TAREEFE Montaque and Aujaé Dixon have made history by becoming the first two male students to be named the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation's All-Island National Champions in a single year.
The foundation usually awards a male and a female student for the honour, having regard to their academic performance and community involvement.
"The NCB Foundation continues to revise its structure to offer support that is relevant and which is in keeping with environmental demands. Our intention has been to award two top candidates, ideally male and female, this year however, the cadre of fourteen parish champions presented us with a mammoth task of doing a selection for the first time," said Belinda Williams, NCB's manager of group corporate communications, following the announcement of the champions at the bank's head office in Kingston last Wednesday.
As such, in addition to Montaque and Dixon, seven other male students have been selected for trophies from the group of 14 parish champions who were in the running to become national champions.
"We take delight in the final selection, as the competition amongst the male candidates was extremely strong and they individually represented themselves brilliantly and admirably, evidencing the fact that there is a positive shift in the typecast of male entrants for tertiary-level studies," Williams said.
Montaque and Dixon are happy with their achievement.
"Words aren't enough to explain how I feel. I am extremely grateful and I am thankful to God," said Montaque, a St Mary native who will shortly begin studies in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
With 11 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects and eight units of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects under his belt, the former York Castle High student is intent on becoming a biotechnologist.
"I feel elated. [The scholarship] will go a far way and will help me fund my tuition," Dixon, 18, told Career & Education.
The Glenmuir High School graduate holds 11 CSEC subjects with distinctions and 12 CAPE units with six grade ones and six grade twos.
The duo will receive $500,000 each every year to cover the cost of their studies.
The other parish champions awarded last Wednesday were: Kevouy Reid, Kingston; Javion Plunkett, St Ann; Kerone Edwards, Portland; Toni-Ann Farquharson, St Andrew; Andre Silburn, St Catherine; Natoya Bent, Manchester; Natasha Dyer, St Elizabeth; Michael Matalie, Westmoreland; Sammoy Hibbert, Hanover; Sherlan Elliot, Trelawny; Ian Clarke, St James; and Krisane Smith, St Thomas.