Education student receives prestigious Prime Minister’s Award

Brock Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (BECE) student Ala Mohamed wants to make sure that no child is left behind, advocating for children of all abilities and needs to be included and supported in their education and beyond.

Mohamed was recently recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, receiving a Certificate of Achievement for her work with YWCA Hamilton.

The award honours Mohamed’s deep commitment to inclusion for children with exceptional needs.

“I love motivating families and being there for them when they need it most — when they have faced challenges based on the needs of their children and are looking for quality child care that will provide the support they need,” she said.

In her role as Children’s Services Manager at YWCA Hamilton, Mohamed works with the Ministry of Education, City of Hamilton and community partners to oversee various programs providing quality child care to the community.

Despite her many responsibilities, Mohamed always makes time to engage with the children enrolled in YWCA Hamilton programs. During summer camps, you’ll find her out on the basketball court or soccer field playing with the kids. A highlight for her is watching children enjoy each other’s company and seeing educators take part in the fun.

“Seeing kids be independent and valued for who they are, that is the most rewarding aspect of my job,” Mohamed said.

Looking to build on her knowledge and experience, Mohamed began Brock’s BECE program in September. She also holds an Early Childhood Education Diploma from Mohawk College.

For Mohamed, the fully online delivery of the program was a game-changer.

“Many of us in the program are full-time educators, so meeting virtually allows us to expand our learning in a way that works for our schedules. We have lots of interaction even though we are virtual,” she said.

Mohamed aims to root her professional practice in theory and expand her knowledge with critical understanding of issues and trends in early care, enhancing her work and helping her to better support her team.

Although science is a passion of Mohamed’s, as the daughter of an ECE who helped with her mother’s day care, her heart is with working with children. Through her studies, she has been able to combine her interests by exploring the science behind early childhood education.

Another BECE course of particular interest to Mohamed is Indigenous Culture and Early Childhood Education. Deeply committed to truth and reconciliation, Mohamed is eager to learn more about Indigenous culture and embed this knowledge in community programming.

Mohamed said her award was dedicated to everyone she has worked with in her professional journey, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been working hard to create a sense of belonging and well-being for the children; every ECE deserves an award like this,” she said.

She hopes her recognition will help shape the public perception of ECE’s and help them to be seen as educators.

She also hopes the award will ignite further conversations about how educational settings can support children with exceptional needs to create a more inclusive future.

“This is just the start of my journey, I hope I can continue to inspire people and advocate for our profession, and for all children,” Mohamed said.

Sandra Della Porta, Associate Professor of Educational Studies and Director of the BECE program, said Mohamed’s award rightfully brings appreciation to ECEs’ imperative work with children.

“They are the heart and soul of children’s worlds, biggest supporters of young families, and contribute significantly to the increase of women in the workforce,” Della Porta said.

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