York University honour student Jamil Jivani spent last summer teaching English, history, math and business at a boarding school for homeless and orphaned young people in Nairobi, Kenya.
He might not have been able to embark on the trip and relish the experience had he not been assured of a Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) national scholarship that honour the memory of former Canadian sprint world record holder, Harry Jerome.
The 2006 Humber College President’s medal winner was one of 47 recipients of the annual academic awards presented recently at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) auditorium.
Jivani – who secured a $3,000 award – and 34 other recipients were from Ontario while there were six winners from Quebec, three from Nova Scotia and one each from British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
“For three months, I could work and not worry about where my school fees were coming from for this year,” said the fourth-year student who aspires to become a lawyer, politician and a non-profit organization manager. “That was a good feeling because this award accounts for almost two-thirds of my annual tuition.”
This was his second visit in three years to the East African country which is the birthplace of his father, master chef Ismat Jivani, who currently manages a restaurant chain in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“My first trip to Kenya was to see where my father came from and also meet some of his relatives,” said Jivani. “That opened my eyes and I was keen to go back there and work with orphans because my father was an orphan. I used his story and experience to help me interact with the young people I engaged with.”
Nearly 475 young people, the majority of whom are leading successful professional lives in Canada and the rest of the world, have benefitted from close to $2 million in scholarships in the past 21 years. A total of $150,500 was presented to this year’s recipients.
“Though this is the most money we have given out in one year, we were still unable to help nearly 100 students, some of whom probably have to defer their plans to attend college or university,” said scholarship fund chair Harriet Thornhill. “Clearly we have to do more.”
She praised this year’s winners and urged them to give back to the organization.
“You have demonstrated through your focus and determination that it is possible to achieve your dream,” Thornhill, a RBC regional vice-president told the outstanding academic achievers. “Thank you for staying the course and rising above the challenges and demonstrating that yes, you can.
“The fund is not simply about providing scholarships. We are empowering and enabling you to realize your full potential, regardless of the journey you chose. Keep striving to be the best you can be. We also want you to become active and strong alumni of this scholarship program and give back. There are so many young people in need of mentorship from role models like you.”
Ghanaian-born Dr. Naana Jumah, who won a BBPA scholarship a decade ago and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard Medical School and Oxford University graduate and a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto Medical School, delivered the keynote address.
“I could never imagine when I was a small girl leaving Ghana at a time of civil unrest and moving to Thunder Bay that I would be standing in front of you having been a Rhodes Scholar and having met people like Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu and be able listen to them and learn from them and appreciate what it means to be African, what it means to be Black and what it means to be Canadian,” said Jumah, who has completed award-winning research focused on targeted drug delivery technology.
She acknowledged the BBPA for believing in the potential of young Black students and encouraged the scholarship recipients to continue to give, care and strive to be the best in everything they do.
This year’s scholarship recipients include Donald Wilson Secondary School graduate and Ontario scholar Kheen Fraser who is enrolled in York University’s International Business Administration program; University of Western Ontario student Michela Gregory, who aspires to become a corporate lawyer; Ottawa Theatre School’s Acting Conservatory Program graduate Romuald Hivert, who is enrolled in the Vancouver Film School; Zimbabwe-born and aspiring political scientist, Joseph Munyenyiwa, who attends Concordia University; Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who is enrolled in Simon Fraser University’s Health Science program; 2009 BBPA Harry Jerome Leadership award winner and ski racer Cameron Semple, who attends the University of British Columbia; Emilia Fraser, who graduated with honours last year from high school in Kitchener and is pursuing accounting & financial management studies at the University of Waterloo and Carlos Beals, who is the first in his family to pursue post-secondary education.
First-year Carleton University student Blair Newbold plans to attend law school; C.W. Jeffery’s Collegiate honours graduate Taenisha Prescott is enrolled in Ryerson University’s nursing program; Michael Genene is a third-year computer science student at McMaster University; Candace Harris was on George Brown College’s Dean’s List for four straight semesters; Peter Quashie is pursuing his Masters at Concordia University; Westview Centennial Secondary School graduate Akim Burke is pursuing media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber; Allison Simon is a second-year business management student at Ryerson University; Regent Park community volunteer Steven Walters aspires to be a social worker; David Haile-Meskale graduated from C.W. Jeffery’s Collegiate this year and is attending York University and Gerald Nsambu plans to become a police officer after graduating from college.
Brianne Bovell graduated from the London School of Economics with a Masters in global politics and is pursuing law at the University of Toronto; community activist and 2007 YWCA Woman of Distinction, Saron Ghebressellassie, is about to start doctoral studies at York University; Dionne Woodward-Shirley is pursuing law at Osgoode Hall; Kwaku Adomako is enrolled in Concordia University’s therapeutic recreation program; Jamaal Hunte, who demonstrated excellent oratorical skills at a young age, is a first-year U of T life sciences program student; aspiring engineer Jamal Spence attends Dawson College; Danardo Jones attends the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law; Joseph Acquaye is a third-year physical education and health student at the U of T; University of Ottawa graduate Mariam Deria is studying medicine at McMaster University; Victor Boateng is a first-year University of Western Ontario political science student and Jessica Acquaye plans to become an occupational therapist.
Dustin Chung is a third-year arts and science student at the U of T; Victoria Boateng plans to become a physician; George Harvey Collegiate honours graduate Urjee Jundi is pursuing biochemistry studies at the U of T; Tracey Green graduated with distinction from the University of Montreal last year and is pursuing her Masters in Child Studies & Education; doctoral student Era Ferron plans to establish scholarships in Jamaica and the Philippines to honour her grandparents; musician Stephen Defour-Wyre is an assistant choir conductor who attends McGill University; Salah steelpan member Zaynab Wilson aspires to be professional musician and Aaron Bell is pursuing civil engineering at the U of T.
Nande Wright is aiming to become a physician; Oakwood Collegiate graduate Monica Samuel is pursuing business management at Ryerson University; Shanice Yarde is enrolled in Concordia University’s Bachelor of Arts degree program in psychology; Tesia Rolle attends Dalhousie University; University of Western Ontario double major student Yannick Allwood is an accomplished musician; Dylan Bailey is studying commerce at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax; Amma Anaman aspires to work as an in-house counsel in an investment bank; David Coker is pursuing law at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, and high school valedictorian, Ontario scholar and black belt karateka Tia McGregor attends Queen’s University.
This year’s scholarship donors include Toronto Argonauts vice-chair Michael “Pinball” Clemons and past scholarship winner Konata Lake.