Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Chevening Scholar Olivia Shaw-Lovell to target mental health

Published:Wednesday | September 13, 2023 | 12:07 AM
Olivia Shaw-Lovell’s programme of study was carefully selected and allows her to link the passion she has for social development with her love for the sciences.
Olivia Shaw-Lovell’s programme of study was carefully selected and allows her to link the passion she has for social development with her love for the sciences.

Classes began this week for Chevening Scholar Olivia Shaw-Lovell who is pursuing a Master of Science in global health at St George’s University of London, in the United Kingdom (UK).

Born and raised in Mount Salem, St James, Shaw-Lovell, who has a passion for social development, is proud of her latest accomplishment.

“As a vulnerable young woman from a stigmatised community, this is a rare occurrence for my people, and God has chosen me to lead a path to show other women and men from [similar] communities that no one can stop you from achieving greatness, except [if] you allow them,” said Shaw-Lovell.

For her, being chosen for Chevening is a “bittersweet feeling”, as she was first placed on the reserved list and had to wait for some time before being successfully upgraded.

Sharing that the waiting process was not easy, she joined a global WhatsApp group with other reserves while she awaited the decision.

“I constantly had to seek support from my friend to pray with me so I could keep the anxiety in control, because the wait is very hard – it’s nerve-racking,” says the 2023 Chevening Scholar, who will be attending one of the top medical schools in London.

Shaw-Lovell, who is a devoted Christian, says she had no idea her passion for social development and service in general would lead to her studying in the UK.

“It was never a plan, like on the vision board to say I’m going to the UK to study. My only goal was that I was not paying for my next educational attainment. I wanted a scholarship and I believed that I would earn a scholarship some way, somehow to continue my studies,” she said.

“I just knew that this new passion that I have was embedded in me from an early age, and I just was intentional about seeking opportunities that will build on that,” Shaw-Lovell continued.

She said her programme of study was carefully selected, as it allows her to link the passion she has for social development with her love for the sciences.

Shaw-Love explained that her love for the sciences saw her matriculating from the Westwood High School in Trelawny to the Montego Bay Community College, in St James, where she studied preliminary sciences before moving on to the University of Technology, Jamaica, where she gained a Bachelor of Science in medical technology.

“I’m hoping that through the studies in the global health sector, primarily focusing on mental health, I’ll be able to come back [to Jamaica] in a consultancy role, where I can work with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and also corporate Jamaica, to assist them in understanding the importance of developing mental health spaces for persons,” she said.

The 2023 scholar, who is also founder and executive director of Women of Destiny Ja, a non-profit organisation, also has plans to utilise the skills gained in the UK to improve the work that she does within communities.

Women of Destiny Ja is an organisation that provides a haven for holistic empowerment, mentorship and advocacy for marginalised women in Jamaica.

“I’m looking forward to having that built capacity to do more impactful work,” Shaw-Lovell said.

The St James native is also an United States (US) Department of State’s Community Solutions Fellow alumnus and has lived and worked in the US for four months in the field of victim service advocacy.

Her work in community development has also led to her receiving several awards, including the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Outstanding Service and The Gleaner’s Flair Distinguished Award for Volunteerism.

Shaw-Lovell also won the Miss St James Festival Queen competition in 2017.

Already settled in the UK, she is excited for the cold weather and is looking forward to meeting new persons at school and to see the diverse culture.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with [my schoolmates] and then during the holidays, possibly when it gets a bit warmer next year, I could do a lot of tours and probably experience a bit more of Europe,” she adds.

Issuing a word of encouragement for future applicants, the scholar wants persons to know that “the process does not really dictate who they are. It amplifies the work that they will be doing, but it doesn’t negate their strength”.

She points out that the application process is rigorous, and thousands of people apply each year.

“Don’t feel disheartened if you’re not selected, just keep a positive mind, surround yourself with people who believe in you and go for it,” she encouraged.

Founded in 1984, Chevening is the United Kingdom Government’s global scholarship programme, aimed at developing global leaders by providing opportunities for postgraduate studies in the UK.

The 2024/2025 application period opened on Tuesday.