Junior Walker: An ICON for St Ann

Sunday, September 16, 2018

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Growing up as one of 10 siblings, St Ann native, Junior Walker always dreamed of studying architecture and becoming one of Jamaica's most renowned architects and lecturers. But when his mother migrated in 2004 and his older sister became his primary caregiver, dreams of that pursuit slowly dwindled, though the spark was never completely extinguished.

It was reignited a few weeks ago when he was awarded Top NCB Foundation Innovative, Creative, Outstanding and Nationalistic (ICON) Scholar from a field of seven.

“I applied for the NCB scholarship because I was aware of the school fee I had to pay to go to university and I knew my mom couldn't afford it all by herself, so I applied for it and other scholarships while praying and having faith that the Lord would work everything out. And He did,” Walker says.

The Brown's Town Community College graduate has started his tenure at the University of Technology, (UTech) courtesy of the NCB Foundation which will be funding $500,000 towards his tuition for the next four years.

Walker fell in love with architecture in third form while attending Ocho Rios High School. He says he was always fascinated by the design of buildings in his parish and wanted to figure out how he could create such magnificent structures himself. Many towns in Jamaica, including Ocho Rios, still feature the famed Georgian architecture of 1700-1800, the functional features of which are designed to suit Jamaica's tropical climate.

But his interests extend beyond architecture, Walker says, pointing out that he also desires to become a teacher, and spent many years volunteering at his primary school.

NCB Foundation said, these attributes, coupled with Walker's vision for St Ann, were some of the reasons he was considered for the Top ICON Scholarship.

“Walker embodies the diversification and subsequent paradigm shift in traditional fields of studies and career paths that NCB seeks to empower through this recently conceptualised scholarship,” the foundation said through a rep.

Twenty-year-old Walker, a social butterfly and motivator, also got the parish ICON award for St Ann, his love and passion for the parish he has called home for most of his life evident in his vision for it.

“My vision for St Ann is not only to be viewed as the largest parish, but to be highly developed in every or most areas. I want to see massive infrastructure and fascinating architecture that does not destroy the natural scenery of the 'Garden Parish'. I want Ocho Rios to be the third city of Jamaica or maybe even the second, overthrowing Montego Bay,” he says.

Established in 2016, the ICON programme provides opportunities for students pursuing non-traditional fields of study such as engineering, fashion designing, animation, architecture, logistics & supply chain management, and teaching degrees with majors in mathematics and science at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination levels, among others. These areas, NCB says, herald an impending disruption in the workforce and represent fundamental ingredients for advancing the country's human resource.

Walker is part of that advancement.

“Through the support I got from the NCB Foundation, I now know for a fact that I will finish university since I can now afford the tuition. This will help me to put my best life forward because now I can focus my energy and time on my academics and making the best use possible of my university experience, rather than focusing on whether or not I will be able to afford the tuition or doing part-time jobs to fill the financial gap, which is what I was doing or planning to do before NCB stepped in,” he says.

“At university, I am looking forward to fostering great relationships with others, inspiring those around me to work hard and put their trust in the Lord, to improve my public speaking and to grow spiritually,” he said.

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