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130 state wards to pursue tertiary studies - COJO assists with scholarships, record number of students from children’s homes take on post-secondary education

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
David Mattis accepts a scholarship cheque in the amount of US$5,000 from Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Chairman and Founder Gary Williams (left); Rosalee Gage-Grey (second right), CEO, Child Protection and Family Services Agency; and Ackhil Rose (right), supervisor, airport and ground operations, JetBlue, during the COJO Scholarship awards luncheon, held yesterday at the The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. Mattis is one of 10 students awarded scholarships.

Children of Jamaica Outreach Inc (COJO), a New York-based Jamaican charity, awarded just over US$40,000 in scholarships to 10 wards of the State yesterday.

The awardees were nominated by children’s officers from the various parishes and selected based on academic performance.

COJO has been awarding scholarships to students in child-care institutions – primarily those enrolled in tertiary institutions – for the past 25 years.

Chief Executive Officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Rosalee Gage-Grey thanked COJO for the investment it has made in the lives of wards over the years.

Bearing fruit

Quoting Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”, Gage-Grey highlighted that COJO has borne fruit as two former recipients had gone on to work in the fields of finance and medicine.

This year, the CPFSA had a record 130 students pursuing tertiary studies.

Gage-Grey said the CPFSA’s primary goal is to properly assist every child who passes through the agency and that with its transitional-living programme, it has been able to prepare exiting wards who desire to pursue tertiary education or seek employment.

“Continue on your voyage to success,” Gage-Grey said. “You are our future, and we commit to doing all we can to help you to be successful.”

Guest speaker at the awards function Mariame McIntosh Robinson, CEO of First Global Bank, reassured awardees that they had all the skills required to succeed in the 21st century, including digital literacy, the ability to negotiate, and customer service.

McIntosh Robinson urged the students to pursue a cause and ensure that they left a legacy behind as this was the beginning of the impact they would have.

The mission of COJO is to help improve the lives of the underserved in Jamaica and the United States. Chairman and founder Gary Williams said that he was grateful to the various corporate companies and the Jamaican Diaspora, which continued to donate to the charity.

Special mention was made of Tony Johnson, a former ward of the State, who was adopted by an Australian family. He was the sponsor of four scholarships valued at US$5,000 each.