Jermaine Brown did not have to go far to find a role model. His father, Winston, is his biggest inspiration and the young man is following in his footsteps.
“When I told my dad a few years ago I wanted to be a chef just like he was, he told me if that is what I wanted to do I should go for it and he will be there to support me all the way,” said the 21-year-old Brown, who was presented with a John Brooks scholarship recently. “I assured him I will be one of the best in the business.”
Brown is enrolled in George Brown College’s culinary management diploma program that prepares students to become chefs, cooks and culinary managers.
“Jermaine is very bright, motivated, determined and a leader in our college community,” said the program’s chief instructor, Brett Hoffman, who attended the scholarship awards at the Columbus Centre. “Even though he has been in Canada for just two years, he has made the adjustment and adapted well to his new surroundings.”
Brown, who lived in Montego Bay with his parents and a younger sibling before coming to Canada, shared his main cooking recipe.
“I enjoy putting smiles on people’s faces,” said Brown, whose favourite dishes include jerk and curry chicken, oxtail and ackee and salt fish. “A good meal can make people happy and that’s very rewarding for me.”
Brown’s father grew up in a kitchen holding on to his mother’s frock tail. After graduating from culinary school, the family patriarch worked with Sandals Montego Bay for 30 months, Premier Cruise Line for three years and Disney Cruise Line for 12 years. While with Disney, where he rose to the position of assistant food manager, the senior Brown met Canadian Karen Philadelphia, who was the hotel director’s assistant. They were married and he’s now employed as a sous chef at the Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre.
A total of 21 students were presented with scholarships worth nearly $23,000. Brooks, an Order of Canada recipient and community leader who passed away in 2008, established the John Brooks Community Foundation and Scholarship Fund (JBCFSF) 31 years ago. The organization has presented close to $700,000 in academic awards to nearly 900 students ranging from Grades Seven to 12.
Talented young pianist, actor and scholar Rashaan Allwood won the top academic prize. The Cawthra Park Secondary School graduate, who averaged 95 per cent in Grade 12, is pursuing law and music studies at the University of Toronto. He aspires to be a lawyer and concert pianist.
Last year, Allwood became the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) Canada youngest supporter of a basic school in Jamaica when he adopted New Town Early Childhood Institution in St. Elizabeth. In 2003, he played the lead role of Young Simba in the Walt Disney Broadway musical, The Lion King.
Other scholarship winners were Grade Seven student, Lavarr Williams; Cardinal Leger Secondary School Grade Eight student, Jhnelle McLaren who aspires to be a paediatrician; Grade Nine twins Jay and Dayna McNeill, who attend Oakville Trafalgar High School; and Grade 11 students Malik Lindo-Ireland and Mariba Douglas, who intends to become a corporate lawyer.
In addition to Brown and Allwood, the other Grade 12 graduate winners were Anjana Gananathan, Armi Fello, David Grant, Leanne Prendergast, Pranavan Sivakumar, Collette Alexander, Alicia Harris, Jovan Wilson, Jordan Russell, Shalon Hunte, Chelsea Osei, Alicia Whitfield and Ismat Ali.
Gananathan is enrolled in York University’s Schulich School of Business, Fello graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School and is pursuing business studies at Ryerson University, Grant is in McMaster University’s social sciences program, Prendergast aspires to be a social worker, Sivakumar is enrolled in York University’s liberal arts program and Alexander graduated from Langstaff Secondary School and is attending Ryerson.
West Hill Collegiate Institute graduate, Jovan Wilson, is pursuing post-secondary studies at Centennial College; Harris is studying film at Ryerson; Russell is enrolled in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology business studies program and Hunte is studying political science at Trent University.
Osei, Whitfield and Ali are enrolled in Queen’s University Bachelor of Arts (honours) program.
Speaking on behalf of the scholarship winners, Hunte thanked the donors for contributing to their academic advancement.
“Education is a vehicle for character development and it also advances opportunity, understanding and freedom,” said the Branksome Hall graduate. “The world has changed and it’s much harder to succeed without a good education.”
In 1992, Queen’s University became the first institution of higher learning to establish an on-going relationship with the JBCFSF in the form of an annual scholarship awarded to eligible students entering an undergraduate program. Over the years, other educational institutions, private businesses and individuals, including former Ontario government minister, Mary Anne Chambers, have joined hands with the JBCFSF to promote and support academic and community excellence.
Brooks’ widow, Pat, their daughter, Donna Stines and granddaughter Amanda Stines attended the celebration.