NCB Foundation awards $1m in scholarships to university students
Nicolette Bailey and Rachel Clarke enter university for the first time this year with a significant portion of their expenses covered by the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation.
The 19-year-olds are the national scholars under the foundation's scholarship and grants programme.
They topped a highly competitive field of applicants to secure scholarships valued at $500,000 each per annum towards their tuition at the University of the West Indies (UWI), accommodation and other school-related expenses.
The award will be renewed for the duration of their studies as long as they maintain the stipulated grade point average.
Nicolette, who is from the rural community of Silent Hill in Clarendon, is pursuing studies in economics with a double major in banking and finance or management at the UWI Mona campus. She says she is elated and grateful for the scholarship.
"It is one of those things that you only dare to dream about. It was such a talented pool of individuals who applied... and to know that I am one of those two very special individuals chosen is an incredible feeling. This is nothing but the work of God," she notes.
The DeCarteret College graduate shares that her parents, who are small farmers, often struggled to send her to secondary school.
"It was a challenge to send a child to high school where they have to take three taxis and you have to find $1,000 every day to give that child, and there are books to purchase and everything else. There were a lot of struggles and heartache, a lot of tears and a lot of hunger," she says.
Meanwhile, Rachel is hoping that the scholarship award will serve to inspire young people in her South Haven community in Yallahs, St Thomas, to work hard and pursue their dreams.
The aspiring doctor and surgeon shares that she knew she was competing with many other worthy applicants, but she remained confident that she would come out on top.
"When you go after something, you have to think that there is a possibility that you might get it. If you think that there is no possibility, then there is none because there is power in the mind," she said.
For students who have ambition to pursue higher education but who may face financial or other difficulties, Rachel advises: "Imagine it, believe it, dream it and you can achieve it. It does not matter what your circumstance is. Push through it as they serve as motivation."
Through its scholarship and grants programme launched in 2008, the NCB Foundation has provided more than $200 million in financial support to more than 350 students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. A sum of $30 million has been approved for 2016-17, which will go towards payment of tuition fees, educational supplies and accommodation.