Those were the words extended to the new international scholarship awardees on Providenciales and Grand Turk recently when the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture launched its new International Scholarship Awardees Induction Programme.
Minister for Education Akierra Missick, in her remarks to the group, emphasised how “special these groups of students were, to have won an award out of the hundreds of applicants”, noting that the awards presented “opportunities to not only follow their dreams but to return and serve their country in various capacities that they represented”.
The minister also congratulated the parents of the awardees and urged them to be supportive of their children and to enjoy the benefits that this opportunity will bring. Among the scholarship recipients were winners of both full and partial scholarships as well as the some recipients of educational grants along with their parents and guardians.
Permanent Secretary Cherylann Jones who chaired the programme explained the meaning of the induction and award ceremony. She noted that the aim was to give both the ministry and the recipients an opportunity to not only put faces to names but to begin to develop a relationships that will facilitate effective management of the program. The ceremony also gave the awardees the opportunity to meet each other.
The ceremony also marked a change in the way national scholarships and grants managed; removed gaps and streamlined the pre-departure program for new awardees. It provided an opportunity for award winners to be briefed on the important elements of their awards; the TCI scholarship policy; the student bond agreement; scholarship payment structure and the obligations and expectations of both the ministry and awardees.
Rules include maintaining a 3.0 grade point average, evidence of which must be presented of each new semester and an obligation to seek written permission of the ministry before any transfers and program changes. In turn the government commits to making payments on time; purchase airline tickets and manage any other queries between the school and the student. Students were also informed that no payments would be made without the signing of a bond, obliging the student to return to the Turks and Caicos for a specific number of years of service in their particular study area.
Lakia Lewis, a student who recently completed her Bachelor’s Degree (Hons) at Howard University, and Renate Hinds, organising member of the International Students’ Association, also gave charges to the awardees. Both shared their experiences and gave encouragement and suggestions on how to balance study with extracurricular activities and tips on financial prudence.