Shantel Williams, an aspiring information and communications technology (ICT) teacher, is the first successful recipient of the inaugural Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) Tertiary ICT Scholarship.
In an interview with JIS News, she expressed joy at getting the opportunity to realise her dream of furthering her education.
The soft-spoken 19-year-old, after delaying college for two years owing to financial difficulties, embarked on her studies this year in October, albeit late, at the Church Teachers’ College, in Manchester.
But after only a week at the institution, she was forced to put her studies on hold, as the funds she had expected from the Students’ Loan Bureau were not confirmed.
The teenager, who lives with her brother and mother who does janitorial work to provide for the family, has since obtained a one-year deferral from the college and will resume her education in the 2021 academic year.
In the meantime, Shantel has been volunteering at Glenmuir Preparatory School in Clarendon.
“This scholarship means so much to me to continue to pursue my education, and knowing that my family is struggling, this is very important to me and I promise to do my best,” Shantel told JIS News, following the scholarship awards ceremony, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, on November 17.
Shantel was among a group of recipients, including 28 top-performing male and female Primary Exit Profile students islandwide, who received educational support from the Universal Service Fund (USF), through scholarships and grants.
The Fund had invited and is still appealing to PATH high-school students who are pursuing studies in the field of ICT to apply for one of the five new PATH scholarships that are available for this year, but, so far, only Shantel has triumphed.
“I am very excited; it’s kind of a surreal moment. I can’t believe I got it,” Shantel told JIS News.
The Toll Gate Primary past student said she had doubts about getting the scholarship, which is her first, but was very hopeful and is now most thankful for “this blessing”.
“A big thanks to USF from both me and my family, as this is truly an incredible blessing so that I can continue to pursue my education, which I wanted to do for so long,” she said.
Shantel’s aunt, Nordia Baker, who had inspired her niece’s love for the teaching profession and who had also encouraged her to apply for the scholarship, also expressed gratitude to the Fund for gifting her niece with this opportunity.
“I am so happy for Shantel, because I know that she is trying and I am the one who she comes to most of the times to talk to about this,” she said.
“She is a good child; she does not give any trouble and she tries very hard,” Ms. Baker continued.
The scholarship will cover Shantel’s tuition for the duration of her course.