At age 14, Candies Kotchapaw immigrated from Jamaica to Canada and enrolled in high school — upon arrival, her new school required her to take an English language test. Though she didn’t have any academic challenges, the school encouraged her to take applied courses.
Entering the applied stream made Kotchapaw believe that she would not achieve academic or professional success in the future. “For me, college and university definitely wasn’t something that I saw myself being able to do. It seemed like an unrealistic possibility,” Kotchapaw, now the founder of an organization called Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow Today (DYLOTT), shares. While she pursued college at her mother’s insistence, she struggled, feeling like she didn’t have a purpose.
According to Kotchapaw, systemic barriers such as academic streaming — a practice where Grade 9 stude
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