Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Young Jamaican strikes Optimistic first

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Javani Waugh

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer


Another Jamaican has broken the glass ceiling by being named the first person of colour and the first non-North American to hold the position of international president for the Junior Optimist Octagon International (JOOI).

Eighteen-year-old Javani Waugh, a rising junior at the University of the West Indies, Mona, reading for a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management Studies, was recently elected at the organisation's 22nd annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Waugh recently completed his first year at UWI with a cumulative grade point average of 3.9.

JOOI is a service leadership organisation, which allows youth leaders to serve first, and with a membership of 17,600 ranging from ages six to 19 years, within the United States (US), Canada, the Caribbean and Kenya.

His presidency begins October 1.

More than 170 convention attendees from 29 clubs across the US, Canada, Anguilla and Jamaica had the right to elect their new international board via 29 accredited delegates at the convention, Waugh told The Sunday Gleaner.

For Waugh, "Serving as the first international president from the Caribbean District means endless opportunities for countless Caribbean students to immerse themselves in service via programmes and initiatives that would be truly international and not just specific to the US and/or Canada," he said.

According to him, one of his goals, which will come to fruition this year, is the initiation of a JOOI Grants Fund, wherein clubs that have limited funding for service projects can apply for financial assistance of up to US$100.

"This, I know, will help clubs in the Caribbean be much more active, while sparking interests in the affairs of JOOI," he argued.

As international president, he will preside at the JOOI International Convention and at all meetings of the JOOI board of directors, as well as serve as the chief executive officer exercising general supervision over the interests and affairs of JOOI. This includes working with the Optimist International JOOI Committee, the International JOOI Clubs Department and the International JOOI Clubs Chairperson.

"Thankfully, I was elected to serve and became the first Jamaican, but only second Caribbean District JOOI member to be duly elected to the JOOI International Board of Directors," he stated.