By Carlena Knight
Seven young men and women, the majority of whom hail from the St Paul’s constituency, are preparing to pursue degrees at the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABIIT).
The educational opportunity was offered through the ‘I Believe in You’ scholarship programme which is the brainchild of youth activist Jahmaal Frederick.
The programme, which is in its first year, presented the opportunity to less fortunate youngsters in Antigua and Barbuda, with priority given to those in St Paul’s.
The seven youngsters – Nakierra Martin, Ashana Lawrence, Sarah Rabess, Georgia Joseph, Kibwana James, Otisha George and Cristal Jarvis – were selected from among dozens of applicants and all expressed gratitude and excitement.
Martin, Lawrence and George will be pursuing degrees in interior design; Rabess and Jarvis in public administration; and Joseph and James in physical therapy.
Observer media caught up with Frederick who said he was delighted that he was able to “afford this opportunity to youth at such a prestigious tertiary institution”.
He thanked his colleague, Esquire Henry, who assisted in recruiting some of the individuals.
Frederick went on to urge other youngsters to take advantage of the opportunity for the next academic year.
“I just want to encourage the young people of Antigua and Barbuda, especially within the St Paul’s community, to take the opportunity to get tertiary education. The more educated you are, the better for you and the better for our nation and communities across the country,” Frederick said.
ABIIT’s representative Laila Farrell revealed that she had reached out to Frederick following a recent story she saw online about the programme.
She mentioned that it was a no-brainer to get involved with a programme such as this and revealed that ABIIT plans to be a long-term partner in the initiative.
She said the number of full scholarships could change, “but we will maintain a scholarship relationship with them”.
Initially, the programme had offered two openings for persons to pursue trades at the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE).
But, according to Frederick, the applicants did not show much interest in attending ABICE.
This, he believes, is due to the stigma still surrounding the school, and he intends to work on changing the attitude of prospective applicants.
“That [ABICE scholarship drive] I have paused for a bit. Sadly, many didn’t show interest. I plan to go back to the drawing board and work on presenting it to people and making it attractive because of this stigma of ABICE [being for dropouts] – and so we are going to have to recreate and make it more attractive,” he said.
Frederick is also inviting other interested donors who may want to come on board with the programme to do so.
Prospective applicants and donors can call 776-1348 for additional information.