“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
Althea Dawes-Francis can attest to this Dr. Ben Carson quote.
When she was seven years old, her biological mother succumbed to cancer in the Greater Toronto Area. Two years later, she almost drowned during Hurricane Ivan that pounded Jamaica with ferocious rain and wind.
Dawes-Francis weathered the storm and with the help of her aunt and uncle, who adopted her and her sisters, came to Canada in October 2005.
While the transition was not easy, she has prevailed so far.
An honour student, the teenager graduated from Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School in Malton where she started a Christian Club, organized Black History Month celebrations and led a school-wide walk out to protest Bill 115, a piece of legislation passed last September that gave the province the power to stop strikes and impose a labour agreement.
As a result, public high school teachers pulled the plug on their participation in extra-curricular activities, including coaching and supervising sports teams.
Set to begin post-secondary education next month at Fleming College in Peterborough, Dawes-Francis was one of two recipients of New Life Covenant Centre (formerly Malton Church of God) bursaries presented last Sunday in Mississauga.
“This bursary could not have come at a better time because I am somewhat financially challenged as I prepare for the next educational phase in my life,” said Dawes-Francis, who is a Malton Seventh-day Adventist church member and an Adventist youth deaconess. “I came here for a better life and I intend to fully capitalize on every opportunity.”
Aneika Hayles was extremely proud to be recognized with a bursary by the church she has attended for 14 of her 18 years.
“This is very rewarding and it will assist with my tuition and unlocking the door to my future career,” said the aspiring paediatric nurse.
A graduate of Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School in Brampton where she was an active participant in the annual Toys 4 Tots fundraiser and the designated first-aider at special school events, Hayles enters Humber College next month to pursue general arts in health and science studies for a year before transitioning into the Bachelor of Nursing program.
Each year, the church invites young people in the community who are excelling in university or the workplace to come back and provide words of inspiration to the award recipients and other youth.
“Enjoy the college/university experience and always remember that life is not easy and you will face challenges along the way,” Tyndale University psychology student and New Covenant Life member, Nikita Dore, told them.
After graduating from St. Edmund Campion Secondary School, Dore attended Seneca College where she secured a child & youth worker diploma before entering Tyndale, where she graduates in 2015.
The 22-year-old aspires to be a child & youth worker with Canada’s first Africentric Alternative School.
The church’s Loving Kindness Ministry (LKM), set up 12 years ago to financially assist church and community members, supports the bursary program which was established six years ago.
“I encourage each of you to push forward and accomplish what the Lord has created you to do,” LKM head Rev. Iris Douglas told this year’s winners. “Do not limit yourselves because of circumstances and don’t let the storms of life weaken your resolve. Keep going.”
By RON FANFAIR