As the founder and director of Rising Scholars of Canada, I am often labelled as being an entrepreneur. However, I am more than just an entrepreneur—I am a female entrepreneur, an educator, motivator, community worker, and a dedicated learner.
Currently, I am enrolled in the Doctor of Education program, at the University of Toronto in the department of Social Justice Education. I know the immediate question which comes to mind is ‘Why’? Those who saw me work and study all hours of the day thought that I needed to take some time for myself—and they weren’t wrong. I did take some time off from being a student once I completed my Master’s degree, but I found that I couldn’t sit still. It simply wasn’t enough for me because I knew that I needed to find better ways to implement theory into practice. I wanted to find real meaningful ways to increase accessibility to quality education in our city and around the world.
Yes, I may have a big dream, but as Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” Without a doubt in many ways, I am an optimist but only because I genuinely believe in the work I do. In order to write this article I sat down and reflected on my five-year entrepreneurial and educational journey to this point. What I have come to realize is that there have been more failures than moments of success.
In 2014, I started my business with just three students. I had absolutely no business knowledge, no capital to market my services or invest in a property. However, I believe that when something is meant to be, the universe simply provides. I met people who believed in my dream and chose to invest in me because they saw potential. By the end of my first year, I was working closely with about 100 students from immigrant families, single-parent households, and marginalized communities. This number doubled in the next year and continued to rise exponentially, resulting in natural expansions.
However, in my third year of business, I faced a challenge so great that it almost destroyed me. I was wiped clean of everything and was left feeling lost, insecure, and completely defeated.
Rather than giving into failure, I found ways to motivate myself through my support system. Thankfully, my passion was far bigger and stronger than anything my nay-sayers could say or do, so nothing could stop me in reigniting my passion in order to provide my students with both the skills and tools they would need to succeed in life.
So, with a renewed spirit, I went back to the drawing board and created something bigger and better. I re-built my business, Rising Scholars of Canada, and reshaped the whole program. Today, this afterschool educational learning center not only offers homework help and tutoring services. It also offers writing workshops, leadership seminars, literacy enhancement services, online learning support, professional academic development, university and scholarship application assistance, with a special focus on training students to become young orators.
Most successful business owners know that the journey isn’t easy. In fact, failure is a word, a concept and a feeling I had to befriend right from the get-go due to numerous setbacks. Nevertheless, despite the number of failures that I have encountered, I keep working with kids because I realize this generation is unlike any other. With all this immediate access to information and technology, their mindset and behaviours are completely different. This is the reason I know I have to keep working tirelessly, teaching, learning and inspiring students in every way I can because they are our future.
At the end of the day, I have nothing but gratitude to all those people who believed in my dream because now I get to work with my students in such a meaningful way. Working with them has enabled me to believe in the possibility of everything, even on the really tough days. It is truly unimaginable to reflect on the obstacles I have had to overcome, but I persevere because in my heart I hold onto something much greater than hope.