A head-and-shoulders photo of a smiling person.

When Shanell Roye arrived at Humber College, she was looking for community.

The international student from Jamaica found it with Black Student Support and Engagement (BSSE).

“When I arrived here, it was my first time coming to Canada and it was a bit challenging finding friends and community,” said Roye, who’s in her third year of the Civil Engineering Technology program. “I realized how important it is having spaces like this on campus. Not just for myself, but for other members of the Black-identifying community as well. It allows us to honour our rich history and celebrate the diverse cultures and significant contributions of our community.”

She’s made friends since joining BSSE early on in her Humber journey and leans on them frequently for support.  

One of the most impactful aspects of joining for Roye was connecting with BSSE coordinator Jemeisha Williams. Roye found she was frequently turning to Williams for her advice and guidance and said Williams was consistently going above and beyond to help her and other BSSE students.  

For example, one student was a little nervous about an upcoming interview for a work-integrated learning placement, so Williams organized a mock interview with several others to help the student feel prepared. They landed the placement in the end.

When Roye learned that Williams agreed to be a mentor, she jumped at the chance. When Roye was preparing for her new role as Chair of IGNITE's board of directors, she was grateful to have Williams as a mentor. It was support that proved valuable in both her personal and professional life. It's not something Roye will soon forget.

“To me, it was one successful Black person who wanted another Black person to succeed and put in the time and effort so it could happen,” said Roye. “I was able to relate to her and her experiences and I appreciate having a person like Jemeisha I could go to.”

Roye, who twice was a recipient of The Barrett Family Foundation Leadership Scholarship, knows how important it can be to have someone to turn to who has a shared lived experience as yourself. She served as a mentor in the First Year Experience, a peer mentoring program for Humber first-year students that pairs them with a Humber Peer Mentor.  

When she joined BSSE, she continued her work mentoring as a peer mentor for other Black-identifying students before moving into the program assistant role.  

“The space is not just only a place of relaxation and enjoyment or a place to turn for help during difficult periods but it’s also a space for students to develop personally and professionally. Having a space where your peers can go to be seen and heard and valued is important in creating an environment that fosters inclusivity.”

Roye took part in the Black Heritage Month opening ceremony happening on February 1 at Lakeshore Campus.  

Many events, workshops and activities were organized to recognize and celebrate Black Heritage Month at Humber. Visit the Black Heritage Month 365 webpage for more information.