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Access Award launches Cathedral's Ebun Soneye on path to success

She’s not only a "force of wind," but after winning a $10,000 annual Access Award to McMaster University, Ebunoluwa (Ebun) Soneye is “unstoppable.”

In a poem written in honour of Day of the Girl Child 2019, the Cathedral High School student spoke of the need to keep the fire burning, the spark alive and the light lit within.

“Now is your time to shine,” she wrote. “You will become who you want to be and not what you are told to be.”

It was advice that she took to heart, especially the importance of getting a good education. That education has now become more accessible – and worry free – thanks to the Access Award which will fund the next four years of her undergraduate degree studies. The award was launched by McMaster University in 2019 to support promising students in pursuing their dreams.

Ebun is not only a promising student but a prized student who has already made a difference at her school and in her community. For the past two years, she has been an active member of Cathedral’s Breakfast Club and Diversity Club (for which she received a “Rising Star” Award), has volunteered at numerous school events, has represented Cathedral at the Hamilton Justice Education Network’s Mock Trials, the Black Female Lawyers’ Network’s Sistahs in Law Retreat and the McMaster Student Union’s CLAY Leadership Conference, lent her voice to a McMaster-sponsored “Designing Canada” Masterclass, participated in and won the HJEN’s Twitter Moot, volunteered 452 community service hours and, up until the school closure, was a co-op student at the Superior Court of Justice Family Courthouse – all the while maintaining honour roll status.

Her experiences will stand her in good stead as she pursues the next phase of her ambitious plan – a degree in Social Work with a minor in peace studies. Ebun hopes to continue on to law school and become a human rights lawyer.

“I have a passion for helping out members of my community in any way that I can and the exposure I’ve had to witness forms of social injustice is what has fuelled this passion,” she said. “The social work program at McMaster is really one of the best programs to launch me towards the path I intend to follow.”

Those who know Ebun don’t doubt that she’ll achieve each and every one of her goals.

“She is a very bright young woman who often asks higher order thinking questions and is very good at applying information learned to real world applications,” said teacher Patricia Valeri Tortis of her former law student. “She is very enthusiastic and engaged in her studies and I know she has a bright future ahead of her.”

It’s a bright future that Ebun herself has set in motion through “hard work, support from my community and help from God.”

Congratulations, Ebun, and best wishes in your future endeavours.

You will be the difference.

To the girl child
A poem by Ebunoluwa Soneye
(Printed with permission from the author)

You are stunning, incredibly exquisite
You don’t need a man to define who you are
You don’t need to look a certain way to be loved
You don’t have to hide your true self to belong

An epitome of grace and elegance
You are amazing
Born free you weren’t made to slave
You’re a force of wind
You’re unstoppable
You always rise from the ashes
Your flaws do not define you
They highlight your beauty
They show your achievements

As you stare at your reflection
Get up from the muddy ground
Dry your tears child
Brush the dust off your clothes
It’s time to smile

Now is your time to shine
You will make a name for yourself
You will excel more than you ever imagined
You will become who you want to be and not what you are told to be
You will get an education
You will gain the skills needed to succeed
You are a decision maker
You are a life changer

You will be with the individual you desire
You will get the equal pay you deserve
Your anatomy will no longer be a barricade to your success

The world needs one thing from you
The one thing that should never be taken from you
We need you to keep your fire burning
We need you to keep the spark in your eyes alive
To keep your passion alive
To protect whatever makes you happy
We need you to protect it

For as long as that light in you exists, you will forever be dynamic
Your voice will be heard
You will make a difference
You will be the difference

Access Award launches Cathedral's Ebun Soneye on path to success