BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
The sounds of live music, food and a room full of proud people. The Malton Black Development Association held its 40th annual Scholarship Awards Dinner recognizing ten young, powerful high school students chosen to receive post-secondary scholarships.
The ten students chosen for the scholarships were all residents of Malton, Mississauga, and attended either one of the two high schools in the town. The students are using their scholarships to pursue careers in areas such as child and youth work, psychology, health studies, practical nursing, general arts and science, marketing, computer systems technician and more.
Shenoy Mackenzie, Joshua Dasilva, Nadira Suckoo, Victoria Cato, Makaela Hiddo, Jessica Ajose, Jeramy Moran, Jean-Pierre Witter were among some of the recipients of this year’s scholarship awards. They spoke about their experiences with signing up for and receiving their scholarships.
Ascension of Our Lord Secondary students Victoria and Nadira thanked their teacher for her support and persistence for getting them to sign up for the scholarship. “She even emailed us during the summer,” said Victoria on the importance of her teacher’s involvement.
The rarity of being the winner of a scholarship is also what made the experience more special for the recipients. “I felt really good being selected for the scholarship because I knew a lot of students were applying for it too,” said Jean-Pierre.
Malton, also known as a portion of the city of Mississauga, has often been referred to as a distressed community, consisting of a mix of diverse immigrants from around the world. Scholarship winner Victoria also added that the Association helps encourage a better lifestyle for the students in Malton. “Especially with Malton being predominantly West Indian, Caribbean as well as Asian, it’s like really cool that there’s somewhere we can go and learn about our heritage and where we come from, and then be supported in that for a higher education as well,” said Victoria.
The students also ensure others looking for scholarships understand that relationships with their teachers are important ways to become involved. “The relationship with your teachers is a good stepping stone towards scholarships,” said award recipient Nadira Suckoo, as it was her teacher who notified her of the opportunity.
Director of The MBDA Clovalyn Wilson, addressed the crowd while proudly representing the association. “The Malton Black Development Association has been serving the community for over forty years,” exclaimed Clovalyn. “Tonight we congratulate the rising stars and able leaders in our community.”
She was also sure to commend the awards recipients and their families. “These scholars have each expressed a commitment to higher education, and a willingness to engage in their communities.”
She talked about humble beginnings and how the association developed to the point where it is at now. “So, the organization was actually founded by a few people who came from different Caribbean islands and saw that there was a need to support the young students in our communities. They saw that there were some disparities in schools, just advocating through the system, so took it upon themselves to help these families, and it’s been on since 1975.”
She also added that the association primarily relies on donations and volunteer members. In terms of the MBDA and their recent efforts of awareness, Clovalyn explains, “we’ve been doing a lot more networking over the past few years just to let people know what we are doing.”
“We want them to see other youths who are doing things and being successful, and that will in itself help to promote the youth and events,” she adds. The guests attending the event were also specially invited as ideal influencers for the scholarship recipients as Clovalyn announced, “in our room, we’ve really made sure we’ve invited guests who are successful in their field”
Others present at the event included in the awards presentation were speaker Nina Hailey Dixon who is especially known for her role in the community as a youth activist. The event was hosted by Ryan Gurcharn who is a heavily involved community member.
The MDBA plans to hold an upcoming gallery at the Malton Community center to showcase the work of students and raise donations for the association’s next scholarship recipients.