With the addition of several new donors, a record number of scholarships and bursaries were presented last Saturday night at the Jamaica Canadian Association (JCA)-administered awards.
A total of 45 students, which is an increase of 17 from last year, were presented with monetary prizes for academic excellence and community service worth close to $60,000, $34,000 more that was awarded in 2010.
Philanthropist Dr. Ezra Nesbeth led the way with a $25,000 contribution while Caribbean Promotions Arts & Culture, which organizes the annual Jerkfest, increased its $500 donation last year to $3,000.
Corporate lawyer Stephen Benjamin presented $4,000 in scholarships, first-timer Western Union awarded $1,000 and the JCA past president’s contribution was enhanced by $1,000.
JCA president Audrey Campbell acknowledged the sponsors support.
“Your commitment each year enables students to pursue and achieve their best in various intellectual, artistic, physical and social pursuits,” she said. “These are tough economic times and we are grateful for your investment in our future generation.”
The Eva Smith bursary, established 26 years ago by the former postal clerk and American-trained dental technician who passed away in December 1993, was presented for the first time at the JCA awards ceremony.
Smith’s Bermudan-born husband Edward and daughter Edeva handed over the bursary to first-year Ryerson University Science student Fatima Ali who aspires to be a dentist.
“I have an aunt (Marian Abdulla) who has a practice in the west end and when I saw her work and she gave me the opportunity to help her out, I knew that’s the profession I want to be in,” said Ali. “This award will help me on my journey.”
Dentist Lance Browne presented scholarships to University of Western Ontario Biology student Walter Byrne and Oladipupo Alimi who is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Co-op Cell & Molecular Biology program.
The JCA Walk Good recipients were George Brown College Child & Youth Worker program graduate April Morris who intends to pursue a Sociology degree at York University and Emery Collegiate Institute valedictorian Patrick Watson who is studying Life Sciences at the U of T. Ti-Shauna Turner, who is enrolled in the University of Guelph-Humber Applied Science in Family & Community Social Services program, was the recipient of the York Regional Police scholarship.
J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate Institute graduate Rochelle Johnson, who is studying Business Management at Ryerson University and York University first-year Chemistry & Pharmacology program student Nikhail Baptiste secured the Western Union scholarships; Yorkdale Secondary School for Adults student Terry-Ann Hepburn was the recipient of the Audrey Campbell Family scholarship; Gifford & Raphaelita Walker presented their award to U of T Chemical Engineering student Akira Beckles; aspiring architectural engineer Stewart Edwards, who migrated from Jamaica two years ago, was presented with the Erma Collins scholarship and Stephen Brown, who is enrolled in George Brown College’s Culinary Skills & Chef Training program, accepted the Mary Anne Chambers award.
The Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning winners were Mayfield Secondary School graduate Traven Smith and Dwayne Barnes who are studying Electrical Engineering and Graphic Design respectively; Ontario Scholar and Ryerson University Journalism student Caroline Dinnall and Rashad Ryan, who is enrolled in Humber College’s Media Communications program, were the Marcia Brown Productions winners; Wilfrid Laurier Business Administration student Gabrielle Sinclair was presented with the JCA Scholarship Awards Committee bursary and Vanessa McDonald, who is enrolled in Trent University’s Honours Science program, and Shanyce Anderson who is studying French at Brock University, received the JCA’s I have A Dream scholarships.
Humber College Law Clerk program student Jevon Minott, Maxwell Heights Secondary School graduate Shakaiah Gayle who is studying Criminology at the U of T, University of Western Ontario first-year Social Science program student Tiwana Anderson and Brock University Political Science student Daniel Banham accepted the Stephen Benjamin scholarships while Anna-Kaye Evans, Nadia McKenzie, Sarah Ermias, Patrick Antwi and Shanelle Holness won the Jerkfest bursaries.
Mario Carby, an aviation major at Centennial College, and Meghan Atkinson who is in York University’s Children Studies program were the recipients of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey scholarships; Ryerson University Journalism program student Kyanna Vassell was presented with the Roy Stewart Memorial bursary; the Barbara Thomas bursary was awarded to aspiring registered nurse Sandra Campbell; Westview Centennial Secondary School Grade 10 student Anthony Harvey secured the Errol Jackson Memorial bursary; Chanel Blackwood, who intends to become a teacher and guidance counsellor, won the Marville Travel bursary and C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute Grade 10 student Kaylia Thomas and Sherieka Thomas, who is in Grade Five at Stilecroft Public School, were presented with the Hugh Evelyn Memorial awards.
Radio & TV Arts student Seth Dyer and Tresa Donaldson, who is in the Public Health program, were the recipients of Ryerson University scholarships and University of Windsor Bachelor of Education program student Kathryn Grant and Ricardo Dewdney, who is in Humber College’s Computer Engineering Technology program, were awarded scholarships by JCA past presidents Kamala-Jean Gopie and Herman Stewart respectively.
Ricky Neckles, who graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Toronto four years ago, was the keynote speaker. He congratulated the winners and encouraged them to aim high and network.
“In the world we live in today, it’s not just what you know, but who you know that matters,” said Neckles who worked with Accenture – a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company – as a management consultant analyst for a year before founding Neckles Global Enterprise which owns a collection of diversified businesses in trade, manufacturing and real estate.
Neckles, who migrated with his mother from Grenada at age three in 1985, also shared his life story with the young people. He ate from food banks and lived in 11 different apartments by the time he was nine, he said. The memory of having a gun pointed at him as he ran for his life is also still fresh in his mind eight years later.
The then Grade 11 student was on his way to his Mount St. Dennis home after basketball when three young men approached him and demanded his personal possessions which included his backpack with his school work, wallet and digital camera. After a brief struggle, he managed to escape with his belongings. While running away, he looked back briefly to judge the distance between himself and his pursuers only to realize that one of them was pointing a gun at him.
The JCA has presented close to $211,000 in scholarships and bursaries since 2002.