MEADOWBROOK High School sixth former Taija Smith has emerged as the inaugural winner of the Ina Clayton Scholarship.
The scholarship was established to honour the memory of Ina Clayton (Sis Clayton or Ms Ina), a founding member of Emmanuel Gospel Assembly who served the church faithfully for nearly 60 years, including as caretaker, a member of the choir, and as a foot soldier in the church's evangelical missions.
She passed away peacefully in her sleep at age 95 on May 4, 2022.
Founded in 1964, Emmanuel Gospel Assembly provides spiritual guidance to its congregants and is a beacon of light in the community.
The scholarship covers full tuition annually to a high school student who is a member of Emmanuel Gospel Assembly (or the relative of a member of the church), demonstrates satisfactory academic performance and good discipline, and who has financial need.
"Our mother valued education and saw it as the ticket out of poverty," said Everton Bailey, chairman of the Ina Clayton Scholarship Foundation, who presented the scholarship on behalf of his siblings Carol Brown, Pauline Johnson, the late Denzel Ferguson, Gregory Hamilton, and the entire family.
This year's recipient, Smith, has nine CSEC subjects, including distinctions in physics, chemistry and mathematics.
"I would like to extend a huge thank you for providing me with the scholarship, and I am greatly appreciative of it and will make you proud in the long run," she said at the event held earlier in November at the church located on Red Hills Road in St Andrew.
Her career goal is to become an optometrist.
"Our family is grateful for the scholarship," Taija's grandmother, Carol Malcolm, added.