Academic awards help students cope with fees

By RON FANFAIR

Tuition fees are high and there are significant costs attached to every school project at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) where Camille Gordon is a freshman.

That’s why she’s thankful for every financial academic award that comes her way.

Gordon was among three scholarship recipients at the 12th annual Progressive Jamaicans Association of Canada (PROJAM) Christmas gala last Saturday night at Woodbridge Banquet Hall.

“Every penny helps,” said the St. Augustine Secondary School graduate and recipient of Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations (AJAA) and Harry Jerome national scholarships this year.

Born in Curacao to Jamaican parents, the Brampton resident says art helps her to express her thoughts. She also used the medium to fundraise for Haiti following last January’s devastating earthquake. An art auction she organized raised almost $8,000.

While she enjoys art, Gordon has expressed an interest in working with the United Nations, doing volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders and becoming a psychologist and art therapist.

Scholarships were also presented to Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay and Ashleigh Montague.

Lindsay, like Gordon, is an AJAA scholarship winner and first-year OCAD student.

He was part of a group of talented young artists who created a 400-foot bike-themed mural at the intersection of Dupont Street and Dundas Street West last year. He also was among a group of student illustrators and poets who shared a collective voice at the Urban Speaks Poetry Launch Anthology/L’Echo de la ville 2010 last month at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Montague, a graduate of Saint Thomas Moore Catholic High School in Hamilton, is enrolled at McMaster University. She is an active volunteer in her community and an International Peace Choir member for the past seven years.

Three-time Olympian Devon Harris was the keynote speaker. The retired Jamaica Defence Force captain and graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was a member of Jamaica’s first bobsled team that took part in the 1988 Calgary Olympics just six months after being introduced to the sport.

“If you start with that dream, that image in your mind of what you want, you will always find a way,” the New York-based Harris told the audience which included Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto, George Ramocan, AJAA’s first chairperson Paul Barnett and Victoria Mutual Building Society senior vice-president responsible for group strategy, Allan Lewis. “Keep pushing until you get there.”

Harris compared the bobsledders risk with the gamble that Jamaicans take when they leave their homeland to start a new life in Toronto and other parts of the world.

“All of you leave a place that offered familiarity to come to a new country armed with nothing more than courage, determination, belief in yourselves and faith that God is going to guide you,” he said.

PROJAM is a non-profit organization aimed at fostering the settlement, integration and networking of newcomers and their families into the Canadian society through information and education.

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