Lanisia Rhoden gets ready to 'do good'
A former Festival Queen for the parish of Manchester, the recipient of the Governor General's Achievement Award for Manchester and the beneficiary of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, 30-year-old Lanisia Rhoden has accomplished a lot in an impressive time frame.
Though grateful for these opportunities, and the many doors they have opened, she believes that her most important accomplishment to date is giving birth to her labour of love - Young Women/Men of Purpose (YWOP/YMOP).
Established in 2009 during her reign as Manchester Festival Queen, the organisation provides career services to young men and women in Manchester. The idea emerged while she was executing her duties as festival queen, and observed the enormous need for young people to acquire structured career programmes to influence their career decisions. And so, putting pen to paper, Rhoden conceptualised the Link Your Purpose technology application.
"This application is for high-school students," she explained to Flair adding, "It is a platform to help them to determine their career goals, and areas they are best suited for. Many times, students choose careers that they later realise are not their area of interest, or incompatible with their personalities. And, by taking a psychometric test, they can determine, which areas are more suited to them, and what path they should pursue to achieve their goals."
The app also features university guides; local and internal scholarship offers; as well as, content for students to identify the prerequisite courses to guide their career path after high school.
Describing herself as a social entrepreneur, the vivacious leader has not only won positive feedback for her innovation from local stakeholders; but, has secured an international fellowship at Do School for Social Enterprise in Germany, to further develop and implement her plan.
As she left last month to embark on this journey with the support of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation, she will be one of 20 participants from around the world.
"This one-year fellowship helps young social entrepreneurs to build their organisations. And, a part of the application process required applicants to present their social initiatives; and mine was based on my career guidance technology platform," explained Rhoden.
A past student of Manchester High School, Rhoden's life has been committed to community activities, which she credits for defining the individual she has become. Growing up in a typical working-class family, with a father who is a pastor, she was encouraged to participate in meaningful activities to create a well balanced life.
Excited about the adventure ahead, Rhoden is, "looking forward to meeting the other 'fellows' and benefiting from the invaluable lessons she will be taught through practical assignments and ongoing mentorship."
As part of the programme, she will pursue a 10-week incubation period on campus in Germany, where fellows will be asked to solve a challenge for H&M - a multinational retail clothing company. They will be required to create an innovative packaging system for H&M products, and the goal is to minimise waste and energy; optimise the handling process; as well as, create maximum recycling and up-cycling opportunities.
With most of her tuition and expenses covered by the institution, Rhoden proactively sought the assistance of the JNBS Foundation to cover her additional expenses; and, for her, it was a perfect fit, given the Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) project.
"JN Foundation has really been pushing the social enterprise agenda in Jamaica and has been raising awareness about the impact social enterprises can have on national development. Therefore, when I received the fellowship, I approached the foundation for assistance knowing that it was supporting other organisations, such as mine," she stated.
Saffrey Brown, general manager, JNBS Foundation, expressed admiration for Rhoden's achievements and ambition and said that the young entrepreneur will be strategically positioned to contribute to the objectives of the JN Foundation's SEBI programme, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Brown also welcomed the increased attention now being paid to social enterprises initiatives stating, "We urge more persons to create sustainable social enterprise models, which could provide answers to some of Jamaica's social and economic challenges."