She's just 19 and has already received seven scholarshipsTuesday, February 16, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
MOST students who are lucky or good enough to receive scholarships tend to go through school on one endowment. Nineteen-year-old Crystina Perkins is an exception.
Perkins, who is now a medical student at The University of the West Indies, Mona (The UWI), has been benefiting from scholarships and grants for four consecutive years. In total, she has received seven bursaries, taking a huge load off her parents who otherwise would have found it difficult to fund her studies.
“Going throughout high school, I knew that the only way to achieve my goal of one day becoming a medical doctor is to work hard enough to get as much help as possible. My family is not able to fund that leg of my journey all by themselves, so I had no choice but to work extremely hard,” Perkins told the Jamaica Observer.
The Sandy Bay, Clarendon, resident said each scholarship overwhelmed her. She received her first grant — the Peace and Love Academic Scholarship valued at $456,000, which covered grades 11, 12 and 13 (2017 to 2019) — while attending Denbigh High School.
During that time, she was granted the Edna Green Scholarship for 2018 and 2019 valued at $40,000.
Shortly after, she received the National Commercial Bank Foundation Parish Champion Scholarship in 2019 valued at $300,000 which, she admitted, came as a surprise.
“I [had] applied for a grant the year before and I was not successful. I was not going to apply because I thought I was not qualified but I was encouraged by my high school teacher to try again, and I did. Not only did I get the scholarship but also the 2019 Parish Champion title for Clarendon — an achievement I hold dear to my heart,” she recalled.
That same year, Perkins received a $100,000 scholarship from Courts Jamaica Limited, as well as a $50,000 grant from Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission.
“My mother, father, and sister were very happy, but they were not surprised. They always tell me that they know that I am capable of achieving all that I put my mind to, but they just do not know what surprise I will bring to the table. As for the rest of my family and friends, they were genuinely happy for me,” added Perkins.
Perkins' mother, Precious Brown, told the Observer her daughter's achievements have been nothing short of amazing.
“I'm elated. Growing Crystina, seeing how she does her work and seeing that she is so focused, I know that whatever she puts her mind to, she will go for those dreams,” the proud mother said.
“I am surprised by the scholarships; I didn't know she applied for so many. When she told me she got them, I was so happy. They have made a huge relief for me and her father. We don't have it like that to pay so much for school fee, and for her getting so much, only the Father above I give thanks to. He always makes a way out of anything,” Brown said.
The sixth scholarship would have uprooted her life had she accepted it. The offer was to study veterinary medicine in Bahia, Brazil. She said she had heard about the opportunity after a representative from the Brazilian Embassy in Jamaica visited Dream Jamaica when she was a mentee.
Dream Jamaica is a non-profit organisation which states that its mission is to “provide meaningful mentoring relationships, along with educational and professional opportunities that will inspire and empower young people to pursue their dreams”.
“I was happy, overwhelmed and in awe of all that happened. I knew I had it in me to achieve all things great but I never thought so many people saw this much potential in me as well,” she told the Observer.
“I wanted to accept the offer in Brazil, however, when I sat down and spoke with my family about it, we all shared the same sentiment that the idea is scary to live in a foreign country by myself with my family miles away, as I am the last child for both parents. I just felt the need to stay close to them here in Jamaica,” Perkins explained.
After declining that offer she was accepted at The UWI. Not too long after, however, she received yet another scholarship.
“I got a scholarship from the Windalco company and I got accepted to study medicine at UWI, which I am now currently doing. It's valued at $100,000 and so it contributed to my tuition. My tuition is $650,000 a year so I got the scholarship at just the right time to pay the balance,” Perkins said, noting that the majority of her tuition was already covered from previous scholarships.
“It is renewable once I maintain at least a 3.0 GPA (grade point average). My plan is to continue my culture of hard work and determination that my parents and Dream Jamaica have instilled in me in order to achieve my best university experience. I'm currently in first year, studying for a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry,” she said.
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