By Shantique Longley
THE fight to get an education has not been easy for Kwanzaa Clarke. Before becoming a recipient of the Sol and Friends’ Scholarship, the 24-year-old spent most of his time working incredibly long hours just to be able to afford his tuition and supplies. And having a young daughter to support did not make the challenge any easier.
Being awarded the scholarship to attend the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has taken a burden off Mr Clarke.
Instead of investing so much of his energy into work, he now invests that time into school and his three-year-old daughter.
“To see that we have persons who we consider to be accomplished, who are down to earth enough to turn around and help give persons like myself and other mentees an opportunity, I’m really grateful for it,” said the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning major.
Mr Clarke said he will always speak highly of the scholarship programme for making this opportunity possible for him. Sol Petroleum Bahamas Limited - the exclusive licensee of Esso branded fuels in the Bahamas - has once again teamed up with its New Providence Esso dealers and vendors to support BTVI’s students and promote its programmes.
The scholarship and mentorship programme has offered 13 students up to two-year scholarships at BTVI. Eleven of those students are currently enrolled. In addition to the scholarships, the recipients will also be mentored by participating Esso dealers and the Sol vendors.
Mr Clarke said the mentorship programme will keep his feet to the fire; he believes it’s an excellent way to motivate the mentees to stay focused and on track.
“Being a young man in society I could be doing so many things, some of which could be negative. To actually have this opportunity encourages me to make the most of it and improve myself,” he said.
“People don’t usually get these kinds of opportunities and Sol is really supporting us. It’s great to have persons in such prestigious positions make themselves available to help us solve our problems. I’m sure they want to see us in the same positions they’re in one day or even further,” he continued.
During their first encounter at the recent mentorship training programme, BTVI President Dr Robert Robertson had a chance to sit and chat with the recipients one-on-one. He expressed how pleased he was with their attitudes and eagerness towards an education.
“I’m really confident that you have a good programme and you’ve got some really good students. We’re just pleased to be a part of it,” said Dr Robertson.
Agreeing with Dr Robertson was Sol Petroleum’s General Manager Keith Glinton who was thrilled to see the group’s maturity and focus.
Mr Glinton encouraged the mentees to embrace the mentorship programme so they can make significant things happen.
Not only does Mr Glinton believe in helping the youth of the nation, he specifically believes in helping them obtain an education from BTVI. Both his wife and son have graduated from the institution with his wife having been a banker and changing careers after discovering her passion and fulfilling her dreams at BTVI. She is now an entrepreneur, using the carpentry skills she acquired from BTVI.
“This is an incredible institution that allows you to add value to society immediately after you finish,” said Mr Glinton.
For 24-year-old D’Andra Rolle, being a recipient of this scholarship has given her a chance at a brighter future. Her sister Aimee Rolle is also a recipient.
“It shows a lot of confidence in what our community could produce. It’s nice to have that kind of motivation behind you,” said the electrical installation major.
Meanwhile, Esso dealer, Lawrence Bascom, who is in charge of the Winton and Bayshore service stations, mentors Brandon Bodie, Kalin Roker and Tyrese Smith.
“For me it’s about doing for someone else what others did for me,” said Mr Bascom.
Both he and Arnold Heastie, of Heastie’s Service Station, agree that the scholarship is beyond grades and that mentorship plays a vital role in shaping the lives of those tutored.