Catholic students among TD scholarship winners

  • May 25, 2011

TORONTO - Tiffany Harrington spearheaded a school initiative to send sleeping mats made out of plastic milk bags to orphans in Haiti. Her efforts saw 12,000 milk bags — and counting — collected, which are then crocheted into the mats.

This community spirit helped Harrington, a Grade 12 student at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in Oshawa, Ont., win one of 20 TD Bank Scholarships for Community Leadership. Harrington, Miranda Dela Cruz, a Grade 12 student at Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, and Wei-En Wong, a Grade 12 student from St. Robert Catholic High School in Thornhill, are the only winners from Toronto-area Catholic schools.  

Each of the 20 scholarships is valued at up to $70,000, which includes up to $10,000 per year for tuition to a post-secondary institute in Canada and up to $7,500 for living expenses and books. In addition, winners are also offered guaranteed summer employment with TD over their four years of school.

“TD scholarship winners are an incredible group of young Canadian teenagers who have already positively influenced the world around them in so many important and socially conscious ways,” said Frank McKenna, deputy chair of TD Bank Group. “The TD Scholarship for Community Leadership recognizes not only the best in young community leaders but demonstrates how much of a difference one person can make.”

For Harrington, the milk bag project is only the tip of the iceberg in lending a helping hand. Proud of her aboriginal heritage, she has served as Métis youth representative at local and provincial events. And inspired by the respect for her elders in the aboriginal community, Harrington founded the Cross-Generational Exchange, which has included a “take your senior to school day.”

“I wanted to share the same experience with non-aboriginal youth and senior citizens in order to break down generational stereotypes as well as fostering bonds of respect,” Harrington told The Catholic Register.

Tiffany Harrington spearheaded a school initiative to send sleeping mats made out of plastic milk bags to orphans in Haiti.Harrington said her faith has driven her to be so active in her community.

“Service to the community is truly one of the manifestations of God’s love for us but also the duty that we have towards human beings,” said Harrington.

Harrington will use her scholarship funding to attend McGill University in Montreal in September to study economics and Canadian studies.

As for Dela Cruz, her community work started with the Out of the Cold program at St. Patrick’s Church in Toronto. A parishioner at Prince of Peace parish in Scarborough, Dela Cruz said her faith has influenced her community work as it has driven her to want to reach out to those in need.

In 2009, she founded her school’s environmental club, Libermann’s Soil, which acts as the soil — or foundation — for the greening of the school. The group is currently raising money to bring solar panels to the school to provide some of its energy needs.

“The power actually goes towards the energy grid of our area,” she said. “So it doesn’t only benefit us, but it benefits our community.”

And she will be using her scholarship winnings towards a degree that will keep on giving to those around her: she’ll be going to York University for international development studies in the fall.

“I want to learn more about other countries, their economies, how they are getting up on their feet and how certain things can be changed to help,” she said.

Wong created a club at his school called GigaRams where students refurbish old computers and donate them to underprivileged communities.

To date, they’ve sent them to those in need both locally and overseas. He said he was inspired to start the club upon hearing about students in his own school without computers.

“I had a very keen interest in computers and I thought, if I could take junk computers, fix them myself and give them away for free, it would probably solve that problem.”

He is still deciding on whether to attend the University of Waterloo for computer science or McMaster University for business informatics and computer science.

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