Aspiring aviator memory lives on through scholarships
July 6, 2019
Though separated by distance, the cousins were close.
On visits to the Greater Toronto Area to reconnect with family members, Atlanta-born and raised Dr. Ransford Morel-Hyman Jr. always felt strongly connected to Lloyd Skeen who died suddenly in February 2003 shortly after celebrating his 32nd birthday.
“He was definitely one of my favourites,” said Morel-Hyman who was the Master of Ceremony at the 16th annual ‘Dream Never Dies Foundation’ (DNDF) scholarship awards ceremony on June 2 to honour Skeen’s memory. “He was motivated, peaceful and very caring. There were times when some relatives would pick on me and it was Lloyd who came to my defense.”
Always giving praise to motivate people was a quality of Skeen that stood out for Morel-Hyman who was the second African-American to receive a PhD in Computer Science Engineering from the University of South Florida.
“Even if you did something that in your eyes was insignificant, Lloyd would make you feel on top of the world,” he noted. “He was supportive and a role model.”
After Morel-Hyman’s father passed away in July 2009, he started a scholarship in his Jamaican-born dad’s name that’s presented annually at the DNDF event.
He presented two scholarships, each worth US$1,000, this year.
The recipients were Chantal Phillips and Kristin Wu.
Among the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine’s Black Student Application Program (BSAP) first cohort, Phillips recently completed her first year in medical school.
Developed in consultation with students, faculty, staff, Black community members and Black medical professionals, the BSAP is an optional stream for Black applicants who self-identify as Black African, Black Caribbean, Black North American and multiracial students who have an identify with their Black ancestry.
“My mother was a personal support worker throughout my childhood and it was clear how much she cared for her patients,” Phillips said. “Having her as an example of what an empathetic health care provider looked like gave me insight and sparked my desire to emulate that in my own career.”
Racial inequality in access to health care services is a major concern for the Western University Medical Sciences & Psychology graduate.
“As much as I hope to spend some time clinically doing one-on-one personalized clinical care, the area of health outcomes being significantly lower for Black and Indigenous People is one that I am going to be engaged in,” said the Western Future Black Physicians founding President who completed high school at Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton.
Wu graduated this month from Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School and is enrolled in the University of Waterloo Mathematical Physics program.
Nearly $20,000 in scholarships was presented at the annual awards ceremony in Mississauga.
Ifeoluwa Kolade was the recipient of the $2,000 Darlene & Derek Quashie scholarship.
The York University Residence Life co-ordinator will start Law studies at Osgoode Hall in September.
“I have always had an interest in human rights law,” said the McGill University International Development & Economics graduate.
Migrating from Nigeria at age eight, Kolade did a four-month internship in 2015 at the Geneva International Centre for Justice and was the War Child Canada (McGill Student chapter) treasurer for 29 months.
Turned on to aviation five years ago, Andrew Winchester recently graduated from Centennial College’s Aviation technician-Avionics maintenance program and begins an apprenticeship next month at Flying Colour Corp. in Peterborough.
“I was looking to the trades and considering carpentry when I stumbled on this aviation program,” he said. “I have a son that’s due in August and I am so happy that I am on the right track where I will be able to take care of him.”
Winchester aspires to be an aircraft maintenance engineer with E (aircraft electronic systems, including communication, pulse, navigation, auto flight, flight path computation, instruments and the electrical elements of other aircraft systems, and any structural work directly associated with the maintenance of those systems) and M2 (all aircraft not included in M1, excluding balloons, but including all airframes, engines, propellers, components, structures and systems of those aircraft) ratings.
Alicia Ramchand has completed the first year of the Centennial College program.
“I have a dad that is a jack-of-all-trades and an older brother who is a mechanic,” said the Maple High School graduate. “That’s where the interest in the field started for me.”
Raised in Duabi, considered the world’s air travel hub, sparked Avantika Gupta’s interest in aviation.
She came to Canada three years ago to pursue Georgian College’s Aviation Management program.
“My goal is to work in either auditing or ground operations,” said Gupta who spent 17 years in the United Arab Emirates.
Siena Heights University first-year student and baseball outfielder David Walling proudly accepted the Brampton Racers Association scholarship.
He’s eligible to be drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team before leaving university where he’s studying Sports Management.
Walling started playing the sport at age four.
“I also played basketball and did cross-country and track & field, but I love baseball more,” he said.
The Toronto Blue Jays and retired New York Mets third baseman David Wright are Walling’s favourite team and player respectively.
“The Jays are Canada’s only team and I looked up to Wright because of his athleticism and his baseball IQ,” he added.
Adara Harry, Hailey McCalla, Jessica Brar and Na’Shantea Miller were honoured with scholarships in the name of Patrina Bailey-Holm who died in October 2010 at age 36.
Harry and McCalla are in Ryerson University’s Business Technology Management program, Brar completed high school at Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary and is enrolled in York University’s Schulich School of Business and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps in Bolton and Miller graduated from the University of Ottawa last year with a degree in Economics & Political Science and has been accepted by Harvard University.
Other scholarship winners were Deeksha Chaudhery, Larissa Ngwe, Joren Wilson, Brianna Glanville-Forrest, Chante Hamilton, Jakim Gill, Maurice McCrae and Eugene Rodgers.
In the keynote address, Air Canada First Officer Damar Walker told the scholarship recipients they are top-notch.
“You have put in the hard work, dedication and commitment to get to this point,” he said. “Just keep on that path and you will have more success.”
Walker also reminded them to be cognizant of the role others play in their achievements.
“As amazing and gifted as you are, none of us in this room are supernatural on our own,” the retired Canadian Armed Forces member added. “We might not be stifled on our own, but we are better with others. As a former military aviator, I had the privilege of flying in formation. It was the most interesting and challenging flying I have ever did. Moving together towards one desired goal greatly increased our chances of completing the mission. We needed each other’s support to make that happen.”
Since its establishment, the DNDF has awarded almost $135,000 in scholarships.