Surrounded by excellence.

This year, IGNITE was thrilled to announce a new scholarship initiative to recognize outstanding leaders in the Black community here at Humber and the University of Guelph-Humber, the annual Black Excellence Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is our small way of saying thank you for the work you have done and to celebrate the strong leaders we are so lucky to have amongst us.

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IGNITE was honoured to award the following students with the Black Excellence Scholarship. Take a look below to see what they had to say about winning the scholarship, continuing their community involvement, the importance of this initiative, and their advice on how you can develop your own leadership skills.

So, without further ado, I gladly present you with this year’s Black Excellence Scholarship winners!

Casiah Cagan

What is your advice for those looking for ways to develop their own leadership skills?

“Learn to trust yourself and your abilities. I think it can be easy to be intimidated by the idea of leadership, but I truly think anyone can be a leader because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for what a leader should be or look like. Reflect on your passions and your strengths and start from there. Trust that you already have the foundation and then seek opportunities that will fulfil you and showcase the unique things you have to offer.” 

Chantay Thorpe

What kind of impact do you think this scholarship/awards like these make within the Humber & UofGH community?

“There is a preconceived notion among many Black students, that to be perceived as equals to their peers, they ought to work twice as hard and put in thrice the effort. Only after they have given their all, plus some, through ‘respectable’ self-deterioration, will society perceive their identities and passions as something that is excellent and not harmful. I hope this scholarship, and those like it, impact students in a way that reminds them that they are seen and celebrated.” 

Jamie Caine

What are your plans to continue your on-campus or community involvement?

“I plan to continue to be an advocate for Afro-Caribbean Black (ACB) students, especially those who have accessible needs, and those with various intersectional identities. I will support initiatives with the BASE, and other equity, diversion and inclusion (EDI) seeking groups through programming, as well as continue to provide peer support to my classmates.

Additionally, I plan to continue to be a radical agent of change within the community through my work with The Harriet Tubman Community Organization where I work with ACB children and youth to cultivate positive cultural identities. I also plan to continue volunteering with Ontario Trillium Foundation, supporting grassroots initiatives led by Black and Indigenous groups, who provide services and programming within communities across Ontario.” 

Meshanda Phillips

How does it feel to be a recipient of this scholarship?

“I am shocked and very grateful to receive this award, especially in a month that is known as women’s history month. This award means so much to me and I have to dedicate it to my late grandparents who taught me, at a young age, what it means to be a leader and what it means to serve and advocate for others. And to my mother, who taught me to never give up and to always be the best version of myself.” 

Taejah Noble

What kind of impact do you think this scholarship/awards like these make within the Humber & UofGH community?

“I think this would make a transcendent impact that inspires, motivates, and encourages students. There is a chain reaction associated with seeing people who look like you being recognized for positive things! It leads to motivation among students to stay committed and to persevere in the face of challenges, as they strive to act upon their inspiration in every endeavour.

Overall, these scholarships and awards encourage the broader community to look at Black students in a different light, which increases cultural diversity, as people’s perspectives expand through witnessing the aspiring leaders before their eyes.”

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Congratulations on being the recipients of IGNITE’s newest scholarship! And thank you for being amazing leaders, both on and off-campus, and inspiring your community. We can’t wait to see the work you continue to do throughout your time at Humber, UofGH, and into your future careers.

We know you’re going to make an impact.

*These interviews have been edited for length and clarity*

Learn about some of the ways that you can help support the Black community and become an ally by reviewing our Anti-Black Racisim Roundtable Discussions.

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