BY SARA MILLER
On Saturday, June 18th, 2016, students were recognized for their academic achievements and community involvement at the fourth annual H. Franklyn Parker Scholarship Awards. Hosted at the Maple Banquet Hall in Mississauga, the evening was not only a night to celebrate with friends and family but also to bare witness on how dedication and the pursuit of education can forge a pathway to success. The H. Franklyn Parker Scholarship Awards was established in 2013 by Audrey Parker, a guidance counselor and educator at the Peel District School Board for over sixteen years. Named in honor of her father, who passed away in 1979, Parker wanted to give university and college bound students a smooth transition into post-secondary institutions.
The evening began with the master of ceremonies and Vice Principal at Castlebrooke Secondary School, Rasulan Q. Hoppie introducing honored guests in attendance with the help from the mistresses of ceremonies, Jasmeen Kabuli and Shameen Maggon. The honorees included Inspector Barry Dolan and Sergeant James Leadbeater from the Peel Regional Police, founding member of the Congress of Black Women Mississauga Chapter and Order of Ontario recipient, Madeline Edwards, Mississauga Trustee of Ward 5, Rick Williams, Peel District School Board Trustee, David Green and President/CEO of Plasma Management and Productions Inc, Flex Farley, who was a keynote speaker for the evening.
After a few words from Parker, the audience was entertained with a performance from talented artist Carlos Budd Ford, whose smooth and soulful voice got everybody in the room singing and jamming to the old school classics of Al Green, Luther Vandross and Smokey Robinson. Also performing that night was four-time JUNO award winner Exco Levi, whose reggae beats were applauded and well received by the audience. Additionally, the talented DJ Majesty also provided music well into the night.
The first recipient of the H. Franklyn Parker Scholarship Awards was Rotimi Ajasa, who will be attending the University of Toronto for accounting. An embodiment of hard work, Ajasa’s family immigrated to Canada from Lagos, Nigeria when he was seven and enrolled in Central Peel Secondary School in 2012. Since then, he has been a positive influence on everyone who meets him.
The second student to be awarded was Keanu Elliott, who is in his third year of studies at Carleton University and is pursuing a Bachelor of Art Honors Degree in Law. Elliott frequently gives back to his community, volunteering his time as coach for the Brampton Minor Basketball Association, which teaches twelve to thirteen year olds the basic fundamentals of basketball.
The fourth and fifth students to also receive awards were Paige Foster and Bryanna Hamilton. Foster is a graduate of Bishop Strachan School and will be attending an undergraduate program in heath sciences. She then plans to go to medical school in the future and become a forensic medical examiner. Foster, like the other recipients, is a committed individual who volunteers her time at the YMCA as well as belonging to several committees and councils at her school.
Hamilton is a graduate of Central Peel Secondary School and will be attending York University for Psychology and Linguistics. Her career aspirations for the future include a Clinical Psychologist or a Speech Language Pathologist. Inspired by her passion to help others, Hamilton is also a youth worker at her church and volunteers at the African Community Services of Peel and The Salvation Army.
Finally, the last student to receive an award for the night was Arshdeep Saini, a student at Central Peel Secondary School. An active member in his school and community, Saini can often be seen around the community helping and mentoring his peers. He will be attending Centennial College to pursue his career as an Automotive Service Technician.
Students weren’t the only ones who received awards that night, as several honorees attending the event were also recognized including Dr. Anthony Sterling, who received the Award of Excellence for his outstanding community involvement, Donavan Palmer, who received the Community Award and Madeline Edwards, who received the Award of Distinction for her dedicated services and involvement in the Peel Region.
“It gives me great pleasure to be honored at this event,” said Edwards. “I do hope that in the near future, I’ll be reading about you [students] being recognized as well.”
As the event came to a close, guest speaker and Brampton Trustee of Ward 3 and 4, Kathy McDonald spoke to the award recipients.
The recipients of the scholarships and others who may need some encouragement on their pathway to success can refer to her helpful tid-bits of wisdom. “Have a Plan. Brampton needs you. Peel needs you. Your community needs you. Canada needs you and in fact, the world needs you! I encourage you [students] to find your purpose and pursue it passionately. Do not lose sight of your vision,” McDonald said.
“Your path may change, but always do your best in every endeavor that you undertake.”