Sixteen “absolutely exemplary individuals” were recognized by the African Caribbean Cultural Potpourri Inc (ACCPI) at a virtual awards ceremony on November 20 celebrating excellence.
The awards program was founded by retired HWCDSB teacher Eleanor Wiltshire-Rodney in 1986 to reward and celebrate high school students of African and Caribbean heritage for their academic excellence and outstanding community service.
Since its inception in 1996, 274 scholarships and bursaries – ranging from $750 to $3000 – have been awarded to Hamilton students attending colleges and universities. Past winners have gone on to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, and talents in practically every discipline. A considerable number have maintained their commitment to community service after graduation and continue to contribute to a variety of organizations in this province and beyond.
Among this year’s luminaries are nine graduating students from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board: Oluwanifemi Adeoye (St. Mary); Leah Daniel (St. Thomas More); Paula Ewalefo (St. Jean de Brébeuf); Calin Gibson (St. Thomas More); Noah Matsakawo (St. Mary); Abygail Montague (St. Thomas More); Lisa Mtui (St. Jean de Brébeuf); Naomi Ngobila (St. Thomas More); and Teniola Odunfa (Cathedral).
“You have made a difference,” said HWCDSB Director of Education David Hansen in a videotaped congratulatory message. “Your service to our community, to your schools, to others is something that we are to celebrate.”
“You are an absolute example for all of us. You are our present and you are our future. Congratulations and blessings on all you’ve achieved, now and in the future.”
In addition to giving countless hours to community service, each of the award recipients has achieved high grades and was active in their school.
It’s an example that Hansen said not only inspires others, but serves as a powerful message of hope to the community.
He thanked the ACCPI scholarship awards committee for fostering excellence, and recognizing and rewarding excellence in youth, but most significantly, for living out its motto, “Lifting by Giving.”
“Congratulations on 25 successful years,” he commended ACCPI members. “And thank you for having us along on the journey.”HWCDSB Recipients:
Drs. Beach & Abdel-Qadir Award
Teniola is a graduate of Cathedral High School. There she was an Honour Roll student and a very active participant in the life of Cathedral High. From a shy, uncertain teenager she has become an extremely confident, artistic and intelligent young woman. She arrived in Canada from Nigeria and despite some personal challenges, has persevered with a passion and a determination to succeed. She became a member of the GLEE Club, featured in Christmas dinner performances for the Hamilton Police, raised money for McMaster Children’s Hospital, and was a member of the DIVERSITY club. In the Community she was very active, volunteering with Good Shepherd, Mission Services, Charity of Hope and YWCA Hamilton. Fueled by unfortunate experiences with poor healthcare systems, Teniola intends to become a doctor, and to serve with passion, commitment and integrity. Her enrollment in Biological Science at the University of Guelph is the first step on that journey.
Christine Joyce Boahene & ACCPI Award
Noah Matsakwao is a mature, highly conscientious, and talented graduate of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School. Noah maintained high academic marks which earned him Honour Roll status every single year. Noah is well known for his unwavering commitment to the community and his ability to inspire and motivate others. He leads with confidence exercising his interpersonal skills ensuring positive results in everything in which he is involved. At St. Mary, Noah participated in student council, athletic council, basketball, soccer, track and field, cross country, and volleyball. Outside of school, Noah has participated in many social justice initiatives such as We Are Silent, Life Chain, DeMazenod Door, and Christmas Adopt-A-Family. Noah is currently studying Medical Sciences at Western University.
Mervyn Jobity Award
Calin Gibson is a dedicated, driven, and accomplished honour roll student who graduated from St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. As an honour roll student for four consecutive years, Calin has demonstrated that she is a very hard worker and is not only committed to her academics but to her community. While at St. Thomas More, she was involved in various activities including volleyball, the diversity committee, the neuroscience team, the running club, the pilgrimage committee, and the badminton team just to name a few. Outside of school, Calin’s involvement in the community has awarded her with over 250 hours of community service hours. She has volunteered for organizations such as the Mountain Volleyball program, Canadian Blood Services and Mission Services, and the Janus Skills for Success where she served as the Chairperson. Calin is currently enrolled at the University of Ottawa studying Human Kinetics, she aspires to one day become a physiotherapist.
Pollard/Abrams & ACCPI Award
Lisa is a graduate of St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School. She has been an Honour Roll Student throughout her years at school. She has received an “all About Equine” award for her participation in biology and ecology trivia tournaments. Her extracurricular activity included membership in the Health and Wellness Council, Science Olympics, Ontario Envirothon and Junior Girls basketball. Lisa’s community service included being a robotics mentor, volunteering for Think Fast and the Walk for Christ Pilgrimage. Lisa aspires to a career as a data scientist. She is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering program at the University of Toronto.
ACCPI Founder’s Award
Leah is a graduate of St Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. She has been an Honour Roll Student throughout her years at school. She was a recipient of the HWCDSB’s Director’s Award for academic proficiency and participated in a number of extra-curricular activities including membership in the Robotics programming team, the Diversity Committee, the More Neuroscience and the Peer Leadership Club. Her community volunteering was stellar as she participated in Halloween 4 Hunger, Janus Skills 4 Success, and Parkview Church’s Food and Clothing Bank. Leah hopes to pursue a career in health sciences or engineering. She is currently enrolled in the Integrated Bio- Med and Health Sciences Bachelor’s Degree Program at McMaster University.
Appiah Law Award
Paula is a graduate of St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School. She has been an Honour Roll student throughout her years at school. She has participated in volleyball, track and field, the Knitting Club and the SJB Health and Wellness Club. Her community volunteering includes being a Sunday school teacher, assisting at Macassa Lodge and at the RCCG Food Bank. Paula aspires to be a nurse serving the Northern communities. She is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program in nursing at McMaster University.
Thelma Shervington Award
Abygail Montague is a graduate of St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. This honour roll student has spent countless hours involved in extracurricular activities. Abygail was the president of the Student Council, has captained the Hamilton Bengals Lacrosse Team and also participated in Track and Field. Abygail used her natural leadership qualities to improve the quality of life for all students with whom she interacted. She was a positive influence and support to her peers, was instrumental in making St. Thomas More a place that fosters inclusion and equity. Abygail was an active member of “Best Buddies” for special needs students. She displayed temperance, empathy, patience and fostered connections with the special needs students, giving them a chance to experience the very things that many students take for granted. Amidst a very busy schedule, she plays a pivotal role in her church community where she teaches Sunday School. Abygail is a student at the University of Western Ontario where she is studying Kinesiology.
ACCPI Gold Scholarship Award
Naomi is a graduate of St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. Her academic achievement was excellent. Naomi exhibited outstanding leadership not only in the St. Thomas More community but also in the greater community. She was actively involved in the student council, volunteered at athletic events, Sunday school and at St. Peter’s Long-Term Care. Naomi is caring, respectful and patient. In her leadership position in “Feed the Need,” she displayed exceptional qualities in organizing other volunteers. She went above and beyond to reach out to others, organizing rides, routes and food. She possesses a spirit of motivation that is second to none. Naomi is “a people person.” She enjoyed the experience of serving the community.
Naomi envisions a career as a human rights advocate. She has her sights set on International Law. Naomi is presently attending the University of Western Ontario.
ACCPI Platinum Scholarship Award
Oluwanifemi is a graduate of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School. She is an extremely conscientious student who excels in her academic studies. She has maintained honour roll standing throughout her high school career, challenging herself in the most academic courses. Oliwanifemi is an academic ambassador for St. Mary. This young lady has an incredible ability to balance her academics, extra-curricular and community involvement, achieving excellence in all that she does. Her quest for knowledge, her discipline and her unwavering commitment will cement her success. She is a gifted athlete, who always found the time to tutor students who needed additional support. Oluwanifemi selflessly spent countless hours volunteering at St. Joseph’s Villa and McMaster Children’s Hospital. Oluwanifemi is presently attending Queen’s University where she is pursuing a Bachelor in Health Sciences. She hopes to enter the medical profession.