Celebrating Black Excellence at U of T

By Nicole Georges:

Ninety-seven Black students from the three University of Toronto (U of T) campuses, St. George, Scarborough and Mississauga, celebrated their graduation at the 3rd Black Graduation Celebration organised by the University’s Black Scholars community. Treasurer of the event organizing committee, Henry Ssali, says the initiative to recognize Black students should be picked up by other universities, “This celebration is necessary because it inspires young students, high school students, to follow the example of these graduates; they can see someone who looks like them, excelling in a variety of challenging studies, and aspire to that as well. We hope this will become a new culture by Canadian universities- celebrating Black student excellence.”

The Black Graduation celebration was established by several Black focused campus groups to highlight interdisciplinary achievements of black undergraduates, masters and PhD graduates. According to Ssali, research done in 2018 by McMaster University and McLeans magazine show that Black students are still under-represented at university level and less likely to complete their studies, hence the importance of recognizing the achievements of graduates.

“The Black Graduation event achieves a number of goals; it shows Black students that they are not alone on campus, and that they have support from fellow students and faculty; and it shows the progress the University is making in being more mindful of inclusion, and equity. We still have a ways to go to make Black students feel included in the university system, but hopefully events like this can show them U of T is a place for them,” he explains.

Keynote speaker for the graduation event, MP Celina Ceaser-Chavannes expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, and highlighted the importance of the event.

This year, the Black Graduation Celebration was held at the U of T Mississauga campus Innovation Center. The 2020 celebration will be held in Scarborough at U of T’s Scarborough Campus with an aim to inspire black students in that community to pursue university and graduate school studies.

#Black Excellence at U of T#Caribbean people at UofT