Greater August Town: Embattled but Empowered
THE UNIVERSITY TOWNSHIP scholarship has been like a breath of fresh air to residents of the Greater August Town community. This constituency has been reaping the benefits of the scholarships, tenable at the Mona Campus, since it was launched by The UWI in September 2009.
The township scholarship is granted to any resident of Greater August Town who has been accepted to read for a Bachelor's degree at the neighbouring Mona campus. It is one of the initiatives of the University Township Project which seeks to develop the community by increasing its social and intellectual capital.
Recent UWI Township scholarship graduates – Titania Smythe, Mickel Guthrie, Sashana McKenzie, Deajon Harvey and Michael Brown – shared their philosophy of life as well as their dreams and aspirations with UWIMONA Now. They also offered advice to prospective students.
For Titania Smythe, who holds an Upper Second Class Honours degree in Philosophy and Marketing, the award of a University Township Scholarship was like a dream come true. Always an ambitious and hard-working individual, she was never satisfied with mediocrity. Being “allergic to anything that was average”, Smythe never gave up, but endured difficulties in order to succeed in her goal of attaining a university education.
She was the top performer in Sociology while in sixth form at her alma mater, Excelsior High School, and was accepted to do the Master’s degree in Intellectual Property Law which she hopes to pursue in the near future. Her career goal is to become a Marketing Manager at Lasco Distributors.
She encourages young people who are planning to pursue the Bachelor’s degree at The UWI to choose a field of study that they really love, as “it will become fun and exciting to learn”.
It was by just a stroke of luck that Mickel Guthrie heard about the University Township scholarship from a friend. He needed a way to pay for his tuition so he decided to apply. The scholarship allowed him to complete his degree and graduate with a BSc (Second Class Honours) degree in Mathematics and Modelling Processes, without the hassle of wondering where the funds would come from.
“I’ve always been mathematically inclined and intrigued by not just knowing how things work, but also why they work the way they do. This degree has developed me into a critical thinker and posed challenges that I have enjoyed solving,” the Excelsior High School graduate said. He plans to further his studies by doing a Master’s degree in Economics or Mechanical Engineering, or by taking the Actuarial Sciences exams.
Guthrie’s philosophy of life is that nothing is ever “too hard’ or complicated for one to get through. If he is stuck and frustrated with something, he feels that he has just not found the solution yet. He believes that everything happens for a reason and there are lessons to be learnt from the circumstances of one’s life. He feels that by embracing this concept life will become a little less complex.
He advises young people who are planning to pursue the Bachelor’s degree at The UWI to “be passionate about their pursuit and the rest will fall into place. At times, you will find that it is the passion that continues to push you when things start to get a little tedious and overbearing”, Guthrie said.
When Sashana McKenzie applied for the UWI Township Scholarship, she had already completed her second year at The UWI. She had been unaware of the scholarship’s existence up to that point, and was therefore quite surprised when her application was successful as the award is for first-year students. However, she was grateful for this anomaly as she wanted to ease the financial burden on her parents.
A graduate of Excelsior High School, McKenzie was the valedictorian for her graduating class, as well as Excelsior’s top performer in the 2012 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams. On leaving high school, she was spurred to pursue the BSc in International Relations, and obtained an Upper Second Class Honours degree. “The primary reason behind this drive was the fact that globalisation is on the rise, and public administration has always been a passion of mine. Growing up in a developing country, I see the need for better law and governance in creating a better society for productive citizens. Moreso, pursuing this degree has really opened my mind to the intricacies of the political forum, and has really made me apathetic to the political processes within my country,” she said.
McKenzie intends to further her studies, and her ultimate career goal is to be an “elite public official”. This passion is fuelled by her desire to see enhanced transparency, accountability and responsiveness within the Jamaican government, and governments globally, through diplomacy.
McKenzie’s philosophy of life is: “You will never always feel motivated, therefore you ought to be disciplined”.
Deajon Harvey was a high achiever while at Kingston College, and received numerous certificates and small trophies for academic excellence and good work. On leaving high school, he had planned to enter The UWI on a loan. He submitted his application to the Students’ Loan Bureau, but aborted the process and applied for the University Township Scholarship instead. He believed that with the determination and hard work that he had invested all his life, he would reap just rewards. He also felt that he had a good chance of receiving the scholarship due to the financial struggles his family faced. So, he “left the matter in the hands of his Saviour” and trusted that he would get the University Township scholarship, which he did.
He pursued the BSc (double major) in Accounting and Management Studies as he had a “passion for saving from a tender age”. He was also involved with the Association of Aspiring Accountants while in his second year at The UWI. Harvey subsequently accepted employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Jamaica. His ultimate goal is to work as a Chartered Accountant “in a reputable organisation”. He also plans to acquire the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) certification in the future.
Looking back, he is grateful for the scholarship as it paid his full tuition for three years and motivated him to work hard to maintain a good GPA. He said the scholarship also allowed him to assist fellow community members with whom he had forged strong bonds.
His philosophy of life is “God knows best”, and his advice to young people who are planning to pursue the Bachelor’s degree at The UWI is: “Consult God, let God be your guide. Press towards your goal with all your might and never give up. Higher education aids in the improvement of life.”
It was a hard climb up the ladder for Michael Brown to attain his BSc degree in Management Studies (General). But, armed with his philosophy of life, “I am a promise, I am a possibility, anything my mind can conceive, I will achieve”, he pushed forward and never looked back.
The Holy Trinity Comprehensive High School graduate thought that he was not academically inclined due to his failures in the CXC and CSEC examinations. He, therefore, decided to learn a skill at Junctional Vocational Training Centre and was successful in welding and fabrication. He later received a scholarship from the Citizen Security Justice Programme to attend Pre-University at The UWI for two years, sat seven CSEC subjects and five units of CAPE, and was successful. He then applied for entry to The UWI and was accepted.
As Brown was faced with financial difficulties, the late Professor Barry Chevannes introduced him to the UWI Township scholarship. Brown, who is now in his early thirties, said he was grateful that he followed through and applied for the scholarship as it allowed him access to resources in the library to complete his assignments and group work on time. It also enabled him to sit his exams without the penalties that applied to students who did not meet the requirements. His grades improved and he became more focused on his goal.
His career ambition is to work in the field of Management Studies in a reputable organisation, in addition to starting a private school in his community which focuses on educating at-risk youths. He would also like to pursue his Master’s degree at the Mona School of Business or any other accredited, international university.
His advice to young people who are planning to pursue the Bachelor’s degree at The UWI is to be disciplined, make sacrifices, and always focus on the goal. “It’s a challenge, and the journey begins with the first step. But, with confidence and determination, you will achieve your objective. Remember the words of Marcus Garvey, ‘without confidence, you are twice defeated in the race of life’,” Brown said.
The next issue will feature former UWI Township scholars Asha Gaye-Cowell and Romaine Nugent in this new series highlighting the progress, dreams and aspirations of young people in the Greater August Town area.