Thursday, 7 September 2017

United Achievers Club and Jamaican Canadian Association Offer Scholarships to Postsecondary Students

By Neil Armstrong

Dr. Everton Gooden, Chief of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at North York General Hospital. Photo contributed

Even as the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) offering free tuition for more than 210,000 students in postsecondary education starts this new school year, two community organizations continue to grant scholarships to students of Caribbean heritage.

The United Achievers Club based in Brampton, Ontario and the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto will hold their presentations on Sept. 16 where 51 students will receive scholarship awards.

The United Achievers has been doing this for 33 years, and the JCA for 15 years.

In March when the government announced the new OSAP, Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, said the biggest change was free average tuition for postsecondary students from many low- and middle-income families, and more grants for most students.

“But we have also heard from current students that navigating the OSAP application can be difficult. With our new, user-friendly application, as well as our handy OSAP calculator, students now have the tools in hand to better plan for their future education and career paths,” she said.

Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, said one of the things the government wanted to ensure was that it removed barriers to postsecondary education.

Every year, both Caribbean organizations highlight the achievements of high school graduates who are embarking on their tertiary education.

Kathy McDonald, education officer of United Achievers’, says there has been an increase in the number of scholarship recipients – 16 in total – and she is extremely happy with getting black males to apply this year.

She said the students are not only focused on academics but are more world savvy about social justice and international issues.

From reading their application packages, she discerned that they were more deep, compassionate, mature and inclusive in their outlook on life, dispelling the belief that young people are not engaged.

One of the things she plans to do in the future is to organize workshops to help students applying for other scholarships available in tertiary education.

McDonald said postsecondary education is extremely important, regardless of the path that students take as it allows them to integrate with others when they leave home and move into university/college residence.

“It’s a rite of passage into adulthood,” noting the path that she took from being a scientist to a Peel District School Board trustee where she is applying the value of her postsecondary education.

Jamaican, Dr. Everton Gooden, Chief of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at North York General Hospital and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, is the keynote speaker at the United Achievers’ event.

He is a director of the North York General Hospital Foundation Board of Governors.
Dr. Gooden began his career at NYGH in 2001 and has served in a number of senior leadership positions including chief of staff, chair of the Medical Advisory Committee, president and vice president of the Medical Staff Association.
He has served as chair of a number of other important hospital committees and continues to chair the NYGH Foundation Physicians Campaign, which raised more than 250 thousand dollars last year.
Dr. Gooden continues to volunteer his time towards a number of community organizations and recently received the 2017 Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award.
Since 1984, United Achievers’ has awarded 370 scholarships and thanks its long-standing partners, like the Kiwanis Club of Brampton, for sponsoring a total of $109,000.

Adaoma Patterson, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, says the JCA is proud to host its annual scholarship awards that “recognizes and supports young people who are going beyond the ordinary and reaching for the extraordinary.”

“I salute this year's recipients and their families who have worked hard and made sacrifices to pursue education. These award recipients exemplify the excellence and perseverance that are the cornerstone of our communities.”

She thanked the donors for understanding “the importance of creating a village for our youth.”

Thirty-five students will receive scholarships this year. This will bring the total to over $546,000 awarded to approximately 540 students in 15 years.

Dr. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor of Brock University. Photo credit: Francine Buchner

 Dr. Gervan Fearon, who assumed the new position of president and vice-chancellor of Brock University on Aug. 1, will be the keynote speaker at the Jamaican Canadian Centre.

Previously, he was president of Manitoba’s Brandon University from 2014 until the end of July 2017. Before that appointment, he served as provost and vice-president (academic) when he arrived at Brandon in 2013.

Dr. Fearon was dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University.

[This story has been published in the NA Weekly Gleaner, Sept. 7-13, 2017 issue.]

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