Major honour for Seaway student

IROQUOIS – There were over 2,700 applicants from Canada alone for the 2023 TD Scholarships for Community Leadership. Only 20 students are chosen for the unique honour. Each of those 20 students will receive up to $70,000 for tuition and living expenses at college or university, as well as opportunities for paid summer employment, peer networking and mentorship.

One of the recipients of this highly prestigious TD Scholarships for 2023 is a graduating student from Seaway District High School in Iroquois, Eshal Ali.

Ali has devoted much of her academic career to the service of others in her community, and her hard work and perseverance have been recognized and honoured with this scholarship. While she was notified in late March of her success, “May 25 was the official announcement by TD in Toronto at a special ceremony.”

Needless to say, Eshal and her parents, Beenish Adalat and Farman Ali, were “totally thrilled to hear the news,” Eshal said. “For me, it was almost beyond an honour, almost surreal. I did the application process, but I really had no idea that I might win. My Dad went with me to the official ceremony in Toronto.”

The Scholarship recognizes and honours students who “put community leadership first,” willing to support change, nurture progress and contribute to making the world a better place.

Eshal Ali has been involved in her community from her earliest days in elementary school. Her parents encouraged her ambitions. In their family business, “I often met and talked to people about what was important, and what they felt was needed in our community. When I got to Seaway, everything grew ten-fold. I had so much more exposure to special activities and new ideas.” She threw herself enthusiastically into, or spearheaded, special projects at the school, and also wrote for the Seaway Scoop, in The Leader.

She helped set up a district wide student-led Equity and Inclusion Committee, which brought together students from each of the high schools, from K-8 classes and from T.R. Leger to address equity.

“We created working groups,” Eshal said, “which included a lot of different topics, like race and religion, LGBTQ2S+, and we brought in speakers and special guests to talk to students.” She presented an idea for a Rainbow Pride Crosswalk at Seaway to the council of the Municipality of South Dundas.

At the same time, she also took on the duties involved in being a student trustee with the Upper Canada District School Board. “That was a great job. I learned about a lot of issues, and was exposed to many points of view from those of the board, to the students, even provincial attitudes. I was able to connect with other student trustees in a network, and got a well rounded view of education and the links between education and the community. I was a trustee during the tough times of COVID, but I was able to look at what was needed to promote student mental health. Sometimes,” Eshal laughed, “I felt a bit like I was wearing multiple hats.”

She also took the opportunity to become a co-op student in medicine at Winchester District Memorial Hospital, an experience which may have helped her to decide on her career choice. She will be entering the Queen’s University Honours Health Sciences course in the fall. “I want to continue to help others to be healthy and happy. And I guess, I’m just a scientist at heart.”

Hers will be a challenging course: four years of study to begin, and then an additional four more years in medicine.

The TD Scholarship will be hugely helpful. The grant provides $10,000 a year to the academic institution for academic expenses, and a $7,500 stipend for the student towards living expenses and transportation. Through the summer employment programme, Eshal hopes to make new connections with like-minded scholars, and to continue to make a difference.

“I loved it here at Seaway, the teachers and the students,” said TD Scholarship honouree Eshal Ali. “I am really going to miss this school, but I intend to keep up all my connections. And I hope to continue to make an impact on the world. For me, community really is everything.”

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