Career & Education

One step closer

Engineering student wins Aerotel scholarship and internship

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Driven, determined and goal-oriented are a few words that describe the recipient of the 2018-2020 Aerotel Scholarship for students of engineering, electrical and computer engineering.

The awardee, Navion Plummer, is also a study in perseverance and positivity, qualities which have brought him one step closer to realising his dreams of becoming an electrical engineer.

Like many other Jamaicans chasing the dream of tertiary education, Plummer was unable to pay out of pocket for university and turned to the Students' Loan Bureau to finance his first two years at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). But identifying guarantors to help secure his loans became increasingly difficult.

“I went to UTech by faith and with no money in my pocket. But I went,” the young man said.

That optimism, along with a consistent and diligent search for Scholarships would pay off for him as, two years later, Plummer was named the fourth recipient of the biennial Aerotel scholarship which will cover tuition and books for the remaining two years of his time at UTech.

At the scholarship award ceremony late last year, Plummer told guests, “I never thought in a million years that I'd be here today receiving a scholarship. It's been a rocky road for me but I've put in the hard work to get here.”

Indeed, Plummer's path was a rocky one. He hails from the tiny district of Ticky Ticky in Coleyville, Manchester, where he was raised by his grandmother and his mother who had to take care of two other children in what he says were very humble circumstances.

“We didn't have much but we had everything we needed,” he said in a cheerful tone. “We had light and water so it wasn't the best but it wasn't very bad.”

Plummer explains that his positive outlook on life, which is what later prompted him to apply for the scholarship, was developed from an early age. He was determined that nothing, not even his circumstances, would stop him from trying to achieve his goals.

“I'm optimistic because that's the only thing that's keeping me; just that slight chance of a light at the end of the tunnel. That has always been my motivation,” Plummer said.

Plummer has a natural curiosity about electricity and telecommunications. He tells the story about being fascinated as a boy with electricity and how information could be transmitted through the air with no visible channel carrying it. He was also intrigued by microwave systems, morse code and how they functioned.

And like most curious boys, he experimented. When things went wrong with home appliances, Plummer fixed them and his desire to become an electrical engineer took hold. It worked out well for his mother and grandmother too, as he says, “The fact that I could fix things meant we could cut costs at home. If a light bulb needed changing I was the one to do it. If a radio broke down I was there to fix it. If an iron got bad, I was there.”

With the start of his dream career close to being realised, Plummer now has grander fixations, with a dream of addressing some of the nation's big issues. Specifically, he wants to find a way to turn Jamaica's solid waste into energy or something else equally useful. For now, he is unsure how those dreams will play out, but he is convinced that interning at Aerotel for the next two summers — as apart of the scholarship award — will help him figure that out.

“The Aerotel scholarship and by [extension],the internship will expose me to different ideas, new perspectives and new issues and solutions which will be a stepping stone for me to develop my own ideas. Working with Aerotel can only be a great start for me to learn to be innovative as an engineer,” Plummer said.

“I'd like to thank Aerotel for this opportunity. For Aerotel to have chosen me, they must have seen something special in me and I thank them for that because that doesn't happen in my life very often. They have given me a stepping stone right now to just go higher, to be better than I've ever been and to push harder than I've ever pushed.”


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