Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Scholarships a practical response to urgent challenge, says Simpson Miller - 62 students receive $6m in support from former PM’s foundation

Published:Saturday | September 7, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller greets Shawnice Copeland during the annual Portia Simpson Miller Foundation scholarship awards ceremony at the Spanish Court Hotel on Thursday. Sixty-two tertiary students benefitted from the $6 million disbursed this year.
Portia Simpson Miller shows off her athletic prowess as she arrives at the annual Portia Simpson Miller Foundation scholarship and awards ceremony on Thursday.
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Sixty-two students were presented with scholarships from the Portia Simpson Miller Foundation on Thursday.

At the annual scholarship ceremony, held at the Spanish Court Hotel, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the scholarships, amounting to almost $6 million, were “a practical response to an urgent challenge”.

She charged recipients to use the opportunity to enhance their lives and urged them to take up the mantle of giving back, even with their limited resources.

This year’s scholarship recipients are students pursuing tertiary education at various universities, colleges, and community colleges across the island and were chosen based on proof of need.

Forty of the 62 scholarships were awarded to students from The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Among the awardees was Jinelle Henry, a fourth-year medical student at The UWI. She received one of two scholarships in honour of businessman titan Sameer Younis, who died on Sunday. Younis was a partner of the foundation since its inception in 2010.

FINANCIAL LIFELINE

A message Henry posted to Simpson Miller’s Facebook page when she completed studies at Hampton School in St Elizabeth was the start of a relationship that would see her receiving a financial lifeline four years in a row.

Henry said that after posting the message, she was instructed to write a letter, and she has been reapplying since.

“It has had a great impact on my life. It, basically, covers half of my hall fee each year. I come from a really poor background, but I haven’t allowed that to keep me down. I knew what I wanted from a tender age, and I’ve been applying for scholarships since high school. I’m here now because a lot of people have invested in me,” said the aspiring cardiologist.

Clarendon native Delano Lemonious is a second-time recipient.

“In first year, I had to travel from Clarendon to come to Kingston every single day. It was very [stressful]. This scholarship has allowed me to live on Rex Nettleford Hall,” the accounting student shared.

He said that hall life has also provided him with the opportunity to mentor students from August Town and surrounding communities under the Literacy, Numeracy, Values and Attitude programme.

“They come on Saturdays and we mentor them for three hours, especially because crime affects their communities. We help to foster their educational development by helping them with homework,” Lemonious said.

Chairman of the foundation’s allocation committee Elon Beckford said that the organisation received a significant number of applications this year.

Through the donorship of 21 private-sector companies, they were able to increase the number of beneficiaries by 60 per cent.

It is Beckford’s hope that other donors will support the non-partisan foundation as it continues to stay true to its motto – ‘Lifting People Up’.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com