When your surname is Jagan, you better be prepared to answer questions about your family heritage.
The name has a special cachet as teenager Mikael Jagan, a nephew of late Guyana president Dr. Cheddi Jagan who died 16 years ago, is finding out. His dad’s father was Dr. Jagan’s brother.
“I am getting used to people asking me about my family background,” said Jagan who is in his third week at McMaster University pursuing health sciences studies. “I was just a year old when Dr. Jagan died and so I did not get the opportunity to meet him. But from all that I was told and am learning, he was a very special person who meant a lot to many people and I am proud to bear the name.”
A graduate of Turner Fenton Secondary School where he chaired a student-led cultural event in his final year and graduated with the highest achievement awards in several subjects, including calculus and chemistry, Jagan was active outside the school environment as a peer tutor, outreach educator and Breakfast Club co-ordinator. He was also the recipient of a Most Valuable Player Award for excellence in badminton.
Jagan’s career options include teaching math, medicine and dentistry. Dr. Jagan graduated from Northwestern University in 1942 with a dental surgeon degree while his son Joey is a dentist.
“I am incredibly proud of Miakel,” said his mother Ann who worked in the automotive sector as a quality management system professional for nearly 25 years as an independent third party auditor and consultant. “He’s very focused and quiet and I am amazed at how he has been able to balance school work with extra-curricular activities and do well.”
Jagan was one of 14 recipients of United Achievers Club of Brampton (UACB) scholarships presented at the organization’s 29th annual awards last Saturday night.
In the keynote address, YWCA Canada chief executive officer Paulette Senior saluted the scholarship winners for excelling in high school.
“You did whatever it took to get the job done through collaboration, partnership, sacrifice, cajoling and leadership and by standing up, stepping forward and being counted,” she said. “It was far from easy.”
While graduating from high school is a huge accomplishment, Senior reminded the recipients they have just crossed a hurdle in a long journey that will be filled with myriad challenges.
“Life will come at you, most often not as you expect it and in shapes and sizes you don’t even recognize,” said Senior who was a New Democratic Party candidate in municipal, provincial and federal elections. “The key to success is not your ability to dodge or hide but to meet these challenges head-on as if you expected them. Giving up is not in your lexicon; carrying on is…Meet these challenges with your eyes, mind and heart wide open and you will come through them better, stronger, smarter and wiser for doing so.”
This year’s winners include Ontario scholar Michelle Osei-Bonsu who graduated with the highest academic mark – 98.5 per cent – in Brampton.
Students must achieve an average of 80 per cent or higher on their top six Grade 12 courses to be a provincial scholar.
A graduate of St. Roch Catholic Secondary School where she served as president of the DECA business club and a reporter and video editor for RochTV – a bi-weekly television broadcast – Osei-Bonsu is enrolled in a dual media information and technoculture/business administration program at the University of Western Ontario.
The 18-year-old, who was the valedictorian for her graduating class, aspires to be a lawyer and novelist.
Other scholarship winners were Alexander Bahadur, a Governor-General Award recipient who graduated from Louise Arbour Secondary School and is enrolled in McMaster University’s health sciences program; Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education Program student Shanice Cox who graduated from Central Peel Secondary School and aspires to be a school principal or university professor; Keanu Elliot who is enrolled in Carleton University’s criminology program; Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School Principal Award winner Paige Fisher who is majoring in global politics studies at Carleton University; Thomas Aquinas Secondary School graduate and University of Guelph-Humber student Chantel McKnight who intends to obtain a doctorate in psychology and Oriena Mensah who is enrolled in the University of Western Ontario’s medical sciences program.
Financial awards were also presented to Na’Shantea Miller who graduated from Turner Fenton Secondary School and is enrolled in the University of Ottawa’s social sciences program; University of Toronto first-year student Ilya Mogg who tutored children and was a member of several committees at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School; St. Augustine Secondary School graduate Harry Mohammed who is enrolled in Sheridan College’s electronics engineering technology program; Kenneth Obeng who is pursuing computer & network support technician studies at Humber College; Renique Taylor, an accomplished musician who is pursuing social work studies at York University and Raven-Paige Wilkinson who graduated from St. Augustine Secondary School and is enrolled in Ryerson University’s creative industries program.
The UACB, in collaboration with its corporate partners, including the Kiwanis Club of Brampton, Sun Life Financial, Peel Regional Police, Sterling Dental and private donors, have rewarded 301 high school graduates for academic excellence and community service with nearly $300,000 in tuition assistance in the last 29 years.
Each year, the UACB honours longstanding members and individuals in the community for their significant contributions.
Lorenzo Walker was presented with the Senior Citizens Award while Bernice Carnegie and Patricia Challenger Brade were recognized with Community Leadership Awards.
Carnegie is a founding director of the Herb Carnegie Future Aces Foundation and Kittitian-born Challenger-Brade is a former Congress of Black Women of Canada Brampton chapter president.