Sisters Keisha and Kristen McIntosh have made the most of the opportunities their parents foresaw when the family migrated from Jamaica almost two decades ago.
Older sister Keisha graduated with honours from Ryerson University and is a pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at the University of Toronto while serving as a constituency assistant for Scarborough-Rouge Member of Parliament, Rathika Sitsabaiesan.
Kristen, a first-year student at York University, was recently awarded the prestigious $60,000 Schulich Leader scholarship for academic excellence and leadership in community, business or entrepreneurship.
“Our parents made the sacrifice by coming here for us to seize available opportunities,” said the younger sister who graduated from Blessed Pope John Paul II Secondary School. “Being awarded this scholarship is a proud moment for me and them. It allows me to concentrate on my studies without having to worry about where tuition fees are coming from for the next four years. The monetary support also relieves some of the financial burden off my parents for now.”
Passionate about leadership, McIntosh represented her high school at youth conferences and was a student council member and vice-president.
York University was one of four post-secondary institutions that were on her radar. The others were McGill, U of T and Queen’s.
She chose York because the Lassonde School of Engineering – a professional engineering school at York University established in November 2011 with funding from philanthropist Pierre Lassonde, the provincial government and York – because of its commitment to changing engineering education.
As part of her high school’s international baccaulerate program, McIntosh was introduced to computer science.
“It was one of my favourite subjects and I have always had a passion for technology,” she said. “I am curious about how you apply the mind to technology.”
McIntosh’s interest is in artificial intelligence which is a branch of computer science that studies and develops intelligent machines and software.
In order to be selected for the undergraduate scholarships, students must be nominated by their high schools.
Guidance counsellor Rachel Di Sisto nominated McIntosh, one of four students from the Greater Toronto Area, for the award.
“She was just a great all-round student when she was here,” said Di Sisto. “Her social justice work was beyond recognition and her grade point average was outstanding.”
A total of 40 students from across the country were awarded Schulich Leader scholarships this year.