It was the best news Nadian Whyte had in September. She was chosen as the first recipient of the Dr Rickert Allen Scholarship from the NCB Foundation.
That meant she could pursue her Bachelor of Science degree in Networking with Cybersecurity from the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC).
Whyte, a 23-year-old Westmoreland native, is beaming with joy at the news even as she mourns her father who passed in August.
“To know that I'm the first to receive this scholarship, I'm just giving God thanks. I'm glad for the chance,” said the young woman from the district of Bronte.
While Whyte wishes she could share the news with her father — a man of few words but he'd show that he cared through his actions — her mother and six other siblings are thrilled for her.
Her journey to UCC was not a straight shot, in fact it was quite a bumpy road.
Every morning for seven years, Whyte would make the hour-and-15-minute journey from Bronte to Lacovia High School in St Elizabeth for school.
“The taxis didn't want to come to Bronte, so I would walk to the closest point to take bus from New Market [or] sometimes a taxi from the neighbouring community take us straight to school,” she said.
But she excelled in school. She achieved passes in visual arts in grade 10, in grade 11 mathematics, English language, information technology, principles of business, principles of accounts, social studies, integrated science and chemistry.
Nightly revisions and study sessions on the weekends helped with the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) passes in communication studies, caribbean studies, digital media and management of business.
Like most other students, however, a spot in university is blocked by the unavailability of finances.
“After leaving sixth form, I started working to send myself back to school. My father always wanted the best for us and since I am the last child, he just wanted me to come out to something. He was always telling me to go out and make use of opportunities and keep my head up. He wanted to send me to COMC [Montego Bay Community College] after I asked him to when I left high school, but I changed my mind… I didn't want to add more to his plate since he supported us financially.”
Being born in the age where technology is at the fingertips, Whyte said she found Internet technology fascinating ever since the start of high school.
“My favourite cousin is currently a software engineer and I guess he rubbed off on me somehow. At the time, he was teaching me how to type better, do programming and even building my own website. We didn't get too far in it though but I haven't lost interest since then,” Whyte explained, “I wanted to do web developing or designing in high school. So, when I was looking for which course to choose at UCC, I asked him about it and he said networking with cybersecurity was the best choice. I did some research and end up choosing it in the end.”
Her career ambition is to become a network and computer system administrator.
“The fact that the world is becoming more digitised, more than ever systems will need to be secured. The programme that I'm doing will equip me with the knowledge and technical skills to securely develop or maintain computer systems,” she said. “With my enthusiasm for technology and eagerness to learn, I'm sure I'll get there.”
Whyte will have the Dr Rickert Allen Scholarship to accelerate her towards her dreams, as it covers tuition costs.
The scholarship and the inaugural lecture in April 2021 are to memorialise the contributions and achievements of Dr Allen.
He served the NCB Financial Group as the senior general manager in charge of Group Human Resources and Facilities Division. Seen as a transformational and visionary leader, he led NCB to and through the enrichment of human resources procedures within its corporate restructuring. His eye for governance also helped UCC move towards national and international institutional accreditation in his role as chairman of the board of the UCC.
The virtual lecture, held under the theme 'Transformational Leadership and Readiness for Change', paid homage to Dr Allen's mindset and mentality.
Dr Allen was a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and had membership at the Society for Human Resource Management; Private Sector of Jamaica Education Committee; Human Capital Institute; Heart Institute of the Caribbean and the Jamaica Employers Federation.
His work in change management formed the core of Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) thesis entitled 'Towards the development of a Model for Improving Employee Readiness for Corporate Transformation'.