The pandemic hit Munir Raza hard, but he was determined to follow his dreams.
The Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training student was engaged in community work even before he enroled at Humber College and experienced many situations where people were in distress. He wished he had the skills to help.
“I saw the skills the paramedics and firefighters had to help people in an emergency. I came to learn about search and rescue, and this piqued my interest in firefighting,” he said.
Raza didn’t see himself in the first responders he observed, but he believed the fire service was his calling.
By early 2021, Raza was studying to become a firefighter at Humber. Unfortunately, his student loan was late, and he struggled financially.
But good news was coming: Raza learned he was the recipient of the Verrall Clark Memorial Scholarship and the Motorola Solutions Foundation Leadership in Action Scholarship.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation recently established the Motorola Solutions Foundation Inclusivity Scholarships for First Responders at Humber. The scholarships support twelve students from traditionally under-represented groups in the Police Foundations, Paramedic and Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training programs.
Motorola Solutions Foundation’s gift includes two different scholarship groups: recruitment scholarships for six new Humber students and leadership scholarships for six current students, including Raza.
“I was ecstatic when I found out,” he said.
It's a feeling shared by many Humber students, beyond the half-dozen Motorola Solutions Foundation scholarship winners. The college offers a wide variety of scholarships that make post-secondary education and training more accessible.
A perfect fit
When Associate Dean Joanna Amirault and her colleagues in the Faculty of Social and Community Services were applying to funding opportunities for students in the faculty, she was encouraged to see that the Motorola Solutions Foundation had unique funding opportunities for under-represented groups and first responders.
“Many of the opportunities apply to our sector and support the diverse group of students who apply to our programs. We were looking to provide opportunities for equity-deserving people,” she said.
“For any student transitioning into post-secondary education, there’s a lot of financial pressure, but in the context of the pandemic, we know that equity-deserving communities have been more deeply impacted.”
Much like the rest of the country, Amirault says that the faculty has seen a need for increased diversity in the public sector and increased awareness of first responders’ impact on the community. Humber students come from diverse communities, and their presence and participation in the classroom positively impacts students, faculty and eventually, the entire sector, she says.
The right direction
For Alexandra Kaske, another recipient of the Motorola Solutions Foundation Leadership in Action Scholarship, being recognized was validating.
‘It helped me recognize that I’m taking actions that are having a positive impact in my community. It made me feel confident in myself,” she said.
The recent Police Foundations graduate is transferring into the Bachelor of Criminal Justice program in September.
“I’ve experienced the power that first responders have on the community and individuals’ lives. I wanted to have that opportunity to work with my community and have a positive impact,” said Kaske.
Learn more about scholarships at Humber College here.