By RON FANFAIR
Tell Dionne Coley that she may be working too hard and her quick response is that she will have enough time to rest when she is dead.
The 28-year-old Scarborough resident is employed at a Toronto law firm while completing her licensing accreditation that she expects will lead to a provincial Bar call-up by next June. She’s also a part-time Criminal and Tort Law lecturer at Seneca College and she is a school trustee candidate in Scarborough East (Ward 22) where she and her family have lived for the past two decades.
Municipal elections take place on October 25.
Coley officially launched her campaign last Sunday with a fundraising barbecue at her home attended by family, friends and Scarborough Church of God and Kingsway Community Life Centre members.
“I am excited by the challenges that lie ahead,” said Coley who was born and raised in Scarborough. “My experiences as a student in the United States were (among) the best because I was exposed to leadership and mentorship opportunities that helped to shape my life. I had teachers who taught me the value of speaking up for what I believe in and I was exposed to many mentors that helped to ignite my passion and make me a strong person.
“The current leadership courses offered in our secondary schools are a good start, but I believe our children must aspire to be leaders within their communities at large, whether it is by voicing their concerns about the judicial system, speaking with members of our police services, having meetings with city council or meeting one on one with school board trustees.”
Coley is also a passionate advocate of a life skills approach that will help young people engage in positive behaviour, enable them to effectively deal with life on a daily basis and assist them in making a healthy transition to adulthood.
“In a solid or unpredictable economy, a life skills approach is pivotal in encouraging the success of our youths,” she said. “Dealing with issues such as money management and credit can help them weather uncertain times. We owe it to our children to educate them on the pros and cons of using credit and spending beyond their means. Some families with children in this ward are experiencing hardship due to the economy’s fragile recovery from the recession….It’s our obligation to provide our young people with financial education.”
Coley has been driven to lead and succeed since her early childhood at Heather Heights and Meadowvale Public Schools and Woburn Collegiate.
“It was really at Woburn that I took the school’s motto ‘Let the Zeal for Learning Flourish’ very seriously and I set my sights on all things educational,” she said.
The academic standout completed her high school education in four years at Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute and graduated from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology & Sociology before returning home to volunteer at a probation office in downtown Toronto. She was also a support worker for federal offenders on parole while studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Coley attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan where she made the Dean’s List and became a youth advocate for the Lansing Teen Court.
“I strongly believe that the time is right for me to use all my experience to help advance the youth in Scarborough,” said Coley who studied and volunteered with a charitable organization in South Africa. “Advocacy is what I have learned and practiced throughout my post secondary years and education, youth and children are my passion.”
Coley’s mother, Edith, has taken on the role as her daughter’s campaign manager.
“My mother was extremely involved in our educational upbringing,” said the second to last child. “She did an excellent job in raising me and my siblings. We have all graduated and we are doing well and that’s a reflection of the work she did as a single parent raising us.
“Our mother worked, attended Centennial College where she secured her Accounting diploma and raised us very well. She’s my role model.”
Natalie Coley, the youngest of six children, has a Masters degree and was invited by the Golden Key International Honour Society to attend U.S. president Barack Obama’s inauguration and the University Presidential Inauguration Conference in Washington in January 2009.
Individuals interested in supporting Coley for Ward 22 school board trustee can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook at Vote Dionne Coley Scarborough-Trustee@facebook.com for additional information.