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Scholarship rescue

Local companies come to late bloomer's aid

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 19, 2019

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NICKOLYE Graham had no plans to attend university.

In fact, he wasted his first three years at St Jago High School in St Catherine, and even after he pulled up his socks and earned 10 Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) subjects with grade ones and took the first-place national award in principles of business, it was not an option he considered.

The only thing on his mind at that point was to land a job so that he could take care of his extended family and leave their Featherbed Lane home in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Graham had never met his dad, and he only sees his mother, who resides overseas, from time to time. As a result, his aunt, Teisha Crossby, to whom he refers as his second mom, became his mentor.

“When I was in high school I had no plans to go to university. It was expensive and we were poor...no dinner sometimes. Education beyond high school wasn't a thing. [But] one day I was in the community and I was just looking around and I realised that I don't want to be here long term and I was thinking, 'How can I not be here?'

“Education was the way. I knew my potential and I realised it. I came first in fourth form and they upgraded me to the 'high-flyers' class. It all started from there. I did very well and the guidance counsellor saw that I was in need of help and she suggested the past students' association. I applied and they granted me money to do CSEC,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Graham disclosed that the results bowled him over because he didn't think he had been doing anything exceptional as far as his study programme was concerned.

And so the stage for tertiary education was set.

Graham applied to the actuarial science programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona and was successful. He then applied to Restaurants of Jamaica and was awarded a scholarship covering his tuition for one year.

Last month, the 19-year-old received yet another scholarship, this time from Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) and West Kingston Power Partners (WKPP), which will cover the next two years of school.

He was among 39 high school and university students who the company awarded as part of its annual scholarship programme. It included 32 students who sat the Primary Exit Profile examination and were placed at high schools in Kingston and St Andrew, and St Catherine, and seven tertiary-level students.

During his message on behalf of the recipents, Graham congratulated parents, teachers, mentors, and coaches for encouraging his fellow awardees to reach for greatness. “It's amazing what can happen in a year,” he said. “In my first year at university I maintained a 3.72 GPA while working part time to maintain housing and food expenses, and today I am here sending a message on behalf of the recipients; it's amazing!”

Graham told the Observer that he was uncertain as to where the funding would come from for his second year, but after voicing his concerns to a previous recipient, he was introduced to the JEP and WKPP.

“Going into this year I had no way to go to college. So this year I said I am not leaving any stones unturned, and that was it for me,” he said, adding that two days after he applied for the scholarship, the energy company contacted him.

JEP and WKPP have been making scholarship awards to students primarily from the communities of western Kingston and Old Harbour, where they have been located for many years.

The companies say the move is borne from their recognition of the need for academic advancement as a catalyst for economic development, and are proud to support young people in this way.


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