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Community Social Services student Taejah Noble wins prestigious scholarship

Photo of Taejah Noble

Community Social Services student Taejah Noble understands how crucial community support systems can be for a young person’s development – or even their survival.

Looking back at her own life, Noble can’t overstate the importance of community programs and organizations, which helped to give her much-needed support, encouragement, and opportunities that would have otherwise been out of her reach.

“I am a byproduct of support systems — I would not be here without them,” Noble says. “I probably would be dead, to be quite honest with you.

“I’ve been the beneficiary of community support since I was 10 years old. I was lucky enough then to go through programs to help young Black girls build their self-esteem, their character, and their identity. As soon as I got to middle school and found leadership programs, I gave that a shot. That continued through high school, joining different councils, speaking on behalf of the student population, and participating in extracurricular activities.

“This community involvement and support has been a mainstay throughout my life. The University of Guelph-Humber is a continuation of that.”

Where Noble once enjoyed the benefits of community support, she is now on the other side: a devoted volunteer and community leader who is deeply concerned with making a difference in the lives of young people.

For that, Noble has recently been recognized with the Nahom Berhane Scholarship for Leadership and Inclusion.

The scholarship is awarded annually to young people who demonstrate a commitment to community leadership, mentorship, and volunteerism, as well as making an overall positive contribution to life in the Greater Toronto Area.

Finding a career in community

Now in her third year, Noble initially chose the University of Guelph-Humber’s Community Social Services program because she saw that it opened up pathways to several different careers that appealed to her, including education and social work.

Noble’s interest in education partly stems from the influential and supportive role teachers have played in her life. She was grateful to find a similar support system at the University of Guelph-Humber.

“I was really drawn toward the tight-knit community at Guelph-Humber,” she said. “I’m a community-oriented person. That’s the way I learn. This program seemed like it would accommodate my learning style and be the best environment for me, so I gave it a shot.

“I’m so glad I did. It’s been amazing.”

Noble didn’t originally expect to get involved in University campus life. To that end, she has surprised even herself. She took part in the First Year Experience program and she spoke at the Community Social Services’ annual See | Change Symposium.

“It was amazing to have the opportunity to speak at that event and share a bit of my story and mental health struggles to hopefully inspire other students,” she said.

“I thought when I came here I was going to put my head down and just focus on getting my degree, but to see all of the opportunities that have opened up — it’s truly mind-blowing.”

After she won the Nahom Berhane Scholarship, Noble took the time to research its namesake, a community development and outreach worker who was killed in Toronto in 2014.

The story resonated with Noble. It was also a reminder of the power her own story might have to inspire others who are facing adversity.

“I just hope that anyone who hears my story can be reminded that there’s purpose in pain,” she said.

“I share my story and vulnerability because I really hope it might encourage others to just keep going on despite whatever they’re going through.”