Briana Williams gifts scholarships to Excelsior athletes
Shakira Rhoden (left), Shelly-Ann Taylor (second right) and Janelia Williams (right) flank Briana Williams (second left). Briana Williams through her sponsors, GraceKennedy, offered the three Excelsior High School student-athletes scholarships totalling $210,000 on Monday.

Briana Williams and her sponsor GraceKennedy, on Monday, gifted three Excelsior High School track and field athletes scholarships valued at a total of $210,000.

Each of the three athletes received $70,000 to assist with school-related expenses for the academic year 2022-2023.

In a brief ceremony held at the school on Monday, Williams presented the scholarships to Shakira Rhoden and Shelly-Ann Taylor, members of last year's Class 3 girls' 4x100m gold-medal-winning relay team at the Corporate Area Development. Kayla-Emily Harris, who was also a member of that team, selflessly differed her scholarship to teammate Janelia Williams.

Jamaica's youngest Olympic female gold medallist was delighted to share the moment with the girls and explained why she chose to make the donations.

"Last year they indicated that they were inspired by me at a developmental meet when they won their 4x100m relay and when I saw the article [in the Jamaica Observer], I wanted to meet them and encourage them."

Williams never attended high school in Jamaica but says that she is committed to helping young student athletes on the island.

"I am committed to giving back to athletes in Jamaica because I know what it's like. It's not easy being a student-athlete.

"My sponsor GraceKennedy and I will make this an annual scholarship to deserving student athletes who showcase their athletic talents and are also having good grades."

She encouraged members of the Excelsior High track team who were present at the ceremony to remain committed to the sport.

"We are committed to helping the next generation in this sport and I want to encourage you to work hard and don't let anybody quell your dreams.

"Put in the work, listen to your teachers, your coaches and rewrite your goals and recite them every day and don't give up.

"Chase your dreams because there are gold medals and spots for everybody. I believe in you guys, just continue to put in the work and trust yourselves and surround yourselves with the right people who inspire you and want to see you do well."

Rhoden, who is an avid fan of Williams, said that finally meeting her was a dream come true.

"On a scale of one to 10, I break the scale for meeting Briana. I have been wanting to meet her from 2022 and now it's 2023, my dream really come true in meeting her, and I am very thankful for the scholarship that she gave me, for me and my teammates. A very big thank you," she said.

Excelsior High are the defending champions of the Corporate Area Development Meet and are expected to score heavily for their school at the tenth staging of the event in early March.

— Dwayne Richards

Dwayne Richards

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