Higher education is a priority in Christa Lee Jonathan’s home.
The 21-year-old Mohawk woman who lives on the Six Nations Reserve will graduate from McMaster University this year with a goal to become a medical doctor.
Simultaneously earning their degrees will be her sister and her mother, Yvonne Bomberry, both past Education WORKS Champions.
This year, Yvonne nominated Christa for the honour.
“Christa has always been a positive role model in the Six Nations community,” said Yvonne.
With high standards set by Yvonne, who always promoted the value of education to her daughters, Christa was an early achiever.
A self-described Type A personality, she never needed much motivating to excel at school.
But Yvonne said it wasn’t always easy for Christa, who faced obstacles inside and outside of her community.
“She deals with discrimination and prejudice of our people throughout her academic experience,” said Yvonne. “Christa also continues to deal with peer pressure from our community as many of our young people are involved in drugs, alcohol and teenage pregnancy.”
Christa said that among her Grade 8 graduating class of 24, she may be the only one who finished high school on time and is poised to graduate from university.
“It was a challenge to remain on track,” said Christa. “There is peer pressure to just go out and have fun. I’ve had to deal with many deaths. I’ve lost a lot of close friends and family members.”
Always eager to pitch in, Yvonne used to call Christa “my little helper.” Even as a child, Christa knew she wanted to become a doctor.
She focussed her high school education around that goal, taking the necessary health-related courses and excelling at her math and science studies.
Christa completed a placement at Brantford General Hospital where she worked in the day surgery unit, gaining valuable mentorship from the staff there.
Now in the final year of her honours sociology degree at McMaster University, she spent last year studying abroad in Leeds, England, becoming the first youth from Six Nations to participate in the MacAbroad program.
That experience allowed her to travel throughout Europe and beyond.
Christa has written and passed the Medical College Admissions Test and applied to three medical programs in Ontario.
In the meantime, she continues her university studies, works three part-time jobs and acts as an Aboriginal mentor at McMaster.
She is also a volunteer with the Let’s Talk Science program that is delivered to elementary school students on Six Nations.
She attends health-care conferences for Aboriginal people and has sought out Aboriginal doctors as mentors.
Christa received financial help along the way from the Grand River Post-Secondary Education Office and from university scholarships. Emotional support comes from family and close friends.
“We were raised by a single, hard-working mom who taught us to be very independent and driven.”
Photo by Brian Thompson, Brantford Expositor