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Partnership to expand program recognizing high-school student leaders

THE FACULTY OF Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa announced a partnership with the Canadian Future Achievers (CFA) program on Nov. 30. The partnership seeks to foster continuity of the program, which targets Caribbean and First Nations students aged 9–16, encouraging them to act as role models in their community.

“[The program] is there to compliment the efforts of teachers and many existing programs that are there to help students as a whole,” said Cynthia Bled, co-founder of the CFA and a former professor at the U of O. “We have categories of students who need extra support, categories we feel can benefit most from additional support which we offer.”

High-school principals have been directed to recommend students who demonstrate academic achievement and extracurricular involvement, and who are leaders in their community and school. These students are honoured by the CFA at events that occur here in Ottawa.

“It is not a one-year nomination,” said Bled. “Each year we stay with them [and] it has to be reconfirmed that they are maintaining their grades and extracurricular involvement. We give them prize packages every year until graduation, when they get a scholarship. If they have been a future achiever or role model for over a year, they get $1,000 toward their post-secondary studies.”

The partnership between the U of O and the CFA was created to ensure the program would continue to recognize student leaders across the country.

“We wanted to stay national and the University of Ottawa has prided itself as Canada’s university,” said Bled. “It is the most appropriate university here in the nation’s capital to serve as a hub for the program. Students right across Canada will be able to connect with us through the university.”

The U of O believes partnering with CFA could take the program further, by expanding it to a larger number of schools and students.

“The program has made some miracles since its creation in 2008,” said Marcel Mérette, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. “What we can do now is bring that program to another level and use our people with some competency in high schools and [with] students to expand the program to more young people.”

The U of O will use its resources to further promote the program using administrative reinforcement services such as human resources and technical support.

According to Mérette, the program will help build links between the university, high schools, and the community. He explained this program has done wonders for minority students, especially those who hadn’t yet realized their potential.

“A lot of young people have potential and talent but sometimes they don’t know that,” said Mérette. “This is the kind of program where [you] can reinforce that and say, ‘Listen, you’re someone. You have capacity to go further.’ I do believe this is a program to encourage [and] support young people coming from minority groups.”

Bled believes the expansion of this program with the U of O will help dispel the myths around post-secondary education being out of reach for some minorities.

“There is a certain image out there that can be improved,” said Bled. “These are the young people that are going to make that difference.”

To find out more or apply to the program, go Canadian-future-achievers.ncf.ca.

—Christopher Radojewski