JIS News

He was not born with the proverbial gold spoon in his mouth, but with hard work, dedication and enviable discipline 17 year old Covel McDermott is charting a path that can only lead to success.
Recently the unwavering efforts of the aspiring young doctor copped him the Top Scholar 2005 Award offered by the Programme for Health and Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
His initial response to the announcement he says was disbelief and then sheer surprise. Settling down to share his experience with JIS News the youngster could not hide his pride as he pointed out that his hard work has paid off.
Now with his cash prize of $20,000 Covel will be laying the first planks to achieving his dreams of becoming a general practitioner when he enrolls at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland this September. While there he plans to pursue double option or natural science before venturing further.
Expressing his gratitude to PATH he points out that the programme was a significant help to him and other Jamaican youth. “I really do appreciate all they have done for me,” he says. In encouraging his counterparts McDermott urges them to work hard and keep focused on achieving their goals.
Meanwhile Principal of the St. Mary High School where Covell was a student, Hyacinth Young in expressing her approval of the selection says McDermott was an individual with a track record of excellence.
“He is an A student and he has maintained this for the five years, he has maintained first place in his class for the five years, he is extremely disciplined and focused, very enthusiastic about learning, always neatly attired and he has an almost perfect attendance record,” she recalls.
Mrs. Young notes that Covel who was also the school’s Head Boy for the 2004/05 academic year and was an excellent example to his peers. Her expectations of him are not limited to the present and she foresees further excellence in the future of the young scholar.
“I am sure that some years down the road if you follow the PATH Programme this boy is going to make the programme proud because whatever he is going to be awarded he will make good use of it and I expect great things from him, as far as Covell is concerned the sky is the limit for him,” she opines.
Principal Young also had high praises for PATH which she says has helped to relieve students who are not well of to achieve in spite of the odds. “There are so many students who could have done well but maybe for financial reasons they are not able to achieve their highest, with this programme it has given students like those the opportunity to do well, especially when they know that the financial part of their life is taken care of,” she points out.
Manager of Public Education and Training for PATH at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Marcia Bolt, tells JIS News that there are plans to host the competition annually and extend it to include students at the Primary level. She says efforts will also be made to identify means of offering more meaningful rewards that would assist students tangibly in their pursuits.
According to the Public Education and Training Manager, it was expected that the awards would boost the visibility of the programme in the eyes of the Jamaican public and spur more students to aim higher.
To enter the competition students were required to be beneficiaries of the PATH programme in the fourth or fifth form with good academic and attendance records as well as the intention to move on to further academic studies in the next academic year.
The PATH ‘Top Scholar Award’, is just one of three categories of awards the others being, ‘The Spirit of PATH Award’ and the ‘Excellence in Service Delivery Award’.
Since its inception in March, 2002, as part of the Social Safety Net Reform, approximately 180,000 persons have benefited from the PATH programme at a cost of $1.88 billion. The programme is co-funded by the World Bank and the Government of Jamaica at a cost US$78.5 million and is aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty and improving people’s lives by enhancing their health and educational status.

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