Edwin Allen High School student, Sammar Reid, is singing high praises for the Alvin Day Scholarship programme.
He tells JIS News that if it was not for the financial assistance he received through the programme in 2010, he would not be where he is today.
Sammar recently attained nine subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC), with five distinctions. The subjects he took were Spanish, Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, Physical Education (PE), Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Information Technology (IT).
"Honestly, the scholarship helped me a great deal. It was like a boost – it was like wings. Out of nowhere, this man (Alvin Day) just comes and puts money in my pocket, and money in my education, and I think I owe him a very big ‘thank you’ for that," he says.
Sammar informs that he used the money to pay for the nine subjects, in addition to purchasing school books and other stationery. As a result of his outstanding achievement at the CSEC level, he is now attending sixth form at Edwin Allen, where he is pursuing four subjects at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level. These are: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Communication Studies.
Sammar says he is eying a career in the medical field and hopes to attain a place at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona on completion of his sixth form education.
The 17-year-old is among more than 100 students, who have benefitted from the scholarship programme, which was started over 10 years ago by noted personal empowerment coach and author, Alvin Day.
$3 million in scholarship awarded
Since 2001, Mr. Day has donated more than $3 million to the educational development of students at the Clarendon-based school that he attended, helping to enrich the lives of the students and giving them hope for a brighter future.
At a ceremony held on Sept. 25 on the school grounds in Frankfield, $472, 500 in scholarship was presented to 27 students, with each receiving $17,500.
Speaking with JIS News, the author of a number of self-empowerment books including the bestseller: If Caterpillars Can Fly, So Can I, says the objective is to make a difference in the students' lives, to give back to his community and his country, and to show the students that someone cares for them.
"I grew up as a little country boy in a district without electricity and running water. It was the school that was my life – it gave me light, hope, information and it gave me ambition. I see thousands of students just like me at Edwin Allen. Students, who have what it takes to make it, but just need a helping hand," Mr. Day tells JIS News.
He admits that initially, when the programme started, he was only able to assist six students, but each year the number has increased.
Students are selected based on academic achievement, attitude/behaviour and financial need. They are asked to complete an application form, which is personally vetted by Mr. Day.
Mr. Day, who now resides in Florida, travels to Jamaica every year to personally select the awardees and to hand out the scholarships.
Alma mater week
He tells JIS News that his ultimate goal is to expand the programme in an effort to offer assistance to students across the island. "I have some persons working with me and next year we are going to start the first Jamaica Alma Mater Week," he informs.
He explains that this will be a sort of homecoming for members of the Diaspora, who will fly home to Jamaica during the third week of September each year, to return to their alma mater and "give back" to the students there "even if they can only touch one or two students."
"We're going to put the process online so that anyone, who is interested, can download the forms, understand the process and become a part of it," he says.
Mr. Day is currently seeking support from corporate Jamaica and other persons, who are willing to be a part of the venture. He is also seeking assistance with the development of the website, to cut down on costs.
"We want to ensure that 100 per cent of the money goes to the students. We don't want any administrative overheads where we have to take out any of the money to do anything, and so any help we can get in process will be appreciated," he explains.