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Making a difference to Scarborough students

Mary Anne Chambers addresses the audience at an Imani Mentorship Program recognition event on Saturday.

Hundreds of supporters came out to honour more than 60 UTSC students who have spent the year working with area middle school and high school students as part of the IMANI Mentorship Program.

“IMANI mentors and mentees are living examples of the transformative power of education,” UTSC Principal Franco Vaccarino said at the recognition ceremony April 6. “The program positively impacts lives for years to come.”

The IMANI program connects UTSC students with Scarborough high school and middle school students, focusing on Black community youth. Mentors meet with mentees weekly to provide academic tutoring and personal support.

“As an African-Canadian, I felt I wasn’t really pushed towards a university education,” says Kimberley Moore, a third-year political science and sociology student who was named Mentor of the Year. “It would have been great to have someone tell me ‘you have the potential and you should do it’. I wanted to do that for someone.

The program, which began in 2005, runs in partnership with the Department of Student Life, the Imani Black Student Alliance and the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club. Every year about 100 students are mentored through the program.

Moore, who is planning a career in social work, programs such as IMANI are an important way for students to apply the theories learned in class to real life. “Understanding how to interact with people and the world around you is the real test of what you learn at school,” she says.

Liza Arnason, director of student life at UTSC, says, “This was a chance to celebrate our successes, and to recognize all of the contributors who make the program such a success.”

In attendance was Mary Anne Chambers, a UTSC alumna and former Scarborough East MPP and Ontario cabinet minister. Chambers gave a boost to the program in 2007 with a generous donation, and recently agreed to renew the donation for another five years.

Also in attendance were program donors Celina Rayonne Chavannes and Vidal Chavannes. Celina Rayonne Chavannes is a U of T alumna and member of the U of T Governing Council. She is owner and president of Resolve Research Solutions, Inc., and was named the 2012 Business Entrepreneur of the Year by the Toronto Board of Trade. Her husband Vidal Chavannes is an educator who currently runs Chavannes Consulting Company, his own educational consulting firm.

© University of Toronto Scarborough