doubted me because if faced with similar circumstances in life, the doubters and naysayers wouldn’t have achieved a fraction of what I did.”
Minott, who graduated from The University of Windsor/University of Detroit Mercy dual law program and is the holder of a graduate degree in international relations, also reminded the youths that taking risks is an essential part of life and shouldn’t be frowned upon.
“You are all capable of realizing your potential, but it will not happen if you don’t take calculated risks,” she added. “Bet on yourselves instead of giving into the fear of failure, fear of the unknown and fear of change among other things. Taking risks will help build your confidence, give you new experiences and open up new possibilities. You will learn and grow the most when you make yourself uncomfortable.”