The Full Story
Several Rio Tinto Alcan Scholarship beneficiaries have expressed gratitude for the opportunity they have been afforded through the provision, to pursue training and career development in agriculture.
The scholarship, which was initiated by Rio Tinto Alcan Incorporated in 2010, provides funding support for needy youth in St. Catherine, Manchester, and St. Ann who are members of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs pursuing secondary and tertiary-level agricultural studies.
The targeted parishes are the areas where the entity’s bauxite mining and alumina refining operations were located for 59 years, prior to the conclusion of its local engagements in 2001.
Criteria for consideration are academic excellence and need, with selection spearheaded by the Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Scholarship Steering Committee, chaired by Principal of Holmwood Technical High School in Manchester, Hidran McKulsky.
The scholarship programme, which is financed through the Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Fund (RTALF), managed by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), is intended to promote social development activities by investing in the recipients’ skills training and advancement.
Both the DBJ and Jamaica 4-H Clubs have partnered on the flagship fund and scholarship programme.
Speaking at a recent semi-virtual appreciation and presentation ceremony, grade-11 student at Winston Jones High School in Manchester, Rejaun Fuller, shared that the scholarship, which he learnt about from his agricultural science teacher, “has assisted me greatly” to offset the cost for books, uniforms, transportation to and from school, examination fees, “and in recent times, a gadget for online learning”.
He said consequent on this support, his years in high school have been rewarding, “thanks to the support of the [partner stakeholders]”.
“Special commendations to the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, the Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Fund, and the Development Bank of Jamaica for making this agricultural scholarship possible to so many students who are, indeed, in need of this assistance,” Rejaun added.
Noting his career goal of becoming an agricultural science teacher, he indicated that he will be enrolling at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland after graduating from high school, “and will, again, be applying for another scholarship from Rio Tinto”.
Rejaun, who congratulated his colleague scholars, invited them to “let us do our part in encouraging other students at the secondary and tertiary levels to take advantage of this [scholarship] opportunity”.
Fourth-year CASE student, Omarcha Darlington, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Agricultural Production and Food Systems Management, and is a multiple scholarship beneficiary, said the provision “has truly and significantly changed my life”.
Ms. Darlington, who has been a 4-H clubbite for 13 years, hails from Lumsden in St. Ann and is a past student of Ferncourt High School in the parish.
She indicated that she first heard about the scholarship through the 4-H Clubs St. Ann parish office.
“However, it was during my first year at CASE that I decided to apply and was successful, and awarded twice thereafter,” she added.
Ms. Darlington recounted that she was initially unable to finance her studies, “but with the help of the Rio Tinto Scholarship, I was able to offset all balances with the institution”.
She aspires to become an agricultural consultant and “[impart] my knowledge, both in my community and the wider diaspora.”
“I also do hope to, one day, open a processing facility in my area, as I see the economic value of commodities that are often being wasted,” she further shared.
Ms. Darlington thanked the 4-H Clubs, RTALF and DBJ “for continuing to provide the important pathway for students to achieve their agricultural dreams”.
Recent CASE graduate, Shaniel Humes, who pursued a Bachelor of Science in Plant Sciences, was a Rio Tinto scholarship beneficiary for the four-year duration of her studies.
She described the provision as a “wonderful tool” to assist secondary and tertiary students unable to afford the cost of their studies.
Ms. Humes shared that not only was she able to complete her programme at CASE, “but also I have met very influential people both locally and internationally”.
Consequent on this, she said she was among 15 students chosen to work and study in Israel for one year.
“Having completed my studies at CASE, I am now the Sales and Marketing Manager at Model Agricultural Production Limited… the Israeli Farm in Jamaica,” she further advised.
The expansive farm, which is situated in Innswood, St. Catherine, utilises techniques incorporating a fusion of Israeli technology with expertise from local agricultural specialists.
Ms. Humes expressed gratitude for the opportunity that the scholarship afforded her “to become who I am today,” and thanked the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, which she described as “my family”, for “teaching me the values of being a young adult”.
“Each opportunity I get, I try to encourage young persons to apply for this scholarship, not only because it will afford them their education but also many [other] benefits that they can receive as one of the recipients. I am forever an ambassador of the scholarship because it has paved the way for many opportunities for me,” she added.
Their testimonials were endorsed by another colleague beneficiary, past student of May Day High School in Clarendon, Andrea Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Jamaica 4-H Clubs Executive Director, Dr. Ronald Blake, noted that since 2010, scholarships and bursaries valued at $126.57 million have been awarded to 1,451 students.
He pointed out that allocation of scholarships across the three target parishes is “fairly even,” with St. Catherine accounting for 38 per cent; St. Ann, 32 per cent, and Manchester, 30 per cent, while thanking Rio Tinto for investing in the provision of scholarships and bursaries over the years.
Dr. Blake also expressed gratitude to past and present Scholarship Steering Committee members. “They must be commended for the work they have done, free of cost,” he said.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, who also has responsibility for Agriculture and Fisheries, was the keynote speaker.
He lauded the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the DBJ for their collaborative effort in implementing and directing the Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Scholarship Fund.
The Fund was established to maintain the entity’s contribution to Jamaica’s social and economic development through the agricultural scholarships and bursaries, which he noted, have assisted a significant number of youth attending agricultural-based institutions.
“Jamaica’s socio-economic development is heavily dependent on the environment we cultivate for our young people. This environment must be inclusive, futuristic and conducive to sharpening their skills and outlook. The opportunity to access relevant educational facilities is critical to strengthening this reality,” he added.
The DBJ’s Manager for Programme Execution, Sophia Bryan Terry, noted that the Bank shared a long-standing relationship with the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, born out of shared values and the recognition that “without the active and positive participation of our youth in the development of our country, our common future is, to put it mildly, compromised”.
Consequently, she said the DBJ has often assisted the entity in several of its programmes and projects over the years, aimed at encouraging young people to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs in agriculture and developing skills to this end.
“We are pleased to advise that the flagship arrangement between our two organisations, which began in 2011… is progressing extremely well,” Mrs. Bryan Terry advised.
She noted that the more than 1,450 young people benefiting under the programme, to date, have been “nothing short of spectacular,” adding that the DBJ “is very proud to have played a role in that kind of progress”.
More than 300 secondary and tertiary students have, so far, received scholarships for the 2021/22 academic year.
Steering Committee Chairman, Hidran McKulsky, indicated that 400 scholarships are being targeted for disbursement this year, while advising that applications will remain open until November 26.
Persons can visit the 4-H Clubs website, www.jamaica4hclubs.com, call the head office at 876-927-4050-2, send an email to email@example.com, or visit their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook social media platforms.