State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Robert Morgan (right), and Pembroke Hall High School Principal, Rev. Claude Ellis (left), with John Maxwell Youth Leadership Scholars, Kierra Mullings and Nicholas Smith. Occasion was the John Maxwell Live2Lead Conference at Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew, last November, during which the inaugural scholarship awardees for Jamaica were announced. Minister Morgan was among the speakers at the event.
Photo: Contributed

Two students of Pembroke Hall High School in St. Andrew have been selected as Jamaica’s inaugural recipients of the Creative Brands and Concepts-sponsored John Maxwell Youth Leadership Scholarship.

The scholarship provides opportunities to youngsters globally, aged 13 to 17, who exhibit leadership potential and keen interest to develop their skills in this area.

Jamaica’s awardees, 17-year-old Kierra Mullings and 14-year-old Nicholas Smith, who are in grade nine, topped the field of 20 youngsters from high schools across the island who applied for the scholarship, which is in international youth leadership training, offered by the United States-based John Maxwell Team.

John Maxwell Youth Leadership Scholarship recipient, Kierra Mullings, of Pembroke Hall High School, speaks during the John Maxwell Live2Lead Conference at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, last November, at which the inaugural scholarship awardees for Jamaica were announced.


They will pursue an extensive one-year online immersive programme that will provide training in leadership skills, public speaking and coaching.

Nicholas, who has a passion for technology and aspires to be an entrepreneur, was instrumental in developing a digital platform for his school that has been facilitating students with seamless access to classes online, in light of the challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for classroom instructional delivery.

John Maxwell Youth Leadership Scholarship recipient, Nicholas Smith, of Pembroke Hall High School, speaks at the John Maxwell Live2Lead Conference, at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, last November, at which the inaugural scholarship awardees for Jamaica were announced.


Kierra, who also plans to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, has been actively playing the role of mentor and counsellor to her peers who have been encountering challenges with COVID-19 at school and home.

The scholarship is also tailored to assist in facilitating the advancement of the scholars’ career interests through mentorship.

This component will pair them with corporate stakeholders partnering with the programme’s administrator in Jamaica – Creative Brands and Concepts Limited – whose Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Erica McKenzie, is a certified John Maxwell Coach and Trainer.

The John Maxwell Team is a group of elite coaches, trainers, and speakers who are licensed to train others, using content and resources from the premier global leadership expert, John C. Maxwell.

The training includes workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching to aid in personal and professional growth of individuals, organisations and companies globally.

The organisation is named after founder, John Calvin Maxwell, an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written numerous books on leadership.

Ms. McKenzie, who is also an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Team, tells JIS News that the scholarship’s introduction in Jamaica largely stemmed from what she says was an identified need to bolster opportunities for youth leadership development.

“For example, a lot of times, youngsters with the potential don’t get immersed into leadership development and related engagements until they get into college or university, [that is] those who pursue tertiary education…once the institutions in which they enrol offer such a provision,” she notes.

Against this background, Ms. McKenzie says the prospect of rolling out the scholarship locally was discussed with John Maxwell Team Youth Leader, Walter Finnigan, who consented.

Ms. McKenzie tells JIS News that the scholarship was publicised on various social media platforms, as also in schools, among other channels, through which applications were invited, resulting in 20 submissions.

She points out that applicants were asked to write an essay outlining what leadership means to them and how they were modelling that trait in their schools, churches, youth groups or communities.

The CEO says the selection process was undertaken by a panel of judges comprising school principals and media practitioners who, after reviewing the applications, chose Nicholas and Kierra, while describing their engagements, which were highlighted during the screening exercise, as demonstrative of “leadership at its finest”.

“These youngsters are absolutely fine leaders, and we are so thrilled to be a part of their growth journey,” Ms. McKenzie says, adding that the training will be programmed around their academic schedule.

Nicholas tells JIS News that his copping the scholarship in the male category “feels really good”.

“My father has always said to me that I have greatness within me, and to win this scholarship proves that,” he notes.

Nicholas has ably demonstrated his time management capability, as evidenced in his balancing academics and extracurricular activities at school, where he is involved in the debate and robotics clubs.

He says he would encourage his peers to give consideration to applying for the scholarship, once the opportunity arises.

Kierra tells JIS News that she “feels great” to be one of the scholarship recipients, citing several other key factors she believes worked in her favour.

“I have been form captain for three years, I’m on the Honour Roll and the High Achievers Club. I’m always on top of my class and I am always among the highest scoring students at school,” she informs.

Kierra is also optimistic that the scholarship will enable her to fulfil her career goal in entrepreneurship, particularly the mentorship component.

“I think it can carry me a far way because of the help I will get. So, I’m really grateful for it. I think it’s a very good thing,” she says.

Meanwhile, Principal of Pembroke Hall High, Rev. Claude Ellis, says the entire school community is “very proud” of both students, noting that they were among five applying from the institution.

He tells JIS News that Nicholas, whom he describes as “forward thinking”, is the lead student in a group comprising his peers and teachers that was established to oversee the management of the school’s social media platforms, incorporating Face Book, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

“They manage those platforms to make sure that information is uploaded and that the content is current,” the Principal explains.

Rev. Ellis says Kierra, whom he describes as “very reserved”, manages her class, especially in the absence of a teacher.

“So, if a teacher is, for whatever reason, unable to attend a class, Kierra is the one who undertakes to query the teacher’s whereabouts, as also whether there is any work or activity that the students can undertake in the interim… .  She’s akin to a teacher’s assistant. This is one of the ways in which she demonstrates her leadership skills,” he tells JIS News.

Rev. Ellis says “it’s unfortunate that we have not been able to really show them physically how proud we are of them”, citing challenges associated with COVID-19 as the main reason.

“But I communicated the news to the staff, we posted it on all of our social media platforms and we had a series of parent meetings [during which] we highlighted their accomplishments. So, everybody is quite happy about it,” he adds.

Rev. Ellis says he is “even more thrilled” by the fact that the scholars are grade-nine students.

Meanwhile, Ms. McKenzie says youngsters from the first cohort of applicants who were unsuccessful can reapply along with newcomers during the upcoming rounds.

She invites persons to visit the website at www.creativebrandsconcepts.com for more information on the scholarship and application process.

Additionally, she encourages individuals and entities interested in serving as mentors to the applicants to send an email to leadingwitherica@gmail.com or call 876-438-1135.

“We will be happy to discuss the details with you and welcome you as one of the mentors who can provide support for these students, because they need us,” the CEO adds.

Ms. McKenzie emphasises that the John Maxwell Team is committed to ensuring they play their part in assisting with youth leadership development in Jamaica.

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