Little did Shantel Maloney know that the bird house she built at age eight would be the impetus for her future career.
The Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology first-year civil engineering student aspires to own a construction company.
“I know that’s a male dominated field, but I have always been fascinated with building things and construction,” said Maloney, who graduated from Central Peel Secondary School and is the Hamilton Church of God of Prophecy youth choir director. “I also want to build my own home.”
Maloney, who migrated from St. Vincent & the Grenadines at age three, was one of five bursary winners at the Malton Black Development Association’s (MBDA) 35th annual anniversary celebration last Saturday night at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel.
Other recipients were Eulalee Lumsden, Dannika Russell, Shanika Gordon and Patricia Lee, who was unable to attend the celebration because of illness.
A graduate of Lincoln Alexander Secondary School, Lumsden is enrolled in York University’s English & Professional Writing program. This is the teenager’s fourth bursary in the last nine months following the Mount Ward All-Age School Past Students Toronto chapter, Eva Smith and New Life Covenant Centre awards.
Russell, 19, also graduated from Lincoln Alexander and is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s journalism program. Her career goal is to be a TSN sports reporter.
“I am passionate about sports and want to make a career of it,” said Russell, who holds two part-time jobs and was the recipient of an Outstanding Leadership Award for her volunteer contribution to character education in 2010.
An honour roll student at Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School, Gordon is pursuing criminology studies at York University.
“This bursary validates my hard work to succeed in life and tells me I am on the right track,” she said.
Lee graduated from Central Peel Secondary School and is enrolled in Sheridan College’s general arts & science health profile program.
The MBDA has awarded 80 bursaries since the program was launched in 1992.
In the keynote address, University of Western Ontario sociology professor, Dr. Anton Allahar, reminded the young people that education is a ticket out from the margin to the centre of society.
“It’s more than training or a vocation thing,” said Dr. Allahar, who spent the first 20 years of his life in Trinidad & Tobago before migrating to Canada, where he completed his PhD in political & economic sociology at the University of Toronto. “It’s about creating a more rounded citizen, a person who has a civic awareness of what they are and about what they can contribute to the community and more widely to the society.
“It’s knowledge, it’s been balanced and inclusive and this can only come from meeting different people, reading widely, learning and having an open mind and a genuine hunger for trying to make the place better than you find it.”
The fact that there were no male students among the five bursary award winners caught Allahar’s attention.
“The success of the feminist movement has empowered these young women and made them more bold, assertive, self-confident and self-assured and they go to school not thinking of themselves as inferior or second-class,” said Allahar, who accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Caribbean five years ago when he met with a group of the region’s political leaders. “Racism and police profiling have created a kickback and the young Black male is an angry person. This anger is expressed in many ways, including dropping out of school and they are saying to us ‘You guys have squandered our future and we don’t know which end is up.’”
The MBDA also presented Community Service awards to funeral home manager, Michael Newediuk and volunteer, Catherine Gairy.
Over the years, the organization successfully lobbied the Peel Board of Education to sponsor Black history classes, which later became the catalyst for the Heritage Language program across Peel.