Guyanese celebrate independence with accolades


Nareefa Nasrudeen has already established herself as an academic high flyer. She achieved the second highest mark in her region (Berbice) in Guyana seven years ago and “A’s” in 11 subjects in the 2008 Caribbean Secondary Education Council (CSEC) exam. At graduation from President’s College, she received 14 awards, including Best Graduating Class and Science student. She was also honoured for outstanding performance in Math, Spanish, Information Technology, Social Studies and Home Economics.

The teenager migrated to Canada last December and is already a Grade 12 honour student at Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough. Recently presented with an academic excellence award for Math, Nasrudeen plans to enter McMaster University in September to pursue Life Science Studies.

She wants to be medical doctor and teacher.

Nasrudeen and four other high school students were recognized for academic brilliance with bursaries at the 10th annual Guyana Awards (Canada) gala last Saturday.

LaShawn Murray is a 17-year-old honour student in the final year of an International Baccalaureate program at Robert Bateman High School in Burlington. She plans to become a neurosurgeon.

Outside the classroom, Murray is an active member of the Halton Youth Advisory Committee and the co-founder of the Invisible Children Book Drive which collected nearly 37,000 books to support literary programs for young people in Uganda. She also organized AIDS Run, which raised almost $10,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation; a fashion show to support Sleeping Children Around the World and an environmental conference for Halton students.

Christopher Saleem, 18, intends to pursue a career in medical technology after graduating from Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School in Markham this month while Shara Nauth, who has won several academic awards in high school, is an accomplished musician and karateka.

An active member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets since 2004, Richard Sukhdeo is a licensed pilot who plans to pursue a career as an aerospace engineer and commercial pilot.

Awards were also presented to several prominent Guyanese-Canadians for business, leadership, academic and cultural excellence. The winners include recording artist Melanie Fiona Hallim, who is on a European tour and was unable to attend the event; Ontario Power Generation Nuclear New Build vice-president Albert Sweetnam, University of Manitoba adjunct professor Dr. Bram Ramjiawan and Gloria Rajkumar, who founded Superior Independent Medical Assessment Centres.

Dr. Dindial Ramotar, who last March disclosed that he and other researchers have found a gateway which is present in all humans that allows anti-cancer agents to enter the body so they can reach and attack leukemia cells, was presented with a Special Achievement award; writer and University of Ottawa part-time English professor Cyril Dabydeen was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award; Chief of Staff in Ontario’s Ministry of Health Promotion Jennifer Welshman was presented with a Community Service award and Lisa Punit, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who is leading the evaluation of security and public safety for the just-concluded Vancouver Winter Olympics, received the Youth award.

Bishop’s High School Alumni Association (Toronto) was the recipient of the Community Service organization award while the Consul General Award winners were the Senior Guyanese Friendship Association and the Indo-Caribbean Golden Age Association.

“We take great pride in celebrating your accomplishments,” Guyana’s honorary Consul General Danny Doobay told the recipients. “Tonight we entrust you with our community’s most esteemed mark of honour, the revered Guyana Award. We encourage you to safeguard this accreditation and use it steadfastly in the further pursuit of excellence with a dedication to both community and country.”

The Guyana Awards program was launched to coincide with the country’s independence celebrations. Guyana secured its independence on May 26, 1966.


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