University students share $25,000 in awards



He was among the first donors when the Jamaica Canadian Association (JCA) scholarship program was launched in 2002.

Dr. Ezra Nesbeth “upped the ante” this year, donating $25,000 which was presented to six university students at last Saturday night’s ninth annual awards at the JCA centre.

“The success of our community depends heavily on its self-reliance and an important step towards that is getting a good education,” said Nesbeth. “Our young people are our future and it’s incumbent on all of us to do our part in helping whatever way we can to make their dreams come true. Too often, what is reported in the so-called mainstream media shows negative images of our young people, often times neglecting or ignoring the significant accomplishments they have made, sometimes against great odds. We must be vigilant and not fail our youth, particularly the marginalized and disadvantaged.

“It makes me feel good to know that I can help young people achieve their educational goals. One of the most beautiful experiences for me is to see them doing well.”

Nesbeth does more than just award scholarships. He follows up with winners and parents to ensure the recipients are fulfilling their post-high school educational requirements and that they graduate.

Dr. Ezra Nesbeth scholarships were presented to Sydonna Edwards, Danielle Gayle, Candace Harris, Damion Kellyman, Mellissa Robinson and Ladonna Burke.

Edwards, who aspires to be a human resources manager, is enrolled in Ryerson University’s Business Management program while Gayle is pursuing Health Science studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Harris is pursuing a Bachelors of Applied Technology in Construction Science & Management degree at George Brown College, Kellyman is in Ryerson University’s Finance program and Robinson is a fourth-year University of Toronto Institute of Technology Health Science student.

Burke, who volunteers at Chalkfarm Community Centre, the Toronto West Detention Centre and with the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, is enrolled in the University of Guelph-Humber Criminal Justice Studies program.

Raised in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, Nesbeth came to Canada in 1966 and finished high school at Jarvis Collegiate Institute before going to Ryerson University and the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo.

After completing post-doctoral studies in Health Science and Psychopathology in the United States, he worked as a consultant with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organization, developing community health programs for various jurisdictions.

He was also head of Clinical Education at the Clinical Institute Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto, a consultant with the Clark Institute of Psychiatry and an assistant professor in Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto.

As head of Employee Health at Ontario Power Generation, Nesbeth played a pivotal role in convincing the board of directors to start a scholarship program for Black students to honour the memory of William Hubbard, Toronto’s first Black councillor who successfully ran for public office at age 51 in the late 1890s and served as deputy mayor and acting mayor.

A visionary, Hubbard led the charge for publicly owned water supply and electric power that resulted in the establishment of Ontario and Toronto Hydro. He also persuaded the city to acquire the Toronto Islands.

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