Jayden Lewin’s heart got to King’s long before he did

Jayden Lewin's heart got to King's long before he did

In high school, Jayden Lewin visited King’s and Dalhousie’s campuses just to be around people “who were there to learn.” Now part-way through FYP, the 2023 Gordon Earle Scholar talks about life on campus as part of the King’s community.


Jayden Lewin is excited. He’s talking about the Foundation Year Program (FYP) and the King’s community, everything from the great books he’s reading to residence life and his part-time job in the Wardroom. As Lewin sees it, his beautiful dreams are being realized, his clear, determined plans are coming to life. “Life is the best it’s ever been for me, honestly,” he says. “Everybody has been extraordinarily open and welcoming. I found a group that’s truly amazing to hang out with and just be around. It’s a King’s community experience.”

“It’s challenging all the ideas I had about myself coming in…but the material is amazing!”


Lewin is the recipient of the Gordon Earle Scholarship, awarded to African Nova Scotian students who’ve demonstrated academic excellence. Formerly called the Prince Scholarship, the award was renamed after the trailblazing African Nova Scotian who was its first recipient, Dr. Gordon Sinclair Earle, BA’63, DCL’22.

“I got a random call from a number I didn’t know, and I almost didn’t answer. It was President Bill telling me I had been awarded the scholarship. I was in shock—and gratitude. I said thank you an absurd number of times,” he laughs.  “Before classes started, I attended [a reception] for the scholarship. I got to know past scholars and spoke with Gordon, the first recipient. He is an incredibly welcoming and kind man and speaking to him made me feel truly proud to receive a scholarship in his name.” Thanks to the scholarship, Lewin can live in residence and have the full-on King’s experience he’s cherishing, an experience that includes performing in the King’s Theatrical Society’s fall production of Yasmina Resa’s Art. And it’s no small thing that living on campus allows him to avoid a daily commute to class from his family home in Cole Harbour, N.S.

For Lewin, learning and academic achievement have always been top priority. “I was always a curious person, I wanted to know how things worked. I was encouraged to do so by my parents. And there is a looming idea that moves me forward—I want to have a family. I want my kids to have a better life, which both my parents did for our family. I’ve been lucky enough to never experience poverty, we were always able to keep our heads above water though narrowly at times. Both my parents worked hard to better their situations throughout my childhood.”

Lewin’s heart, it seems, got to university before he did. A few times in high school he walked around the Dalhousie and King’s campuses, grabbed a coffee, and sat and did some reading. “Just being around people who were there to learn was great,” he explains. “What I was looking forward to most was being around people who chose to be in school, who actually wanted to study.”

A university fair at his high school brought King’s into focus. “The King’s recruiter, Yolana Wassersug, [BA(Hons)’08] was amazing,” he says.  “I fell in love with King’s the way she described it. It sounded like the best of Dal and the best of other things with its small community. And with FYP I was going to be able to do what I wanted to do and really dive into the humanities.” A campus tour, where he met President Lahey, strengthened his interest. “Then I did some research and saw the very high rate of acceptance of King’s students into postgraduate studies. That clinched it.”

“Challenging,” Lewin says when asked to describe FYP a few months in. “It’s challenging all the ideas I had about myself coming in…but the material is amazing!” He finds the FYP community, his fellow students, amazing as well. “Even if I don’t have much to say about a text, I’m surrounded by others who will debate it at considerable length,” he laughs. “At times we’re an argumentative bunch but it’s phenomenal to get all the different perspectives on a text. It helps you learn to look at things more deeply.” Lewin singles out his primary tutor, Hilary Ilkay, BA(Hons)’13. “She’s been absolutely incredible in helping me understand the texts. She brings joy to my days and makes going to tutorial a truly wonderful experience.”

It’s no surprise that Lewin has his sights set on becoming a university professor and the next steps on his path are sharply drawn; he’ll do a double major in classics and Early Modern Studies and, hopefully, a creative writing minor. Asked where he can imagine himself going to graduate school, he’s quick to reply. “An absolute dream would be a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and then NYU or Columbia for my doctorate. I’d love to have a New York experience. My mom’s best friend and her husband, kind of my aunt and uncle, own a jazz club in Brewster, N.Y.—he’s Ian Hendrickson-Smith, he plays saxophone for The Roots. My dream would be living up there with them, working in the club as a bartender and going to school. I don’t know if I can make it, but I can dream about it—and shoot for it.”


Photo: Jayden Lewin (L) with Dr. Gordon Sinclair Earle (R)

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