Rescued from tumbling over the precipice to disaster, Gregory DaSilva has turned his life around and has pledged to extend his hand to those who may have encountered the same hurdles he did a few years ago.
For a while, it seemed he was heading down the wrong road after dropping out of high school in Grade 11.
“I found myself running with the wrong people and doing things I shouldn’t have,” said DaSilva. “It was my fault.”
With the encouragement of family and people who cared about him, he graduated from high school and is enrolled in Centennial College’s two-year child & youth worker diploma program.
“Luckily for me, I was able to pull myself together before things got out of hand,” said DaSilva, the son of Guyanese immigrants. “I was fortunate in a sense that I got the support I needed to help me get back into the classroom.”
DaSilva, who aspires to be a social worker, was among nine recipients of this year’s Sis. Kathleen Jackman Memorial scholarships administered by the Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church.
“After much struggle, I was able to receive my high school diploma and now I have a degree in sight,” said DaSilva. “In addition to recognizing how far I have come, this scholarship will assist me with pursuing my academic goals.”
A graduate of Barbados’ Harrison College, whose notable alumni include former Prime Ministers Sir Grantley Adams, Owen Arthur, Errol Barrow, Erskine Sandiford and Harold St. John, Stephan Barrow is a fourth-year statistics student at the University of Waterloo.
“This scholarship will help me to pay for expenses in my last semester of school,” he said. “I am grateful for this assistance and I promise I will strive to continue to exhibit the level of excellence and faith that’s expected of me.”
Lauren Phillips enjoys kickboxing and volunteering.
“My passion for giving back comes from my older sister (Sonia Persaud) who volunteers around the world,” said Phillips. “She’s my inspiration.”
Persaud is a dental hygienist who has lived in the Cayman Islands for the last decade.
A graduate of Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, Phillips just completed her first year of biomedical science studies at Ryerson University. Her career goal is to be a medical doctor.
The other recipients were Tiana Knight, Melissa Maestra, Terese Mason-Pierre, Brittney Rackett-Campbell, Jermaine Rattray and Kyra Tyson.
Knight, who has volunteered with Father Ho Lung’s Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica, aspires to be a lawyer after graduating from York University and pursuing law studies; Maestra is a fourth-year communications, media and film student at the University of Windsor and Mason-Pierre is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s bioethics and English program.
Rackett-Campbell graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton and is pursuing child & youth studies at Brock University; Rattray is studying athletic therapy at Graceland University in Iowa and Tyson graduated from Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby and is enrolled in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s criminology and justice program.
The scholarships are presented in the name of Kathleen Jackman, a member of the Order of Dominican sisters, who came to Canada in 1979 to work as a Lay Sister at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1982 and died in January 1985, just eight days after returning to her native Trinidad & Tobago.
The scholarship program was launched 15 years ago.