University of Waterloo third-year student Christopher Gunn-Isaacs got more than he expected last Saturday night.
The aspiring lawyer was presented with a financial reward at the Jamaica Canadian Association’s (JCA) eighth annual scholarship awards.
Bursary donor Rohan Robinson threw in a little bit more, providing the recipient his personal and business phone numbers, e-mail address and an offer of mentorship.
“In my line of work, I see a lot of negative stereotypes about people in this community and it’s heartening to see somebody that has worked hard, has lot of ambition and has all the potential in the world do something valuable with his life,” said Robinson, a defense lawyer who graduated from the University of Ottawa Law School in 1996 and was called to the Ontario Bar two years later. “I also see too many young Black men.”
Gunn-Isaacs, a graduate of Martingrove Collegiate Institute, graciously accepted Robinson’s generosity.
“The fact that he has given me his business card and agreed to help me out with advice as I pursue my goal of becoming a lawyer is a big deal for me,” he said. “I am actually interested in his line of work, so it’s great that I have someone who I can call on. This makes my night.”
A total of 28 young people were presented with bursaries and scholarships worth nearly $26,000.
Outgoing chief Armand LaBarge presented the York Regional Police scholarship to Robert Hall Catholic Secondary School honour roll graduate and football captain Evan Buchanan who is enrolled in the University of Western Ontario’s Business Management and Organization Studies program.
LaBarge retires in December.
University of Toronto kinesiology student and Tropicana Community Service Organization tutor Nikisha Campbell was presented with the Eva Smith memorial bursary; University of Ottawa Conflict Studies and Human Rights student Shondra Mings and York University second-year Psychology Studies student Fabien Johnson were the recipients of the JCA “Walk Good” scholarships; Ryerson University Chemistry student Nande Wright received the Gifford and Raphaelita Walker bursary and Francis Atta, who is enrolled in the George Brown College Child Youth Worker program, was presented with the Erma Collins scholarship.
Former Ontario government minister, Mary Anne Chambers and her husband Chris, presented a scholarship to Carleton University Criminology and Criminal Justice student Kadene Massop, who aspires to become a lawyer; University of Western Ontario third-year Psychology Studies student Shade Miller accepted the Dr. Ezra Nesbeth scholarship and All Saints Catholic Secondary School graduate Melissa McLennan and Shane Bennett, who graduated from Bramalea Secondary School, received the Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning scholarships.
Westview Secondary School graduate Delano Grant and Heart Lake Secondary School pupil Jhanell Walder captured the Ryerson University scholarships awarded annually to two first-year students; George Brown dental assistant program student and R.H. King Academy graduate Natasha Allen and Malik Morgan, who is enrolled in Ryerson University’s Engineering Co-op program, were awarded the Dr. Lancelot Brown scholarship; University of Waterloo Music student Akailah Wilson was presented with the Jamaica Day scholarship and Anita McFarlane and Erica Conville were the recipients of the Jamaica National Building Society awards.
McFarlane is enrolled in McMaster University’s Honours Linguistic Cognitive Science program and Conville, a JCA Saturday Morning tutor, attends Seneca College.
Bursaries were also presented to Wilfrid Laurier University first-year Communications Studies student Melinda Kong, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School graduate Shauna Kay Francis, University of Waterloo second-year Arts and Business Co-op program student Wayne Bridge, aspiring health care worker Adora Nwakwesi, Martika Yorke who is enrolled in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Political Science program, nursing student Sharon Munawa and Ryerson University students Sothar Edouard, Lindsey Addawoo and Asha Mullings.
JCA president Audrey Campbell awarded a scholarship in the name of her parents Edgar and Enid to Africentric Alternative School student Wesley Clarke who has been enrolled in the JCA Saturday Morning Tutorial program for the past six years.
In her keynote address, CTV Canada AM early edition host and news anchor Marci Ien congratulated the winners and reminded them they will face challenges and ‘the power of no’ in their quest for success.
“Everyone has had those moments when their dreams have been put into question and they in turn have questioned themselves,” she said. “What you do at those times will shape your life. Think about that. What you say to yourself at those pivotal moments when people are trying to snatch your dream will define you.
“For all the voices that tell us we can’t, there are always those that tell us we can. Those are the voices that matter most.”
The JCA has presented nearly $151,000 in scholarships and bursaries since 2002.