Life is quite hectic for Leonie Miller. But she doesn’t mind. The third-year University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) student has a full-time summer job and works part-time during the school semester at Tim Hortons to pay her post-secondary tuition.
Last Sunday, she took a break from work and study to receive a $2,500 scholarship at the Wolmer’s Alumni Association Toronto chapter’s annual fundraiser dubbed “The Great Luncheon Concert” that showcased Canadian rhythm & blues singer/songwriter and music producer, Jarvis Church.
While appreciative of the financial support, Miller was extremely delighted to be among alumni, many of whom graduated before she was born.
“Wolmer’s has been instrumental in shaping my life,” said Miller who played softball and volleyball in high school. “Discipline, hard work and respect for others are some of the things I learned from just being part of the Wolmer’s family and that’s why I will always be indebted to that school.”
Turning down Dalhousie University where she was accepted because of distance, she chose UOIT which offered a similar medical laboratory science program that she’s pursuing.
“Canada appealed to me also because it’s more of a family-oriented environment which is something I embrace,” the aspiring medical technologist said.
Miller was the recipient of the Cecile Evadne Robinson memorial scholarship donated by her daughter Jean Robinson who graduated in 1954.
Two other young Wolmerians were also awarded scholarships.
For the third straight year, Trent University sociology student Cornel Grey was awarded a $1,000 scholarship while Kyle Stewart, who is pursuing business technology management studies at Ryerson University, was presented with a scholarship in memory of lawyer Robert Van Kessel who succumbed to cancer last year.
Angela Pollard, a Canadian friend of Wolmer’s, donated the scholarship.
“I am grateful for this award and just happy to know there are people out there who care about youths and their academic advancement,” said Stewart.
Stewart was a member of Ryerson’s soccer team that made history this year by advancing to the Canadian Inter-university Sport (CIS) championship for the first time ever after capturing the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East Division crown with 12 wins and two draws.
A defender, Stewart – who aspires to be an information technology project manager – praised head coach/athletics director Ivan Joseph for the school’s success.
“He’s very inspirational and he plays some interesting mind games to motivate us,” said Stewart who dressed for 10 regular season games and started twice.
Several of Stewart’s family members, including his mother, grandmother, aunts and an uncle – former Third World Band drummer Willie Stewart – graduated from Wolmer’s.
Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School graduate Keanu Elliott, who is a first-year criminology and criminal justice student at Carleton University, was the recipient of a Wolmer’s $1,500 scholarship and University of the West Indies Bachelor of Laws student Francesca Tavares was awarded a $1,250 scholarship donated by Iranian-born Siavash Mizrahi who has been a major financial contributor to the alumni since 2005.
Wolmer’s also awarded six scholarships worth $7,000 to Jamaican-based university students Monique Kildare, Tashanna Walker, Givana Witter, Daunaree Jackson, Osaro Haye and Channece Kinlocke.
Jennifer de Four, the Wolmer’s Alumni Association Toronto chapter president, said the organization is committed to financially supporting the school and its students.
“It is clear that schools in Jamaica, not only Wolmer’s, are significantly under-funded,” said de Four who visited her alma mater last month. “It is equally clear that schools cannot be the best they can be without adequate funding to ensure good teachers are hired and retained, buildings are properly maintained, teaching materials are available and enriching experiences are made available to students. For Wolmer’s to continue fulfilling its promise to its students and its socio-economic contributions to Jamaica, the boys and girls schools require ongoing support from the alumni.
Established in 1729 when philanthropist John Wolmer bequeathed £2,360 for the foundation of a “free school”, the Wolmer’s Group of Schools now comprises pre-school and preparatory boys’ and girls’ schools, with an enrolment of almost 4,000.
Wolmer’s produced the late Rosemary Brown who was the first Black woman elected to a Canadian legislature; World and Olympic 100-metre champion Shelly-Ann Fraser; former Jamaican Prime Minster Edward Seaga and several West Indies cricketers, including Jackie Hendriks, Gerry Alexander, Maurice Foster, Jeffrey Dujon, Gareth Breese, Carlton Baugh and the late Ivan Barrow, Karl Nunes and Alan Rae.