In his first year in Ryerson University’s Radio & Television Arts (RTA) program, Dwight Drummond was quickly exposed to the financial hardships that many post-secondary students face.
While having just enough tuition funds that his single mother had cobbled together, there was no money left to purchase books. That was until Drummond received a letter informing him that he was the recipient of the $500 Lorne Green Award for emerging talent.
“That was a huge relief,” he said. “It came at a time when I really needed some cash to buy my books. They came up to almost the same amount of the award so I knew that someone was looking out for me.”
Twenty three years after graduating, Drummond and RTA classmate Marci Ien – who was also subjected to financial challenges in university – are giving back.
The television broadcasters have created scholarships that will be awarded annually to two RTA second-year students.
“We studied together, we struggled together and we held each other’s hand up together to support one another when there was no one else around for us to lean on as we broke into this industry,” said Ien. “The RTA program provided us with the opportunity to be where we are right now in this business and we just thought the time was right for us to give back in a way that’s meaningful.”
Drummond concurred with Ien.
“This is a university that gave us so much and prepared us so well,” he said. “The least we could do is give back in a tangible way to students from challenged communities who are in need of some financial assistance.”
The inaugural Marci Ien and Dwight Drummond scholarship winners are Laura Girardo and Katherine Nguyen, who was unable to attend last week’s awards luncheon at Oakham House.
RTA School of Media chair, Charles Falzon, thanked the alumni for stepping to the plate to assist students.
“We are very excited that our star alumni have created this award in support of new generations of RTA students,” he said. “This award is a great opportunity to celebrate students from diverse backgrounds who, through their tenacity and hard work, are paving the way as leaders in their field.”
Migrating from Jamaica at age nine in 1976 and raised in Toronto Community Housing, Drummond graduated from Runnymede Collegiate Institute as an Ontario scholar and worked part-time at City TV as a security guard on “Electric Circus” for two years before becoming a full-time staff member in 1991.
Four years ago, he joined CBC as the co-host of the News Toronto supper hour newscasts after two decades at City TV.
In his spare time, Drummond – who has lost several friends to gun violence – seizes the opportunity to attend community events and speak to young people, especially Black males, about the importance of becoming useful citizens.
Drummond and his wife, Janice, have two daughters.
The daughter of Trinidadian immigrants who arrived in Canada 47 years ago, Ien was cast in the children’s television series, “Circle Square”, before completing high school a semester early and pursuing a broadcasting career.
Beginning as a news writer and general assignment reporter with CHCH-TV in Hamilton in 1991, she moved to CTV six years later and has covered six federal elections and other significant stories, including Swissair Flight 111, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Halifax in September, 1998. All 229 passengers and crew died in the air disaster.
The recipient of a Canadian Radio Television News Directors award for the news serial, “A Journey to Freedom: A Look at the Underground Railroad”, and Harry Jerome and Planet Africa awards for media excellence, Ien is co-host of CTV’s Canada AM.
She and her husband have two daughters.
Drummond and Ien shared a locker in university and are among 22 distinguished alumni on the RTA Wall of Fame.