Career & Education

Flourishing

Fledgling NGO awards three GSAT scholarships

Sunday, August 20, 2017



Sunday, July 9, 2017 was a memorable day for Ajani Smith and Quhana Phillips, not only because they were part of Padmore Primary School's graduating class, but because during the ceremony that day, they were surprised with news that they were hand-picked by principal Keisha Hayle to be awarded the Gordon Miller Flourish Scholarship.

The award will cover their school fees for the first year at Meadowbook High School.

The surprise presentation was made by Fiona Burke, founder and executive director of Flourish Mentorship Programme, which was formed in 2015 to provide guidance for and teach valuable life lessons to teenage girls who reside in the community of Red Hills in St Andrew, where the school is located. The Gordon Miller Flourish Scholarship Fund was launched in 2016 to help offset the cost of back-to-school preparations by parents of bright, but needy children within the community.

The awardees' parents reported being elated at the news, with one of them admitting that though she was happy that her child was successful at Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), she was having sleepless nights trying to figure out how she would meet the financial demands of the transition from primary to high school.

“I am extremely ecstatic that two students from Padmore Primary were chosen for the Flourish Scholarship for 2017. Their parents are very grateful. It is truly a remarkable feeling that Fiona Burke saw it befitting to ensure two of our graduates continue to flourish,” said Hayle.

A third award was made to 11-year-old Sarai Watson who attended St John the Baptist Prep School in Patrick City, St Andrew. She earned a 95 per cent GSAT average and was awarded a space at Immaculate Conception High School, despite battling an illness which caused her to have to undergo surgery and miss school in midst of her exam preparations. Watson, whose illness severely affects her ability to walk, delivered her valedictory speech from the confines of a wheelchair.

“Sarai's story is such an inspiring one. Her resilience is a lesson not just for my teenage mentees whom she came and spoke with, but for me too. When I considered just how much of a strain it must be to have to foot her medical expenses, plus prepare her for the next phase of her educational journey, I thought it would be very helpful to her parents and to her to make her the third Flourish Scholarship recipient for 2017,” said Burke.

“I feel really good and happy,” Watson said when told her school fee would be fully covered by the mentorship programme. “I feel complete because I wanted a scholarship so badly.”

Burke told Career & Education that the programme plans to make two more awards this year — to former Flourish participants who do well in their CSEC and CAPE exams. She also took the opportunity to publicly thank all those who donated to the Gordon Miller Flourish Scholarship Fund for 2017.

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