When Runako Gregg was in his last year of high school, he wanted to encourage black students toward post-secondary education. So he and a friend, Ike Okafor (BA 2003 NEW), spearheaded the Tan Furu program, which links black high school youth with student tutors at the University of Toronto. Tan Furu, which means “persevering through adversity” has expanded to several high-risk schools in the Greater Toronto Area. And this January, students at U of T’s Mississauga and Scarborough campuses joined the program.
Mentoring is an important byproduct of the Tan Furu tutoring, says Gregg, now in his third year of a double major in political science and history at U of T. “When you’re with the same kids every week you form a relationship, a bond. The kids feel comfortable enough to be able to ask us questions about university, and we’re there to give them guidance and advice.”
There are other ways that Gregg – who is also president of the Black Students’ Association (BSA) – provides guidance. Last September he helped the BSA and student groups at York University and Ryerson University organize a rally to raise awareness among black students that university is within their reach. “There’s a myth circulating in a lot of high schools that U of T doesn’t have any black students,” says the 21-year-old, who plans to go to law school after completing his BA. “For us to be able to say that we organized this rally and had it on our campus says a lot about the black presence here.”