Parade Gardens resident gets Chevening Scholarship

Monday, September 21, 2015

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A 25-year-old beneficiary of a social intervention programme, aimed at reducing serious crimes and violence, has been awarded a Chevening Scholarship.

A resident of Parade Gardens, Jerome Cowans, is an active community participant who has benefited tremendously from the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which has transformed him into an ambassador and inspiration for other youngsters.

At the age of 13, Jerome and a group of friends decided to start a youth group to focus on anti-crime initiatives, 'Leaders Endeavouring for Adolescent Development (LEAD) Youth Club', because they were tired of the spread of violence in their community.

"That's where the big shift came for me. We got involved with Rise Life Management Services, which is a beacon in our community and many others. They receive funding from CSJP, so that's how I learnt about the programme," he said.

Hundreds of community residents have benefited from the partnerships formed by the LEAD Youth Club
to provide scholarships,
skills training, homework assistance, remedial classes, as well as football competitions, all aimed at reducing the likelihood of young people getting involved in crime and violence.

Cowan's journey saw him serving as president of LEAD Youth Club, president of the Kingston Youth Council, and vice-president of the
Parade Gardens Community Development Committee Benevolent Society.

As an outstanding leader, Cowan has been recognised by several organisations, including The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited, CSJP, and RISE Life Management Services.

In 2013 he received the Queen's Young Leader Award. This prestigious award discovers, celebrates, and supports exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.

"It was a life-changing experience. I visited England and met with the Queen, the prime minister, and several senior executives from some of the world's most profitable businesses. I also had the opportunity to interact with some really impressive young leaders from around the world," he said.

In the midst of all these achievements, resulting from the selfless commitment to his community, Cowan remained undaunted by his personal challenges which had the potential to negatively impact his future.

"Having passed eight CSEC subjects from Jamaica College, my father had no idea how he would send me to sixth form. I received monetary support from CSJP, which continued to my first degree at UWI," Cowan shares.

He is a proud holder of a bachelors degree, with a major in Economics and a minor in public sector management.

"Without CSJP I could not have completed university. They were there for me year after year. I am truly grateful to CSJP and other staff members for their contribution to my success. They are really wonderful people who have provided the motivation needed," he says.

Like several other youngsters living in CSJP targeted communities, Cowan was also a member of
the summer internship programme which provided employment opportunities for young people through partnerships with corporate entities.

All these experiences have prepared Cowan for his 'big break' as a Chevening scholar.

"I really dreamt of the scholarship. I looked at all the criteria and graded myself based on the years gone by. Having applied and was short- listed, my next task was to go into that interview and show them that I am a jewel of this country and I deserve the investment. I was successful, and to God be the glory," Cowan said.

Cowans will pursue a master's degree in management at the University of Birmingham in the
United Kingdom. Chevening Scholarships in Jamaica are awarded to outstanding emerging leaders to pursue a master's at any UK university.

Cowan says that as someone who has been managing projects at the community level, this degree will equip him to do more things on the macro level.

"One of the things I want to explore primarily in my studies is how to develop potential areas of countries. Coming back, I will be equipped to give back a lot," he said.

Jerome is calling for more programmes like CSJP, as "they go into communities and create the change needed".

"To my fellow colleagues, I know you hear it a lot, but it is true, you can achieve your dreams. If you live in the inner city you may have to try a little harder because you have to work against stereotypes, but that work will definitely pay off. Just go after your passion, lose a few nights of rest, and [with] work hard, you will reap the rewards," he encourages.

Senior governance officer at CSJP Unicie Delapena said it was no surprise he was awarded a Chevening Scholarship. "Jerome sees education as the only hope to get him out of poverty."

"When you have these bright minds and you do not try to help them they will cling to illicit behaviours. So we are proud as CSJP to be able to assist young and bright minds and to help them. We are happy that we assisted Jerome, and through his experiences, many others from his community will see him as a role model and aspire to be like him," she said.

She described Cowan as a true leader, who has the community at heart, and will excel wherever he goes.

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