Adjusting to a new country was not seamless for Samantha Grant. Nothing, though, was going to deter the teenager from seizing the opportunity her father provided to join him in Canada and pursue high education.
Leaving Jamaica’s Manning’s School in Grade 11 two years ago, Grant found herself in a Grade 10 applied math class when she entered Emery Collegiate Institute.
“I was way above that, so I was pushed up to a higher grade,” she said.
That wasn’t the only hurdle Grant encountered.
“In Jamaica, students are friendly and engaging,” she said. “Here, I found everybody kept to themselves. Some students would communicate with me in the classroom and when I saw them in the hallway, it was like I didn’t exist. It took me a little while to get used to that.”
Grant enters Ryerson University in September to study architectural science.
“I started fooling around with calculators and going on the Internet to draw graphics at a young age because I love designing,” she said. “I did calculus, physics and visual arts in high school to prepare myself for that career.”
Jason Harrison and Grant have a few things in common.
He started to use a calculator a few years ago and math and science are his favourite subjects.
“I am good at numbers and I like exploring why things work,” said Harrison, who is set to study engineering at the University of Windsor.
They were among 12 recipients of Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations Toronto scholarships and bursaries presented to graduating high school students of Jamaican heritage.
The other honourees were Adonika Wilkes, Brieanna Lemonius, Cassandra Henry, Gabrielle Fletcher, Imani Walker, Jalen Patrick, Jozelle Thomas-Nakacisa, Keely Graham, Michka Lee and Shade Edwards.
Pharmacist Winston Clarke, the recipient of an AJAA scholarship in 1993, was the keynote speaker at the awards event at the Jamaican Canadian Association centre.
“It was good to be recognized back then and the award encouraged me to strive to achieve my goals,” said Clarke who graduated from the University of Toronto.