Three deserving young men have become the first recipients of the Lodge Claudius R Walker Scholarship to attend the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
Jonathas Belony, Rashad Wood and Cameron Sweeting were chosen based on academic merit, financial need, field of study and personal qualities including leadership skills and commitment to community involvement. Belony and Wood are electrical installation students while Sweeting will focus on carpentry.
“The world is your oyster here at BTVI,” the insititute’s Manager and Consultant, Dr Iva Dahl, told the trio at the scholarship presentation. “You are the trailblazers.” She thanked the lodge for their vision of investing in the young men. “We need the help, our young men need the help, our country needs the help,” she stressed.
Belony, 19, said the scholarship has motivated him to go further in life. “I see you believe in me - thank you,” he said. “I have the chance to make myself into a better person and a better man someday.”
For Sweeting, being awarded a scholarship is a life-changing opportunity. “Thanks for choosing me. My hard work and survival means something to you. Not only do students benefit, but the nation. I’ve made up my mind to make an impact on the nation,” said the 17-year-old.
District Grand Master Charles Johnson and the lodge’s Worshipful Master, Brother Godfrey Bethell, were pleased with the lodge’s effort to raise funds for the scholarships. Bethell described the students as “very impressive” and pledged that the lodge will not simply donate funds but to mentor them. “We intend to keep in contact with them. If they need help with studies, we are prepared to assist,” he said.
Brother Bethell took the opportunity to encourage the two parents present - Shirley Sweeting and Irene Rolle-Wood – to be supportive of the scholars in their vocational pursuits. The students are expected to maintain at least a 2.75 Grade Point Average (GPA) each semester, perform 20 hours community service while completing their programmes and assist with mentoring other males at CR Walker High School, of which they all are graduates.
A tearful Ms Wood gave thanks on behalf of the parents and shared how timely the scholarships are, particularly with the rising cost of education. “It isn’t every day we come across people with hearts as big as you all,” she said. “We promise to encourage our children to live up to the expectations of the agreement. We thank you for believing in our children and being the big brothers to them that you are.”
BTVI’s Associate Vice-President of Fund Development, Alicia Thompson, added that she is confident the establishment of the partnership between the institution and the lodge will make a “substantial difference” in the lives of the young men.