Lack of effort by local students baffles young Jamaican

By RON FANFAIR

Javaughn Johnson knew he would face a few surprises and challenges when he moved to Canada from Jamaica two years ago to complete his high school education and pursue post-secondary studies.

He, however, did not expect to see what he perceived to be a lack of effort by some students at St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Mississauga, where he graduated with honours and was one of the top business students.

“I come from a Third World and developing country where we work hard with very little resources and achieve great success,” said Johnson who is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s first-year Business Studies program. “Here, you have almost everything yet some students don’t seem to recognize what they have and appreciate it. I just can’t understand that.”

Making the adjustment to a new society was seamless for Johnson, who excelled in athletics and academics in Jamaica. He won three gold medals in the Under-15 category at the 2006 Caribbean Table Tennis tournament in Trinidad & Tobago and several academic awards.

“I come from a family where education is a priority,” said the 18-year-old Johnson.

His father, Vivian Sr., has an MBA while his mother Janet is a Peel District School Board teacher. He has two older brothers – Vivian Jr. works at Scotiabank and Amari attends the University of Toronto.

In his only year in high school in Canada, Johnson volunteered in the school library, tutored special needs students, served as a peer counsellor and was a member of the music and entertainment production club. He was also the tennis and cricket teams’ Most Valuable Player.

Johnson, who plans to be on the Dean’s List and become a prominent chief executive officer, was one of 16 first-year university/college students presented with scholarships at the United Achievers Club of Brampton’s (UACB) 26th annual awards dinner last Saturday night.

He said he was privileged to be chosen for the honour, as was Emmanuel Frimpong-Manso, who has overcome many personal and financial challenges to complete high school.

Frimpong-Manso was unable to return to Ghana last April to attend his mother’s funeral because of school exams.

“That was the most difficult time in my life because I was very close to my mother,” said the Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School graduate. “My mom had been ailing for almost 10 years with a brain tumor, but she stressed that my education should always come first. It was hard sitting those exams, but I guess she was watching over me because I was successful. I know she would be proud to know that I passed.”

Born in Mississauga, Frimpong-Manso moved to Ghana at age two after his father died. He spent 16 years in the West African country before returning to Canada last September to complete high school studies.

Frimpong-Manso, who pursued business studies with electives in accounting, business management, economics and mathematics at the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School in eastern Ghana, aspires to be a chartered accountant.

He was the first recipient of the Price Waterhouse Canada academic award presented at this year’s Ontario Black History Society’s Black History Month launch.

Rick Hansen Secondary School graduate Stephen Agudoawu overcame a speech impediment to complete high school and set his sights on becoming a youth worker. He won his high school’s Triumph Award that recognizes a graduating student who overcomes learning difficulties, served on the youth council and volunteered at a drop-in centre for young people.

“Stephen fully represents the 16 exceptional young men and women we are honouring for their academic achievement, extra-curricular activities and community work,” said UACB president Lucinda Sloly.

Scholarships were also awarded to Chelsi Bonair, Annika Boodoo, Toluwalope Dipo, Tshea Dowers, Hilda Firempong-Sefah, Trishauna Forbes, Charnel Grey, Joseph Ojelade, Adedayo Omiyale, Priya Persaud, Spencer Reid, Elizabeth Ridley and Beverley Sarfo.

The UACB, in collaboration with its partners the Kiwanis Club of Brampton, Scotiabank, Peel Regional Police, Sterling Dental and private donors, have rewarded 269 Peel high school graduates with nearly $250,000 in tuition assistance in the last 26 years.

Each year, the UACB – established 30 years ago – also recognizes members and community workers who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the organization.

Velma McCurvin and Sylbert Montague were presented with the Senior Citizen and Special Member Recognition awards while Joy Squire and Dr. Anthony Sterling received the Community awards.

During the celebratory event, the UACB paid tribute to longstanding member Marian Hudson who passed away earlier this month. She served for many years as a director on the organization’s non-profit housing corporation.

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