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PhD in hand: She’s now Dr. Sabrina Jafralie

Egbert Gaye

That night, Saturday June 10, the hall was packed with relatives and friends, together with students, mentees and co-workers, all there to celebrate the achievements of a woman who chose education as a pathway to impact the lives of others and to build communities.
It was a night of salutations to Dr. Sabrina Jafralie.
And words of commendation were in free flow as one by one those who were touched by her contributions and impressed by her achievements and commitment acknowledged her. Included was a line-up of students who came forward and heaped praises on this lifelong educator for having changed the course of their lives journey.
Then there were the family members, aunts, uncles, cousins and younger brothers all of whom experienced Sabrina’s drive first-hand and offered powerful attestations.
But none were more poignant than those coming from her mom, Ms. Crystal Ross, who as a single mother bore witness to Sabrina’s unwavering desire to succeed, which is made even more special because of her humble beginnings.
Sabrina recently completed her PhD at McGill University with a specialization in “Teacher and Religious Education.”
Her dissertation, ‘The Challenges of Teaching the Religion Component of the Ethics and Religious Culture Program: A Study of Secondary Teachers in the Montreal Area,’ speaks to what she says is her dedication “to ensuring that teachers are better prepared for the Ethics and Religious Culture program, especially the teaching of religion.”
She started her educational journey at Willingdon Elementary School in NDG then securing a place at the prestigious Royal West Academy that lead her to John Abbott College and a place in Social Science Honors program.
She then completed a Bachelor of Education at McGill, specializing in Religious Education and History. Before moving to London, England, where she landed her first teaching job and lived for five years.
Upon returning to Montreal in 2008, she worked at Westmount High School and completed a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. She started working on her doctoral studies in 2012.
And along the way, Sabrina found time to contribute articles to this newspaper and do other work in the community.
She continues to teach at Westmount High School and lectures at McGill University in the Faculty of Education.
She lays all her success at the feet of:  “an incredibly supportive family, my mother, Crystal, grandmother, Bessie, and Aunty, Zalina. I am very thankful to my entire family. I also have been supported by the community and thank everyone who helped me.
As it has been from day one her path forward is clear.
“I truly hope that I can continue to make an impact on my students and my community. All of my education is to serve those who need it the most otherwise it will be in vain.”

Star student/athlete Natasha Roach leaves Cape Breton University with two newly minted degrees and a b-ball championship title

By Egbert Gaye

It’s not surprising to those who know her that Natasha Roach leaves Cape Breton University (CBU) coated in the glory of academic and athletic success. The young West Island student-athlete has been on that path since her days at St. Bernard Elementary School.
After five years, she leaves CBU with two undergraduate degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies (BACS) with a specialization in Sports and Human Kinetics and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).
And just as important, Natasha is also leaving with a much-coveted title in women college basketball: the Atlantic University Sport Championship, which she helped her team capture in March, defeating the Acadia Axewomen 79-61.
“It feels great to be part of a team and to win this title in my final year.  It has been an exceptional journey and a dream come true,” says the former Lindsay Place High School and John Abbott College star who went to CBU on a five-year basketball scholarship.
And as expected, she excelled on and off the court in her time at university.
After the 2013-14 season she was named an Academic All-Canadian based on an 80 per cent average in her courses and followed it up the next year by receiving CBU’s Relentless Pursuit of Excellence Award. This year, she copped The Most Outstanding Contribution To The Team Award. She also made it to the Honor Roll in the BACS program.
Natasha is quick to attribute her success to the unending support she received over the years from family, friends and coaches.
She remembers being introduced to basketball by Trevor Williams (former national team member) who was a coach at her elementary school. Then being mentored by Ms. Jaimie Guy, her coach at John Abbott, whom she described as “super motivating throughout my years in college and university.”
She also credited the experience and knowledge she acquired playing ball with the Brookwood Community Association team.
She won titles with John Abbott and Lindsay Place High, where her jersey is now retired.
Natasha says she made the decision early in her teens to go as far as her basketball skills would take her and was gratified when she received the scholarship from Cape Breton University.
She admits however to the trepidation that came with having to move so far away from home, friends and family.
“You see, I’m a daddy’s girl and was scared being so far away from him. But I knew he would always be there for me. Also, once I got to the campus and met so many girls who were also far away from home, everything was fine… we became sisters.”
Her message to other aspiring student athletes is to focus on education “because without it I couldn’t experience my dream of playing basketball at the university level.”
Natasha told the CONTACT now that she’s out of school she’s open to what good may come her way from either basketball or her newly minted university degrees.
But for now, all her plans for the future are taking a back seat to an extended European vacation starting in the Netherlands, where her boyfriend, basketball star Joey Liem, is from.
“Once I get back, I know I have a lot of decisions to make, but first I’ll try to find a good job (maybe with a bank). But I feel very good about the future.”


Ottawa-based hockey prospect earns scholarship
Jaren Burke poised to play ncaa Division 1 in the US

Contact Staff

Edmund Burke, who as a long-time Montrealer has developed a voracious appetite for hockey, was recently in a celebratory mood with the news that his Ottawa-based nephew, Jaren Burke, received a NCAA Division 1 scholarship to play at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, for the upcoming season.
Jaren is a 6’-3’’, 215-pound left-shot winger who played the last two seasons with the Ottawa Jr.  Senators and led them this past year in goals (29) and points (53), in 62 games.
The scholarship offers the 20-year-old Burke an opportunity to attend and play hockey at one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is listed as the nation’s oldest technological research university, offering studies in science, architecture, business, engineering, IT and web sciences, humanities, the arts, and social sciences.
He is quoted on the Central Canada Hockey League website saying: “The fact that I am going to have the opportunity to do that at RPI is beyond exciting. RPI gives me the chance to continue to chase my dream of playing professional hockey while graduating with a degree from a world class institution.”
Uncle Edmund, whose pride in Jaren’s achievements is overflowing, told The CONTACT that much of his nephew’s success is due to the commitment of Jaren’s mom and dad, Sharyn and Eton Burke, who played a pivotal role in his success.
“They were always there for him, driving him to play hockey in various arenas all over Ontario, Quebec and other rinks in Canada and even the U.S.”
The CCHL website also quoted Jaren’s coach of the Ottawa Jr. Senators, Martin Dagenias, bubbling with excitement about his future: “… as a staff, we are extremely happy for Jaren. We see pro potential in him, and know that RPI won’t be the end of his hockey journey. This kid will play pro hockey one day.”


Melissa Murphy
Concordia University
(Bachelor of Arts in English Literature)

On June 5, Melissa Murphy walked away with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, with a minor in Professional Writing from Concordia University. She is a former student of St. George’s School of Montreal and Dawson College.
Dedicated to creating a platform where authors of colour have the space and opportunity to curate honest and innovative literary content, this writer at heart hopes to one day own and operate her own publishing house. To see this dream come to fruition, she now has her sights set on enrolling in the Publishing program at Ryerson University in Toronto.
In the meantime, she continues to lend her talents to local blogs and authors, as well as being part of the Community Contact team.
Congratulations on this wonderful achievement.
We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Amber Felicia Tavarez
Concordia University
(Bachelor of Arts Major in Human Relations)

On her way to a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and/or Educational Leadership at Yorkville University.
“My plan is to become a youth counselor in hopes of being able to provide a helping hand to young people by encouraging and motivating them to strive for brighter futures. I believe life is about contributing something to the world. By obtaining this Bachelor’s degree it is the beginning of my journey to do exactly that.”
For the past two years, Amber has been part of the Community CONTACT team.
We congratulate her.


Kiara Hinkson-Belone excels at Beurling Academy

Contact Staff

On June 1, Kiara Hinkson-Belone graduated from Beurling Academy with honors, earning her International Baccalaureate Program certificate and the Birks Bronze Medal, as one of the school’s four top graduating students this year.
Kiara was also named class valedictorian and walked away with the female Athlete of the Year award.
She was accepted at John Abbott College into the Science program, but decided to attend Dawson College as she has been recruited for the Dawson College Blues AA basketball team. She hopes to eventually obtain degrees in both Science and Business.
Kiara, a true child of our community, is the daughter of Sabi and granddaughter of two community favorites, Gloria and Cecil, and her achievements have brought pride to her entire family and friends.
Her mom gushes as she heaps praise on the outstanding student athlete: “Kiara Tammah Hinkson-Belone, your first name means pride and your middle name means joy and that’s exactly what you are: my pride and joy. You are 17-years-old, and you have already made me so extremely proud, but I know that the best is yet to come. I know that in terms of your high school academics you strive to be like me, but your mission of being just like me at your age was unaccomplished, because you have surpassed me… I can only wish that I were that amazing at 17-years-old.
You are smart, beautiful and ambitious, and with these qualities, the sky is the limit… No matter what, continue to pursue your studies, because education is the key to true success… The journey won’t be easy, but I promise you that it will be worth it. Keep on shining, my superstar!”


Chastitie Greaves
McGill University
( Integrated B.A.-Nursing)

Chastitie Greaves came to Canada 13 years ago from the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2015 she graduated from the nursing program at John Abbott College and became a registered nurse. On May 30, she graduated from the Integrated Bachelors of Nursing program at McGill.
Today, Chastitie is a cardiac nurse clinician at the Jewish General Hospital.