HOW IT ALL STARTED
Early 2011 when Celia Meikle read a Globe & Mail article called “The Myth of the Brainy Immigrant” she was floored by what it was saying about her own community. According to the statistics, only 23 per cent of children of Latin American and Caribbean descent in Canada go on to tertiary education.
Celia contacted the reporter and asked, “could this really be true?”, then she was directed to a professor at the University of Toronto (U of T) who confirmed the troubling statistic. The professor explained that part of the reason for this low statistic could be attributed to the lack of “cultural capital”. That refers to the system or network of influence that sets a student up for success. It also refers to the attitude and knowledge parents pass on to their children, which they need to get ahead in life.
Celia, who is a chartered accountant, decided she needed to do something to increase that cultural capital. She visualized a forum in which both students and parents are given an opportunity to explore educational and other leadership opportunities that will help build them into solid, contributing, influential citizens of Canada.
With the support of her pastor Dr. Barrington Smith of Kingdom Life Ministries and a group of four other professional women, The Excellence Conference was born.
- To instill in our children (from an early age) a spirit of excellence that moves them from a place of mediocrity and simply getting by
- To expose our children to “best in class” professionals within our community
- To introduce our children to extracurricular activities that build and shape their leadership skills, confidence and self-worth
- To provide insights from experts within the school system on what to do to standout and achieve academic success
- To create a forum for parents of Caribbean descent to discuss issues that affect the educational success rate of their children
- To Introduce students of Caribbean descent to a variety of professionals from the Caribbean – Canadian community who in turn, expose the students to an assortment of rewarding career options that they may pursue
WHO IS IT FOR?
The Excellence Conference is aimed at students between ages 11 to 21 and their parents. It features successful members of the Caribbean community who will be on hand to give career advice and guidance, touching on things like career path, level of education required, scope for upward mobility, and critical success factors for owning and operating your own business. The conference is absolutely free.
Students will get priceless information and access to trades-persons, doctors, vice principals, university professors, lawyers, business owners, journalists, engineers, banking and finance professionals, graphic designers and more.
The conference goes beyond helping students make the best educational choices; there is also a parent session. The conference features a Teacher Panel made up of teachers from the Peel and Toronto District who are of Caribbean descent. The Panel discusses issues of interest to parents eg , availability of bursaries, how to fund your child’s education, navigating the school system etc.