It takes Toshiba Alexander almost three hours to commute daily between her Brown’s Town community in St. Ann and Knox College in Clarendon, Jamaica.
Despite the gruelling travel that sees the high school student leave home as early as 5:30 a.m. and return at about 6 p.m., the teenager is always full of energy and prepared for classes and other school activities.
Alexander was rewarded for academic excellence, leadership potential and perseverance with a trip to Toronto last week to participate in the annual Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP) for high schoolers at York University.
“Toshiba is one of our rising stars and a student leader in our school,” Knox principal, Dr. Gordon Cowan, told Share. “A bit quiet, reserved and calm, she’s a lovely lady who is extremely bright. Though she comes from a financially challenging environment with hardworking parents and she travels a long distance to get to school, Toshiba never uses that as an excuse. She performs at a high level in school every day and that says a lot about her character.”
One of six children, Alexander said she was excited to be part of the program that offers Ontario and Caribbean high school students an opportunity to explore critical concepts and skills in successful leadership in Canadian and international contexts with special emphasis on cross-cultural communication and team building.
“I enjoy being a leader in my school,” said the aspiring pediatrician who was presented with a computer at a pre-Mother’s Day community event in the city last Saturday night. “I take great pride in leading the way and I am looking forward to learning a great deal from this program and also the interaction with other Caribbean and Canadian students. I am so happy to be part of this initiative.”
Alexander was among eight Jamaican high school participants in this year’s program. The others were Tiffany Byrd of Excelsior Community College, Abbika Gordon of Edwin Allen High School, Akili Samuels of Rusea’s, Javoni Brissett of Charlie Smith High School, Mykoll Finikin of Manning’s, Crystal Witter of Manchester and Romario Williams of Glenmuir. Yvonne Lewis of Knox was the chaperone.
Williams was the only student who had travelled outside Jamaica previously.
“This is a fantastic opportunity that I am definitely going to seize,” he said. “I am going to make it count for me.”
The EGLP is a two-and-a-half day all-expenses-paid workshop initiative for 50 of the most dynamic, energetic and visionary high school students from Ontario and the Caribbean.
Students from Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago also took part in the program that helps students grasp an understanding of the most important concepts in career planning and reflect on their strengths and areas of growth.
The Canadian Bureau of International Education recognized the program a decade ago with the Outstanding Program in International Education award.
BY RON FANFAIR