Peel high school achievers rewarded with scholarships
July 21, 2019
With her single mother working three jobs, Khepri Nelson was often in charge of taking care of four younger siblings at home.
She admirably fulfilled the role while excelling in high school.
Seeing Laurie Cockburn toiling hard to provide for her family motivated the Blythe Academy graduate.
“I gladly took on that leadership responsibility and vowed that I would never use it as an excuse to not do well in school,” she said. “In fact, it inspired me to shine in the classroom. I understood what my mom was doing and she’s my biggest role model.”
Also active in her school, serving as a Student Council member, and in her community as a camp leader at an overnight bible camp and soccer coach for underprivileged children, Nelson is enrolled in the University of Guelph General Arts program.
The teenager intends to be a family lawyer.
Nelson’s high level of responsibility is acknowledged by her mother.
“She saw there was a void at home and jumped in to fill it,” said Cockburn. “And what stood out is that she maintained good grades.”
Nelson was among 12 Peel high school graduates recognized with scholarships at the Congress of Black Women Mississauga & Area Chapter annual brunch on June 9.
The awardees included Jania Husbands-Jackson who aspires to be Prime Minister of Canada.
“I know it’s a lofty goal, but I believe I can do it and that’s all that matters,” said the Central Peel Secondary School graduate who is studying Political Science at the University of Toronto.
The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. message of unity, love and non-violence resonates with Husbands-Jackson who plays the violin and auditioned for her school’s regional strings program.
“Those are all qualities of a good leader that I admire,” she added.
With several female family members facing health challenges, Debbie Buck decided at a young age that she was going to work in the medical profession.
Accepted by four universities, she chose the University of Winnipeg over McMaster, Western and Wilfrid Laurier because of lower tuition costs.
Buck plans to be an obstetrician-gynaecologist.
“I also love working with children,” she added.
Rick Hansen Secondary School graduate Taejai Hamilton was the only male recipient. The summer camp counsellor was a member of his school’s ‘Dance Pak’ and Gaming Clubs.
“I enjoy music and love dancing to hip hop,” said Hamilton who is enrolled in the University of Guelph-Humber Fitness & Health Promotion program.
Other scholarship winners were University of Guelph-Humber Justice Studies Program successful applicant Courtenay Coleman who is preparing for a career in policing, Victoria Chukwuma who aspires to be a Chartered Professional Accountant, John Cabot Catholic Secondary School graduate Michelle Eze who is pursuing post-high school studies at the University of Guelph, Taylor Francis who was accepted into the University of Waterloo’s Honours Life Sciences Co-op program, Renee Lawson who plans to be a Physiotherapist, aspiring Early Childhood educator Danniyea Martin, Kayla McLeggon who is enrolled in Wilfrid Laurier University Youth & Children Studies program and Tsinat Semagn who plans to pursue a specialist degree in Family Care & Neurology.
There were 35 applicants for the scholarships each worth $1,000.
Peel Regional Police Deputy Chief Marc Andrews toasted the recipients, reminding them they have earned the honour and should be proud of their achievements.
In his keynote speech, the product of a single mother raised in small Jamaican community without a biological father he never met told the young people that their starting point in life doesn’t define them.
By the time he was 13, Andrews had lived in seven different homes in three countries.
“Make your mark and don’t forget where you came from,” he said. “Some of us choose to work inside the system while others made the decision to work outside of it. There is no right choice. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to make our community a better place.”