When Sheyla Abdic made the solo trip to Toronto from Austria to pursue her studies at York University and start a new life, she never thought she’d also find herself smack dab in the middle of an emotionally and mentally troubling situation. No, not that 12 page, single spaced, fully annotated paper, but rather, the firsthand discovery of the stark divide between the haves and the have-nots.
Through media and gossip, Sheyla was starting to have a not-so-pretty picture painted of an area nearby known as, Jane and Finch, a troubled neighbourhood rattled with stigmas and stereotypes. She explains, “Being a naturally curious person, I walked into Driftwood Community Centre at Jane and Finch and began to volunteer my time in order to observe the dynamics of everyday life myself”. She began mentoring the ‘Girl’s Club’ and observed the sub-culture within the area drenched in fear and accustomed to fighting to survive, literally. “There have been many occasions in which one of my girls would start crying, just because of hunger pain. Behavioural problems were prevalent absolutely every single day. Children simply cannot concentrate in school or during play.” The lack of funding and constant struggle to meet the basic needs of the children at Driftwood, gnawed at her subconscious.
Meanwhile, to support herself, Sheyla was using her exceptional academic talents to tutor children from upper class families ready to dish out the dinero for their kids. By putting herself through school by tutoring and scholarships, she understood the enormous power that education has and how it can transform a person’s life. Although everyone has the potential to become a success, not everyone has the necessary means or opportunities.
“I began to ask myself, what if there was an after school program in place that could help Toronto’s high risk youth with their studies by using the same quality tutors that wealthy people would pay for, to volunteer their time, keeping them engaged in academics, while at the same time providing them with financial assistance for their hard work…” So Sheyla developed, The Ace Project which does exactly that and is under the umbrella of her company Ace One Tutors which launched officially after winning a 2011 nation-wide competition for female entrepreneurs called, “Start Something with Alesse”. While pursing her goals towards medicine, Sheyla keeps herself busy with tutoring and The Ace Project.
“I believe it all comes down to not only the choices that people make, but most importantly the opportunities that are presented to them.” Thanks to her initiative and innovative idea, more children will have a leg up on that ladder to the top with an ace up their sleeve.
For more info e-mail Ace One Tutors at: email@example.com
Posted by Samira Zia Rehman