Receiving any academic scholarship or bursary is an enormous financial boost, especially for most students entering college or university for the first time.
Six high school graduates gladly accepted the generosity of The Church of the Nativity which presented its annual bursaries last Sunday.
“This means a lot,” said 18-year-old Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute graduate Tiffany Wesley who began her post-secondary education this week at Durham College.
The aspiring nurse, who averaged 73 per cent in high school, participated in a co-operative education program at Rouge Valley Extendicare and has volunteered with The Church of the Nativity summer camp for the past three years.
The other award recipients echoed Wesley’s sentiment, saying the award will help to purchase books and other academic supplies.
“The loans that students get these days are simply not enough,” said educator Muriel Clarke who is a member of the church’s academic awards committee. “There needs to be a bridge and that’s what we see ourselves as.”
Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School graduates Jonelle Dublin and Waymond Tavernier, Leaside High School graduate Brandon Chandler and Michelle Nunes and Eltisha Wright-Smith, who are attending the University of Toronto and Ryerson University respectively, are the other award winners.
An Ontario Scholar and honour roll student every year in high school with an average mark of 82 per cent, Dublin is enrolled in the University of Toronto Arts & Science faculty.
The Light of Life church member volunteers at the Good Shepherd Centre and was the president of her high school’s National Society of Black Engineers junior chapter. She aspires to be a lawyer.
Tavernier’s interest is in the electrical industry while Chandler, the 2008 Crime Stoppers Student of the Year, is enrolled in the University of Waterloo’s Arts and Business program. His average mark in high school was 75 per cent.
Nunes graduated from Cardinal Newman Catholic High School as an Ontario Scholar while Wright-Smith attended Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Ajax. She plans to become either a family or criminal lawyer.
The Church of the Nativity has presented 70 scholarships worth nearly $65,000 in the last 15 years.
“These community scholarships are a reflection of our mission which is to reach out to the community and provide spiritual and moral support,” said parish priest Rev. Canon Donald Butler. “The main focus in making these awards available is to assist our youth with purchasing books required for post-secondary education and to invest in the future of our community.
“We hope these awards will help them in their pursuit of academic excellence, preparation for their careers and service to their church, community and society as a whole.”
Educator and Organization of Parents of Black Children (OPBC) past chair Keren Brathwaite commended the church for showing leadership in supporting young adults.
“Your support pushes against the barriers to access and will assist the students’ personal development as well as their contribution to family, community and Canada,” she said. “Your generous act will inspire the students and enrich their future.”