New program gives high school students an early university experience in Brampton

Published January 30, 2024 at 3:50 pm

New program gives high school students an early university experience at Algoma University in Brampton: Algoma LEAP program

This school year, 50 Mississauga and Brampton high school students began their first day of school at a university campus, thanks to a new program offered by Algoma University in Brampton.

In September, Algoma University launched their new Learners Early Access Program (LEAP) with the Peel District School Board. The free program is designed to help grade 11 and 12 students, particularly those belonging to groups often underrepresented at universities, transition more easily to university life.

The students in the LEAP program are able to take university courses for credit while still completing their high school classes in a dedicated space on Algoma University’s downtown Brampton campus.

University course options include Intro to Canadian Business, Introduction to Esports Management, and Computer Applications, and the post-secondary credits can be transferred to any college or university.

With the first run of the program wrapping up, Algoma University is set to host an inaugural graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 30 for the first cohort of LEAP students.

Algoma University President and Vice-Chancellor, Asima Vezina, says having a university campus right here in Brampton can help bridge the gap and change people’s lives.

“We’re giving Peel students an opportunity to find their passion and get credit for it, from designing mobile apps to learning about the business of Esports,” said Vezina.

“Most importantly, we’re helping young people see they belong on a university campus. We know many of these students will be the first in their family to go to university — and we know that the first is rarely the last.”

The program is designed to facilitate easier access to post-secondary education for Black and Indigenous students, who are currently underrepresented in Canadian universities.

The goal is to address this underrepresentation and bridge the educational gap for these two groups.

The university says students in the first year of LEAP have been excited and optimistic about their future academics, like high school student Shemaiah Uwaifo, who hopes to become a research analyst and own her own business someday.

“[Algoma’s business course] has been a great help because it’s given me insight into what the actual business world looks like,” said Uwaifo.

“My experience with the LEAP program to date has been wonderful,” said Johnathan Hermitt, another student in the program.

“I love it here – the staff, the faculty members, everything is great here. To anybody who wants to get into the LEAP program, I would just tell you to go for it.”

LEAP Student Well-Being Advisor Shanecia Elias hopes to see more students feel welcomed in the program.

“The partnership [with the Peel school board] not only lets people know about Algoma and all the great supports that they have, but also see that the Peel District School Board is making sure students feel welcomed and really well acclimated in their district.”

With the LEAP program’s success so far, plans are underway to expand the program to 300 students by early 2024, including students from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

The LEAP program isn’t the only way Algoma University aims to support racial minorities in the community – their Gabegendaadowin program works to bridge the understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, among other similar programs and services offered by Algoma.

Aside from their work as an ally for truth and reconciliation, Algoma University is best known for having one of the best computer science programs in Ontario as well as a new graduate program for computer science undergrads working to get their master’s degree.

Other programs offered at the school include MarketingAccountingFinance and Economics, Community Economic & Social Development, and a unique Aviation program that allows students to take to the sky and earn their pilot’s license.

For more information about everything Algoma University offers, visit the school’s websiteFacebookTwitter and Instagram pages (@algomau and @discoveralgomau).

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