Seeing his father in a wheelchair for the first time was not something that Malik Morgan-John was prepared for. Karl John was seriously injured in a vehicular accident while driving from Edmonton to his Calgary home six years ago.
Quickly overcoming the fear and apprehension, his son made a deal with himself. He was going to pursue chemical engineering studies that deal with the design, construction and operation of machines and plants that perform chemical reactions to solve practical problems or make useful products.
“I want to come up with that drug that would make paraplegics walk again,” said Morgan-John who was presented with a scholarship at the 31st annual celebration of the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Association of Toronto (SVGAT) last Saturday night. The event marked the anniversary of the islands’ independence on October 27, 1979.
“When I was in high school, I volunteered at homes for the aged where there were many senior citizens with diabetes. I want to make that drug that would prevent people from developing that disease…My goal is to develop products that would benefit society and help people in their everyday lives.”
Don’t tell the Ryerson University student that his ideas are far-fetched. He graduated as an Ontario Scholar with exceptional marks from Heart Lake Secondary School in Brampton despite volunteering many hours at the Peel Long Term care centre, the Peel Children’s Water festival, the annual country and western-themed Emil Kolb Hootenanny that supports children’s charities in Peel and the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation devoted to fighting childhood cancer.
“I have done a lot in my short lifetime and I intend to do much more and spring a few surprises,” Morgan-John promised.
Samantha Lewis and Andrea Providence were unable to attend the event to accept their scholarships.
Lewis, the recipient of the Hermus Lewis Memorial academic award, is a first-year Biochemistry student at Carleton University. She plans to attend medical school and become an obstetrician.
The winner of the SVGAT scholarship, Providence recently graduated cum laude from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama with a Biology degree. The aspiring medical doctor enrolls in Ross University School of Medicine in January.
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States High Commissioner Brendon Browne said Vincentians are a proud people who have achieved much at home and internationally in the past three decades since independence.
“However, as we move forward with our slender resources into the future, we must realize that our country needs all of its citizens, regardless of race, creed or political stripes,” said the Vincentian national. “The nation is bigger than all of its citizens and we must not cease to be country-focused and we should always remember to wear our patriotism like a badge of honour.”
Retired politician and former diplomat and Legislative Assembly of Ontario Speaker Alvin Curling delivered the keynote address.
This year’s SVGAT celebration was tempered by the devastating passage of Hurricane Tomas that battered the islands for eight hours last Saturday, wreaking extensive damage.
Describing the storm as ‘the worst in living memory”, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appealed for regional and international assistance to rebuild the country.