Cornwall College old boys launch mentorship programme at alma mater
Grade 11 student at Cornwall College, Alex Shaw (centre) receives a US$1,000 scholarship cheque from president of the Cornwall College Old Boys' Association, New York chapter, Barrington Harvey (left), and Principal Michael Ellis at the school on Monday.Photo: Horace Hines)

MONTEGO BAY, St James - CORNWALL College old boys' associations used the start of the new academic year to launch a mentorship programme, dubbed the Cornwall College Mentoring and Tutoring Initiative (CCMTI), in partnership with the guidance and counselling unit, at their alma mater on Monday.

The launch was also used to honour the memory of former Cornwall College vice-principal and revered mathematics teacher, the late Bevill DeBruin, affectionately called Mister Dibbs, with a donation of a US$1,000 scholarship to outstanding mathematics scholar Alex Shaw who commenced his grade 11 journey on Monday.

Several Cornwall College old boys' associations from across Jamaica and North America pooled resources to create the CCMTI which is soon to commence on campus.

The primary goals of the CCMTI are to increase graduation rates and lower dropout rates at all levels of the school; as well as to see a higher college enrolment rate; stronger relationships with parents, teachers and peers; and a higher success rate in CXC and CAPE passes.

President of the New York chapter of the CC Old Boys' Association, Barrington Harvey, who was on hand to launch the programme, revealed that the mentorship programme has been long in coming.

"We recognise that there is a need. There are some old boys who have tried before but it never really took off. But the principal [Michael Ellis], we had a meeting last year, just post-summer, [during which] he emphasised the need for mentorship. This was not the first time he [Ellis] was saying it but when he said it, it hit us — so we knew we had to do something," Harvey explained.

"We actually have a document as to how it's structured. It is not a hit and miss," he stressed.

Mentors are being drawn from a group of Cornwall College past students as well as other professionals who are close to the school. The group of mentors include highly successful entrepreneurs, medical professionals, teachers, engineers, scientists, college professors and administrators, a former United Nations peacekeeping force manager, journalists and lawyers.

The programme will kick off with grades 12 and 13 students, then to 11th graders, before moving down to students in the lower classes.

Harvey explained that the first recipient of the Bevill DeBruin scholarship "will be given a mentor as well".

"...Because we don't believe in just giving money. We need to develop the whole person so that's why we're doing this," he stated.

For his part, the young Shaw who has averaged 94 per cent in mathematics and whose ambition is to be an orthopaedic surgeon, said he was surprised to have been named the recipient of the scholarship.

"I am astonished. I am both surprised and grateful at the same time. When I heard that I was going to get the scholarship, at that moment it was so shocking [that] I was frozen for a while. And then I know I put in the work so it is proof that hard work pays off, so I will continue to do the work," he pledged.

His mother, Calia Shaw Thomas, was proud of her son.

"I am very elated, and as Alex said it shows that hard work pays off. It [funds] will help in his academic life," said the mother, beaming with pride.

Senior guidance counsellor at Cornwall College, Dr Sydoine Jeannite disclosed that ever since Shaw was enrolled at Cornwall College he has been performing outstandingly.

"Actually, Alex is one of those students who has been doing well since he came here. We have a mathematics club and he is a member of the club — and, he has the highest average in mathematics. And so, on that basis, he was chosen [for the scholarship]," Dr Jeannite said.

DeBruin has been revered as a mathematics genius by students at the all-boys' school that was established in 1896, where he taught for over three decades. He was also an outstanding cricket coach.

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter

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