- Awesome and overwhelming were some of the sentiments expressed by beneficiaries of the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PDF) Summer Employment Programme/Jamaica 50th Scholarship.
- The forum, which brought beneficiaries of both programmes together, served as a celebration of the success of the initiatives.
- Outstanding GSAT students, Tatyana Palmer, Jermaine Spencer, and Taisha James all enthusiastically express appreciation for the Government’s investment in their development.
Awesome and overwhelming were some of the sentiments expressed by beneficiaries of the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PDF) Summer Employment Programme/Jamaica 50th Scholarship, who were recognised and applauded for their outstanding achievements, at a forum on August 28, in Kingston.
The forum, which brought beneficiaries of both programmes together, served as a celebration of the success of the initiatives, and gave the students an opportunity to interact and share their achievements, experiences and aspirations.
Outstanding GSAT students, Tatyana Palmer, Jermaine Spencer, and Taisha James all enthusiastically express appreciation for the Government’s investment in their development.
Tatyana, who is from the inner-city community of Allman Town, in St. Andrew, received a scholarship to fund her secondary education. She says she is particularly grateful for being able to attend the school of her dreams without financial hindrance.
“I don’t have to worry that much about my school fee being paid…when I have projects I know I can get the money to buy material to do it, and I have bus fare and lunch money,” she tells JIS News.
Jermaine, who hails from the seaside village of Johnson Town in Hanover, gives his commitment to ensuring that the PDF is proud of him.
“I had to work hard…attending Saturday classes and summer classes for GSAT, and putting my books in front of everything else, and it all paid off. I will work hard to retain the scholarship,” he says.
Taisha, who is from Norwood Gardens in Montego Bay, St. James, says she is very happy to get the scholarship. “To the staff at PetroCaribe, I would like to say a big thank you…I would like to implore you to continue to touch the lives of others, so that you can help them achieve their goals, because sometimes it’s not because they don’t have the ambition or that they are dunce, it’s because they don’t have the financial support,” she adds.
The tertiary scholars were equally upbeat, as they cited the significance of the financial support from the PDF.
Shanti Persaud is a Jamaican who is breaking new ground in the area of environmental research, at the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), as an environmental officer.
She has a first degree in geology, and a second degree in environmental management and planning, as well as a Masters degree.
“Without the scholarship, it would have been tremendously difficult to underwrite the cost of the degree. It makes a tangible impact in me reaching the next level, and being more equipped, academically and professionally, to execute the job that I would like to do here in Jamaica,” she explains.
For Tremar Samuels, who is pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of the West Indies, there was a doubt before being awarded the scholarship, due to financial difficulty. “When I got the Jamaica 50 scholarship, I was ecstatic…this is now an opportunity to become what I want to be,” he tells JIS News.
Olivia Rose was the first appointed sports psychologist at the UWI. She is now pursuing doctoral studies at the United Kingdom’s University of Leicester, as a distance student.
“It has been a very overwhelming, interesting and challenging journey. Nonetheless, I have persevered with the support of PetroCaribe. For that I am extremely grateful…I am forever grateful for the investment that has been placed in me,” the scholar shares.
UWI student, Shereda Mitchell, holds a Bachelors degree in Experimental Biology, with honours, and is presently pursuing a Master of Science degree in forensic science.
As to whether forensics are beneficial to Jamaica, and can make a change, she responds with a resounding, “Of course it can!” She explains that forensics are important to solving crime. “We all want a Jamaica where it’s not just a place to vacation, but also a great place to live, work and thrive,” Shereda says.
The Scholarship Programme, which was initiated in 2012, is the Fund’s contribution to the Government’s Jamaica 50 legacy programme. It targets the development of outstanding scholars and exemplary leaders, who will contribute to the country’s sustainable development.
Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in congratulating the awardees, encouraged them to align their studies not only to their personal preferences, but also to the 21st Century job market.
“We have to make sure that what we are studying has some practical application. It is very important, especially when resources are scarce, that the opportunities be balanced in order that we get the right outcomes that can help our country to grow,” he said.
The scholarships, which are awarded according to academic merit and financial need, is supported by a $210 million grant, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PDF, Dr. Wesley Hughes, informs.
He notes that the financial cost is “nothing compared to the potential reward to Jamaica, from the graduates who will stay, work, and make Jamaica the place of choice for their future.”
The programme funds courses up to a maximum of seven years for high school students, and a maximum of five years for tertiary students.
To date, 80 students have benefitted from scholarships. These include 20 GSAT merit awardees, 27 GSAT scholarship awardees, three tertiary bursary awardees, and 30 tertiary scholarship awardees.
Recipients must prove to be of exemplary character with leadership qualities, and represent the aims of the programme, which promotes meaningful commitment to national development. Beneficiaries are required to work in Jamaica for up to five years, after they have completed their studies.
Meanwhile, the Summer Employment programme participants also possess excellent credentials.
Romaine Clarke, formerly of Wolmer’s Boys School, who displayed outstanding leadership qualities during his high school years, achieved eight CSEC passes and eight CAPE passes. He is on his way to becoming a criminal psychologist.
“The experience was awesome…I wish all youth would get the opportunity that I had…I was given a key to unlock my personal door to success,” he tells his peers.
Described a conscientious worker, Kamar Marriott, a leader and motivator, is pursuing a Bachelors degree in medical sciences, with a major in nursing, at the UWI.
“It was a tremendous experience, because it has opened many doors of opportunity and given me experience in the world of work. This experience gives me the capacity to continue to lead and set examples for others to follow,” she says.
As part of its overarching objectives to develop human capital, the PDF in 2013 initiated the summer employment programme, aimed at providing employment for fifth form students up to the third year tertiary level.
The students have the opportunity to work between four and six weeks during the summer in a training oriented environment.
The Education Minister describes the programme as a “wonderful idea,” as most students need a period of apprenticeship in order to complement what is taught in the classroom.
“The goal of the programme is to serve as a young person’s first job experience and for him or her to gain exposure to various career industries…our goal is to introduce youth to employers who will positively impact their futures,” Human Resources and Administration Manager at the PDF, Angela Leigh explains. In 2014, the programme impacted 250 students.
The forum also saw motivational presentations by CEO of Future Services International, Yaneek Page, and 2014 Rhodes Scholar, Timar Jackson.