Black male students are succeeding despite the negative indicators of schooling. Last month, Jamil Jivani graduated with a law degree from the prestigious Yale University, while Douglas MacDonald earned his M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Jivani graduated from Mississauga’s Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School, while MacDonald is a 2005 graduate of Milliken Mills High School.
“This is the end of one journey in terms of schooling which I have been doing since I was five-years-old,” said Jivani, a former fundraising intern for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Canada. “I am excited to see what comes next and looking forward to securing work experience.”
He joined the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto board of directors last week and will intern this summer with the corporate legal team of Tim Horton’s.
“I will article next year with a Toronto law firm and I intend to acquire my license to practice in Canada,” said the 2009 Black Business & Professional Association national scholarship winner. “This is home and this is where I will be.”
A 2006 Humber College President’s Medal winner, Jivani spent the summer of 2009 teaching English, History, Math and Business at a boarding school for homeless and orphaned youths in Nairobi, Kenya. It was his second trip in three years to the East African country which is the birthplace of his father, Ismat Jivani, who is a master chef in Mexico.
Prior to heading to Yale, Jivani spent a summer at York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute where he met award-winning author, historian and archeologist, Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost, who was the senior research fellow for African-Canadian history at the institute.
They reunited last year when she was appointed a visiting scholar in Canadian Studies at Yale.
“Jamil is an incredible young man who is going to move mountains, said Dr. Smardz Frost. “His classmates predict he has the qualities to be Mayor of Toronto and I believe them.”
While at Yale, Jivani, who he graduated from York University after transferring from Humber College, received several recognitions for his commitment to public service. He spent a summer working for Mayor Cory Booker in Newark, New Jersey and at the New York City law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
MacDonald graduated from the University of Western Ontario four years ago with a Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree with honours specialization in biochemistry of infection and immunity.
The only Canadian in a class of 155 students at Columbia said the transition from undergraduate to medical school was challenging.
“The things that work in college and university don’t necessarily work in medical school because of the sheer volume,” said MacDonald. “It’s like trying to drink water from a hose and knowing that you are not going to do that. You just have to pick and choose.”
MacDonald starts his four-year residency in emergency medicine next month at New York University.
“That was my first choice because I spent the last four years in that city and I grew to love it,” he said. “Also, in the latter stages of my senior year, I did a rotation at Bellevue Hospital as an audition for myself and to see how the system works.”
The Markham resident said he will consider returning to Canada when his residency ends.
“I will see where the best opportunities are and if that is in Canada, I would certainly return home,” he said. “This is where all my family and friends are.”
While in high school, MacDonald was the recipient of several scholarships, including the John Brooks, Canadian Millennium and Markham African-Canadian Association.