BY: ASHELLY SMITH
“Have you ever reached the rainbow’s end and did you find your pot of gold? Ever catch a shooting star tell me how high did you soar?”
The scholarship recipients from the United Achievers Club, may not be able to answer the above line verse by Fantasia’s song ‘I Believe’ yet but they will surely be able to do so. On September 16th, 2017, sixteen students received scholarship awards to assist with their post-secondary tuition. They are as follows: Dana-Kaye Matthews, Mikaelia Miller, Candace Newell, Arinze Ochuba, Mary Osei, Maya Simon, Jenae Downes, Ronaldo Duke, Kareem Elliot, Victoria Ezekwemba, Kayla Goodbridge, Taylor Bogle, Rya Buckey, Victoria De Freitas, Zoe Lopez and Danell Wright.
At 6 pm at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, was the cocktail session. This session was a social and networking hour while drinking a glass of wine and listening to smooth music. All the guests waited in a queue to be seated accordingly. Soon, everyone was seated and were ready for the introduction of the Emcee, Jesse Jones.
‘Your Passion Can Be Your Life’s Work’
Those are the words Jones lives by. He is an innovator, brand builder, speaker, and influencer. He has made it his mission to help others tap into their own passions and actualize their dreams through their careers. Jones began to welcome special guests such as Peel Regional Police Chief, Jennifer Evans and the Mayor of Brampton, Linda Jeffrey.
Chief Jennifer Evans gave a few words to the scholarship recipients:
“I wish you all the best, take your time and have fun. Sometimes you get lost in your studies and forget to have fun.”
I agree. As the popular proverb says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
At last, it was the moment everyone was waiting for – dinner. The Caribbean jerk chicken was the Talk of the Town. It was just the right taste, at a minimum, the spicing included scotch bonnet pepper, and other spices. It wasn’t too spicy which was good because a lot of people would not be able to consume spicy dishes. The chicken had a hint of sweetness and was decorated with sprinkles of thyme. The chicken coconut soup was fairly good, a few guests commented that it was a bit too salty but nevertheless it was a tasty meal. Also, on the menu was Rockfish with a fresh black bean and mango salsa. Guests could have their meals with rice and beans or seasonal vegetable medley. Dessert was also another thing that guests went crazy for, it was all done in a split of a second. Apple pie, black forest cake, fresh fruits & berries were on the dessert menu.
Later, there was a cello performance by one of the recipients, Ronaldo Duke. His performance was sentimental as he performed ‘It Will Rain’ by Bruno Mars. The introduction of the keynote speaker was done by Majorie Taylor, a past president of the United Achievers Club. The speaker was Dr. Everton Gooden, Chief of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery at North York General Hospital. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Everton began his career at North York General Hospital in 2001. He recently received the 2017 Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award according to his biography in the scholarship’s program.
In his presentation, he mentioned that he struggled academically. He wasn’t getting the A’s or B’s, he was a below average student. But he didn’t let that hinder him from aspiring for greater achievements. He says: “As long as you continue to work hard, maintain your determination and commitment anything is truly possible.”
Gooden has followed through with his statement to be where he is at today. He said there were bad days and a lot of obstacles in his way but he continued to persevere until he became successful.
Finally, it was the presentation of the 2017 scholarship recipients by Kathy Mcdonald and Lucinda Sloley. I spoke with one of the recipients, Maya Simmons about how she felt receiving this award:
“After receiving my award, I felt proud. Proud to be a part of a group of young black people that have all the potential to change the world.”
When I asked her what significantly did she do to receive this scholarship she later shared: “For me, I believed that it was my volunteer work that stood out the most. I really like to focus on giving back to my school community to prepare younger kids for big changes in life such as high school. I go back to my elementary school twice a year to talk with the grade eight students about the transition into high school. I also volunteer a lot within the black community through events such as Afro Fest.”
Maya is eighteen years old who is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School. She is enrolled in the Media Info and Techno-Culture program at Western University.
Soon, the night was over with a splendid performance by Canadian singer Liberty Silver.
The United Achievers Club of Brampton is a non-profit organization established in 1980. For thirty-three years, the United Achievers’ and its partners have assisted approximately 370 students in their quest for higher education.
I’m proud to say, I was a past recipient in 2014 whose life this organization has touched. It was an amazing night and hopefully next year you will be there!