Editor’s Note: As we celebrate African Heritage Month in February, we’re proud to spotlight some of our own people, Black culture, contributions, and history. Here, we meet Deon Ejim, a senior sociology student from Brampton, ON, who has become involved in the campus community as a Black Student Peer Mentor and is a varsity athlete, the co-captain of the StFX X-Men Basketball team, which last year won the national silver medal at the U SPORTS championship. Mr. Ejim plans to play professional basketball after StFX (he played professionally last summer with the Calgary Surge) and is interested in a career in teaching, mentoring and coaching.
Bringing people together: Meet StFX student Deon Ejim
Bringing people together, connecting and creating community is important to fourth year StFX sociology student Deon Ejim.
Mr. Ejim, a Brampton, ON native, arrived on campus last year after graduating from Lewis University in Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in entrepreneurship. With an eye toward a future career in teaching, mentoring or coaching, he’s continuing his journey in sociology to help him understand the world and to use that knowledge to help in his future.
But first, Mr. Ejim, a forward and co-captain of the X-Men basketball team, which last spring won the silver medal in the national U SPORTS championship (he was a 2023 second team AUS All-Star), wants to pursue professional basketball for as long as he is able. This past summer, he was drafted and played professionally with the Calgary Surge in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, a team he’ll return to again this coming summer.
He'll finish his university days with two degrees, one from StFX and one from Lewis University (he transferred to the school after three years at the University of Illinois at Chicago) and says this education will help him better prepare for a future career.
He came to StFX last year for many reasons: for education, for basketball, and for a new start—“2022 was a tough year,” he says. He lost his brother that year and with the significant impact of this loss, he was struggling with mental health issues.
His high school basketball coach, Tyrell Vernon, now head coach of X-Men Basketball, encouraged Mr. Ejim to come to the university so he could build a better future for himself.
“I say coming to StFX kind of saved my life. I was really sad, and far away from home and I felt disconnected.”
At StFX, he reunited with his former coach, and also former friends and players from his high school days who now suited up for the X-Men. “I knew they were good people. They helped me grow while I was here.
“I found my love for basketball again.”
Outside of basketball, he says his cousin and then-StFX student Aliyah Fraser (she graduated in 2023 and also played for the X-Women), helped him find himself on campus. She pointed him to various resources and helped him connect with other people. “She really helped me feel part of the community.”
He wanted to be that helping hand for others.
This year, serving as a Black Student Peer Mentor, Mr. Ejim says he really likes mentoring and being an advocate for fellow students, bringing his experience to the role, and helping plan events.
“I like the fact that I’m able to bring resources to people who need it. It really makes me happy. And to see the community come together because of an event I made, and that maybe makes their time at StFX better, that really makes me happy.”
Along with this role on campus, Mr. Ejim has also helped mentor youth attending StFX basketball camps and, through the StFX basketball team, he’s been selected to participate in local elementary school visits to read to and to talk with students.
Having events like African Heritage Month are important, he says, especially at school communities where students are all coming from different backgrounds. It’s important to have time set aside to learn about other cultures and to advocate for what could be better in the future.
“We’re all learning about everybody’s culture. We don’t want to leave certain things untold or not known about,” he says.
“It’s also good for black students to feel like they matter and that they have community and something to look forward to, and to feel I’m at StFX and I’m not alone.”
Not only for black students, he says many students care about different cultures and inclusivity and these events and celebrations are important to bring people together.
“I encourage people to come out to the events and learn about the culture.”