Wed | Sep 20, 2017

NEVA officially launched in Jamaica

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 4:00 AMDaviot Kelly
Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith (left) and Dr Neva Alexander in conversation at the launch.
Ative Ennis (right), of Digicel presents cellphone to Odaine Anderson, a NEVA student whose phone had been recently stolen.
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About a year into its Jamaican operations, the National Educational Venture Alliance (NEVA) was officially launched last Thursday.

NEVA's services include preparing students for examinations such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and other entry examinations for bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees, primarily in the United States. NEVA also offers workforce and career training for overseas work opportunities. In its short time in Jamaica, and its short time overall (founded in May 2013), the successes are clear. NEVA graduates are already receiving scholarship offers from prominent US universities, including Ivy League schools.

Founder of NEVA, Dr Neva Alexander, reflected on her journey, from leaving Jamaica at age 11 to wanting to pursue a career in law.

"Overall, I realised that even in my work I was always called to teach or train or work within administration," she said, noting that opportunities in education kept arising, one job even taking her to the Middle East. While in Saudi Arabia, she would still receive calls from her students back in the US, asking for help.

"They also needed me to get them into colleges. I had also received calls for jobs, so I started helping people to find jobs all over the world," she said. "And I thought to myself, 'this is a business I am going to go with it'." She came to Jamaica a year ago, initially on vacation, but persons started to ask whether she could replicate NEVA's successes here.

EXPANSION

"I'm not going to lie. I hesitated," she admitted, "but then, I thought to myself, 'you know what, I was born here, so why not'? What do I have to lose if I try'?" Now, NEVA continues to expand. Within the last few weeks, NEVA received full authorisation to administer computer-based Pearson Vue Tests. This is a unique service as this is the first testing centre of its kind in the island. It gives Jamaicans the opportunity to sit over 80 information technology and professional licensure and certification tests including Cisco and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Curtis Sweeney of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation lauded Alexander for "answering the call to educate young people".

"You're not just imparting knowledge ... you are creating dreams," he said. "You are investing in a process of change."

KEY SYNERGIES

Digicel's head of enterprise solutions, Ative Ennis, noted that with Pearson Vue authorisation, both entities had the opportunity for a number of key synergies.

"From time to time, I have to sign off on a number of travel requests for people to go abroad ... to do certification courses," he said. "Now that this centre is available in Jamaica, we now can work through our learning and development department to look at how we can leverage that kind of skill set and that kind of impetus in Jamaica to take advantage." He also lauded Alexander for coming home, something he encouraged others to do.

"I feel that you have a social responsibility to come back and build your country," he said. "Regardless of what is going on ... we owe it to ourselves to work towards a common solution."

daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com