Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Ffrench accepted, now able - Grace Hamilton's foundation funds UTech dream

Published:Tuesday | May 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberely Small/Gleaner Writer
Grace Hamilton (left) gets emotional as Abbygayle Ffrench officially receives the donation from the Grace Hamilton Women Empowerment Foundation.

During her presentation at Sunday's launch of the Grace Hamilton Women Empowerment Foundation, the first recipient Abbygayle Ffrench, told tales of sexual abuse, poverty and familial abandonment. She also shared her dream deferred, that she has been accepted to attend the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). "I have been accepted from 2017, and I've held on to that acceptance letter because that is all it was - an acceptance letter. With no form of financial assistance, that's as far as it went. There was no form of family support, whether it be emotionally or financially," she said.

After graduating from high school in 2017 (after transferring through five institutions), Ffrench took on a job with a call centre. "I managed to sum up the $25,000 enrolment commitment fee, and that was all that there was," she said. She applied for a deferral of admission until 2018.

"When I sent that email to the foundation, I sent it with doubt, knowing all too well how many times before I've been disappointed. For the foundation and for Grace to reach out to me the way they did, for them to help in the way they did, it means a lot to me," Ffrench told The Gleaner. "So, I said come what I may, I will be going to UTech in August," she said to a rousing round of applause.

While the financial assistance is welcome, Ffrench has taken away greater lessons from her interaction with the Grace Hamilton Women Empowerment Foundation. "I'm no longer that person being rejected. I'm no longer the person that thinks I'm not enough. Giving back to the foundation starts with me. To show appreciation, I will excel in my studies at UTech starting in August. I'm inspired - when I do have the capability to help young girls, I will do so," she said.

Ffrench believes Grace is doing a good job in keeping her dancehall image and her true self separate. "She identifies as both, but they are presented in different situations, and rightfully so," Ffrench said.