ON August 22, St Mary Education Trust (SMET), a registered charity for the furtherance of education of the island's youth, provided $3 million in scholarships to 10 students at the tertiary level, to aid in unlocking the potential of the next generation of young leaders, hailing mainly from the parish of St Mary.
The SMET combines the Sydney A Phillips Scholarships (SAPS) and Jamaica Producers' (JP) Ernest Johnston Memorial Bursary (EJMB) under a united trust. The mission of SMET is to actively support, inspire, and empower the education of gifted young Jamaicans. This mission aligns with JP's corporate social responsibility policy which includes a focus on community development and education. The SMET is JP's main vehicle for supporting exceptional tertiary students in the pursuit of their dreams through academic scholarships.
"Tertiary education has profoundly transformed my life, instilling in me a profound sense of opportunity and potential. This scholarship serves as a way to share these possibilities with deserving young individuals. St Mary has more potential and more scope for development than it is often given credit for," said Jeffrey Hall, awards meeting chairman and managing director of JP Group.
"At JP, we firmly believe in the capability of St Mary residents to unlock this potential through skills, ambition, network and strong institutions. This scholarship is our joint expression of all of this. To the students, I encourage you to set clear goals, identify people who have successfully travelled your road before and make an effort to understand all that's possible with hard work, integrity and a generous spirit."
Students who are chosen to receive scholarships exhibit outstanding intelligence and character, with a strong drive to accomplish their academic aspirations. SAPS recipients are granted awards amounting to $300,000 per year throughout the entirety of their degree, contingent upon their sustained academic excellence. Similarly, each academic year, a student specialising in agriculture, shipping, or business-related fields is selected for the EJMB, receiving an annual grant of $300,000, which can be renewed for up to three years, provided the student maintains a commendable academic record.
"We firmly believe that through these scholarships we can alleviate the financial constraints that often accompany tertiary education. By demonstrating our unwavering faith in their abilities and recognising their potential, we aim to encourage our scholars to reach even greater heights in their academic pursuits," shared Elizabeth Phillips, chair of the Sydney A Phillips Trust and director of the SMET.
"SMET's criteria for selection goes beyond academic excellence; we seek those who embody versatility, those who are well-rounded individuals who exhibit qualities of community involvement, purposefulness, resilience, goal-oriented mindset, and leadership potential. To this year's recipients, we encourage you to dream big, anticipate challenges, but never lose sight of your aspirations."
Charles Johnston, trustee of the EJMB and chairman of JP Group, added that "as these remarkable scholars channel their perspectives into their fields of study, we envision transformative innovations taking root."
"Our commitment to the SMET underscores our enthusiasm for fostering their journey towards realising their fullest potential," he added.
For over two decades, the SAPS and the EJMB have played a pivotal role in supporting numerous students on their journey towards tertiary education. These initiatives have been made possible through the generous contributions of dedicated donors. The SAPS was named in memory of Sydney Phillips, a senator in the first post-independence government, and former custos of St Mary, chairman of the Banana Board and founding partner in the law firm of Robinson Phillips and Whitehorne, who dedicated his life to the development of St Mary.
The EJMB was named in memory of Ernest Johnston, a former longstanding director of JP Group and a well-known businessman who served as managing director of Jamaica Fruit and Shipping Company Ltd and Adolph Levy & Brother Ltd.
Both new and returning scholarship and bursary recipients were elated to receive their awards. The new recipients were Jadalee Lindsay (EJMB — plant science at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE); Raheem Lindo (SAPS — accounting at University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech); Kemmoya McNair (SAPS — nursing at The University of the West Indies (The UWI); Jurace Richards (SAPS — agriculture education at CASE); and Alexcia Rose (SAPS — computer science at Northern Caribbean University (NCU). Continuing recipients were Sanjae Dunn (EJMB — plant science at The UWI); Kawaine Anderson (SAPS — hospitality & tourism management at UTech); Dealia Dunbar (SAPS — computer science at The UWI); Trudy Ann Walker (SAPS — business admin/accounting at NCU); and Lascelles Williams (SAPS — banking & finance at The UWI).
Jurace Richards is a proud recipient of the SAP scholarship. He is currently studying agricultural education at CASE and will complete his studies in a little over a year. Richards shared the profound impact that receiving this scholarship has had on him. At a young age Richards faced the challenge of struggling with reading. He openly shared that he was a late bloomer in this aspect and it was not until he entered secondary school that he was able to overcome this challenge.
"I am overjoyed to have been selected for this scholarship. Despite applying to numerous scholarships, this is the first one I have been granted, making it all the more meaningful. I am very grateful, as this financial support will play a crucial role in advancing my education and alleviating the financial burden on my mother. SMET is and has been doing a great job with its efforts in awarding such scholarships. These opportunities hold significant value for countless students striving to enhance their lives through education yet are hindered by financial constraints. Now that I have received this scholarship, I am one step closer to completing my degree in agricultural education and a step closer to my goal of becoming an educator."