High School Graduates Commended by AJAA


High school graduates of Jamaican heritage in Ontario, Canada, have been lauded by the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations (AJAA) for their commitment to furthering their education.
President of the AJAA, Alene Miller-Chen, told the graduates that the AJAA is encouraging them on their path to higher education, as they are tomorrow’s leaders.
Ms. Miller-Chen was speaking recently at the AJAA’s 15th Annual Graduates Programme, held at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto, Canada, under the theme: ‘Helping Dreams Come True’.
The Graduates Programme is the Alliance’s way of saying “well done” to graduating students from Ontario high schools, who are of Jamaican descent, for making it this far in their education and also to give them encouragement to go further by attending university or college.
Congratulating the Alliance, which is an umbrella group for some 45 Jamaican past students associations, Jamaica’s Consul-General to Toronto, Anne-Marie Bonner, said the event was an excellent example of how “we can support our community, as its members continue to excel in this province.”
Noting that Jamaicans know and understand the importance of education as a prerequisite to success, the Consul-General told the graduates that, “notwithstanding all the talk about the few who can succeed without education, for most immigrants it is a passport to social mobility and success.”
“Even if a profession is not your choice, formal training and post-secondary qualifications will provide endless opportunities for productive employment,” Ms. Bonner said.
She congratulated the graduates, most of whom will be going on to university and college, and implored them to do their best to make their families and the Jamaican community proud.
Guest speaker, Judge Kofi Barnes, had some words of encouragement for the graduates.
“Education is extremely important; it is the very essence of our effort to succeed. No matter how hard it gets, do not lose that special fire that you have,” he said.
Judge Barnes, who originally migrated from Ghana, recounted an incident that happened when he was attending university and went to see a guidance counsellor. After explaining that he was interested in doing law or medicine, the guidance counsellor told him it was not possible and instead suggested a career in the arts or sports.
Nothing is wrong with those professions, he told the students, as long as you are good at what you do. “I wasn’t good at any of those,” he added.
“Believing in yourself is key. Never lose sight of what brought you to that university or college. You are in charge and you can overcome and succeed if you set your mind to do so,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of all the graduates, 17 year-old Yanick Allwood, thanked the Alliance and also all the parents who never gave up on their children. To his fellow graduates, he told them to “go out there and change the world.”
All the graduates received a Certificate of Appreciation from the AJAA, and some received bursaries sponsored by the Alliance, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) and JN Money Services.

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