Pembroke Hall High students win John Maxwell youth leadership scholarship

Pembroke Hall High students win John Maxwell youth leadership scholarship

Thursday, January 28, 2021

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TWO students of Pembroke Hall High School in St Andrew have been selected as Jamaica's inaugural recipients of the Creative Brands and Concepts-sponsored John Maxwell Youth Leadership Scholarship.

The scholarship provides opportunities to youngsters globally, aged 13 to 17, who exhibit leadership potential and keen interest to develop their skills in this area.

Jamaica's awardees, 17-year-old Kierra Mullings and 14-year-old Nicholas Smith, who are in grade nine, topped the field of 20 youngsters from high schools across the island who applied for the scholarship, an international youth leadership training offered by the United States-based John Maxwell team.

They will pursue an extensive one-year online immersive programme that will provide training in leadership skills, public speaking and coaching.

Smith, who has a passion for technology and aspires to be an entrepreneur, was instrumental in developing a digital platform for his school that has been facilitating students with seamless access to classes online, in light of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic for classroom instructional delivery.

Mullings, who also plans to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, has been actively playing the role of mentor and counsellor to her peers who have been encountering challenges with COVID-19 at school and home.

The scholarship is tailored to assist in facilitating the advancement of the scholars' career interests through mentorship. This component will pair them with corporate stakeholders partnering with the programme's administrator in Jamaica – Creative Brands and Concepts Limited – whose Chief Executive officer, Erica McKenzie is a certified John Maxwell coach and trainer.

The John Maxwell team is a group of elite coaches, trainers, and speakers who are licensed to train others, using content and resources from the premier global leadership expert John C Maxwell.

The training includes workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching to aid in personal and professional growth of individuals, organisations and companies globally.

The organisation is named after founder John Calvin Maxwell, an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written numerous books on leadership.

McKenzie, who is also an executive director of the John Maxwell team, told JIS News that the scholarship's introduction in Jamaica largely stemmed from what she says was an identified need to bolster opportunities for youth leadership development.

“For example, a lot of times, youngsters with the potential don't get immersed into leadership development and related engagements until they get into college or university, [that is] those who pursue tertiary education…once the institutions in which they enrol offer such a provision,” she said.

Against this background, McKenzie said the prospect of rolling out the scholarship locally was discussed with John Maxwell team youth leader Walter Finnigan, who consented.

The scholarship, said McKenzie, was publicised on various social media platforms, as also in schools, among other channels, through which applications were invited, resulting in 20 submissions.

She pointed out that applicants were asked to write an essay outlining what leadership means to them and how they were modelling that trait in their schools, churches, youth groups or communities.

The selection process, she said, was undertaken by a panel of judges comprising school principals and media practitioners who, after reviewing the applications, chose the two Pembroke Hall students, describing their engagements, which were highlighted during the screening exercise, as demonstrative of “leadership at its finest”.

“These youngsters are absolutely fine leaders, and we are so thrilled to be a part of their growth journey,” McKenzie said, adding that the training will be programmed around their academic schedule.

Smith said that his copping the scholarship in the male category feels really good. “My father has always said to me that I have greatness within me, and to win this scholarship proves that,” he said. He has ably demonstrated his time management capability, as evidenced in his balancing academics and extracurricular activities at school, where he is involved in the debate and robotics clubs.

Mullings, meanwhile, said that she “feels great” to be one of the scholarship recipients, citing several other key factors she believes worked in her favour.

“I have been form captain for three years, I'm on the honour roll and the High Achievers Club. I'm always on top of my class and I am always among the highest scoring students at school,” she said.

Mullings is optimistic that the scholarship will enable her to fulfil her career goal in entrepreneurship, particularly the mentorship component.

“I think it can carry me a far way because of the help I will get. So, I'm really grateful for it. I think it's a very good thing,” she said.

Principal of Pembroke Hall High Rev Claude Ellis said the entire school community is “very proud” of both students, noting that they were among five applying from the institution.

He tells that Smith, whom he described as “forward- thinking”, is the lead student in a group comprising his peers and teachers that was established to oversee the management of the school's social media platforms, incorporating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. “They manage those platforms to make sure that information is uploaded and that the content is current,” the principal said.

Rev Ellis says Mullings, whohe said is “very reserved”, manages her class, especially in the absence of a teacher. “So, if a teacher is, for whatever reason, unable to attend a class, Kierra is the one who undertakes to query the teacher's whereabouts, also whether there is any work or activity that the students can undertake in the interim… She's akin to a teacher's assistant. This is one of the ways in which she demonstrates her leadership skills,” said the principal.

“It's unfortunate that we have not been able to really show them physically how proud we are of them,” said Ellis, citing challenges associated with COVID-19 as the main reason.

“But I communicated the news to the staff, we posted it on all of our social media platforms and we had a series of parent meetings [during which] we highlighted their accomplishments. So, everybody is quite happy about it,” he added.

McKenzie said youngsters from the first cohort of applicants who were unsuccessful can reapply along with newcomers during the upcoming rounds. She invites those interested to visit the website at for more information on the scholarship and application process.





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