ACE Program helps students achieve limitless potential
Being from the Jane and Finch community, Talisha Ramsaroop has always been surrounded by negative stereotypes.
“When you’re from Jane and
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Finch, higher education and opportunities aren’t what people think of when they think of you,” Talisha says.
There were times, she says, when these stereotypes made her question her self-worth. There were times when she never thought she would have the opportunity to go to university. And there were times when she never dared to imagine she would ever make an impact on her community.
All she wanted was just to finish high school. She was an absentee student and didn’t dare to dream of higher education.
But everything changed for Talisha when in Grade 11, she enrolled in the ACE (Advanced Credit Experience) Program in 2008. It was then that — for the first time ever — she finally imagined herself going to university.
Supported by the Peter Gilgan Foundation, the ACE Program gives high school students from the Jane and Finch region a chance to experience life at York. The program was the push that Talisha needed.
She credits the ACE Program with exposing her to the option of going to university as well as giving her the skills that prepared her for higher education. But more than anything, Talisha appreciated being surrounded in an environment with supportive and caring adults who were invested in her success.
“During the program, I looked around me and I thought, ‘Ok, I can actually do this. I can see myself here,’” Talisha says.
Throughout the program, she developed confidence and started to believe in herself.
“The first assignment I did, I think I got a C,” Talisha recalls. “But I felt so confident that I could pass a university-level class at the age of 16.”
“Throughout the years, we have seen the life-changing impact that the ACE Program has on young students,” says Nastassia Subban, ACE Program Coordinator. “This program allows students to see what tremendous potential each of them has. They see that university is a possibility and that there really are no limits to what they can accomplish.”
Luke Gilgan of the Peter Gilgan Foundation says, “We believe strongly in providing a ladder of opportunities to all young people – regardless of the circumstances of their birth – so that they may thrive and become the leaders of tomorrow. The ACE Program fits squarely into our vision of support towards a greater good.”
These words ring true for Talisha. The year after finishing the ACE Program, she enrolled at York, completed her undergraduate degree, earned a Masters degree, and eventually committed her career to inspiring local youth to pursue a post secondary education.
Today, Talisha is a community project coordinator at the York-University-TD Community Engagement Centre (TD CEC) and connects with local high school students to empower them to pursue their dreams.