Centennial College graduate Shereen Ashman wins Premier's Award for her community work

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2022 /CNW/ - Shereen Ashman, a 2004 Centennial College graduate turned social entrepreneur and community champion, has received a 2022 Premier's Award for her outstanding contributions in the field of community services.

Shereen Ashman (CNW Group/Centennial College)
Shereen Ashman (CNW Group/Centennial College)

Over the past 15 years, Ashman has led startup non-profits to drive socio-economic development in Black communities by creating programs tailored for youth and entrepreneurs. Growing up, she wanted to pursue art and teaching, but her path took a violent turn in 2002 when she was shot, sustaining a serious leg injury. During her recovery, she sought to comprehend the reasons for the mass shooting by men from her community.

"It was a pivotal time for me, looking for answers," Ashman had remarked in media interviews. She learned the answers might be found in social service work, so she enrolled in Centennial's Social Service Worker program just weeks after her cast came off. "My first therapy was my college education. Faculty spent extra time with me, helping me to understand the community through self-reflection."

Her college education became the catalyst for her career path. To mould the future practitioner, advocate and social change agent, Centennial gave Ashman an immersive field placement at WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto, where she worked as a volunteer coordinator for 16 months. She recruited volunteers in 109 roles across 65 programs by promoting the positions to youth, new immigrants and business groups.

When the "Summer of the Gun" saw an unprecedented number of gun-related murders in Toronto in 2005, Ashman was one of the voices promoting more supports and opportunities for Black youth. She became a community champion advocating trauma-informed care, accessible supports, cultural competencies and responsive programming that guides at-risk youth towards education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Today, Ashman is the Director of Programs and Education at CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, turning a Black-led non-profit she co-founded into a multimillion-dollar charity with national reach. She is the architect of the CEE Centre's career training and development programs for youth aged 18 to 29.

Ashman has become an outspoken advocate of equity, inclusion and social justice. She co-produced a documentary for the BBC Radio Short Cut Series exploring gun violence from the perspective of a survivor, and was featured as part of CBC News' HERstory in Black report. Ashman met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as part of a special #howshehustles roundtable discussion during International Women's International Day 2019.

Launched in 1992, the Premier's Awards recognize the outstanding achievements and significant economic and community contributions of college graduates. Seven recipients are chosen from nominations submitted by Ontario's 24 public colleges each year. The province partners with Colleges Ontario to administer the awards.

About Centennial College

Established as Ontario's first public college in 1966, Centennial College primarily serves the Greater Toronto Area with five distinct campuses. It is known for its exemplary teaching, innovative programming and extensive partnership building. Centennial offers more than 400 diploma, certificate, graduate certificate, apprenticeship and degree programs in business, media, arts, community and consumer services, engineering technology, health care, hospitality/tourism and transportation. These programs, delivered in class and online, promote experiential learning with laboratory instruction, co-op education and industry placements. Centennial enrols 25,000 full-time students and 18,000 part-time learners annually.

SOURCE Centennial College

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