While only in her first year of Brock’s Medical Sciences program, Rayan Ebadalla is already a role model for local high school students.
Ebadalla was recently honoured at Brock’s LEVEL UP: Black Secondary Student Symposium, which welcomed more than 150 Black secondary students from Niagara and Hamilton to the University’s main campus on Thursday, Nov. 23.
Hosted by Brock’s Human Rights and Equity (HRE) team, the symposium aimed to give those in attendance a glimpse into post-secondary life while also making them feel both welcome and comfortable on campus.
Along with speaking to visiting high school students, Ebadalla was on hand to receive the 2023 Future Black Female Bursary for Black Women in a STEM Program from Future Black Female and the General Motors African Ancestry Network.
She said the chance to see people who looked like her in post-secondary fields, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), was helpful as she began her own post-secondary studies and was the focus of the essay she wrote to apply for the award.
“As a young Black girl, I find myself being motivated and inspired when I see fellow Black women moving up the ladder and achieving immense greatness in their lives, especially knowing how hard we have had to work throughout the years to earn respect,” she said.
Alana Lowe, HRE’s Manager of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Education and Outreach, said she was excited to be in a room full of 150 Black students to celebrate and affirm them in a way they may not have experienced before.
“We want them to know that we see them, they matter and this community at Brock really wants them to succeed,” she said.
The group visited the University’s new Black Student Success Centre and Learning Services, while also connecting with additional resources across campus, including the Hadiya’dagénhahs First Nations, Métis and Inuit Student Centre, Career Zone, various student clubs and the Brock Library.
“We wanted them to learn about the resources and clubs that connect with various parts of their identity, both at Brock and at any post-secondary institution,” said Lowe.
As a member of the Sudanese Students’ Association, Ebadalla said she has found supports to help her flourish.
“There are a lot of people I know from the Sudanese community here at Brock and they are so helpful with advice on how to succeed here and connect with the resources I need,” she said. “Seeing people from my community is always an extra welcoming presence here.”
The aspiring dentist hopes her time at the symposium can be an inspiration for those who are following in her footsteps.
“I was a bit nervous to receive my award in public, but it gave me a chance to speak with the students and share about my own experiences,” she said. “By seeing me here at Brock receiving this award, they will know that they can also find success here, support their communities and thrive in competitive fields.”
To learn more about HRE’s initiatives and events to support diverse students, visit the HRE website.