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TOTAL-ly committed to education

Friday, September 15, 2017

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TOTAL Jamaica rolled out the red carpet for its student-exchange scholarship recipients at Redbones Blues Café recently, welcoming home Jevon Dixon while bidding adieu to 2017 awardees, Tafar-I Williams and Janique Crosdale.

Williams and Crosdale, the 2017 awardees, will spend the next year at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques at the University of Bordeaux, France, the second leg of their journey, which started at the University of the West Indies to pursue a four-year master's degree in political science.

Total Jamaica's managing director, David Ducognon, recalled that the 2016 scholarship presentation, made to Dixon and Kimone Townsend, was his very first public engagement on arriving in Jamaica last year to head the island's operations of the France-based multinational energy company.

“I am very happy I got the opportunity to do that when I just arrived in Jamaica. Education is a big part of our corporate responsibility. We're also looking at engaging the University of the West Indies in different fields because it is very important to the development of Jamaica,” said Ducognon.

Williams, a Calabar High 2014 valedictorian, and Crosdale, who attended Immaculate Conception High, emphasised the importance of the 6,000-euro scholarship to their educational pursuits, plus being able to study abroad at a world-famous university.

The exchange programme involves students from the University of the West Indies, Mona; the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, University of Bordeaux, France; and Universite des Antilles-Guyane, Schoelcher, Martinique.

Williams and Crosdale said they jumped at the opportunity to apply for the competitive scholarship. Williams, in particular, said he learnt about the programme while in high school.

Crosdale, whose proud mother, Julian Jeffrey, was at the function, said she was moved to tears on learning that she was selected.

“I am very excited. I wanted to go to France ever since I started doing French. I can't believe I am actually going. I was at school when I got the email. At first I started screaming and then I cried.

“My mother was really excited. She was very supportive leading up to the interviews and followed up by asking if I hadn't heard anything.

“Financially, the scholarship means a lot. I was raised by a single mother. She works for the government. This scholarship has lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders. I will be able to focus more on my studies and she won't have to worry about how she will get money to me,” Crosdale added.

After leaving Bordeaux with Bachelor of Science degrees, Williams and Crosdale return to the Caribbean, Martinique, for their third year before jetting back to France to complete their masters.

Meanwhile, Kimone Townsend and Jevon Dixon were presented as the 2016 recipients of Total's to pursue in a programme involving students from UWI, Mona, Bordeaux University, France, and University of the French West Indies and Guiana, Martinique.

Stephania Saunders, UWI, Mona's 2015 recipient, addressed the gathering headed by Total Jamaica's new managing director; Winnie Berry, assistant chief education officer, Ministry of Education; and Dr Omar Hawthorne, coordinator, Programme France-Caribe.

“Receipt of the scholarship was the day our dreams made a gigantic leap,” said Saunders, who spent a year at Bordeaux. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and people were depending on us,” she added.

Hawthorne said the programme was grateful for Total's funding, especially its decision to increase the sum to 6,000 euros per student for 2016.

“We're sure Kimone and Jevon will continue the success. We look forward to them returning next year, making the UWI family proud,” she said.

Berry pointed out that Total's commitment to education showed the French multi-national company's “loyalty to Jamaica and hope for its future”, encouraging the recipients to “continue being beacons of Total”.

Ducognon, in his first public engagement as Total Jamaica's head, said the company was proud of Saunders and fellow 2015 awardee, Alexis Smith, saying the company was “equally proud to have contributed”, while telling Townsend and Dixon, “We will be tracking your progress and have every confidence you will do well.”

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