Congratulations Dami Babs $5,000 Scholarship Recipient!
Congratulations Sophia Costa
$1,000 Scholarship Recipient!
Sophia Costa (Vincent Massey High School) Highlights & Achievements
The Vats Memorial Scholarship was created in honour of our loving grandmother. She was strong, compassionate, independent, and most of all full of love. She wore her heart on her sleeve and lived her life giving back to others. Sophia Costa exemplifies all of these qualities and more. While volunteering for multiple events and organizations throughout the years, Sophia is most proud of her role in the Vincent Massey Cancer Awareness Club and her recent election as Club President. While raising awareness about cancer prevention, she has collaborated with various organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, Hospice, Extendicare, Terry Fox Walk, and other local and national charities. Sophia’s kind-hearted character is evident in the awards that she has won: Christian Spirit Award – given to students who display kindness, generosity and patience; Guardians’ Give Back Award – given to students who have volunteered for various events through the school; Team Spirit Award – given to student athletes who demonstrate commitment to the team, and act as a leader and supporter to their teammates; Academic Excellence – given to students with the highest academic average who demonstrates a willingness to help other students.
Sophia’s reference letters truly validate her character. Her teacher states, “Sophia has a
compelling passion for life that burns within her. What caught my eye from day one was how that resonates; how tremendous it is; how it spreads like wildfire to those around her. It stays with the people she encounters long after her departure, leaving behind peace and a warm reassurance.” She continues, “Throughout my year with Sophia I learned so much. I saw living proof that one person can really make a difference. I learned how powerful kindness can be. I learned that leaders lead in a quiet manner and that their strength resonates far into the world around them. I learned that with people like Sophia in our midst, the future is bright. She is a rare treasure in this day in age. The path she takes and the people who will come to know her will truly be in the presence of greatness.”
Amy Zhu (Vincent Massey) Highlights & Achievements While adjusting to the academic and lifestyle changes that COVID-19 has created, Amy Zhu found a way to overcome the uncertainty and focus on how she can make a positive change. At the beginning, she decided to create handmade cards for senior homes across Windsor. This initiative led her to find new innovative ways to give back. She began to gather family and friends for weekly park and neighbourhood cleanups, continued as pen pals with senior homes and started to use her love for graphic design to create mental health resources for students struggling during the pandemic. Amy’s
initiative led to an invitation to speak as a Keynote Speaker at the Virtual Leadership and Stuck @ Home Conferences where she spoke to over 1,500 youth leaders from across the world and led multiple workshops, ranging from finding motivation to putting passions into action.
Amy has launched the Music for Change Leadership Program at her piano studio, where she combines her love for teaching, skills and experience in piano, and her passion for helping other youth develop self-belief and create community passion projects. Within just a few months, she was able to launch a beta version of the program, teaching music to youth students, while mentoring them on building their own community change project. By combining her passion for community impact with the clear demand for piano lessons in her area, Amy decided to create a program that would allow families to give back to less-fortunate students in her area with a buy-one-give-one initiative. In October 2020, Amy started the first virtual club with the Believe Initiative; The Believe Leadership Course Chapter where she mentored over 70 new student-led passion projects, ranging from student leadership podcasts to food drives and first responder appreciation initiatives.
Abigail Meloche (Tecumseh Vista) Highlights & Achievements Abigail Meloche is an extremely motivated, eco-friendly activist who prides herself on finding ways to promote environmental awareness and community accountability. She was elected Tecumseh Vista’s Minister of the Environment and served as the EcoTeam president while advocating to make the school more environmentally sustainable. In 2018, Abigail Founded the Tecumseh Vista Academy Community Fridge Initiative after discovering the paradox of food waste and food insecurity in her school and the greater community. After submitting a proposal to the principal, the school funded a mini-fridge for the cafeteria. Students and staff can now donate their extra food by putting it into the fridge, and anybody in need can take food from it. She states, “Anyone that is hungry, for any reason, whether it is a staff
member or student, and regardless of their financial situation, is encouraged to take food from the fridge. Through this inclusion of everyone, students in need are not singled out. This model allows those less fortunate to access the nourishment they need to excel in and outside of the classroom without having to face classism in the process. In the last two years, approximately 500 food items were donated, consumed and saved from being dumped in the landfill.”
Abigail is also the debate team president, a volunteer math tutor for students with learning disabilities or financial needs, and she has connected with the Mayor of Tecumseh to organize a tree planting
initiative in conjunction with her school board.
Abigail has achieved the rank of Warrant Officer First Class in her Air Cadet Squadron after being
involved in the program since 2015. As the top ranking cadet, she is responsible for creating positive
experiences for all 100 cadets, and has founded 2 programs in her squadron. She is currently organizing a discussion forum where Officers and senior cadets will discuss topics such as women in leadership roles, mental health support and inclusion for all cadets, in an effort to achieve consensus and allow a clearer path moving forward.
2021 BE A GEM SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
Damisi Babs-Olorunfemi (Assumption Catholic High School) Highlights & Achievements Debate club, TLLP Robotics, school choir, journalist and editor of the school newspaper…these are just some of Dami Babs-Olorunfemi’s achievements while maintaining an above 90% average. While representing her school at the largest high school ethics bowl competition in Ontario, Dami discussed and debated ethical issues ranging from vaccine distribution to teen vaping and weaponized drones. She was also part of the Youth in Politics pilot program to promote youth
involvement in community welfare where she proposed a system to replace the annual can drive with a continuous donation program to support organizations like Street Help and the Downtown Mission. She is also a committed volunteer at her church’s soup kitchen, Feeding Windsor. Dami’s greatest accomplishment is founding Assumption’s Allies for Anti-Racism group with her vice-principal. An ally group for anti-racism which will provide a safe and non-judgmental space for conversation and promote education of the history of discrimination as well as opportunities to celebrate culture and diversity in our community. She states, “This ally group was a way for me to turn the conversations into positive action. It is providing me the opportunity to take something that was overwhelming and make it more manageable by focusing on positive actions that can be taken. I am invested in doing as much as I can to make this ally group a staple of our
Congratulations Amy Zhu
$2,500 Scholarship Recipient!
Congratulations Abigail Meloche
$1,500 Scholarship Recipient!
VATS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT